The last of the summer days are beginning to wind down here in the Pacific Northwest and with that we know Fall will soon make it's debut. This edition of our quarterly e-newsletter includes a recap of our fabulous anniversary event, highlights from the Talk Line, and all the latest and greatest news from Backline! We hope you enjoy it!
If you have ideas to share or would like to contribute a future newsletter article, please just let us know.
Shelly DodsonProgram Manager
Join our $10K Fundraising Campaign
By Erika Fox, Talk Line Advocate
I have been volunteering with Backline as a Talk Line advocate for the past year, and I am so proud of our work.
I chose to volunteer my time with Backline because I know how difficult being a parent is and I understand the feelings that can come up through loss of a pregnancy. It was amazing to think that here was an organization that helped women with that and so much more. As I have worked with Backline, I have been blown away by the level of dedication and professionalism that I have seen from this amazing group of women. What I appreciate more than anything about Backline is that the agenda is checked at the door. We are here to help people through the emotionally charged decisions around a pregnancy; we here as a listening ear and a sounding board for whatever they need to talk about.
Our toll-free Talk Line answers calls from people all across the country who need a safe place to talk about their feelings, experiences and decisions about pregnancy, parenting, abortion and adoption. In addition to the Talk Line, Backline uses education, training and advocacy to promote resources and support for pregnancy, parenting, abortion and adoption - so that all people can make the decisions that are right for their lives, without limitation or coercion.
To provide Backline with a solid funding base through the end of 2011, the board and advocates are leading a campaign to raise $10,000 by the end of September. I am happy to report that we are already about half-way there! And now, one very generous donor has pledged to match donations dollar for dollar up to $3,000!
That means this is the perfect time for YOU to donate! Backline operates on a tiny annual budget and your gift of any size will make a considerable impact:
- $2,000 pays the telephone bill for the entire year
- $1,000 supports a 40-hour training for 5 new Talk Line advocates
- $250 prints 5,000 Talk Line outreach cards
- $100 supports a monthly half-day meeting for our team of Talk Line advocates
- $25 mails a packet of Talk Line outreach materials to 5 providers around the country
As a small, volunteer-run organization, every donation to Backline truly makes a difference. And thanks to our new matching gift, every dollar you give will mean two dollars for Backline! I am thrilled to know that my $50 donation has now become $100 to support Backline!
Please help us raise the $3,000 we need in matching gifts by making your donation today. You can give online at http://www.yourbackline.org/donate.html
or send a check to Backline at PO Box 6772 Portland OR 97228.
Backline Celebration Event
On Saturday, July 9th we were honored to be joined by our volunteers, donors and allies to celebrate the one-year anniversary of our Talk Line reopening. It was wonderful to bring everyone together to meet new supporters and reconnect with those who have been with the organization from the beginning.
Our Board President, Parker Dockray, welcomed everyone and talked about Backline's unique contributions and path in the reproductive justice movement:
At Backline, we see the big picture - the big, messy, rich and complicated picture. We understand the connections and continuum of pregnancy, parenting, abortion and adoption... We know there is not one 'right' choice or way to feel about pregnancy, and we respect each woman's decisions, feelings and experiences. We hold all paths and choices as valid possibilities, and believe in women's ability to make the decisions that are best for themselves. And we want our loved ones, our health care providers, our communities, and our government to do the same.
Read Parker's full remarks here.
Grayson Dempsey, one of Backline's founders and our past President, also gave a moving speech about starting the organization, her personal connection to this work, and her excitement for the future of this amazing one-of-a-kind organization.
When Backline opened its Talk Line in November 2003, many of those working professionally in the pro-choice and family planning world didn't really get it. 'Who really needs to talk about their pregnancy decisions? Don't women just want to get their abortions done and then forget all about them? Doesn't Planned Parenthood do that already?' But we put the words Pregnancy, Parenting, Abortion, Adoption out there on our little Kinko-printed cards and the people who saw them got it. The stories I heard on the Talk Line broke my heart, renewed my faith, inspired me to action and humbled me with their truths.
Read Grayson's full remarks here.
You can view more pictures of the event on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Backline/164133273612462
Notes From The Talk Line
On the Talk Line, volunteer Advocates often describe what we do as "holding space." When we talk to callers, we don't set a time limit. We don't push an agenda. We simply help a caller process whatever she or he is feeling. We'd like to offer you a brief glimpse into one recent night on the Talk Line when we had the opportunity to hold that much-needed space for three of our callers.
One young woman called to talk about how her current pregnancy may potentially trigger a relapse with her past drug and alcohol addictions. She wants to access prenatal care and support for her addictions but was concerned that her past involvement with the criminal justice system and child protective services with her other child will impact the care that she receives. While she has recently reunited with her 3-year-old and worked very hard to rebuild her life, she does not want to go through that process again. She feels like she is constantly swimming upstream without any support from the systems she must work within.
