Friday morning came the news most of us knew was coming but were still not prepared to hear. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade overturning the right to abortion, a constitutional right that has been upheld for 50 years. In their dissenting opinion Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said that the court decision means that “young women today will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers” and that the court’s opinion means that “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term even at the steepest personal and familial costs.” They went on to write, “With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent.”
The Dobbs decision isn’t just about abortion, it’s about power, as Ezra Klein and Dahlia Lithwick explore in his podcast. The anti-abortion movement is rooted in racism. Roe being overturned will disproportionately impact Black women and women of color. America already has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed nation. Pregnancy is dangerous, and even more so for Black, Indigenous and Latino people. Black people in the US were already 3.5 times more likely than white peers to die because of pregnancy and childbirth. A nationwide ban would result in a 33% rise in deaths for people of color according to one study.
I spoke with my friend Ailsa Emmel, Certified Nurse Midwife, about the implications of the SCOTUS decision and her biggest concerns for patients when providing care. “There are new barriers to providing care to women during their most challenging times. This continues to marginalize communities already fraught with disparities. As a professional, I am no longer a champion for women’s health, but can be considered a criminal by many. The sanctity of the GYN visit has been violated.”
The overturning of Roe will have far reaching negative economic and health impacts. It will increase human suffering, especially for the most vulnerable among us. The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a statement saying the decision will have grave consequences for adolescent patients. In layman’s terms, children will be required to suffer through forced births. There is concrete evidence that women who sought an abortion but were denied one are more likely to live in poverty. There will be serious economic consequences with many people being forced out of the workforce if they can not access abortion. The LGBTQ+ community will face increased barriers to crucial reproductive care and an increased risk of sexual and physical violence. Homicide is a top cause of maternal death in the United States. More women forced to carry pregnancies means more women will be murdered.
The anti-abortion movement has been working for decades to overturn Roe. Now they have succeeded, and if Republicans gain control of Congress and the White House they will move to pass a nationwide ban. Women will face prosecution and punishment under the criminal justice system for miscarrying or seeking abortion services. None of this is hyperbole, it is reality. It will take many of us putting in the time and doing the work to protect ourselves and one another. Change will not happen overnight but we can’t expect that. This is for our future and that of our children. Here are actions we can all take now.
Editor’s note: I am not a journalist, lawyer, medical professional or expert. I am a person who cares deeply about this issue and providing resources to support taking action to protect our reproductive freedom and aid those with barriers to access. There are a lot of people on the ground doing very important work in this area with significant knowledge and expertise. Remember this list is nowhere near exhaustive. I will continue to update this as things evolve and change. This post should be a starting, not an end point when seeking information and resources on this topic.
Actions To Take In A Post Roe America
Get involved locally
Get involved locally. This op-ed from the New York Times emphasizes how crucial and impactful it is. I often get messages like “I live in a blue state, abortion is legal, what else can I do?” or “where I live has strong abortion protections” or “I am a progressive living in a red state and it feels hopeless.” Reproductive rights are under attack. No matter where you live, there are local organizations that can use your help.
I live in Vermont. In 2019, state lawmakers approved H.57 which guaranteed the right to abortion in the state. This November a proposed constitutional amendment will be on the ballot in Vermont which if passed will enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution. I live in a blue state with protected abortion rights, and there are still plenty of things I can do in my own community. People seeking abortions face financial and logistical barriers even when it is legal. Recently Planned Parenthood of Northern New England announced it was closing four clinics in the state. Vermont will also likely become a haven for people seeking abortion. There are organizations within the state working to help people seeking care. My point is, no matter where you live, there is work to be done on the local level.
Here are some ways to get involved locally:
- Donate to local abortion funds
- Volunteer with an abortion clinic nearest you (there are various ways to volunteer your time and expertise)
- Find contact info for your Representatives in Congress. Call on them to codify Roe, and follow this script from Emily Amick.
- Find your nearest Planned Parenthood and get involved in supporting them through volunteering or donation. Planned Parenthood is much more than providing abortion care. They also provide crucial reproductive healthcare including birth control, emergency contraception, STD testing and other essential healthcare services.
Spread the word and share resources
We ALL have influence. You do not need to have a large following on social media to have impact and influence. Our social circles, friends, families, and communities are all spaces where we have influence. Getting information out there about the resources available to people seeking reproductive care and abortions is so important. Here are a few to keep on hand and spread the word:
- Abortion pills by mail are still a reality in all 50 states. Visit Plancpills.com
- INeedana.com can show you the nearest abortion clinic, waiting periods and other restrictions
- The Repro Legal Defense Fund can provide legal advice and assistance for people who face criminal penalties and prosecution because of the outcomes of their pregnancies.
- The Repro Legal Helpline is a free confidential legal helpline where you can get legal information or advice about self-managed abortion, young people’s access to abortion or judicial bypass, and referrals to local resources.
- The ACLU provides helpful talking points for how to discuss abortion rights with friends and family. Encourage the men in your life to speak up about abortion rights too.
vote in every single election
- LOCAL ELECTIONS MATTER. Vote411.org can help you see what’s on the ballot, check your voter registration, find your local polling place and more. Many states have primaries going on throughout the next few months ahead of midterms.
- Speaking of midterms, make sure you know which candidates are pro-choice. Speak to your friends and family about voting, make sure they are registered, and talk to them about pro-choice candidates. Emily’s List supports pro-choice Democrats running to get elected.
- NARAL Pro Choice America has a list of pro-choice candidates across the US for Senate, House of Representatives, Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. Electing pro-choice leaders at the state level has never been more important.
Please Refrain From Making Handmaid’s Tale Comparisons
I am guilty of this, but I’ve made a concerted effort to stop. Especially after seeing many Black women talk about how harmful this is to Black women. Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian story centering white women. The fictional story in Handmaid’s Tale has *actually* historically happened to Black women in this country. Black women were forced to birth children, many of whom were sold into slavery. The anti-abortion movement is rooted in racism. America has a history of eugenics and forced sterilization against Black women, people of color, the disabled, Indigenous women, and poor people. We can fight for our reproductive freedom and bring to light historical injustice and abuse against Black women.
support abortion access in trigger ban states
This post from The Meteor includes information on abortion funds for every state expected to ban abortion following the SCOTUS decision. Local abortion funds are the ones doing the work on the ground to help provide travel, funding, logistics and support for people seeking abortion assistance.
Considering layering contraception. Birth control methods can fail, adding multiple methods can help prevent unwanted pregnancies. if you typically use condoms consider also using the withdrawal method. You can get the birth control pill online at HeyFavor.com. It’s free with most insurance as as low as $6.99/month without.
Emergency contraception can prevent more than 95% of pregnancies when taken within three to five days of unprotected sex. Keep it on hand as a precautionary measure.
If you are planning to get pregnant find a provider early on that you trust. Have these conversations and make a plan for possible outcomes.
We are not going to get back what we’ve lost overnight. Anti-abortion activists have worked towards this for almost half a century. We all have to commit to doing the work. That might look different for each of us, but we’re going to have to dig deep to fight for our rights, and the people that this decision will impact the most. Now is not the time to be complacent or quiet. Abortion is healthcare.