Part of the Series
“We are in truly dire straits right now. We are overwhelmed. We are overrun,” says Robin Marty, Communications Director for the West Alabama Women’s Center and author of The New Handbook For a Post-Roe America. In this episode of “Movement Memos,” Marty and host Kelly Hayes talk about how people can prepare, personally and politically, for the realities of a post-Roe world.
Music by Son Monarcas and David Celeste
Note: This a rush transcript and has been lightly edited for clarity. Copy may not be in its final form.
Kelly Hayes: Welcome to “Movement Memos,” a Truthout podcast about organizing, solidarity and the work of making change. I’m your host, writer and organizer Kelly Hayes. This week, we are talking about abortion and how to prepare for the end of Roe. We will be addressing this topic from a few different angles in the coming weeks, but today, I want to take a moment, and try to get our bearings. A lot of people are coping with feelings of alarm, and many people are also gripped by the desire to take meaningful action. Others may be feeling disoriented or disempowered, as we navigate this unnerving stretch of days between the leak of the draft opinion and the court’s final decision in June. But, as we will discuss today, there are a lot of important things to consider right now, personally and politically. This is a time for learning, a time for planning, and a time to think about how we can be constructive. So, as we get ready for the many battles ahead to defend reproductive autonomy, I wanted us to take a moment to look at how we got here, how we should prepare, and what we will be up against in a post-Roe United States.
So, today, we will be hearing from Robin Marty. Robin is the Communications Director for the West Alabama Women’s Center, a freelance reporter and author of the book The New Handbook for a Post-Roe America. As some of you know, I am a big reader. When I am stressed about something, and I don’t feel like I have the answers I need, I read. The more upset I am, the more I read. So when the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked, I immediately started reading The New Handbook for a Post-Roe America, and I could not have been more grateful for this grounding and thorough resource. It occurred to me that a lot of people could use some of that energy right now, so I asked Robin Marty if she would be willing to share some of her story and insights with our audience, and I hope you will find her knowledge and perspective as helpful as I do.
Robin Marty: My name is Robin Marty, my pronouns are she and her, and I currently live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but that is a fairly new change. My origin story is that I was a reporter for a reproductive rights news site. I did that from about 2009 through 2015. And that was the period of time when all of the different states were receiving what was known as model legislation. It was boilerplate laws that could be introduced at the state level that would restrict or attempt to ban abortion access in that state. These bills were happening in state houses all across the country, especially after the 2010 Tea Party wave election, when about three fourths of the states ended up under Republican control. I was reporting on this and that turned into a book, and that book eventually sent me on my freelance career where I not only covered abortion access, but also covered the anti-abortion movement: who they were, what they were trying to do, what their end goals were.
I did that until 2019, when a combination of both spending too much time in the Trump administration, watching all of these laws finally come to fruition, and start to work their way up to a really conservative Supreme Court. And then finally the announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy was retiring sent me into sort of a tailspin on Twitter where I started telling people what I thought they needed to do in order to get prepared for something called “Post-Roe America.” This turned into a book that got picked up and came out in 2019. And shortly after that, I was asked by a group known as The Yellowhammer Fund, which is an abortion fund and reproductive rights organization in the state of Alabama, if I would come and work for them. I did that for a year. And in that year they ended up buying one of three abortion clinics in the state of Alabama. I moved down, and now due to a bunch of weird coincidences and configurances, I run the state’s largest abortion clinic in Alabama, responsible for half of the abortions that happen in this state.
KH: The severity of the language in the draft opinion came as a shock to many of us, but to people who organize around abortion rights and access, some version of this moment has been expected for years.
RM: This draft leak that came from Politico was shocking in that it happened, that such a like breaking of decorum of the court occurred. But the reality is that for those of us on the ground, especially in red states, we saw this decision as it appears to be happening, coming from years away. Ever since 2010, we have watched state by state as abortion opponents have tried to whittle away the ability to access legal, safe care. They’ve put in extended waiting periods that have taken a patient needs to go in for one appointment to a patient needs to come in for an appointment and wait anywhere from 24 hours to, in South Dakota, it’s 72 hours, and weekends and holidays don’t count before they can come back into a clinic in order to get the care that they already said they wanted. This has happened.
We’ve seen gestational bans that mean that the period in which a person can get an abortion after they become pregnant gets smaller and smaller. And usually those happen in states that also have the fewest number of clinics for people to get into to start with. Over and over, we’ve watched the right take away abortion access either one week, or one clinic, or one state at a time, and it’s just been getting worse and worse. This has been happening ever since Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling came down in 1992, which said that states were allowed to do restrictions around abortion in the first trimester as long as allegedly, these restrictions did not interfere with a person’s undue burden to access abortion care. And also that these restrictions were somehow in the best interest of the person who was pregnant. What we saw as the best interest of a person who is pregnant of course, was to be able to get into an abortion as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible, as soon as that person has decided for sure that is what they want to do with their pregnancy.