A concerned father called to find out how best to support his daughter after her abortion. He wants to be there and provide comfort and support for his daughter but is having a challenging time because it is hard for him to see her grieving and in emotional pain. She is currently in college, working full-time and has struggled very hard to succeed due to a learning disability. He knew that the decision was difficult and believes that she made the best choice for herself. He talked about how hard it is to see someone that you love hurting and instinctually wanting to "fix it" to take the pain away or encourage them to move forward with their life so that he does not have to see her in pain.
Our last caller of the evening was a woman who called to talk about pregnancy options. She wants to parent but worries that she will not have the financial resources to make ends meet because she recently lost her job and has two older children. She feels that it would be difficult to have a third child and that she would have to make many sacrifices for herself and her other children. Her last pregnancy was very difficult both physically and emotionally. One of her children has ongoing medical concerns that takes up a lot of her time and energy. She identified feeling angry at herself for making such a "stupid mistake" in getting pregnant and that she "should have known better." She wants to make the best decision not only for herself but also her family and doesn't feel that any choice is ideal.
Many of our callers' stories and experiences go unspoken or are silenced in the public discussion of reproductive choice. But at Backline our team of amazing volunteer advocates is here to listen - 7 days/week, 365 days/year - to each caller's diverse and complex experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion and adoption.
Are you interested in making a difference in the lives of women and men all across the country by providing unbiased and unconditional support? Backline has a variety of volunteer and internship opportunities available. At this time Talk Line Advocates must live in the Portland Metro area. Visit our Idealist page for more information!
Resource Corner: Birthing Justice
By Parker Dockray
In the Resource Corner we introduce, explore, and highlight organizations that are working to transform the conversations around abortion, adoption, parenting, and across the spectrum of pregnancy experiences. This edition focuses on Birth Justice.
Conversations about reproductive health and rights tend to focus on the right to become a parent or not, and the decision to continue or end a pregnancy. One topic that is less often discussed is social justice and the rights of women in labor. And so, we are happy to introduce you to the following organizations that are doing amazing work to support women and promote birth justice!
Radical Doula is an amazing blog written by Miriam Zoila Perez. Miriam founded Radical Doula in 2007 as a way to connect the dots between issues that are often seen as contradictory: reproductive rights, birth activism, doula work, LGBT issues, immigrant rights, racial justice. She wanted to connect with other like-minded doulas with radical and intersectional politics, working across movements and oppressions.
Black Women Birthing Justice
Black Women Birthing Justice is a collective of African-American, African, Caribbean and multiracial women who are committed to transforming birthing experiences for Black women. Our vision is that that every woman should have an empowering birthing experience free of unnecessary medical interventions. Our goals are to educate women to advocate for themselves, to document birth stories, and to raise awareness about birthing alternatives. We aim to challenge medical violence, rebuild women's confidence in giving birth naturally and decrease disproportionate maternal mortality.
National Advocates for Pregnant Women
National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) works to secure the human and civil rights, health and welfare of all women, focusing particularly on pregnant and parenting women, and those who are most vulnerable - low income women, women of color, and drug-using women. Here you can download NAPW's working paper on birth justice as reproductive justice.
Please contact us if you would like to recommend other resources on parenting, or if you have suggestions for future Resource Corner highlights!
Backline . PO Box 6772 . Portland OR 97228
503.287.4344 . yourbackline.org
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Backline promotes unbiased and unconditional support for women's choices about pregnancy, parenting, abortion and adoption. Our vision is of a world where all people have the information, support and resources they need to make the decisions that are best for their lives, without limitation or coercion.
Staff & Board
J. Parker Dockray
"Thank you so much for being there. I am so appreciative for feeling as though I have someone on my side. No one else in my life really understood how I was feeling or what I was going through in making this decision."
~ Backline Caller
"I believe in Backline because I believe in women. I believe in our journeys, our struggles, and our triumphs. When we can work together - as women, and as people who love and support the women in our lives - we can challenge our perceptions, reform relationships and give each other space to make the best decisions we can, with the best information, resources and support we have available."
~ Sarah, Talk Line Advocate since February 2011
Dr. George Tiller,
In Memoriam * Abortion Care Network * Access for Women; The Office of Amy Cousins * ACCESS Women's Health Justice * Allentown Women's Center * Amara* Aurora Medical Services * Cherry Hill Women's Center * Family Planning Associates Medical Group * Friends in Adoption * Hartford GYN Center * Houston Women's Clinic * Lovejoy Surgicenter * National Advocates for Pregnant Women * Open Adoption and Family Services * Philadelphia Women's Center * Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/ Willamette * Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest * Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains * Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon * Preterm * Red River Women's Clinic * Spence Chapin Adoption Services * A Woman's Choice of Raleigh & Jacksonville * Women's Options Center at SFGH
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"I was really struck by a moment in the call when, simply through the process of talking through her own feelings while I listened, the caller shifted into a real place of clarity, saying, 'I want to move forward with what's good in my life. I just really have the sincere desire to be well.' This really touched me. That desire is so universal and every woman that calls has so much wisdom in her own process if she allows herself to really follow the thread as she talks
~ Jocelyn, Advocate since October 2010