The rise in extreme anti-abortion legislation across the U.S. has incited a heated and angry response, but now is the time to channel that emotional energy into practical grassroots action. Here are some ways you can help challenge the power structures that are slowly chipping away at your reproductive rights.
Understand the National Health Crisis
Abortion bans in the U.S. are up by 50 percent in 2019 alone, with Alabama’s recent hardline legislation preceded by six-week bans passed in Georgia, Mississippi and Ohio, and an eight-week ban voted in by Missouri lawmakers.
The threats to Roe vs. Wade are growing more and more pronounced, which is why Planned Parenthood Action Fund is ramping up efforts nationwide to protect the landmark ruling, and ACLU and NARAL are doing the same. You can donate to any or all of these organizations if you’re in a financial position to do so. Alternatively, sign up for their email updates to stay tuned for other ways you can make a difference.
Support Grassroots Campaigns
Local reproductive rights organizations provide financial aid, transportation, clinic escorts, and housing to women seeking abortion procedures. You can support these as a volunteer or make a financial donation. Take a look at the abortion funds below or find one near you via the National Network of Abortion Funds. This network comprises around 80 organizations across 38 states that are working to eliminate economic barriers to abortion for low-income families.
- Access Reproductive Care Southeast supports families seeking reproductive care across 12 states
- The Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund helps people access abortion, and provides them with other essential reproductive resources
- Women Have Options is based in Ohio and offers financial assistance to low-income patients
- National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum campaigns for policy changes that would benefit women, transgender, and non-binary Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
- The Gateway Women’s Access Fund in Missouri provides educational and financial support to those unable to cover the full cost of an abortion
You can make a one-time donation and reach out to your employer to see if they will match it. You could also contact the fund to find out what kind of volunteer contributions they need. This can vary from providing transport to those who can’t otherwise reach a clinic to safely walking them through the front door.
Hold a Hand
If you live in (or near) a state with a restrictive abortion ban, you can help women who need to attend a clinic by becoming their escort. Essentially, you’ll accompany and support the patient as anti-abortion activists try to shame them or dissuade them from having the procedure.
Clinic escorts help to de-escalate potentially volatile situations rather than encourage them—this isn’t an opportunity to start a counter-protest since you’ll want to avoid interacting with protestors in any way. Your role is to reduce the crowd activity outside the clinic and focus on the safe arrival or departure of those you’re escorting.
Essentially you’ll contribute to the creation of a welcoming and supportive environment for women and their partners who are likely to be in a vulnerable position. Find your local clinics in need of escorts via the National Abortion Federation or the Abortion Care Network.
Speak Up for Reproductive Rights
If you’re not in a position to volunteer or make a financial donation, you can use your voice (and knowledge) to educate others about existing abortion rights that need protecting, as well as the national impact that bans have on women’s welfare as a whole.
Despite the media uproar about the ban in Alabama, a wider understanding is still lacking of the potential repercussions of such extreme legislation. Worse still, awareness of existing abortion rights also seems to be low and many women aren’t even sure if abortion is legal in their state.
A Guttmacher Institute survey reported that thousands of online searches for information on self-abortion are carried out each month, so a crucial part of becoming a pro-choice activist is to help spread the word—and to do so in a calm and informative manner that encourages more people to join the movement.
Some of your community members may not even know how their constituent voted. Organizing a casual meetup or fundraiser provides a non-aggressive way to inform and recruit them as allies. Don’t discount any of your skills when it comes to raising funds. Anything from baking to singing to hosting a barbecue could help. Plus you won’t just be raising dollars for the cause; you’ll also gain more support in challenging future proposed bans.
Reach an even wider community by signing an open letter to extremist lawmakers and getting vocal on social media. Follow anti-abortion organizations accounts and share their posts to your feed. You can also use the hashtag #stopthebans to build your own pro-choice movement. Alabama wasn’t the first ban, but you can help to make it the last.