The Supreme Court gave the power back to the states regarding access to abortions which negatively impacts many pregnant people. Here’s what you can do to help.
Like many, I’ve been grappling with the Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Mississippi to overturn Roe v. Wade. I’m heartbroken as a woman, a mother of a daughter, and a birth worker. But, unfortunately, I was not surprised.
Through my own experience and my clients’ experiences, I see how our country treats birthing people and parents. I guide them through the treacherous world of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
My clients are people who, for the most part, are financially and emotionally stable and choosing to have children. And they still struggle once their baby is born.
What you can do to help post-Roe
In a country that offers the bare minimum or nothing regarding prenatal education, health coverage, postpartum support, lactation education, pelvic floor support, child care, or preschool, it’s not shocking that we don’t value birthing people or their lives.
The thought of forcing people to endure the difficulties of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum against their will is horrendous, so I’ve spent the last weeks listening and learning what to do in a post-Roe world.
But, I’m a planner and a doer. I’m ready to take action. Here’s what you can do.
1. Listen to people already doing the work
Learn the etiquette of speaking about reproductive justice.
Black, brown, and indigenous peoples have been speaking on this topic and warning for decades.
They’ve had training and experience protesting, organizing, and advocating. Listen to their advice:
- Do not use language or imagery connected to coat hangers. It can be triggering and can scare people into seeing that there are safer alternatives.
- Do not use Handmaid’s Tale references: it is considered a whitewashed reference and trivializes that minorities have experienced limited bodily autonomy for centuries. (Instead, read books focused on reproductive justice and intersectionality.)
- Do use inclusive terminology. Instead of women, say birthing person.
2. Learn how this decision impacts birthing people, LGBTQ+ people, and minorities
Justice Clarence Thomas argues this ruling clears the way for other cases to be struck down. Here are a few:
- Griswold v. Connecticut establishes the right to birth control and privacy regarding the decision to use birth control. Many states have already called to limit birth control and Plan B access. We also still do not know how this will impact IVF or IUDs.
- Lawrence v Texas, which ruled that bans on non-reproductive sex acts between gay people were unconstitutional, is based on the right to privacy and loses its stability.
- Obergefell v. Hodge, which protects the right to same-sex marriage, also relies on the fourteenth amendment.
In states like Texas, which have already instituted bans, we are already seeing the effects on birthing people.
- Because doctors and nurses cannot tell the difference between a medically induced abortion and a spontaneous one (also known as a miscarriage,) people are now being accused of having abortions and charged with a felony.
- For pregnant people who face complications, there are dangers. Doctors are not sure when they can step in or not because the term “life-threatening” is not clear; people are already waiting hours while their doctors consult lawyers. The United States already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates, and we can only expect this number to rise after this decision.
- If a pregnant person’s baby does not survive, they must continue with their pregnancy and birth. This can be traumatizing and tortuous.
3. Take action in your state
Hold your Senators and Representatives accountable.
I know calling a representative or senator can be intimidating, but start with one phone call. Many websites have scripts, so you can just read directly from them.
- Tell them to codify Roe v. Wade; they have had decades to do this and failed.
- Tell them to make the Equal Rights Amendment part of the constitution. Again, it has been ratified, and it should have already happened.
- Urge them to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act; it’s gone to vote twice in 2022 alone and failed in the senate each time.
- Urge them to pass the EACH act, which will reverse the Hyde Amendment, which restricts government-managed health care from being used for abortions
- If they do not vote for the rights of birthing people, let them know you’re paying attention. Then, shout it from the rooftops when it comes time for you to vote. Share with your friends and family how your members of Congress acted.
If you’re a person with a uterus, learn about your rights in your state.
- Do not assume you are safe if you live in a state where you’re currently protected. If those who wish to take away our rights take control of Congress or the White House, they can make abortion federally illegal. Also, if the people in nearby states will travel to your state, it affects your access.
- Learn about your cycle, so you don’t need to rely entirely on contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.
- If possible, stock up on birth control, Plan B, or any other medication you might need. If researching abortion or sharing personal information about abortion, do not use your phone.
- If you use an app to track your period, consider swapping to one that won’t share your data or not inputting data into your phone.
Support organizations and people in need/.
- Attend local protests. Just be sure to do it safely.
- Donate to local, state-based organizations, like Spark Reproductive Justice Now, Indigenous Women Rising, or Jane’s Due Process
- If you’re in an area where access is restricted or absent, urge your local city council to decriminalize abortion.
4. Consider where you spend your money
- When you shop at companies that support legislation and politicians you disagree with, you support them with your dollars.
- These fifteen companies – AT&T, Boeing, Coca-cola, Comcast, Delta, General Motors, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Lyft, Mastercard, Microsoft, Pepsico, Pfizer, Uber, and Walmart – were the top financial supporters of anti-choice politicians. It’s hard, but I’m slowly disconnecting from large corporations and spending my money locally.
- Consider a spending ban, such as No Buy July.
Final thoughts on navigating a post-Roe world
Finally, remember to take care of your mental health. When I start to spiral, I practice meditation, read a light book, or text a friend. Remind yourself that taking care of yourself by turning off the news doesn’t mean you don’t care.