Abortion is still legal in all 50 states. The leaked Supreme Court brief is a draft and as such we don’t know yet what the final parameters of the decision will be. But we have known for some time now that when the justices hand down their decision on Dobbs, abortion access will be severely restricted (and Sotomayor will tear shit up in her dissent). We also know that abortion restrictions don’t stop abortion; they limit access to safe abortion care. Things are a bit better now than pre-1973 thanks to medication abortion. However, anti-abortion states are moving to ban ALL abortions as well as criminalizing crossing state lines to seek abortion care.
What will happen when the Supreme Court issues Dobbs?
Twenty six states are expected to totally ban or severely restrict abortion (some states have multiple such laws in place; I’ve sorted by the most extreme). Thirteen states have trigger laws, meaning that abortion will immediately be banned: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Five additional states have pre-Roe bans (zombie laws) that were never removed: Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia, Wisconsin. Six week bans are in place in Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina. Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Nebraska have indicated that they will also move to restrict or ban abortion.
States with protected access have already felt the impact of people needing to travel across state lines for abortion care. When at least half of US states severely limit or ban access, clinics and providers in protected states will be SLAMMED. This means that access will be affected in all 50 states.
What can we do?
- Donate to abortion funds. Abortion funds help cover a range of costs associated with accessing abortions (the procedure, travel expenses, child care, etc.). They also help patients in restrictive states find appointments, they coordinate travel, and they provide emotional support.
- Support your local independent clinic. Indie clinics provide 60% of abortions in the US, especially in those states that are already facing severe restrictions.
- Learn about and become trained in self-managed abortion. Abortion pills can be used under 12 weeks and are going to be vitally important in the coming months. But people need to know about them, understand how to use them, be aware of legal risks in their states, etc. IMPORTANT: medical providers cannot tell the difference between a medication abortion and a miscarriage when abortion pills are taken orally.
- Educate yourself on plan B. The morning after pill is OTC and can be an important preventative where unwanted pregnancies are concerned. But it has limits, like weight. Depending on brand, it loses efficacy once you reach 150-195 pounds. It can also be cost-prohibitive.
- Read up. Learn what you can do at all levels of government to advocate for access.
- Make your support for abortion widely known and tell people what you will do to support others who need access.
- Research practical support in your area. Many cities that are hubs are abortion care have organizations that coordinate rides, homestays, etc.
- Share fact-based information about access. Spreading information is going to be key in keeping people alive.
- Use gender inclusive language. Yes, this is an attack directed at women but women aren’t the only people who need abortion care.
- Center marginalized and minoritized groups: undocumented, young, rural, incarcerated, and trans individuals as well as people of color will be hardest hit. Middle and upper class white women always have and always will be able to get the care they need.
- Assess what skills and resources you have to share and offer them freely. Legal services, money, tech skills to support cyber security, pilot’s license, time, a spare bedroom, etc.
- Religious? Talk to the members of your church, synagogue, temple, etc. Or, arrange to have abortion activists come and talk. Let us share with you what anti-abortion protestors do outside of clinics. I can assure it is NOT the behavior most organized religions espouse.
- Catholic? Join Catholics for Choice!
How do we avoid sounding like assholes?
- Don’t dance around the word and don’t rely on “pro-choice” language. SAY ABORTION. It is essential health care and the word should not be treated with fear.
- Don’t say that this will finally awaken women to take action. Where we are now? It’s on white women. It is the voting habits of white women that have brought us to this point. Minoritized women are already hard at work on the front lines.
- Don’t start talking about creating some new group and definitely don’t make tongue in cheek comments about an Underground Railroad for abortion access. That’s racist. Support the work already being done by grassroots experts.
- Don’t make this about you, cis gay men. Yes, we know that the fall of Roe means Lawrence v Texas and Obergefell v Hodges are next. But guess what-this moment isn’t about you. And it is way overdue that you support and prioritize the people in our rainbow community who have uteri. (When I wrote this I was angry about some posts I had just read. The point is, if you only care about this because of how it will affect you personally, it is time to evaluate your commitment to social justice).
- Don’t expect emotional support from your abortion activist friends or loved ones now that you are shocked into action. We’ve been carrying the stress of dwindling access for a long time. Watch our socials and know that we’ll give you advice and instructions soon enough. Also, do your own research.
- Don’t mansplain. I’m looking at you, men with legal and medical expertise. If abortion activists need more information, we’ll ask. I guarantee most of us know the situation better than you do.
- Don’t turn to Gilead and pussy hats. Handmaid’s Tale references ignore all the ways marginalized and minoritized groups have always faced reproductive control. We don’t need that white feminism now. We need true feminism that centers the most marginalized groups. And we need you to stay active and engaged long after this burst of rage wears off.
- Don’t show up at clinics to demonstrate. Whether you want to go hold supportive signs for patients or counter-protest anti-abortion harassers, most clinics and escort groups will tell you that this added chaos does more harm than good. Never show up unless at the invitation of the clinic or provider.