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LOCAL News :: Civil & Human Rights

abortion access die-in educates about reproductive health issues

on october 20, around 12 individuals gathered to raise awareness about the lack of access to abortions and other reproductive health issues in downtown Richmond

Members of the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project (RRFP) put out a call to host a Die-In about a month ago. Concerned individuals responded and a community planning effort gave way to the demonstration yesterday.

RRFP members were looking for a way to educate people about the very real threat of the current political situation to those in need of abortion services today. With strictly enforced parental consent laws in Virginia as well as mandatory counseling and a waiting period, people are often sent in search of an alternative to a safe legal clinical abortion. An estimated 46 million women around the world have abortions each year—26 million in countries with liberal abortion laws and 20 million where abortion is restricted or prohibited by law (Alan Guttmacher Institute) Knitting needles, coat hangers, and herbal and chemical tinctures are still quite common across the globe. One woman dies every six minutes due to unsafe abortions or lack of access to abortions worldwide.

Restrictions on abortion services in the United States often result in marginalized women experiencing increased barriers to services. The Hyde Amendment which bans federal Medicaid funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment targets poor women and women of color who statistically receive health care through federal services more frequently. The federal government is currently trying to pass the Teen Endangerment Act which would make it illegal for a minor to cross state lines to receive an abortion if their home state had parental notification laws. Mandatory waiting periods also create another barrier as women need to have the money to stay somewhere overnight if travelling to their provider and also to pay for childcare if necessary. Groups like HAVEN in New York City work to house people coming from other areas for their abortions to help defray those costs.

The National Network of Abortion Funds was created more than 10 years ago to organize around the issue of reducing barriers, thus creating an avenue for individual choice. (www.nnaf.org) Last year, the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project began fundraising and giving out small grants and loans to individuals in search of financial aid for abortions. RRFP also provides transportation to and from clinics when necessary. The die-in is another tool necessary to bring abortion access to the public dialogue.

October is Abortion Access Awareness Month. Please consider donating your time or money to RRFP or any reproductive justice group in your area.

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