Earlier this month, I went to see a great documentary at DOCNYC about “Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead’s organization, Abortion Access Front. The film, “No One Asked You,” by Ruth Leitman, was funny, full of joy and love, and captured what most of media has missed during this chaotic unraveling of abortion protections in the U.S.—the humanity of the nurses, doctors and escorts who work at abortion clinics in battleground states.
At the showing, I had the honor of meeting Derenda Hancock and Kim Gibson, longtime escorts of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi, the clinic at the heart of the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. The clinic, known as the Pink House, was one of the first centers Lizz and her team visited as part of AAF’s work to provide care, humor and support to these these workers. The Pink House was Mississippi’s last abortion clinic. It has since closed.
One of my main takeaways from “No One Asked You” is something that I and my colleagues at Media Impact Funders have tried to sound the alarm on for some time: The film asserts that we have ceded the narrative around abortion to those who are actively trying to take away our access to it.
Do I need to say why this is a Really.Bad.Thing? Abortion is a (or THE) key issue shaping the 2024 presidential election. We cannot ignore it or write it off as a separate “women’s” issue any longer. The idea that autonomy over one’s body is a pillar of democracy is one that has been successfully challenged. We’ve lost a constitutional right to privacy. The threat to democracy is clear and present. Which means that the need to support a counter-narrative, rooted in reality and science, grows more urgent by the day. But when I look at philanthropic support for media/storytelling/journalism around abortion and reproductive health, I see very little.
Lizz’s org, Abortion Access Front? None of its media work is supported by philanthropy. The podcast, the social content they produce to debunk blatant disinformation? That’s work that they’ve bootstrapped on their own. It’s a labor of love. But it needs significant philanthropic support. Why? All these reasons and more: The continued decline of platforms that center women’s voices (RIP Jezebel). The lack of expertise among reporters covering abortion. The decline of reporters in statehouses, the very places where disinformation is making its way into actual laws—laws that are being passed and hurting women every day.
Keep an eye out for more information on how to watch “No One Asked You.” In the meantime, here’s a little recap our communications associate Adriana Imhof put together: