Bowled Over — Laura Tatham

On April 21st, along with 250 of my closest pro-choice buds, I headed over to Bowlmor Lanes to participate in a bowl-a-thon in support of the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF). This event was part of the 4th annual nationwide fundraiser organized by the National Network of Abortion Funds and the event I attended raised $85,000. But before I regale you with stories of my bowling failures (of which there are many) let me give you some background on NYAAF and the basics of abortion funding.

NYAAF is an all-volunteer run organization that works directly with clinics in the New York area. When a clinic has a patient who is in need of financial or transportation assistance, they turn to NYAAF to help cover part of the cost. NYAAF, funded by individual donations, supports anyone who is unable to fully pay for an abortion and lives in (or is traveling to) New York State. I make this distinction because NYAAF has served women in need who have traveled from a bunch of neighboring states (including my lovely home state of New Jersey). Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, and Maryland are all on that list and NYAAF has granted access to safe, clean abortion facilities to women who have traveled from Texas, Utah, and Bermuda.

Abortion funds are a great example of grassroots organizing. Abortion funds get money directly to women in need of reproductive care and, in many cases, these individually raised funds are a woman’s only support as they struggle to find the money to pay for abortion procedures. This is what I love about abortions funds (overlooking of course, that they became a necessity due to legislation like the Hyde Amendment and our country’s increasingly restrictive bans on abortion). Most abortion funds across the country come from grassroots organizations that work directly with the women they are supporting, with some going as far to open their homes to women who are traveling from different states to receive care. From paying for the procedure itself, to covering transportation costs, to providing childcare during the procedure, these funds work to make what seems impossible, possible. In addition to abortion care, these funds offer access to emergency contraception and options counseling. In a time where more teens are being taught irresponsible, dangerous (I feel so many adjectives about this) abstinence-only education, these funds help to educate and empower women. With the introduction of the Hyde amendment in 1977, a woman’s funding for abortion procedures are less attainable today than they were at the inception of Roe. V. Wade. Abortion funds fill the increasingly widening gap within our healthcare system and, in short, they pick up the slack.

Along with a number of volunteers across the country, abortion funds become a reality due to the generosity of individuals. I was overwhelmed by the amazing response from all my friends and family members after I initially sent out my “give me money to fund abortions, please!” email. This was the first fundraiser I had participated in, and at first, it was a bit intimidating. When I originally signed up and saw that the suggested fundraising goal was $350 I thought, “Well, that’s a stretch” and lowered my goal to $300. However, after a round of emails and some very enthusiastic Facebook posting (some of which may have involved me posting photos of cats bowling) I exceeded my goal. So, feeling gutsy, I raised it to $400 and a few days later I exceeded that, too. I was thrilled, especially because I knew every cent given to NYAAF went directly to a woman in need.

The event itself was fantastic. I think my best game was a 63 and am fairly certain that is well below the national average, but thankfully, whatever talent feminists possess for raising money and just generally kicking ass, does not translate to the bowling alley. Looking around I was relieved to see that everyone was pretty terrible. But getting to drink wine at three in the afternoon with some lovely feminists I know and admire kind of makes up for the collective lack of skill, and while the wine does not in any way improve your game, it does make you care less. But one skill that was definitely not lacking that day was the ability to craft the perfect pun. Anyone who says feminists do not have a sense of humor must not enjoy puns. Because we are so good at those. A few examples of amazing team names from the event I attended include: Roll v. Wade, Just Roe with it, Nuvablings, Planned Spare-nthood, and my personal favorite, The Dia-Frames (I literally cannot type that one without chucking). So, after about two hours of bowling and scavenging the free food left out for us (fried mac n’cheese!) the event was over and we were told we had raised $85,000. So, as I walked out of Bowlmor Lanes that afternoon, I did it with a huge grin of success, as the proud team captain of the mighty Plan B-owl.

And on that note, let me promote another fundraiser NYAAF is holding! On May 24th, they are hosting punk rock karaoke, which means with a measly $8 donation at the door you are just minutes away from drinking scotch and pretending to be Stza as you belt out Choking Victim songs in front of a bunch of feminists. What could possibly be better than that?


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