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noaf's first annual gala

It all started when…

In our first five years, NOAF has assisted 1,000 clients in accessing abortion care, increased our average pledge from $61 to $175 in 2017, and have 250+ trained clinic escorts volunteers who give at least 1600 hours a year of service.

This year we celebrated this milestone and the incredible work of our volunteers with our inaugural circus themed Gala on June 16th, 2018. NOAF needs more allies such as yourself and more involvement from our supporters.

Keynote speech from MarkAlain Dery, founder of WHIV.

It really is an honor to be here. Thanks so much for that very kind introduction Amy. 

I am very inspired by the courageous work that Ms Amy does- very inspired. I mean, NOAF has the word ‘abortion’ in the name.

Abortion. 

In this day and age, when NOAF goes to meet with policy makers, there is no sugar coating why y’all are there.

And, take it from someone that named their organization, WHIV… it has HIV in the name. I am with you, and I have had similar issues, with similar policy makers- but NOAF has ‘abortion’ in the name.

That’s courage.

Today, when reproductive rights have never so precarious, it is courage that we are looking for. The courage to stand up and speak truth to power. Because, in the end, it is always the truth that speaks louder than power. In the end, history will be on our side of fighting for truth, and in y’all’s case, fighting for reproductive rights. 

I am very proud to announce that NOAF has a show on 102.3 WHIV FM; Sundays at 3:00PM- one of the show hosts’ is named DJ Va-JJ. The last show I tuned into, she was talking, openly, about how periods work. It was so empowering to hear her talk so openly about the basics of biology. There was a conviction to her explanation- and right there on the FCC air waves came words that we shouldn’t be surprised to hear, like vulva, period blood, vagina, pubic hair.

I started the station so that conversations like this can be heard, and I was even taken back a bit. I am a double boarded physician, that specializes in STIs, and I was even surprised to hear such frankness being spoken on WHIV.

It is 2018 in America, and it is surprising to hear the word ‘vagina’ on the radio?

I started WHIV, so that these conversations can be had- I wanted to normalize the conversation, make it so that it is part of everyday language. 

Then Amy introduced me to the Abortion Diaries- a podcast about women talking about their abortions. PERFECT. I immediately started running that show, on Thursdays at 10:00AM. And, let me tell you- the feedback that I have been getting is positive. It was instant- women talking about abortions on the radio- frank and open talk.

Normalizing the conversation- we cannot get to reproductive justice until it becomes normal to talk about reproductive justice. So, tune in to NOAFs’ show on Sundays at 3:00PM- tune into the Abortion Diaries on Thursdays at 10:00AM. Lets normalize the conversation so that we don’t have to keep fighting for rights that women around the industrialized world enjoy- and much love and congratulations to Ireland for being more progressive than the US.

Amy said that I can get political here- so, I am going to shift into some politics, because now, more than ever we need to be vigilant and en guard.

The GOP has fought back against reproductive rights, claiming to be a party of family values- but we know that this is really a war on women, and especially affected are the poor, and the black, and the brown women. 

These same family-values-people are on the border in the Southern part of the country removing children from their mothers. There have been reports of breast feeding children being separated from their mothers and placed in detention centers throughout the country. 

Thousands of children have been separated from their families. Thousands. My understanding is that at this time there is no mechanism to be able to reunite these families. No wrist bands with bar codes, no unique identifiers, no nothing. Some of these children are to young to even know their own names. 

And, as a first generation American jew whose parents immigrated from North Africa, the following has not been lost on me. There are reports of these children being separated from their parents under the guise of taking them to ‘showers’. Then these children are concentrated into camps. Showers. Concentrated. Camps.

This is an alarming time in our American history.

But then… there is this; 

Give it up for Mayor Latoya Cantrel- the mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana. 
Give it up for Mayor Sharon Broome- the mayor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 
Give it up for Mayor Ollie Taylor - the mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana. 
Give it up for Mayor London Breed- the mayor San Francisco. 
And give it up for Governor Stacey Abrams- the soon to be Governor of Georgia. 

Sisters and brothers- thats it. Thats what we have left. Our vote.

Look who we elect when we vote! Our vote put these amazing women in office. 

But, be careful, because the vote is powerful. It is the force that shapes our society- and because of this powerful force, the vote is being taken away from us. 

It’s all we have left. We need to protect the vote. We need to get out and vote. We need to get the word out and make sure that all of our networks go out and vote.

The establishment wins, when we don’t vote. 

The establishment loses when we vote. This is why voter suppression needs to be called out for what it is, an overtly racist scheme to take power away from everyday people.

They are winning. They are. But, we have the vote- and we need to use it because it is more powerful than the sword and the pen. 

Watch out for the GOP- but more than the GOP, watch out for the Democratic party. They are not our friends. They do not fight for us- their costumers are the corporations that pay them. Look at the Louisana State Governor, John Bel Edwards- he is a democrat that opposes choice. That’s not being a friend. 

And look at the pedophile that the State of Alabama almost put into office, the repugnant Roy Moore. He was narrowly defeated by Doug Jones a democrat with credentials that include winning convictions for Klu Klux Klan members. 

The get-out-the-vote came mostly from black women- black women came out to make sure that a pedophile didn’t take office. Senator Doug Jones took office and immediately signed on to legislation that protected banking practices that promoted decades old bigoted policies. 

Policies that will hurt the very same electorate that came out to vote for him. 

The democrats are not our friends. They are not. We need more parties in our duopoly system, because there is no party that cares about us- there is no party committed to protecting our rights, our autonomy, our unions, our public education. There is no party to vote against war. 

They tell us that there is no money? What they are actually telling us is that there is no money for us. 

Money for bombs? There is plenty of money for bombs- our economy is a war economy. 

Vote. Get out and vote. When the democrats win, we fight them to make sure that they hear us. 

We cannot rest until we have a just society- one in which there is social, economic, environmental and racial justice.

Until then- we vote. We fight. And we do not give up- the future depends on us. Now. 

I realize the extraordinary privilege that I have- I want to acknowledge it and I want to acknowledge how deeply moved I am that y’all have asked me to speak tonight. I want to acknowledge all of you tonight and I want to, again, acknowledge the tremendous work that NOAF, their Board of Directors and Ms Amy Irvin does, to make sure that women all over the State of Louisiana are empowered with a choice that is theirs’ and only theirs’ to make. 

Thank you so much.

Peace- and end all wars.