University of Wisconsin–Madison

AHA: Giving to a Controversial Cause

Every semester, AHA collects donations for a charity. This past year we raised money at our kickoff meeting, Freethought Speaker Series, Freethought Festival, and our Blasphemy Bake Sales for the Women’s Medical Fund (WMF).
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WMF was founded in 1976 by Anne Nicol Gaylor, one of the founders of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to financially assist people who needed abortions but couldn’t afford them. Since their founding, WMF has helped more than 20,000 people access abortions, which includes survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, people who are homeless, people who are disabled or ill, and people who are as young as 11. WMF usually grants or loans up to half of the cost of an abortion, although in some cases more may be granted. Typically this means $200 for an early termination, or $300-$400 for a second semester abortion.
Abortion is currently legal in Wisconsin, but with some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation and only three clinics left in the state (after the Appleton clinic was closed due to inadequate security against anti-choice violence), the procedure is not accessible to everyone who needs it. What’s more, the Hyde amendment, passed in 1976, says that no federal funds can be used to pay for an abortion, which means that people who are on Medicaid have to pay for abortions out of pocket, which often results in foregoing the payment of other bills or necessities. Also, because there are only three clinics in the state, and any patient who wants an abortion is required to attend a state-directed counseling session designed to discourage them from having an abortion and then begin a waiting period of 24 hours before the procedure, a person seeking an abortion may need to travel, take time off work, and find childcare for any children they already have in order to access the procedure. For someone tight on money this may be an impossible burden; WMF seeks to ease the financial blow by offering to help fund the procedure itself.

Anne Nicol Gaylor passed away last summer, which prompted us to select Women’s Medical Fund as our charity of choice, along with the rolling out of new restrictions on abortion in Wisconsin in December. This year, instead of depending mainly on donations during Freethought Festival and at meetings throughout the year, we became proactive in fundraising and started holding “Blasphemy Bake Sales”: We’d get a group together and bake cupcakes and brownies, and decorate our baked goods with little flags with various blasphemous words. Then that weekend we’d go out on State Street and advertise our wares to the public; best sellers included flags that said “anal beads”, “I <3 sex” and of course, “abortion.” Each bake sale raised at least $100, which made it worthwhile when a scheduled bake sale took place on an unusually cold night for April. From this whole school year, which includes bake sales and donations from events, we’ve raised $507.56 for the Women’s Medical Fund. We’re honored to be able to help the people of Wisconsin who are affected by extreme anti-choice laws and the lack of abortion access in our state.

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