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Demonstrators opposed to a new Texas abortion ban rally in Bloomington, Indiana as part of a wave of national protests. (Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Nine Practical Things You Can Do Now to Defend Abortion Rights

With the leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, the future of reproductive freedom is looking bleak. But here are some actions you can take.

Steph Black

 by The Progressive

For the past seven years, I have been working to make abortion accessible across the country.

I’ve been a clinic escort, I have driven patients from all across the Washington, D.C., region to local clinics, and I have raised thousands of dollars for abortion funds. I’m an abortion doula and a writer. I’ve also been preparing for the fall of Roe v. Wade for years. In fact, many abortion organizations that I work with have already been living in a post-Roe reality.

States across the country have been enacting and enforcing laws that should be unconstitutional under Roe. And as more and more barriers to abortion have been enacted, I have experienced more burnout. After SB 8 was put in place in Texas, I stepped back from almost all of my roles. 

While I had hoped to take a full year to recover, the U.S. Supreme Court has been hellbent on stripping pregnant people of their bodily autonomy. Now, as the conservative justices make good on their promises to overturn Roe, as a leaked draft of its upcoming ruling confirms, I am rejoining the fight. Here’s how you can join me. 

  1. Don’t panic. This feels hypocritical for me to say as I cried through feelings of intense guilt for feeling like I haven’t done enough, and shame that I’m making this moment about myself. Both feelings are valid but don’t have to consume me. I urge you to keep your emotions in check as well. At the end of the day, the document that was leaked is a draft, not a final opinion, which will be released later this summer. There is still a chance that Roe won’t be overturned. It’s OK to keep hope. It’s OK to take action. Activists and reproductive rights organizations have been preparing for this instance for years.
  2. Remember: abortion is still legal in all fifty states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. If you have an appointment for an abortion scheduled, go to it. If you need an abortion, call your local clinic and make an appointment. Clinics will not close their doors until they’re forced to. 
  3. Use your resources. Thanks to the Biden Administration, it is legal for those who aren’t pregnant to purchase and keep abortion medications in their medicine cabinets. Organizations like Plan C Pills can help you locate the best way to purchase these medications. Abortion medications are safer than acitominophen and very effective in terminating a pregnancy before ten weeks. But do not stockpile these medications! Doing so could mean that those who need those medications will not be able to access them. It may also mean they will expire on your shelf before they can be used or distributed.
  4. Don’t stockpile other emergency contraceptives or medications like Plan B. Likely, you won’t be able to use that much contraception before they expire and won’t know how to distribute it to the people who need it. Many cities and regions have organizations with the infrastructure already in place to purchase those medications wholesale and distribute them. Google your city name and “abortion fund,” “SWOP,” or “mutual aid,” and see if they do. These are organizations that are already doing work on the ground and will know the communities where emergency contraception or other forms of protection are needed.
  5. See if your state has a trigger law or an existing abortion law on the books. Learn about the laws already in place and see if your state will automatically ban abortion if Roe is repealed. There are about twenty-six states that will automatically ban abortion if Roe is overturned, and those states will need the most aid in getting patients the care they need elsewhere. 
  6. Donate. Your dollars are the most powerful tool you have right now. Donate to an independent clinic in your state or to your local abortion funds.
  7. Volunteer with your region’s practical support collective. Practical support is the umbrella term for the non-medical side of getting a patient the care they need. While it varies widely by individual organization, most practical support collectives will drive patients to and from an abortion clinic. Others provide lodging, meals, childcare, legal services, doulas, medication pickup or delivery, and more. Practical support is the underrated backbone of the abortion access movement, and without it many patients would not be able to access the care they need. Some patients come from families who are not supportive and won’t take them to a clinic; other patients live in places without adequate public transportation to get them to and from a clinic. There are so many barriers that prevent abortion from being accessible, and practical support works to eliminate them. 
  8. Realize that many states have already been living in a post-Roe reality for years. Southern states and rural states have already been fighting to keep their few remaining clinics open, pushing back against trigger laws, waves of protesters, and violence. Look to women of color and other reproductive justice leaders for how to remain inclusive and intersectional in your work. 
  9. Finally, think local. Big corporations, national organizations, and non-independent clinics do not need your money or support. However, your local clinic, collective, or abortion funds are the people who are actually making abortion happen for those who need it. They are the ones on the frontlines showing up to make sure that anyone who needs abortion care will get it. Many of these people are volunteers who work for free and donate huge amounts of time, energy, and their own money to make sure that patients cross the threshold of a clinic when they need to.

© 2021 The Progressive
steph_black

Steph Black

Steph Black is an abortion activist and writer in Washington, D.C. Read her work at stephblack.blog.

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