Crystal Hayling is the Executive Director of The Libra Foundation
I urge you to join with me in a frontline struggle for health equity: ensuring abortion access.
In communities across America, people of color live – and die – with the devastating consequences of deeply inequitable healthcare. Systemic racism leads doctors to ignore Black women’s pain, often with fatal consequences. Our for profit healthcare structure leads many Americans to raise funds from friends, family and strangers online for their diabetes medicine or cancer treatment or – quite literally – die trying.
Widespread denial of abortion access harms BIPOC and poor communities first and worst. Over 60% of people seeking abortions identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander and 75% are low-income. People denied abortions face four times the odds that both the parent and the child will live below the federal poverty line. Yet 89% of U.S. counties have no abortion providers at all, and even geographic proximity doesn’t guarantee access in a world where women are forced to choose between healthcare, rent or food.
It is urgent for funders, especially my colleagues in the health, gender and racial justice spaces, to step up on this crucial health equity issue — now. Much of my own career in philanthropy has been spent fighting for health equity. As CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation, I spearheaded work to advance universal health coverage. At the California Wellness Foundation, I led an initiative to reframe youth violence prevention from a criminal justice issue to a public health effort. Now, as the Executive Director of The Libra Foundation, I am working with colleagues to double down our commitment to reproductive justice, including abortion access.
The Libra Foundation began years ago to focus our grantmaking on communities of color on the frontlines of change. We doubled our grantmaking last year to help our grantees meet the multiple challenges of 2020—in public health, the economy, and in our democracy. The Libra team’s guiding principle is that those who are closest to the issues understand those issues the best. They are most equipped to build and implement solutions in their communities.
This means funding independent abortion clinics and local abortion funds on the ground. se brave and resourceful grantees are working with patients to help pay for procedures, negotiate childcare and make travel arrangements. They are ensuring patient safety despite the constant presence of screaming, sometimes violent protesters. They risk their own lives, often traveling across state lines to perform safe abortions in places where the lack of providers means that the legal right to abortion is largely theoretical. We stand with them.
We hope you will join us in funding groups working on reproductive justice – creating a world where pregnant people have not just the freedom to have an abortion, but also the right to choose to have children and raise them in safe, healthy environments. Join us in ensuring that transgender people have access to the full range of reproductive and sexual health services without stigma. Let’s make sure that pregnant people seeking support don’t end up at “crisis pregnancy centers” where ideological agendas trump medical expertise and unlicensed, untrained staff often compromise the health and safety of the individuals they purport to “help.”
action, not more empty political debates. Grantmakers concerned with women’s issues must understand that policy doesn’t mean much without practitioners. Join me in investing in the frontline groups making reproductive justice and health equity a reality – not a theory enshrined in law, but a practice in the lives of pregnant people wherever they live and whatever their color, class or gender identity. We hope the information, stories, data and resources you find in this toolkit help you get involved. Join us!
Executive Director, Libra Foundation
Board Member, NCRP