Across the country, we are seeing a renewed wave of extreme bans on abortion care and stripping away of women’s reproductive freedom. As state legislative sessions end, multiple bans on abortion care have been passed and signed into law; these test cases are an effort to overturn Roe v. Wade now that the Supreme Court has an anti-choice majority. These laws are extreme and deeply troubling. As just one example, under the new Alabama law, providers risk 99 years in prison for carrying out the procedure — a far longer sentence than one for a second-degree rape conviction.
This all-out assault on abortion access also risks criminalizing miscarriages. From a medical perspective, there is no significant difference between a medication abortion (also called an “abortion with pills”) and a miscarriage. In both cases, the symptoms (such as vaginal spotting or bleeding), risks, complications, and treatments are likely to be the same. The result is that any woman who has a miscarriage could be prosecuted on the suspicion that she received abortion care. We know these attacks will land hardest on those who are already the most vulnerable, including women of color, young women, immigrant women, and trans folks.
What Can You Do?
- If you have the financial means, support your local abortion clinics’ and abortion funds’ critically important work by donating. You can find a list of these clinics and funds, by state, on the National Network of Abortion Funds’ website.
- You can volunteer to be an abortion clinic escort. Escorts support people who are seeking reproductive health care as they walk into the clinic to help them from harassment.
- Be an engaged and active citizen. Research legislators’ and candidates’ views on choice and other issues that matter to you, and then vote like your rights depend on it (hint: they do!). The 2019 and 2020 elections are going to be critical to women’s health advocacy.
- Oppose anti-choice judicial appointments. Right now, the Trump administration is stacking the federal courts with anti-choice judges, which will have a lasting and negative impact. When an anti-choice individual is nominated to the federal Judiciary, contact your Senator and ask them to vote against confirmation.
- Speak up! Abortion has been stigmatized for too long—it’s time for the pro-choice majority to be more vocal about our support for abortion care. Have critical conversations about the importance of reproductive justice. Make sure that your friends and acquaintances understand the magnitude of what’s going on—this is a big deal.
- Share your own story through efforts like Advocates for Youth’s “1 in 3 Campaign”. Most people have no idea how common abortion is, or that one-quarter of women will have an abortion by the time they’re 45. It’s important to stress that people have very different feelings about having an abortion. This helps make others feel supported, helps reduce stigma, and raises awareness that abortion narratives are often characterized by relief. The idea that everyone has a hard time deciding to have an abortion is neither helpful nor accurate. For many, the hardest part of having an abortion is dealing with the stigma attached to the procedure.
We cannot forget that:
- A person who needs abortion care is just like any other person.
- Someone who needs abortion care should be respected and supported, not treated as if they don’t know what is best for themselves and their family.
Sadly, we will have to continue these everyday actions even in the unlikely event that attacks on reproductive freedom lose traction in the courts, media, or ballot boxes. The NWHN has been in this fight for a long time; we promise you we’ll keep supporting women’s health for as long as it takes to ensure that every woman can attain reproductive justice.
The National Women’s Health Network is committed to ensuring that all women have access to accurate, balanced information so they can make the best decisions for their unique experience.
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