New Orleans Abortion Fund
“We met over a cup of coffee,” Amy Irvin, co-founder of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, shared about teaming up with Jessie Nieblas to start the community-based organization in 2012. “We saw the need and were quite aware of the very restrictive laws here in Louisiana that make it difficult to access abortion.”
Since its founding, the all-volunteer fund has grown into a team of ten dedicated volunteers, a network of over 200 devoted supporters, and numerous partnerships with community organizations and student groups across Louisiana, all fighting for women’s reproductive autonomy in a state with some of the most prohibitive laws in the country.
“I think what has made NOAF unique is that we recognized the need for advocacy early on and knew that it would be a core objective of our work because we’re working within such a hostile environment,” says Irvin. It is that environment and the threat of new laws modeled on those in Texas that inspired NOAF to join forces with various networks, student groups, and community partners to create the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom in March of 2014. Together, they mobilized and played an influential part in the fight against restrictive legislation.
Although Louisiana's legislature passed a number of devastating new laws in 2014 that will hinder access and safety for women, NOAF continues to be proactive through outreach and organizing, continuously strengthening and expanding its grassroots network. The fund has dedicated itself to supporting clinics, providing logistical support like transportation and housing for women if clinics do close, collaborating with supporters both in and outside Louisiana, and continuing its work as a member of the Legislative Agenda for Women. And in addition to collecting the stories of the women who call NOAF's hotline, the fund is focused on bringing these women into the work of the abortion fund itself.
Amy Irvin and NOAF activists are motivated, hopeful, and confident in themselves and the women of New Orleans for their commitment to continue this fight. As Irvin says, “When you are talking about these issues you aren’t just talking about the right to abortion, you are talking about a right to a quality of life and to live out your own destiny.”
Pictured: New Orleans Abortion Fund board members delivering petitions to Governor Jindal's office
Read more about the New Orleans Abortion Fund:
- New Orleans Abortion Fund website
- Interview with NOAF co-founder Amy Irvin, February 2014
- The Fight for women's health continues, by New Orleans Abortion Fund board member Bethany Van Kampen and Liz Wagner of Tulane Law Students for Reproductive Justice, February 2014
Thanks to Nina Haddad, Summer 2014 National Network of Abortion Funds intern, for this interview and spotlight.