Growing up, I was a pro-lifer. Raised religious in a conservative state, it seemed like the right thing to do. My home state, Arizona, requires a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. Additionally, women are forcefully informed of characteristics of the fetus they cannot carry and, if under 18, must have parents’ consent.
But when I reached high school, I knew girls who tried at-home abortions: throwing themselves down the stairs or getting repeatedly punched in the stomach. Watching my classmates and friends struggle, I realized how important accessible, safe abortions are. These were young girls putting themselves in dangerous, physically and emotionally painful situations because they were too afraid to seek the help they needed. That danger has only increased in recent weeks for girls and women across the country as Ohio and Georgia passed some of the most restrictive abortion laws since Roe v. Wade was decided.
Now, the threat to women’s right to choose is more dangerous than ever. Amidst all the news and confusion surrounding abortion, it can be hard to figure out how you can help. Here are 10 key tips for easy, low-cost and effective ways to fight for access to healthcare for women across the nation.
1. Contact local and state representatives
One of the easiest and fastest ways to advocate for reproductive health care is to contact your elected officials. Driving home or first thing when you wake up, you can use a simple script to call your representative. If you’re scared of talking on the phone, calling after hours or sending an email can work just as well! Sharing your personal view can make a difference and calling makes your voice stand out to your representatives!
Example Call: “Hi Senator/Representative/etc. [their last name]. I am a member of your district and would like to call to advocate my support for abortion access. Please protect the health of our community by condemning the restrictive anti-abortion laws recently passed in Georgia and Alabama.”
Find the full list of your federal representatives here. Additionally, most states have a website you can use to find your local representative.
2. Volunteer in the community
Slightly more time-consuming but incredibly rewarding, volunteering at a women’s health clinic like Planned Parenthood or community organizations focused on reproductive health can be a huge help. For example, serving as a Clinic Escort can help you protect and support women in your community.
3. Organize education for safe sex in your school or area
In 2017, the Guttmacher Institute reported that only around half of young people received formal instruction about contraception before they first had sex. This alarming statistic shows the risk young people face in sexual health. By starting an advocacy group at your school, church or community center about accessible and safe birth control options, unplanned pregnancy can be more effectively prevented.
4. Educate yourself
Being an advocate requires understanding the situation first. In order to better serve others and have your own healthy and safe access to birth control and abortion, understand the resources you have in your life. Ask yourself these key questions: does my health insurance cover birth control? Do I always use birth control? If I need an abortion, what trustworthy options are available to me in my area?
5. Offer support for women nationwide
Access to abortion and education looks different across the nation. By reaching out to friends in other states or offering aid where it’s needed, in the form of resources or donations, can help activists in Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia, and Mississippi. Using social media as well can act as a connection across the nation and validate other women’s experiences. Check out #Youknowme on Twitter for a glimpse of the heart-wrenching accounts of what abortion access really looks like in people’s lives.
6. Ally with pro-choice groups and protest
Pro-choice groups are active in every state and community across the country. If you’re a college student, one of the largest groups in the country, Generation Action, is likely already on your campus! By allying with these groups and showing up to protests in your area, you can build coalitions and visibly fight for your rights.
7. Support marginalized communities
Denying access to abortion often goes hand-in-hand with systemic racism and poverty. Unable to afford healthcare, or travel to a state where abortions are legal, the cost of having a child or even going through pregnancy can be a serious financial setback. Black women account for the largest number of abortions, and more importantly, almost 60 percent of all women who obtain abortions have already had one or more previous live births.
8. Meet with your local representatives
The state is the most important entity in the upcoming abortion debate. Similarly to calling in, visiting members of your local legislature can be the most effective way to be proactive and visible. In states that lean more conservative especially, this can be an incredibly effective way of showing that the community supports reproductive access.
If you have the means or want to skip coffee one day a week, consider donating your pocket change to one of the many organizations fighting for women’s reproductive health across the nation or globally. Even if you can only donate five dollars, this can be a small, easy way of helping the cause.
10. Stay Hopeful
As control is wrested away from women regarding their bodies, it can be hard to stay hopeful. But it is important to remember that laws and the people in power can be changed. Our generation is on the rise and can create a better world by working hard and fighting for what’s right.
By doing only a few of these items, you can fight for women’s rights to safe, healthy and legal abortion rights everywhere. Already, as seen last Tuesday, individuals across the nation are showing up and demonstrating for this cause. Abortion rights and reproductive health go hand in hand. While these laws seem daunting and apocalyptic, keep in mind that this is by no means the end of the debate; as long as the public remains committed to fighting for abortion access, hope remains alive.