My friend Robin Marty, co-author of the fantastic book Crow After Roe: How “Separate But Equal” Has Become the New Standard In Women’s Health And How We Can Change That, is trying something pretty unique: crowd-funded journalism, in this case specifically about the struggles of clinics that support the reproductive rights of women. The goal is to tell the history and stories of those clinics, many of which are under extraordinary pressure to close down by anti-choice forces in state legislatures and are constantly being intimidated by protesters and at risk of violent attack. Here is how she describes the project:
What is the link between parental consent laws and the Army of God? Why do some anti-abortion activists believe that abortions are being performed on people who aren’t pregnant? Which state has the most pro-life advocacy groups and what does the Personhood movement have in common with the failed Albuquerque fetal pain ban?
These are the questions Clinic Stories hopes to answer. Clinic Stories is a 12 part series that will look at 12 different clinics or cities in the country, telling the history of legal abortion through location and the people inside and outside it.
Each Clinic Story will be an intensely researched, longform article anywhere between 5000 and 10,000 words, detailing the history of the clinic and its role in the movement, tracking laws that it has challenged, protesters it has faced, anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights groups that have worked for it or against it, and where it fits into the greater history of the last four decades of the abortion rights movement. It will include interviews with current and former workers, escorts and even those who have worked to shut those clinics down.
The story itself will then be available either by email subscription to those who have donated to make Clinic Stories happen, or via download for 99 cents per story off of the Clinic Stories website.What do you get as a partner?
I’m not joking when I say you are a partner in this. Any person who donates any amount, regardless of how little, is a member of the team. Think of it as a reproductive rights research co-op. You will get to vote on which story is pursued and what clinic will be next in line. You will get to weigh in on whether a side project is worth putting some funding into in lieu of an upcoming clinic story (think March for Life coverage, special protests or interviews). I want to be your reporter writing what you want and funding this project will let that happen. Plus, you will still get each Clinic Story delivered directly to you (Side projects would be emailed to supporters but also posted to the Clinic Stories website under “Other Stories”).
This doesn’t need to happen all at once. When we have $5,000 raised, we can get moving. When we run out of money, we wait until we can raise some more. This is an ongoing project.
Research, write, report. That’s what Clinic Stories is here for, and that’s what I hope I can do.
You can read an interview with her in which she discusses why she decided to undertake this new journalistic model. As someone who has worked in development for a non-profit journalism organization (which Robin was responsible for me becoming involved with), I can tell you that she’s absolutely right that applying for grants is arduous, time-consuming and detracts from your ability to do the work necessary to get the story out.
Robin is the perfect person to take on this project and I’m definitely going to support it. I hope you will too. Click here to contribute.