DC businesses have sold everything from alcohol to books to raise money for abortion funds since it became clear that the Supreme Court intended to overturn Roe v. Wade—but last Tuesday, one business on 18th Street, Northwest, offered something a bit more permanent by fundraising with body ink.
The artists at Tattoo Paradise inked over 75 people in a little over ten hours and raised more than $16,000 for the National Network of Abortion Funds. When the shop had to close up around 10:30 PM, there were still people in line. “You know how DC is. For good causes, people come out of the woodwork,” says Tattoo Paradise owner Matthew Knopp.
While some clients got tattoos of uteri and vaginas, not every design focused on reproductive imagery. Flash designs—tattoos based on artwork drawn in advance—included trans imagery, skulls for toughness, and butterflies to represent change. The artists wanted to offer universally appealing designs, since not everyone who needs an abortion or is affected by one is a cisgender woman, says tattoo artist Ellen Perry, who initially proposed the event. This is Tattoo Paradise’s first event focused on reproductive rights, but not its first flash sale for a cause: Perry organized a fundraiser for HIPS, a harm reduction agency in DC for sex workers, last summer.
DC Abortion Fund volunteer Ponta Abadi, who showed up 15 minutes before doors opened, waited several hours to get a cherry blossom on her right thigh. Abadi had four tattoos already and was looking to get a flash piece, so she says the opportunity to raise abortion funds and get a tattoo was appealing. “It’s a good reminder, when I see the tattoo, to continue to fight, and to remember that there are other people in this fight with me,” Abadi says. Abadi even made friends in line—when people realized the queue was pretty long, two people went and got empanadas and water for her and others waiting.
Tattoo Paradise is planning another flash event in a couple of months, and it will likely be focused on reproductive rights again. “Tattooing is this really magical thing that has the potential to unite humans for being human, and it’s an incredible exercise in bodily autonomy, which is what we’re fighting for,” Perry says.
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