Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Concrete things you can do today to advance reproductive rights

We've been so conditioned to think that the only way we as individuals can make a difference is to sign an online petition or to call or write our elected officials. I think one of the big reasons the filibuster of SB5 in Texas has been so inspirational to people is that it really showed that we do have collective power, if we only use it. I'm sure many people are wondering what they can do now to keep the momentum. Here are some suggestions:
  1. Remain vigilant and keep the pressure on. We won an important battle (like the voters in Mississippi, like the women in Virginia), but the war continues (in Texas, Ohio, North Carolina and many other states). In short, we must make it politically untenable for anti-choice politicians to continue to legislate our bodies, and we must make it possible for pro-choice folks to be bold and uncompromising. It was really incredible for me to watch the pro-choice senators (and the representatives who filed into chambers as midnight neared) take in the 10+ minute clap-in. Let Dewhurst and the others call us a mob; it reveals that they are scared of us. In response, we must take on Dr. David Gunn's (first abortion provider to be murdered in 1994) favorite song as our own: "Won't Back Down!"
  2. Give to your local abortion fund. (Or start one if there's not one in your area). Abortion funds quite simply make the right to abortion a reality. It's ok if you don't have much money: $15 can mean transportation funding, or child care, that helps a woman get to the clinic. I'm partial to the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund, which I co-founded, and the Texas Equal Access Fund, which covers the northern half of Texas, where I now live. But they're all doing great work, and all can use your help.
  3. Support your local abortion provider. ABORTION PROVIDERS SAVE WOMEN'S LIVES. It's just that simple. And for that, their lives are too often at risk. Become a clinic escort. Send a note of support. Let them know they are not alone. Find out what they need and organize a way to provide it. 
Share your story and support others to tell their stories. One of the most amazing things about Wendy Davis' filibuster was that she used the time to share women's (and men's) experiences with abortion, leading to an unprecedented public airing of stories that are normally never told. My friend, abortion provider Dr. Susan Wicklund wrote a book about abortion called This Common Secret. 1 in 3 women in the United States will have an abortion in her lifetime, but most of those women have been shamed by our culture into keeping silent about their experiences. Imagine the difference if every woman who had an abortion could say so, confidently, honestly. If we could hear how she always or never wanted to be a mother, how she doesn't regret it at all or is often sad about the life that could have been, how the pregnancy was so wanted or put her life at risk. We need to hear all these things to understand and insist on the crucial role of abortion in women's lives. So tell your story. Tell it to a friend, or contact Exhale the After Abortion Talkline, or get connected with a local group organizing testimony to your state legislature, or submit to the 1 in 3 Campaign. Organize an abortion speakout. Write it down. Dance it out. Share it.

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