In 2018, our reproductive rights are under attack by President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled House and Senate. Even with Roe v. Wade in place, many women don’t have access to safe, legal abortions.
Six states have only one abortion provider, and Kentucky’s last clinic may be forced to close its doors in 2018. According to a detailed analysis published in The Lancet Public Health Journal last October, women in rural areas of certain red states must travel hundreds of miles in order to get an abortion.
Needless to say, there’s no time like the present to become a pro-choice activist. If you’re not sure where to start, here are steps you can take to fight for every woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion.
1Engage in conversations
Activism starts close to home. A key part of being an activist involves having important (and often tough) conversations with the people in our social circles. Make sure you’re well-versed in abortion statistics and facts before you enter a debate with someone who’s either anti-choice or ambivalent about the issue. For example, overturning Roe v. Wade won’t stop abortions from being performed — it will only mean that women resort to using unsafe, “back alley” methods to obtain them. According to the World Health Organization, unsafe abortions cause 68,000 deaths per year.
It’s also worth pointing out to anti-choicers that the politicians who want to outlaw abortion are typically not advocates for mothers, people who have actually been born, or for prevention of unplanned pregnancies in the first place. The vast majority of these politicians don’t fight for paid maternity leave, access to contraception, and responsible sex education in schools. Furthermore, the majority of women who get abortions already have one child and a common reason for abortion is that a woman simply can’t afford to have another child. (Republicans don’t exactly have a stellar record when it comes to welfare.)
Stay level-headed and stick to the facts, because they speak volumes.
2Write to your legislators and your local paper
Contact your elected representatives on both the state and federal level. Our elected officials work for us, so put pressure on your anti-choice representatives — and let them know you’ll be on the front lines campaigning for their pro-choice opponents when they’re up for reelection.
You can also raise awareness by submitting an op-ed to your local paper. Again, make sure you include facts and figures that detail why legal abortion is so important. If you have a personal story or anecdote you feel comfortable sharing, include that as well.
3Volunteer to be an escort at a clinic that provides abortions
Clinics that provide abortions tend to attract protestors who do everything from silently pray to belligerently get in the faces of patients. Volunteers are trained to get women in and out of the building safely. You can find volunteer opportunities through Planned Parenthood and The Women’s Center.
Don’t express your support for patients by counter-protesting. Women go to clinics to receive health care, not to make a political statement, and it can be incredibly overwhelming for patients to see a mass of people holding signs. When someone is trying to enter the clinic as quickly as possible, it’s not easy for them to differentiate between the people who are there to shame them and the ones who showed up to offer support. Furthermore, counter-protests can quickly become hostile — and guess who’s left to deal with the aftermath? Clinic escorts (aka people who already have enough on their plates during their volunteer shifts).
4Choose pro-choice doctors and pharmacists
Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your primary care doctor about their stance on abortion access. If he or she doesn’t provide guidance and resources to patients who inquire about abortion, take your business elsewhere. If your pharmacy doesn’t provide the morning after pill, find a pharmacy that does and get your prescriptions filled there. Whenever possible, make sure you’re not financing the business of an individual or provider that’s anti-choice.
5Raise money for an abortion rights organization
Although there’s always the good ol’ Facebook fundraising app, here’s where you can get creative and raise some serious money for abortion rights organizations like NARAL, The Center for Reproductive Rights, The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and The National Abortion Federation.
Women raised over $1 million last year through bowl-a-thon fundraising events that were held all over the country. Team up with your pro-choice friends and brainstorm fundraising ideas based on your interests and skill sets. Concerts, art auctions, and similar events are all excellent ways to raise money.
6Campaign for pro-choice politicians
All eyes are on the 2018 midterm elections, but every single election matters and there are plenty of local races before November. Keep track of every election in your city, county, and state and campaign for pro-choice candidates whenever you can. Knock on doors, phone bank, and remind everyone in your life to vote.
If you live in a largely pro-choice area, visit Swing Left to find your closest “swing district” and get involved in pro-choice House candidates’ campaigns. Taking back the House in November 2018 will be key to blocking anti-abortion legislation.
Thank you, Roe v. Wade.