As you might already be well aware, the future of Roe v. Wade isn’t looking good.
In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States recognized the constitutional right to abortion in Roe. However, in the decades since, many states have consistently found ways to restrict, ban, and chip away at your right to an abortion. In 2019, we walked through some of the many ways you can support the fight for abortion access. In 2020 we went over what happens in your state if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Now, as 2021 wraps up, those pieces are more relevant than ever.
This week, the efforts of anti-abortion advocates are coming to a monumental head, as a majority of our Supreme Court Justices seem likely to uphold a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi. This decision would land a major blow to Roe. During Wednesday’s oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Justice Sonia Sotomayor raised a question about the legacy this would leave upon the Court: “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception, that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”
As Vox explains, the most likely outcomes from this case are that the Court will either (1) explicitly overrule Roe or (2) eliminate it in a more backhanded way. Either of these outcomes would spell the end of the constitutional right to an abortion.
Watching this all unfold, many of us are left feeling hopeless, powerless, and/or full of unbridled rage. The Supreme Court is likely to deliver a decision on the Mississippi case next summer. In the meantime, one easy and crucial thing you can do right now is donate to reproductive justice advocacy groups. Here are more ways you can help fight against the oncoming destruction of abortion rights, and how to (relatively) take care of your mental wellbeing in the process.
Research the state of your state
The overturning of Roe will not come as a surprise to any state legislature. Some states have pre-Roe abortion laws on the books; some have trigger laws intended to take effect in the absence of Roe; others still have laws ready to keep abortion legal no matter what. To see how the loss of Roe would impact abortion access in your state, use this chart from the Guttmacher Institute. We pulled out the main takeaway for many states here.
Focus on local action
Wherever you live, there are ways for you to get involved. This Twitter thread, which is one of many sharing this sentiment today, explains why it’s often more important to donate to local organizations than to (comparatively) well-funded national organizations. Planned Parenthood provides essential care, but they are not always as well-positioned as local, independent abortion funds that support the specific needs of their communities. The fall of Roe will have a devastating impact on these independent clinics, who will therefore need local support more than ever. To find a grassroots, targeted funds where you should donate, visit the National Network of Abortion Funds here.
And wherever you choose to donate, consider setting a reasonable recurring donation to have a more long lasting impact.
Find non-monetary ways volunteer
While it’s arguably more important to go local right now, I’m not about to tell someone to not support larger organizations like Planned Parenthood or NARAL. In addition to recurring donations, check your regional Planned Parenthood chapter for other kinds of volunteering opportunities; they’re almost always in need of people for phone banking and data entry. If you’re a lawyer, consider donating your time to a reproductive justice helpline like If/When/How. And if you’re physically and mentally able, one of the most impactful things you can do is volunteer as an escort at your local clinic.
Hold politicians accountable
Look. I know the phrase “call your representatives” sounds like a joke these days. A futile, frustrating, soul-sucking joke. You’re thinking about how you already cast your votes for pro-choice politicians in the last local or national elections. And with this Supreme Court case out of their hands, what’s the point in wasting your own time on the phone?
Well, my half-hearted argument here is that contacting your representatives is worthwhile as a small action you can take every day, multiple times a day. Even if the person on the other end of the line doesn’t listen to you, perhaps you can find some much-needed catharsis in the act of yelling into the phone.
How to contact your representatives
To find your representatives and their contact information, use this guide. From there, you can navigate the page to identify your representatives. For the contact information for your governor, check this website. Here’s how to get through to your member of congress when their phones are slammed.
Don’t know what to say into the phone? Here’s our guide to calling your members of congress when you have social anxiety. Let me remind you that your representatives work for you. You are their boss. Hold them accountable for their actions.
Otherwise, if you’re willing and able, take to the streets to demand accountability. Oftentimes local protest information can be found across social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
Take care of yourself
In addition to the action items above, it’s important to check in with your own mental state. Here are some strategies to cope when it feels like we’re living in a state of perpetual crisis:
- Balance your news intake. The human brain isn’t designed to consume a constant stream of distressing information. If you find news-reading necessary, seek out some positive stories, too.
- Set boundaries on social media, or log off altogether. In general, limiting the news scroll is a good idea.
- Do grounding exercises, like yoga or meditation, which can calm your sympathetic nervous system.
- Maintain a routine. Having a bath every night, walking your dog, and making your morning coffee are ways of preventing panic and maintaining a baseline level of functioning.
Finally, do what you can to keep perspective. If Roe is overturned, we won’t find out until summer. And when that time comes, the impact of abortion laws will disproportionately affect different groups of people depending on race, class, and region. I keep typing out and deleting some variation of the words “have hope,” but the flimsiness of the phrase will not do. Here’s what I’ll say instead: Stay focused on supporting any and all independent organizations that are fighting for access to abortions in your community. It feels like this issue is out of our control—but that doesn’t mean we have to roll over without a fight.