A is For - Five Years Later

When we embarked on the project of A Is For in March of 2012, none of us at that first meeting expected to be here five years later. We wanted to make a difference, even if we didn’t know exactly how to go about it. But we were angry, we were motivated, and we were ready to learn. Since that first meeting, where the discussions were centered mostly on the disgusting and revealing reaction to Sandra Fluke’s bracing congressional testimony on the importance of the birth control mandate in the ACA, we’ve learned a great deal. We’ve made some mistakes, as is to be expected of a bunch of artists, actors, and professional women who’d never started a not-for-profit advocacy organization before.

There have also been victories, large and small, and eye-opening experiences that have hardened our resolve. We’ve made friends and found allies who’ve enriched our lives, informed our mission and helped us grow our understanding of the tasks that lie before us all –– not to mention the immense history of the movement and the many voices who have been historically and systemically silenced and excluded. Voices that are demonstrably responsible for shaping and developing not only abortion rights advocacy, but feminism and human rights in general. 

We’ve partnered with some of the smartest and most innovative thinkers and activists around, from the incredible staff and supporters of The Center For Reproductive Rights, to Planned Parenthood, to Shout Your Abortion, The 1 in 3 Campaign, and Jane’s Due Process, among many others. 

We’ve raised much-needed funds for groups large and small, providers, provider advocates, and abortion funds local and national. And we’ve helped connect artists, comedians, theater professionals, and writers and performers of all stripes to a network of activists that has long been sidelined in favor of less so-called “controversial” causes. 

We’ve created the first and only annual fundraiser that brings the Broadway community out in force for abortion and reproductive health rights, Broadway Acts for Women. 

But, to be frank, we never wanted to keep doing this forever. 

We had hoped, as so many did, that things would be different today. Surely that was naïve of us. After all, the state legislators who are at the heart of the assault on reproductive civil rights were never going to go quietly, no matter who was in the White House. 

In recent years we’ve seen the movement to end abortion stigma finally get the space it deserves through the tireless and imaginative work of a fabulous spectrum of fired-up and ready-to-go activists, both new to the work and veteran. Finally, it seems, stigma has been revealed as the defining change-agent for abortion rights advocacy and philosophy. It’s about time. This is a massive move in the right direction and one that we are proud to have contributed our small part. 

After years of watching mainstream reproductive rights organizations avoid the very word “abortion” in the media, and seeing the ways in which the need for abortion services was downplayed as an “unfortunate but necessary” aspect of health care (see: the old “Safe, Legal, and Rare” narrative that made abortion seem like the only medical advancement in history we’d rather not admit we needed), we finally see that abortion is a normal and unavoidable reality that cannot be shamed out of existence. Abortion stigma and shame are the central tools our opponents use to silence us and drive legislation that puts our lives at risk. We’re glad that the efforts to refuse this tired attitude have changed the borders of the fight, from Mississippi to Pennsylvania, from the Dakotas to Ireland and Latin America. 

Thank you for being with us in this fight, for your donations over the years, for your visits to our website, and to everyone who’s worn their “A” ribbon with pride. As we embark upon our fifth year doing our best to help, to highlight, and to raise funds, we feel certain that progress HAS, in truth, been made, and that it’s all because of the vast and diverse network of stalwart fighters, doctors, providers, clinic escorts, patients, and legal experts who are out there protecting our right to health care without fear. We hope you’ll continue to help us help them, and to ensure that every human being has the right to control their own body without fear, in safety, and with the respect of their fellow citizens. 

Thank you.

Martha Plimpton and the entire Board of A Is For

Martha Plimpton