From "Why Abortion? The Myth of Choice For Women Who Are Poor" by Anne Nicol Gaylor
A common question asked of the Women's Medical Fund is "Where do you get the money to help these women?"
My answer, "We beg!" No public monies, of course, are available for this women's cause, so three times a year I send letters to our list of donorsdozens of whom have been with us since the Fund was launched.
Letters go out on the anniversary of Roe v Wade, January 22; on Mother's Day, in celebration of motherhood by choice not force; and, on the anniversary of women's right to vote, August 26. That last seems especially appropriate since the right to vote and other women's rights, such as equal pay, do not mean very much if you're having a baby every year.
Women's Medical Fund, Inc.
P.O. Box 248, Madison,WI 53701 Telephone (608) 256-8900
April 25, 1992
Dear Friend of Women,
Help, help, help!
Our Mother's Day appeal has turned into a pre-Mother's Day appeal because of the great need. The Women's Medical Fund is totally out of money, and the sad, sad stories keep pouring in. Today I agreed to help, out of future income, an Asian woman who thinks she is 14 (birthdays aren't important in her culture). She has two children, both born in 1991: one in January and one in December. She shares a two-bedroom apartment with other family membersthere are eight children being cared for in that small space. She is "married," according to her culture, but of course not old enough to be legally married in Wisconsin. The social worker described her as a "bright girl who wants to finish school." She is having Norplant; hope it works.
I just turned away a woman with five children. She is in her second trimester of pregnancy, and the amount she needs is just too great. She is 26; the kids are 10, 8, 7, 5 and 2. When I asked why she had never considered a tubal, she said she had lost her personal medical coverage because of some support money for one of the children. She said she had been stabbed with a knife by the girl friend of one of the children's fathers when she took him to court. It looks like child number six will be born into this ghastly situation.
The Fund will be helping, from future donations, a married woman with seven children who comes from a heavily Catholic community The kids are 15, 14, 12, 9, 6, 4 and 2. She promised to have a tubal; she has public medical assistance. She wanted it at her last delivery, but you know Catholic hospitals. She will go elsewhere for the tubal.
We've agreed this week to help a couple of teenagers whose boyfriends are in jailI hear that so often when I ask, "Can the man involved help you?" Even when he's not in jail, he rarely will help, or can help. Many times I hear, "He told me he wants me to stay pregnant. He wants a boy" Another familiar story is the girl or woman who calls in tears and says, "He promised to bring me some money last night and my appointment is today and he never showed up." Or, famous out, "he says it's not his."
Also to be helped out of new funds is a 14-year-old with a 13-month-old baby. Her parents are newly separated and she has attempted suicide in the past. "If her family knew she was pregnant again, this would cause total havoc," the social worker said. So much for parental consent!
The stories of rape victims ring in my mind. This week a 31-year old Milwaukee woman said, "I was walking home at night, and he was waiting. He dragged me between two boarded-up houses. After the rape I ran. I did not look back." She said she was raped in Feburary and tested positive for HIV last week. The great state of Wisconsin will not pay for abortions performed because of rape unless the rape was reported to police. It does not pay at all for HIV carriers. The state loves to point out that there is "only" a 30% chance that a woman like this will have an HIV baby. A shameless, senseless, anti-woman policy.
We will be helping an epileptic who has had seizures since she was five, poor woman. She is on heavy medication, and she's a recovering alcoholic. She has one child.
Another mother of seven we have offered to help is on probation for beating her children.
This letter is a tiny sampling of requests received this week. Since January 1, 1992 we have paid for, in part or in full, for abortions for 154 women. Last year the Women's Medical Fund, thanks to all of you, paid for about 500 womenwe could have helped thousands had there been the funds.
For those of you who are newcomers to the Fund, the typical check written for a woman is between $100 and $200. If she has a Medical Card under public assistance, most women can get an early abortion for about $200 total. It remains one of the few "bargains" in the U.S. health industry. Most women can find some money, and the Fund's participation makes the abortion possible.
The Fund is now, as it has always been, completely volunteer with bank charges, small fees to state agencies and an annual audit its only outside expenses. Your gift is not diluted by salaries, rent or overhead. And it is helping some of the neediest women in Wisconsin.
If you are a monthly donor or give through NOW's Pledge-A-Picket program, please take a low bow and pass this appeal along to a friend. If you can help at this time, please do so now. Your gift makes possible motherhood by choice, not force. Gifts are deductible for income tax purposes. And thank you all very much.
Anne Gaylor, Administrator
"Why Abortion? The Myth of Choice For Women Who Are Poor" can be purchased online here.