Safe Abortion Access Is a Matter of Life or Death: Here’s How You Can Help
Before the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, women died during botched illegal abortions at alarming rates and far more were forced to carry and care for children they were ill prepared for. Terminating pregnancy is not a pleasant topic or an easy choice for any woman, regardless of what coping mechanism she adopts in public. But it has always been a thing, just not a legal or safe thing – and let’s not pretend that the severity of legal and physical consequences weren’t largely dependent on where women fell in terms of racial and class lines. This is the place we’re going back to if we don’t stop it.
What just passed in Alabama is the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the U.S., and although it’s yet to become effective, it stands a good chance of getting there, barring a miracle. The Alabama Human Life Protection Act signed by Gov. Kay Ivey Wednesday bans abortion in pretty much every circumstance. The only two exceptions to the ban voted in 25-6 (25 Republican men, by the way) are the rare circumstances where carrying a baby to term will practically kill the mother or if the child has a “lethal anomaly.” Those are the ONLY exceptions, at all. Under this new law, rape or incest victims who become pregnant, adult and minor, will be forced to have the child unless they can find resources to travel to another less restrictive state.
Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio and Kentucky haven’t gone as far, but recent passage of six-week bans in each state will in large part have the same effect as Alabama’s law if allowed to become effective. Irregular menstrual cycles caused by birth control, a woman’s body fat composition and use of other medications can make it difficult to detect pregnancy until about the six-week mark, which is already too late if a woman lives in any of the four states listed above.
As states aggressively bore their own legislative holes into women’s reproductive rights, and as we barrel toward an another inevitable SCOTUS decision with a decidedly anti-Roe lean, it’s important to remind ourselves of the real consequences abortion bans have and then to arm ourselves with ways fight back and to help those in need.
According to Guttmacher Institute, 200 women died in 1965 due to illegal abortion complications, down from 2,700 in 1930, disproportionately detrimental to non-white, low-income women. That history can easily again become our reality.
Let that sink so it is not just prologue, and then read below to find ways you can get involved:
- Access Reproductive Care – Southeast: ARC helps families access in 12 southeast states access reproductive care. The volunteer organization will surely need more volunteers and financial resources – the same can be assumed of any of these groups.
- National Network of Abortion Funds: NNAF provides monetary assistance for low-income women in need of an abortion by way of a network of 80 funds throughout 38 states.
- The Yellowhammer Fund: This organization based in Alabama will help patients arrange travel and lodging in addition to the funding assistance provide as part of NNAF.
- Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund: A group of volunteers who help people access abortion and provide support and resources for parents.
- Women Have Options: Much like Planned Parenthood, Women Have Options helps low-income people access many aspects of reproductive care, including but not limited to abortion.
- National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum: The NAPAWF focuses on community and policy-advocacy organization to fight for changes that would benefit women, transgender, and non-binary Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Planned Parenthood: We all know the Planned Parenthood organization, but what many people don’t know is that they have at times been the sole medical provider for many low-income people of all genders, with regular exams and access to health tests, in addition to access to a myriad of reproductive care, including abortion.
- ACLU: The ACLU is on the front lines of the push back against these increasingly restrictive abortion laws and continue to file lawsuits in efforts to stop them before they become effective. Donating can help fund those legal pursuits as this fight makes its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This is a scary time, but if enough of us lend our hands to help, we can make it a little less scary for some.