Cleveland Bowling Fundraiser Makes Reproductive Rights a Reality for Low-Income Women

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Anna Malefatto is Development and Communications Coordinator for Preterm, where she coordinates marketing and fundraising efforts. She is proud to raise funds that make abortion accessible for women in Northeast Ohio. Anna grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida and earned her B.A. at Clark University in 2010. Scene is cosponsoring the April 21 Preterm Bowl-a-Thon fundraiser.

When I moved to Cleveland in 2014, I felt lost. I didn’t know where, or even if, I would find Cleveland folks who shared my values and passion to ensure every woman has a right to determine her future, including the deeply personal decision of whether or not to become a parent.

But then I found Preterm. In March of last year, I saw a Facebook post about Preterm’s Bowl-a-Thon and thought, “This is it! These are my people!” Preterm’s Bowl-a-Thon has given me the opportunity to connect with my community.

Preterm, which has been the most respected abortion provider in Cleveland since 1974, is a nonprofit clinic that raises money to provide financial assistance to women who cannot afford abortion care. Since 2010, Preterm has been part of the National Network of Abortion Funds’ nationwide series of Bowl-a-Thon fundraisers, which raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help women and pay for abortions.

Financial assistance to ensure all women can obtain quality abortion care is needed now more than ever. Women in Ohio and across the country are experiencing the effect of growing restrictions on abortion care. One of the most harmful laws is the ban on Medicaid coverage of abortion. Although Ohio’s economy has been slowly recovering from the recession, far too many women and families in Cleveland continue to live in poverty. When a woman is worrying about finding or keeping a job, finishing school, and putting food on the table, anything unexpected—especially an unwanted pregnancy—can be financially devastating. And however we feel about abortion, politicians should not be able to deny a woman health care just because she’s poor.

Fortunately for our community, Preterm continues to make a critical difference in women’s lives. On April 21, Preterm will host its 7th annual Bowl-a-Thon, with a goal of raising $50,000 for the Preterm Access Fund—all of which will go directly to financial aid for patients. Besides raising desperately-needed funds, Preterm’s Bowl-a-Thon also gives reproductive rights, health, and justice advocates a way to join together and make a real impact in our community.

Last year, I raised over $300 for abortion access. This year, I am lucky enough to work at Preterm and to get to dedicate every day to making reproductive rights a reality for women in my new community. I am honored to amplify the gratitude and relief our patients feel and share it with the donors and supporters who help us keep our doors open. In return, once a year, our donors help us do the hard work of raising money and engaging the community in meaningful conversations about abortion. This year, nearly 100 activists have signed on to the Bowl-a-Thon to ask their friends, family, coworkers, hairstylists, chiropractors, and tattoo artists to support Cleveland women’s reproductive choices.

We are all inspired by the women who come to Preterm and share a bit of their lives with us. Like the single mother of two, who was finishing community college and wanted to be a good mother to her children. Or the woman who was injured and unable to work, but still had to provide for her 4-year-old. Or the woman who was alone and afraid and received compassion and kindness at a difficult time in her life, who told us: “Thanks to your organization I was able to take control of my life, something I think about and am grateful for every single day. Perhaps this seems strange to say, but I found the experience incredibly inspiring and eye-opening. You all truly save lives, and I am so grateful for that.”

I hope the future brings a tide of compassion and respect for people accessing abortion. With that tide, I hope to see a change of mind in politicians who interfere with the personal health care decisions women make every day. But, until then, Preterm and our dedicated community of supporters will fight tirelessly to give back decision making power to women, and have a great time bowling while we do so.

For more information about the event on April 21 and how to donate, see here.

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