This is an extremely heavy time. In last week’s post, I said that this was not the time to give up. Of course, we all need time to grieve, process, and rest, but we don’t have time to stop. And even more importantly, we can’t only fight using the short-term adrenaline from learning that Roe was overturned. Fighting for only one week is performative and not helpful. We must balance the urgency of this moment with the fact that if we want our actions to have any real impact, then they must be long-term.
Drawing on sources from Black reproductive justice activists and experienced reproductive rights fighters, I’ve compiled this list of action items that you can incorporate into your regular life to aid in the ongoing fight for reproductive justice. This list encompasses big things you can do to fight for justice, ways to educate yourself, and ways to shift your mindset. The latter might seem less consequential than the others, but the way you view the fight is the foundation of your reproductive justice activism.
1. Set up a monthly donation to your local abortion fund (not Planned Parenthood!)
Aside from voting, this point is the most obvious one. Local indie clinics and reproductive justice organizations are the backbone of the entire abortion access movement. If there’s anything that you want to do to help, chances are, they are already doing that. Donating is a way to help them do that without adding unnecessary noise to workers’ lives. And sure, you can donate right now, but why not set up a recurring donation?
Even if your local clinic has been shut down, the people in your state will have to travel somewhere to receive reproductive care. You can donate to whichever clinic is closest to you or to the National Network of Abortion Funds, which will split your donation among over 90 clinics.
2. Volunteer at an indie clinic with patience and dedication
Whether or not you have the funds to donate, abortion clinics can probably use your time and your talent. Again, it is only helpful if you are willing to volunteer on an ongoing basis. Clinics are likely not even ready to delegate volunteer tasks at the time of writing because they are so overwhelmed with abortion patients. However, they will certainly need help in the coming months. Finally, don’t directly call them; see what requests for volunteers are listed on their website or social media pages and sign up however they recommend.
3. Support unions at Planned Parenthood and Guttmacher Institute
While these massive organizations don’t need donations, their workers need your help. These orgs can be oppressive workplaces that don’t allow employees to thrive and provide the best care they can, even when the orgs themselves are well-funded. Consider following Guttmacher Employees United and your nearest Planned Parenthood union or perusing #IStandWithPPWorkers.
4. Destigmatize abortion
Stop being conditionally pro-choice and start being unapologetically pro-abortion. Our society ingrains an anti-abortion stigma into all of us, so we all have unlearning to do. What this broadly means is that someone else’s need for an abortion is not your business. Whether someone needs an abortion simply because they don’t want to be pregnant, or they need a late-term abortion for one reason or another, that’s not yours to judge. It all comes down to trusting women and others who can conceive.
Destigmatizing abortion also means normalizing talking about it. Abortion should not be a taboo topic that’s framed as unwanted or dangerous. If you’ve had an abortion yourself and you’re willing or comfortable, maybe you can share that experience. You can make reproductive healthcare a normal conversation topic, or even wear abortion shirts or decorate with pro-choice bumper stickers. It is all a part of getting people to accept abortion as a normal and necessary part of life.
5. Remember that people of all genders need abortions
One of my biggest pet peeves right now is the phrase “the life of the mother” when we discuss exceptions to abortion bans. The entire point of seeking an abortion is that the person does not want to be a mother. It’s a little better when I see “the life of the woman,” but that introduces a new problem: gender exclusivity.
Plenty of people who do not identify as women can get pregnant, and many people who do identify as women, including cis women, cannot. The phrase should indeed be “the life of the pregnant person” (although you absolutely should not need to be literally dying in order to qualify for an abortion). It can be hard grammatically to not always use the words women and mother, but having an intentional mindset shift will create a much stronger and more inclusive movement.
6. Learn the difference between reproductive justice and abortion rights
It is so easy to get these terms confused; I’ve been guilty of it before. Reproductive justice means having the ability to decide to have a child, to not have a child, and/or to raise one’s child(ren) in a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment. It goes miles beyond the ability to make the choice to have an abortion, because it also fights back against centuries of sterilization and other barriers put up against BIPOC people. Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts is a great resource to learn about how reproductive oppression goes far past abortion rights.
7. Follow the lead of BIPOC reproductive justice experts
Last weekend, it seemed like there were millions of middle-class white women who were finally slapped awake with the harsh reality that they might lose the access to abortion that they’ve always taken for granted but that poor Black women never had. That’s understandable, but we middle-class white women so often want to jump into situations like these and save everyone.
Resist the urge.
Whatever you just learned today, there are BIPOC women and femmes who already knew that. Whatever you just decided “needs to be done” there are BIPOC women and femmes who have been doing that for ages.
Follow them. Donate to them. And consider why you care about access all of a sudden but didn’t care about the Hyde Amendment for the last 45 years or about reproductive justice for the last 20. Are you centering yourself? Are you centering whiteness? Because don’t. Even now, this is not about us. This hits poor, BIPOC, queer, and disabled people the hardest. And they know what they are doing. This is about them.
8. Educate yourself
If it seems like I know a lot about this stuff, first: Thank you, I try. But also, I’ve just become pretty good at listening to people who really know what they are talking about (as stated above) and you can, too. It’s easy.
My first tip is simple and obvious: just Google it. The Guttmacher Institute is an excellent resource on reproductive research and is therefore a great place to start. I especially urge you to use Google if your first instinct is to call an abortion clinic and ask them to explain reproductive rights to you. They are busy, but they likely have a trove of sources on their website and socials. (My caveat with Google is to be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of crisis pregnancy centers, which pose as abortion clinics but do not provide abortions and instead manipulate patients to keep pregnancies that they aren’t prepared for.)
My second tip is equally as obvious if not a little more time-consuming, and that’s to read a book. Really, they’re great. And this is a perfect time to start reading about repro because there are more and more lists being compiled daily. Here you can see the list I made myself, but if that doesn’t suit you, I’ve also linked to a handful of other lists in the post.
9. Engage in community organizing
If you’re careful that it’s not all you’re doing, you should definitely participate in local (or even national) marches, protests, and rallies. They do make a difference, and they can be energizing. They are a wonderful way to meet others in the community or possibly even connect with the reproductive justice leaders that I talked about earlier.
I begin and end with the most obvious action points. Voting is important, but right now we need to be focusing our energy on the most influential races in the 2022 general election. The only way we can realistically codify Roe into law is to flip the Senate this November, and the most contested races include Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, my state. This page has more facts about which races are most important. If you don’t live in a state with one of these toss-up races, I urge you to pick a state that does have one and channel your energy there in addition to voting in your own election. If you want to donate to election funds (after abortion funds), donate to the Democrats whose victories are the least guaranteed and the most influential.