Can This Cool Crowdsourced Campaign Shake Up the Fight for Reproductive Rights?


Step aside, Emma Stone — there's another scarlet letter in town.

A new campaign started by actress and activist Martha Plimpton, Lizz Winstead of the Daily Show and others is taking its cue from Hester Prynne when it comes to women's reproductive rights. A Is For "is a campaign challenging the traditional meaning of the scarlet letter by encouraging women, and the men who support them, to wear the A proudly. We are taking back the A by re-appropriating its meaning to one of dignity, defiance, and autonomy."

And what better way to showcase autonomy than by fundraising to start your own nonprofit?

A Is For began as a ribbon campaign in the wake of the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke controversy. The activists sold ribbons and solicited donations for the Center for Reproductive Rights, using a series of viral YouTube videos starring the likes of Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Talib Kweli, Jane Lynch, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. They accompanied the video project with a series of "Nightly Need to Know" blog posts about current reproductive rights issues, which are still being updated.

As Project Noise founder and A Is For co-founder Maureen Herman remembers, "Soon, Sarah Silverman was wearing the A while speaking at a rally in Los Angeles. Within days, comedian and Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead had joined us. She proudly wore the A on the Rachel Maddow show. She wore it as she toured the U.S. with the release of her new book, “Lizz Free or Die.”

Now, the A Is For founders are hoping to turn their hard work in the election season into the basis for a non-profit organization by soliciting donations through IndieGoGo: "We want to lay a solid foundation for a nonprofit that will ensure that future generations will be informed, engaged, and active — and not take their physical autonomy for granted. We are asking you to consider what we have accomplished in 7 months — and imagine we could do with more time and resources. Then please consider giving your tax-deductible contribution to A Is For so we can reach these goals."

And as they point out, 2013 looks to be equally as challenging as far as women's reproductive rights are concerned. Last week's blog post highlights issues including anti-choice legislation in Michigan, yet another ludicrously inaccurate and insensitive rape comment, and gender inequality and HIV. There are certainly more battles to be fought. One has only to look at Mike Huckabee's inaccurate and insensitive attacks on so called "federally-funded abortion" in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings to know that women's access to all sorts of reproductive health services is constantly up for political debate in America.

While the global community has taken the step of declaring reproductive rights human rights, Americans are often loath to admit that we gain anything from making sure that women can access reproductive health care, even when it's more cost-effective, or that women have the right to expect that their health care plans will cover a set of preventative care procedures and prescription medications that will affect their lives for at least 30 years. The oft-voiced objection is that women should be able to pay for their health care themselves — neglecting the fact that the women most likely to actually get birth control for free (read: without a co-pay) under the Affordable Health Care Act are the ones paying private insurance premiums.

Those same dissenters should be glad to see A Is For putting the grassroots capitalistic method of private fundraising to work to fund efforts to fight for women's rights. With just five days to go, the campaign has raised $8,959 of their projected goal of $10,000. To donate, simply visit the campaig's IndieGoGo page below.

As General Hospital's Nancy Lee Grahn concludes, "A-men. Or A-woman. I like that."