Thursday, August 16, 2018

Margaret Cho Is Headliner of Choice for St. Louis Fund Helping with Abortion's Costs

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 9:11 AM

click to enlarge Featured performer Margaret Cho - PIXIE VISION
  • PIXIE VISION
  • Featured performer Margaret Cho

On average, Missouri women must travel 100 miles and wait 72 hours after their first consultation to get an abortion. These obstacles can make an abortion difficult to attain, even if Roe v. Wade ensures that it remains technically legal. Lodging, daycare and transportation are all expenses that get added on to the cost of the procedure. For many women, it is simply too high a hurdle.

The Gateway Women’s Access Fund is aiming to neutralize these barriers and help to provide additional money for women seeking to end a pregnancy who also need a little financial help. This tiny all-volunteer organization has hosted quite a few smaller fundraisers, but coming up this Sunday is their biggest event yet: comedian Margaret Cho headlining a night of community and comedy at Delmar Hall.

Launched in 2015, the fund raises money and distributes it to partnering clinics across the Midwest including Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, Planned Parenthood Great Plains, the Hope Clinic in Granite City and the South Winds Women’s Center in Wichita and and Oklahoma City. The clinics then decide how to distribute the allowances.



Dr. Colleen McNicholas is a St. Louis-area OB/GYN and an abortion provider. When McNicholas witnessed what was happening to financially strapped women after the 72-hour waiting period was implemented, she came together with other women with the same mission to form a fund to help them out.

“We didn’t have any sort of independent fund [before this] where people could get some help to pay for their abortion,” Dr. McNicholas explained, “And the truth is mostly they need help with traveling. If you’re traveling 100 miles, it’s not just the cost of the abortion, it’s the daycare and the gas and the everything else. We raised money for about a year before we started providing money to clinics and we are currently at about $95,000 that we have distributed in funds in the last two and a half years. And we’ve funded over 800 abortions, so I’m really proud of the work that we’ve been able to do in a very short time.”

click to enlarge GWAF parties are always a good time - IMAGECOURTESY OF GWAF
  • imagecourtesy of GWAF
  • GWAF parties are always a good time

Dr. McNicholas says the all-volunteer board of just seven people does “really rewarding work,” but that doesn’t mean that it’s always serious stuff. The access fund crew knows how to mix business with pleasure. That's why their big event features Cho and will focus on celebrating sisterhood and solidarity.

The 750-capacity venue will be transformed into a comedy club with both high and low cocktail tables and plenty of tasty treats including barbecue from Salt + Smoke. In addition to Cho’s comedy routine, the fund's organizers will also take a moment at the event to hand out awards to their volunteer of the year and a couple of other hard workers who have unified or galvanized the St. Louis pro-choice community.

Speaking of choice, Cho was an easy — and perfect — choice to be the evening's entertainment.

“She’s just amazing,” Dr. McNicholas said, “She’s a queer person, she’s a person of color and she’s someone who had talked openly about her own abortion and so that all felt really affirming and appropriate for St. Louis right now. I think that we are really in this unique position where there are so many of these justice movements going on at one time and if we could just sort of bridge the gap and help people see that they are really all the same fight, and I think that she is really a good embodiment of that. She’s a great example of how we have these intersectional identities and we should all be working on the same boat.”

If you want to reserve a spot on the progressive boat, you can buy a ticket for the event through BrownPaperTickets.com. There are also other opportunities to give at the ticketing site — like the option to enter into a raffle to meet Cho after the show, to sponsor a student to attend or just to pass on some money for the cause.

click to enlarge IMAGE COURTESY OF GWAF
  • image courtesy of GWAF

Email the author at jaime.lees@riverfronttimes.com
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