GoFundMe, which claims its objective is to promote "Crowdfunding for Everyone," made a big play to limit exactly who "everyone" is by outlawing fundraising for specific causes, including abortion and sorcery.
The impetus for the site's new guidelines was the recent campaign of a young woman named Bailey who was attempting to raise money for an abortion.
Bailey explains her motivations for the campaign to Vice: "We're broke kids who really need to have this abortion, and you see crowdsourcing for all kinds of things. You see it for things like, 'Help me press this record!' or 'Help me pay my rent!' We saw that Kickstarter that made a bunch of money for the potato salad thing. If people want to donate, they can, which is a lot easier than going and asking people."
GoFundMe disagreed, shutting down the campaign and then releasing a list of causes it will no longer allow to be fundedin order to "ensure a positive experience for all visitors"
Image Credit: GoFundMe
From "termination of life" procedures (from ending an animal's life to assisted suicide to abortion) to the procuring and exchange of weapons, GoFundMe's list of prohibited campaigns is revealing. Other campaigns not allowed to be funded include:
Hurtful or hateful language
Violence or hatred
Bigotry, racism, sexism, profanity
False, misleading, dishonest statements
Blood, gore, graphic material
Sorcery, unexplained sciences or absurd claims
Content associated with or relating to any of the items above.
Meanwhile, the DailyDot reports GoFundMe continues to allow campaigns for pro-life and anti-abortion groups: "Not all abortion-related fundraisers are unwanted. The website is currently raising thousands of dollars for pro-life Christian organizations, which, in some cases, are being used to fund anti-abortion protests outside women's medical clinics."
GoFundMe also continues to allow other controversial campaigns, including one for Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., officer who shot and killed Michael Brown (which has raised over $235,000 so far). A campaign for Daniel Holtzclaw, the Oklahoma City officer charged with sexually assaulting at least eight women, was shut down last week, but not before raising several thousand dollars.
The takeaway here seems to be that support for abortions is much more closely associated with immorality than, say, supporting a man accused of targeting, stalking and raping multiple vulnerable black women. That paradox not withstanding, the actions of GoFundMe speak to a cultural trend in America, one in which women are only allowed to speak about abortions deemed "acceptable."
Bailey's abortion, in other words, is not one generally approved of by the public — it carries a social stigma. The Daily Beast's Emily Shire notes that Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis was able to speak recently about her own abortions because they were "good." Bailey's abotion, on the other hand, doesn't fit this critera. "'Good' abortions are the ones for a 'raped teenager' or 'a mother whose life is endangered,' and 'these women get away with barely any stigmatization,'" Shire wrote. "Then, there are 'bad' abortions, the 'worst' being 'repeated abortions, late-term abortions, abortions after IVF, and — worst of all — mothers who have abortions.'"
Like many of the nearly 30% of American women who will have an abortion in their lives, Bailey has found out firsthand what it means to attempt to take care of herself without widespread societal approval. But at least now aspiring sorcerers won't be able to crowdfund new spellbooks.