Plenty of brands are now showing their feminist spirit by creating T-shirts with catchy slogans like “GRL PWR” or “Girls support girls” or “Nevertheless, she persisted” printed across the front. But how many brands are going so far as to create campaigns that directly fund — and in fact, save — endangered abortion clinics in America? That’s not so common.
Meet Wildfang, the feminist clothing and lifestyle brand that yes, sells those T-shirts, but has also launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund — and help save — the last abortion clinic in South Dakota, which is a Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls.
Why is Wildfang doing this now? Jan. 22 marked the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and in the spirit of fighting to protect a person’s right to an abortion, Wildfang wants to save this particular clinic and ensure that people in and around South Dakota aren’t forced to go back to a time when abortion access was unreachable.
“Right now in the states, we’re at this critical point where things could go backwards,” Wildfang CEO Emma McIlroy said in an interview. “There’s at least seven states where there’s only one abortion clinic and all of those are on the brink of extinction. We thought, should we give money to them from every order? Everything seemed like it wouldn’t be a big enough impact. Then the idea came up that we could raise enough money to keep a clinic open for one year.”
McIlroy and Wildfang sought out the South Dakota clinic not only because it is the last abortion clinic in a state notorious for trying to encroach upon abortion rights, but because of a moving phone call with its employees.
“A few weeks ago when we first had this idea, I got on a call with the women who run that clinic,” McIlroy said. “The work that they do and the challenges they face, and yet they remain resilient, positive and humble. People think Wildfang does a good job and we get love from people who support us. But for them, there’s no love for them. They have to fly abortion doctors in from out of state because their doctors would get death threats.”
As of this writing, the campaign has raised nearly $42,000, which is 84% of its $50,000 goal. (The campaign launched Sunday night and continues for another month.) According to Wildfang, every $5,000 would cover the cost of doctors traveling to and from Sioux Falls for one month; every $50,000 would pay for a security guard for the clinic for an entire year; and $750,000 would ensure the clinic can stay open for another year.
Wildfang has also arranged for billboards in New York’s Times Square, Portland, Los Angeles and Sioux Falls that read “We’re not going back” — a sentiment shared not only by people concerned about the reversal of Roe v. Wade, but by people concerned about the erasure of any human rights progress the U.S. has seen over the past few decades.
“The idea was to just mark the moment and to say in a really bold way — we’re not going back,” McIlroy said. “That slogan we came up with, it could be used for a lot of things. It could be used for the DACA dreamers. It’s just how we felt. Defiant.”
Wildfang has regularly contributed proceeds from the sale of certain T-shirts to charities since its founding. And according to the brand, in 2017 it donated $75,000 to charities such as Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which McIlroy said is a no-brainer move for any brand trying to spread a feminist message.
“I think that’s just a matter of authenticity,” McIlroy said. “As far [as] us at Wildfang, we’re gonna walk the walk and talk the talk. We’re gonna make sure people who are least represented are given a platform and the most oppressed are supported. If you want to play in the feminist space, I think you need to work hard to give back to oppressed women, from women of color to trans women.”
With the campaign itself almost fully funded after less than 48 hours, McIlroy’s dream is not only to fully fund the South Dakota clinic for a year, but raise enough so that Wildfang can help other clinics in states where there’s just one left.
“In my wildest dreams, we would fund this clinic for a year and then we could move on and fund others,” McIlroy said. “Honestly, it would be the most incredible support for the women in those states and just such a positive message for those women. If we don’t start caring about the women outside of our friendship group and family, then we have a much bigger problem.”