The DC Abortion Fund is a nonprofit organization that gives grants to women in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to help pay for abortion services. The organization came under fire recently when conservatives on Twitter viewed a picture of the fund’s thank-you gift for donors. Donors who sign up to give $10 a month or more to funding abortions will get a coat hanger pendant necklace as a sign of thanks.
Cringe-worthy? I’d say so. Here are a few tweets that express the disgust some people felt after hearing about the fund’s donor gifts:
Mike Warren @MichaelRWarren
This is either a very sick parody or a sad reality
What kind of person thinks of this?
Horrific. Disgust is too weak…
News of the backlash against these hanger pendants got back to the DC Abortion Fund. They released a statement from their President, Val Vilott. The article is titled “The Coat Hanger as a Symbol, and Why Abortion Access Matters.”
In the article Vilott states that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Vilott believes people have forgotten the history of women’s “reproductive freedom.” The article states:
The coat hanger has long been a symbol of the reproductive justice movement. The DC Abortion Fund – contrary to recent conservative media reports – has for many years given away a silver coat hanger pendant to our monthly supporters.
Vilott continues to glorify the symbol of the coat hanger, referring to it as a “reminder of women’s suffering when abortion is placed out of reach.” She also refers to the coat hanger as a “promise from reproductive justice advocates to never go back to the grotesque world our anti-choice opponents are striving for: a world without safe access to abortion, where women might have to resort to horrific alternatives like a coat hanger.”
I hate to burst Vilott’s bubble, but a coat hanger is the farthest thing from a symbol of promise or pride. The coat hanger is a tragic reminder of the pain women have suffered seeking to obtain a destructive procedure. The coat hanger is a symbol of the children whose lives have been forever lost to self-induced abortion. The coat hanger tells us of the desperation women in crisis pregnancies endure. This awareness of their fears and burdens should cause us to seek to alleviate their pain through helpful programs, education, financial assistance, and care.
In addition, the stories of countless women using coat hangers for abortion is grossly exaggerated. Pro-life voice Ryan Bomberger recently commented on that in an article for LifeNews. He references a Planned Parenthood presentation given before the American Public Health Association in 1959. In this presentation, Planned Parenthood’s medical director, Dr. Calderone, said, “In 1957, there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind.” Any abortion-related death is an absolute tragedy, but those numbers show that the backstreet abortion industry wasn’t exactly booming – especially in contrast to the high rates of abortion in our present day. Bomberger created a powerful graphic that urges pro-choicers to “hang up the hangers.”
Val Villot got it wrong. Funding abortions for low-income women will not empower them or alleviate their stresses. I only pray that the 20 or so women who call the DC Fund daily looking for abortions will hang up the phone and call a pregnancy resource center instead.