In order to build power and make abortion access possible, abortion funds are making the most of our collective power to shift culture and change the conditions around abortion access. We believe dialogue, storytelling, and intentional conversations are powerful tools for organizing and strengthening our movement along with movement-wide culture and policy campaigns like our recent Heart-to-Heart Abortion Conversations campaign and All* Above All’s Bold the Future.
Mars Earle participated as a featured Black reproductive justice leader in the Heart-to-Heart campaign and Carolina Abortion Fund hosted a Bold the Future event. Mars says:
“I really want there to be more space to act on the kinds of amazing creativity that abortion funds have. Abortion funds are already doing ingenious things to respond to their communities needs — moving through scarcity, being on the ground and invested in community, providing practical support — I think they’re spaces with a lot of adaptability when we can move beyond the constant, urgent need for more money. We need to be able to keep our heads above water so we can respond to need and serve our people in holistic ways.”
Inspiring Bold the Future Events
In early November, 2017 we kicked off a BOLD The Future week of action with All* Above All, which works to lift bans that deny abortion coverage. Funds across the US have been working overtime to put together multiple events, and we were floored with the number of creative, thoughtful ideas that will come to life. Here are the funds who participated!
- Abortion Fund of Arizona
- ACCESS Women’s Health Justice (CA)
- ARC-Southeast (GA/SE)
- Baltimore Abortion Fund
- Carolina Abortion Fund
- Emergency Medical Assistance (FL)
- Gateway Fund (MO)
- Hoosier (IN)
- Jane Fund of Central MA
- Kentucky Health Justice Network
- Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund
- New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
- New York Abortion Access Fund
- TEA Fund (TX)
- Women’s Medical Fund PA
- Women for Women (WY)
- Women Have Options (OH)
- Women’s Medical Fund WI
- West Virginia FREE
- Yellowhammer Fund (AL)
We also had several events led by individual members!
Events ranged from large parties to small living room conversations. Some events included partnerships with other organizations and put funds in front of new audiences. Some funds used Heart-to-Heart Abortion Conversations in intimate spaces and connected more deeply with select people.
Holding our people close and inviting them into our space to heal, to build trust, and to take action IS the work. We thank everyone who participated!
Heart-to-Heart Abortion Conversations Bring Love to February
During the month of February, we actively practiced culture change by sharing our values of compassion, intersectionality, collective power, and autonomy with our loved ones through Heart-to-Heart Abortion Conversations. These four values play an essential role in grounding us in the transformative work we can do together, and are especially important to bring into conversations about abortion so we can speak from our hearts and carefully listen to what others have to say. We hope that being able to practice and learn as part of a community enabled those of you who participated to create long-lasting and deep-seated shifts around the way people in our lives think and talk about abortion.Samantha Romero describes the importance of culture change campaigns:
“We’re creating a new generation of leaders to contribute to culture shift. NNAF has provided me and West Fund with resources, and it makes investing in leadership more possible, which makes our work sustainable and worthwhile. Culture change looks like a strong base who comes out to vote, and supporters who talk about abortion. [Culture change campaigns] make our voices stronger. I think of social media and how having a cohesive message is so important when you’re having these conversations.”
This Heart-to-Heart Abortion Conversations campaign is a cultural change moment that seeks to engage friends, family, and acquaintances in generative conversations about abortion access, reproductive justice, and abortion funds. Heart-to-hearts serve as a catalyst to grow your leadership, deepen connections, and make abortion access a reality. By tapping into love and empathy, speaking from our values, and seeking to understand and really hear others, we will be able to connect and build relationships, even when we don’t agree on everything about abortion.
We invited individual members, donors, fund members, and our online supporters to share their values and thoughts about abortion access. Heart-to-Heart Abortion Conversations were also created to grow the leadership of fund members to champion a cultural change strategy through storytelling and popular education while welcoming curious and committed members into a political home with the National Network of Abortion Funds.
Women Have Options / Ohio held an incredible Heart-to-Heart Training for 180 people in Columbus, Ohio, as their Executive Director, Stephanie Sherwood, describes:
“In celebration of the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Freedom of Choice Ohio coalition held a “lunch and learn” gathering to help break the stigma surrounding abortion access. Together, we learned how to share our stories, values, and beliefs through the National Network of Abortion Funds’ “heart-to-heart conversations” about reproductive health and justice. 180 folks showed up on that afternoon, packing the fellowship hall of the First Universal Unitarian Church in Columbus, Ohio. Only 140 people signed up, so there was a bit of scrambling for seats and tables, but it was a good problem to have. We had 12 trained Heart-to-Heart table leads and offered the Heart-to-Heart training over the course of just under two hours. We did the community building and agreements at the tables, general info sharing as a large group and deeper/more intimate conversation at the tables.”
It was a beautifully powerful event to hear folks share their stories and plan impactful conversations with folks near and dear to them. Several folks shared that they now felt comfortable and that they had good tools for talking with family members or friends whom they have wanted to have a good discussion with. One person disclosed after that they had a productive conversation with an estranged uncle and met their reasonable goal of no name-calling (big win). She said it was the first time connecting with him in years.”
MARIA Fund in Mexico also held an event, as did Preterm in Cleveland, Ohio, and our Movement Makers group held heart-to-hearts with their loved ones as well.
We set goals to engage 300 people during the month of February to have intimate conversations, or Heart-to-Hearts, about abortion access and reproductive justice. We surpassed that goal and had over 900 conversations! Conversations lovingly tapped into our ability to empathize, listen, and work to more deeply understand what it’s like to navigate the nuanced landscape of abortion access.
We also worked to widen and deepen support for abortion access, especially within communities of color, by lifting up the voices of Black leaders in the abortion access and reproductive justice movement. We featured 10 Black leaders in abortion access and on our staff in storytelling and conversation with our Black and Bold Heart to Heart conversation deck. Additionally, we hosted a virtual Heart-to-Heart Abortion conversation with Black leaders who have organized at the intersections of reproductive justice and Black liberation, including NNAF Executive Director Yamani Hernandez, Oriaku Njoku of Access Reproductive Care-Southeast, Brittany Mostiller of Chicago Abortion Fund, Justina Trim of SisterSong, and Kei Williams of Movement Net Lab.
One of our favorite moments happened on social media when people wore their “Everyone Loves Someone Who Had an Abortion” membership shirts to flip the script on Valentine’s Day.
Lucy Marshall, Individual Member and Abortion Fund Leader from Women’s Medical Fund in Madison, Wisconsin shared her experience:
“After I shared a selfie on Valentine’s Day, I had more than five people from random realms of my life approach me both virtually and in-person to share their excitement about the “Everyone Loves Someone Who Had an Abortion” shirt. They wanted to learn more about NNAF and abortion funds! I haven’t spoken to or seen some of these people since high school, none of them had heard of abortion funds before this. It was the first time I had discussed abortion with them at all. A few of them told me they will become individual members of NNAF and anchor in their local funds. One person lives in a rural, anti-abortion area in Illinois — she wants to volunteer, so I’ll be connecting her with Chicago Abortion Fund!”
We also loved when people used emojis on Instagram to describe how their conversations went, ranging from empowering and loving to challenging and complex.
We know we are succeeding in shifting culture because over 900 individuals, 22 abortion funds, and 20 movement organizations participated during February. More than that, many who had heart-to-hearts commented on how close they felt with their loved ones after connecting over values, even if the conversations were challenging. By stepping into these beautifully powerful conversations, we are not only getting closer with people in our lives but also closer to the world we envision, a world in which everyone can voice their needs and have them met with compassion and respect.