Reproductive rights are set to take a colossal step backwards, but there’s still time to push back against the Supreme Court’s decision
A leaked draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito which revealed that the Supreme Court is planning to overturn Roe v Wade in a few months’ time has disturbed and angered people all around the world. If the court proceeds to strike down the landmark 1973 ruling, which enshrined the right to abortion in constitutional law, it’ll have a devastating impact on women living in the US by permitting states to restrict or ban abortion entirely.
More than half of states across the US are expected to ban or heavily restrict access to abortion, and 13 states could ban abortion almost immediately if the court proceeds to overturn Roe. Essentially, women’s right to bodily autonomy will become dependent on where they happen to live.
In some ways, the news is unsurprising. Conservative politicians have been itching to turn back the clock on reproductive rights for years, as evidenced by policies such as bans on abortions six weeks after conception and the prevalence of TRAP laws which restrict women’s access to abortion. Still, it’s difficult to comprehend just how seismic the impact of reversing Roe v Wade will be.
As things stand, reproductive rights in the US are set to take a colossal step backwards. But thankfully, there is still time to push back against the court’s decision before they vote in a few months’ time. It’s important that we channel all our frustration and anger into taking action which will protect American women as much as possible.
There’s immense power in collective action. If possible, look for protests happening in your local area and show up. It can be easy to lapse into apathy when the situation looks so bleak, but it’s important to stay angry and channel this energy into action. In the US, many rallies have already been organised and a week of national action has been planned between May 8 and 14.
If you’re unable to protest, reach out to organisations to see if they need help. For example, youth activist network Gen Z for Change have been looking for coders to help build systems that will overwhelm anti-abortion rights watchdogs with false tips, and researchers to analyse the ongoing changes to abortion laws across the United States. Think about how you can support pro-choice organisations using your personal skillset.
It’s important to talk openly about abortion rights with your family and friends in order to chip away at the stigma that still surrounds abortion. Women are often made to feel shame or guilt for deciding to have an abortion, and speaking candidly and honestly can help mitigate this.
It’s also essential to keep the conversation going in order to educate those who may not be so clued up on pro-life arguments or abortion rights. Texas advocacy group Avow has a helpful guide on their website to help you navigate discussing abortion in an inclusive and empathetic way. “Messaging matters because it can help move people from [judgement] to empathy,” the site reads.
And although pretty, palatable infographics have become associated with performative digital activism, social media can be a useful tool to help educate yourself and others. For example, Gen Z for Change has posted a number of accessible TikTok videos which break down the real-life effects of overturning Roe v Wade and explain how you can take action to protect abortion rights.
@genzforchange Please apply through the link in our bio if you want to help us! #roevwade ♬ original sound - Gen-Z for Change
Engage with your representatives
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently announced that he will hold another vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe into law and protect reproductive rights. There’s still time to call your senators and urge them to support the act. It’s also worth contacting your state lawmakers implore them to do all they can to protect abortion rights.
Donate to abortion funds
Abortion funds need money, now more than ever. In 2021, grassroots abortion funds were only able to support around 20 per cent of the people who reached out to them for help in 2020, largely because of a lack of funds.
If you’re unsure where exactly to donate, The National Network of Abortion Funds has a wealth of information on abortion funds and has a helpful guide on how to find and donate to your local abortion fund.
Know your rights
If you decide to proceed with a self-managed abortion once Roe is overturned, it’s essential to know your rights. It’s also worth noting that the risk of criminalisation exists not only for anyone who self-manages an abortion, but also anyone who supports others in accessing self-managed abortions.
There is no way to tell the difference between a self-managed abortion with orally-ingested pills and a miscarriage, and women who self-manage an abortion with pills are under no obligation to tell medical professionals that they have done so. Likewise, medical providers are under no obligation to report a self-managed abortion.
There are plenty of helpful legal resources for people who are worried about being prosecuted for having an abortion. Pro-choice organisation If/When/How’s Repro Legal Helpline can offer legal advice and support to women while their Repro Legal Defense Fund can cover bail and legal funds for anyone who is prosecuted for self-managed abortion.