What to do about abortion access in the United States

Estimated reading time: 5 min

What to do about abortion access in the United States

Context: A draft of the Supreme Court case judgment has been leaked saying that Roe vs. Wade, a key precedent for abortion cases US history, is being overturned. Read the scoop from Politico.

However, abortion access and women's reproductive rights have been under attack for decades. The goal of this article is to give you ways for continued involvement, not just a one-off reaction. Let's begin.

A brief history of Roe v. Wade

To really simplify this 1973 landmark decision into one sentence, this court case held that a woman’s right to abortion was implicit in the 14th Amendment’s right to privacy.

This essentially legalized abortion across the United States, although individual states implemented (and are still implementing) their own restrictions.

Who is affected by abortion bans?

Yes, abortion bans affect anyone who can get pregnant, but they also disproportionately affect women and families of color.

There are a few other confounding variables in states with abortion bans:

For example, in Mississippi, people of color comprise 44% of the population but make up 80% of women receiving abortions.

White and higher-income women (and there’s a disproportionate representation overlapping in those groups too) can more easily leave restrictive states, with options to drive or even fly to other places to get abortions.

For women working in-person hourly jobs and living paycheck-to-paycheck, a ban on abortion can mean having no other options, and the negative impacts continue down the road, affecting infant mortality and more.

In 2019, The Daily by The New York Times released a couple episodes on “The Abortion Wars”. It’s disturbing, but worth listening to if you’re looking for more context.

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What to do about Roe v. Wade being overturned

First of all, we can’t keep waiting till we’re in a crisis to act. If you’ve been troubled by the ongoing battle to control women’s reproductive rights, find ways to engage on a regular basis.

Some ways to do this are:

  1. Volunteer at Planned Parenthood

    Planned Parenthood has many ways you can get involved with them, including recurring donations, sharing your story, taking direct action, and attending events.

    They even have specific identity-based organizing opportunities like the Black Organizing Program and the Muslim Organizing Program.

  1. Set up a recurring donation to the Yellowhammer fund

    Soapbox Project has a recurring donation to this organization because of their justice-focused lens: “We envision a society in which reproductive decisions are made free from coercion, shame, or state interference, a society in which individuals and communities have autonomy in making healthy choices regarding their bodies and their futures. We commit ourselves to community education and empowerment, policy advocacy, and the development of systems of mutual aid to ensure that our friends, families, and neighbors never go without the things they need.”

    They work in Alabama, Mississippi, and the Deep South — areas of the United States that are most in need of these services.

  1. Contact your legislators

    For some reason, contacting our legislators seems really difficult, and it’s actually not. One tip is to start local. Go to your city council meetings. Talk to your city council reps. There are easy ways to call and email state and national politicians, but if you want to actually hear from a human, start small.

    Joining Climate Changemakers is a great way to make legislator-contact a practice. They focus on environmental policy, not abortion rights, but it helps you get “in the zone” and understand that it’s truly simple to take policy action — it can take less than an hour a week.

    And here’s how to find your reps in every state!

  1. Find or start a mutual aid group in your area

    At this point, we know we can’t rely on governments or businesses to save us, no matter what the issue is. We have to depend on each other, and one of the structures that enables this is mutual aid.

    Find a group here. Mutual aid groups often have their own mechanism for raising funds for local issues, and you’ll be able to see the impacts of your advocacy and service work.

  1. Take direct action via a protest

    Protests and marches can feel like a really big deal if you haven’t been to one before, but from my experience, they’re some of the most joyful experiences. Sounds weird, since the reasons are dark, but it’s amazing to be part of the art and music and energy that brings people together.

    Of course, this only applies to non-violent direct action; when force is involved, that changes things. Here is a guide to protest safety. Pick a local direct action that works for you and see how you feel about it!

    (If you’re not sure where to find a protest, literally just Google or Facebook-search it. I also recommend following hyperlocal independent journalists — they often have independent newsletters with neighborhood and city-specific events.)

  1. Institutionalize safe sex education in schools

    Get involved with your local school district. There are many ways to do this, from joining a Parent-Teacher Association to running for school board. A simple starting point is to email a faculty member from your closest public school asking about what they teach in terms of sex ed.

    Here is a list of resources
    for safe sex education (including fun and accessible videos) — if you can’t fight for it through your school, this is where mutual aid matters. You can form a network of parents and educators to build deep community relationships that provide free education. Get creative! Have fun! It’s up to us now.

  1. Stop it with the coat hangers

    This Twitter thread
    shares options for self-managed abortions with the medicines we have available today. Please note that this is not medical advice, but I found it to be a useful overview of the legal, non-medical risks of self-managed abortions.

    The coat hanger language encourages fearmongering and self-harm when it’s not our only option.

The one thought I want to leave you with yet again is that the burden of change falls on each of us. Especially those of us who have resources (which is likely everyone reading this), including time, money, energy, privilege, etc. We just have to turn our good intentions into positive impacts.

As always, our Soapbox Project membership community is here to welcome you if you’re looking for a group of people to take courageous and joyful action with. 💝

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

💌 Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 5,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
Take action
Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter." - Meghan Mehta, Google