Abortion Fund of Ohio has helped Ohioans access safe abortions for the last 20 years.
Maggie Scotese, an attorney, doula, and Interim Executive Director of AFO, chatted with me in November about the past and future of abortion here. Since then, the AFO has had to temporarily close due to lack of funding.
Below, I highlight who AFO is, how you can help Ohioans continue to access safe, legal, abortion, and highlights from my chat with Ms. Scotese.
Who is Abortion Fund of Ohio?
Today, AFO still provides tangible assistance for abortion access. But networking with criminal defense attorneys has become a focus of the advocacy work AFO provides, in addition to medical training of professionals working directly with patients having emergencies while pregnant.
Legislation criminalizing providers or community members having abortions makes this essential work for AFO; and is an unfortunate necessity. And while funds donated to AFO go directly to assist a community member with an abortion no questions asked, it’s the back-end advocacy, education, and collaboration that facilitates access.
In short, AFO provides funds and practical assistance to anyone in Ohio who has trouble paying for or otherwise accessing, abortion. And, they advocate for safe and legal access when not working with the community directly.
What Does Abortion Fund of Ohio Value?
The way AFO puts their mission and values into practice is multifaceted. With real-time and intentional effort, AFO has community partners both local to Central Ohio and across the state and nation.
Ms. Scotese shared that Abortion Fund of Ohio will assist in as many ways as they can; providing confidential, respectful interactions with people who need funds, transportation, and emotional support. Maintaining that person’s integrity is key, and forefront of how AFO operates.
What Can We All Do to Help Keep Abortion Accessible?
There are as many different options to keep abortion legal and accessible:
One way is to set up recurring donations to AFO. “No amount of recurring donation is too small,” Ms. Scotese said. Every donation goes directly to a person waiting for an abortion.
Set up recurring donations to AFO or learn more about it here.
Who Does Abortion Fund of Ohio Help?
Anyone who is pregnant and wants an abortion who is legally at the limit of gestation can obtain assistance from AFO. The Fund has worked closely with the ACLU of Ohio and NASW Ohio on preserving the dignity of minors while obtaining safe, legal, abortion.
To learn more about how to otherwise get involved, check out the AFO website, here.
What Comes Next?
Brittany Watts, a Black woman in Trumbull County, Ohio, had a miscarriage. After being repeatedly denied treatment when having bleeding and visiting the hospital, she is now charged with abuse of a corpse. The county prosecutor, who is a Democrat, insists that he is duty-bound to uphold Ohio law, passing this on to the Grand Jury, who will decide whether or not to prosecute Ms. Watts for having an alleged spontaneous miscarriage.
Trumbull County, where Ms. Watts is being prosecuted, is 86% white.
According to Ohio Health Policy News in 2022,
Black women in Ohio are 2.2 times more likely to die from a cause related to pregnancy and have a 1.85 times higher rate of maternal morbidity (i.e., health problems related to pregnancy and childbirth) than white women.
Prosecuting a woman, a Black woman, for having a miscarriage at 22 weeks, after she was denied care because of the restrictive law around ethically preserving her life, is an unacceptable low. The mere weeks between Ohio enshrining abortion and charging Ms. Watts with abuse of a corpse isn’t an accident. Every step of the way this very event could have been prevented: and that has nothing to do with the woman unjustly charged with a normal event that occurs frequently in many people’s bodies.
When speaking to Ms. Scotese in November, she shared that it’s often medical providers who are “the weakest link” when it comes to cloudy legal and criminal, medical emergencies. Part of what Abortion Fund of Ohio does is, train direct-care medical and mental health staff to understand their roles in real time.
“The community has the right to make their own choices about their families, and when or if, to have one, and their own healthcare,” Ms. Scotese reaffirmed in our call in November.
What a radically Democratic assertion.
What Can I Do Right Now for abortion in Ohio?
Did you set up recurring donations to AFO yet? Consider it here.
Check out the National Abortion Fund if you need money right now for an abortion.
Have you heard of self-managed abortion? Learn more about that here.
Consider donating to Ms. Watts’ GoFundMe.
Want to tell the Trumbull County, Ohio Prosecutor’s Office to drop charges against Ms. Watts? Contact them here.
Talk about abortion. Do it as often as you can. Normalize it. There is nothing immoral about abortion-and everyone can share that information for free.