When the Supreme Court officially overturned landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade last Friday, June 24, the news hit home for Rachel Anderson and Yoji Moro, the team behind St. Paul bakery Vikings & Goddesses. Anderson, a pastry chef who has worked at Bellecour, Revival, and Birchwood Cafe, had been a Planned Parenthood clinic escort in New York City, and volunteered with abortion access organizations and sexual health care clinics in Minnesota. Before beginning a career as a pastry chef, she says, much of her life was focused on reproductive rights and women’s rights. With Roe gone and trigger bans taking effect in states across the country, she and Moro made a bold plan: To donate an entire week’s worth of customer sales to the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF).
“We said — and pardon my French — but fuck it, let’s just do this,” says Moro. “I’ll be perfectly honest, on Friday morning, one of my first thoughts I had was: What the hell did we do?” Business-wise, it was a leap of faith to donate 100 percent of the week’s sales. That weekend, though, Vikings & Goddesses fundraised for Family Tree Clinic, a local sexual health care clinic and educator, at the farmers market, and saw a massive outpouring of support. That gave them reassurance for the NNAF fundraiser ahead. “Friday was a day of anger and processing, Saturday was a day of reaffirmation. We thought — yeah, we can do this. We’re going to be OK. Let’s try to help as many people as we possibly can,” says Moro.
The NNAF is a network of more than 80 organizations working to remove barriers to abortion access across the country, providing everything from financial assistance to transportation and translation. In Minnesota, local abortion funds and clinics are preparing for an influx of patients as bans take effect in border states: Wisconsin has resurrected an 1849 law that bans almost all abortions, and South Dakota’s abortion ban, which has no exceptions for rape or incest, is among the most restrictive in the nation. Iowa’s governor, meanwhile, is working to revive a fetal heartbeat law currently under court injunction, and an abortion ban in North Dakota goes into effect on July 28. Roe’s overturn, which stands to disproportionately impact low-income people and people of color, has been condemned by major health care organizations in countries around the world.
Anderson says her time working with abortion access organizations and studying reproductive rights (she was a gender, women, and sexuality studies undergrad at the University of Minnesota) has helped her understand the depth of the crisis Roe’s overturn creates. She points to ripple effects in everything from the foster care system to IVF care.
“[Abortion access] has always felt under threat because I was in those rooms,” says Anderson. “People never sat back and got comfortable. It was always something we had to keep our eye on. But the repercussions that it has for people — I don’t think we’re ready for it. One thing I keep going back to is: How do we care for people, going forward?”
For Anderson and Moro, the answer to that question is holistic: For one, they salary their employees and offer paid family leave, which can be hard to find in the restaurant industry. The answer is also taking action, using their position as pie and pastry makers to effect change, increase awareness, or share resources where they’re able. But Moro asserts that Vikings & Goddesses isn’t, in fact, making a political statement: This is an issue of basic human rights and health care, he says. Anderson agrees.
“Going back and reimagining the world where the Constitution was originally written — it doesn’t include me, and it doesn’t include you,” says Anderson, gesturing at Moro. “We’re taking a stand and saying we’re here, we have some financial capital and some investment in these issues, so please don’t count us out. It’s important to us that we don’t go back.”
Vikings & Goddesses will be at the Mill City Farmers Market this Saturday, July 2, but it often sells out — make a preorder for pick-up at the market by 8 a.m. Friday, July 1 to claim a pie in advance. Pick-up at the St. Paul location runs Tuesday through Friday. Elsewhere in the Twin Cities, Hot Hands Pie & Biscuit and Chip’s Clubhouse are planning a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood on July 31, and Falling Knife Brewing Co. is donating profits from its Raz Sparkler hard seltzer cocktail to Sister Song, a reproductive justice organization that centers women of color.