But the courts obviously had a completely different idea. So when we saw that abortion was going to be very much restricted, there was a kind of a consensus that heading into looking at the Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Whole Woman’s Health, that we were going to see the primary holding of Roe v. Wade, which is this idea that prior to the point of viability, you cannot have a complete ban on abortion. We thought that was going to go away. And we were pretty sure that as a result, there would be a new ability to ban abortion after the first trimester. Once Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away however, and then Amy Coney Barrett was put in her place, we realized that that was going to be the best case scenario, and that we were probably looking at a situation where Roe was going to be completely and utterly reversed, and every state would get to do whatever it was they chose to do when it comes to making abortion legal or illegal.
KH: Amid everything that’s happening, I don’t think there’s been nearly enough discussion about how people who are in danger of losing access to abortion care can prepare on a personal level, so I was really grateful for a chapter of Robin’s book called “Preparing for Your Own Emergencies.” Telling people to simply move to a blue state doesn’t cut it. A lot of people are going to be dealing with the end of legal abortion access and, for people who can become pregnant, that calls for the creation of a personal safety plan around reproductive care.
RM: If a person is worried about losing access on a personal level, the most important thing is to figure out, first of all, whether they would even want an abortion if they did have an unplanned pregnancy. And then to take steps to prevent an unplanned pregnancy, if that was where they were. So decide if there’s a certain type of birth control they would prefer. Would they want an IUD [intrauterine device]? Would they want an implant? Do they want to get extra packages of birth control pills to make sure they don’t run out?
The second step then is if they think that they may want an abortion at some point, figure out what the landscape is going to look like. Is there going to be a clinic in your state, or are you going to be one of the half of the country that will have to travel to a different state to access care? Are you in the Midwest where you may have to go just one or two states over, or are you in the South where literally the entirety of the region will have no legal abortion? Figure out what’s going to be your nearest abortion clinic. And then also start to, if at all possible, put away money in order to be able to access that abortion.
So even if it’s just the idea of putting away 5 or $10 a month to be able to not just pay for a procedure, but all of the other parts that fall into that, such as travel, time off from work, slowly build that up. Because one thing that we know is that I believe according to TIME Magazine, 60 percent of all Americans do not have $500 that they could spend on a medical emergency. And not coincidentally, an abortion is usually around $500 for a first trimester care.
So these are things that you can plan, but also know if you do find yourself in a situation where you are trying to access an abortion, and it is not easy for you resource-wise, there are a myriad of groups that you can reach out to. You can reach out to abortion funds and there are funds for almost every state. These funds will make sure that you are able to find enough money to be able to pay for the procedure. There are groups that are known as practical support groups, and some of them can be linked into by these abortion funds. Some of them stand alone. There are groups that are specifically for the South. There are groups that are specifically for Texans. There’s groups that are specifically for moving people all around the Midwest, such as Midwest Access Coalition. There’s even an organization called Brigid Alliance that is specifically dedicated to making sure that people who need abortion later in pregnancy are able to access that since those are the fewest number of clinics, as well as the furthest one has to travel.
Reach out to some of these organizations if you think that you are going to need help, but also understand that we are in a world where if we believe that abortion access is something that belongs to each person, regardless of whether they are poor, not poor, insured, uninsured, documented, undocumented, their race, their ability, any of these things, then that means we believe that a person should be able to access an abortion, regardless of whether that is done in a clinic or not. For about 15 states right now, there is the ability to access medication abortion through telehealth programs. But the reality is in much of the South especially, it’s illegal to be able to mail pills into these various states from pharmacies that are inside the U.S. There are other options though. And a major one is known as aidaccess.org. And this organization is actually located overseas, and it provides the exact same medication abortion that we provide in our clinic.
Because of this, we know that these are absolutely safe pills, and we know that medication abortion is a very, very safe procedure, especially if somebody does it within the first 10 weeks. The biggest issues are A, it can take too long to actually get the pills, and people will time out of that gestation. And that B, it’s possible that the person who takes it, depending on the laws in their state, could get arrested. They may not be arrested for their own abortion under those exact rules and words, but they could possibly be charged with endangering a child or using medication without a prescription, unlawful burial of fetal remains. There are all sorts of ways that a prosecutor who wants to arrest somebody and charge them can find a way to do that.
So in both of these cases, in accessing medication from overseas, from aidaccess.org, a person needs to make sure to stay as secure online as possible, whether that’s making sure that they don’t tell friends and family that they are seeking this out, or using specific accounts, and encrypted emails, and phone, and texting categories. Or being able to make sure that if they’re going online for information, that they use private browsers, or that they’re not using abortion groups that they are using identifying information in. Doing all these things means that a person is most likely able to do their own abortion in their home for a very small cost without any of these additional resources that are needed elsewhere, and be perfectly safe as long as they stay legally safe. And we know that, in the very rare occasion that they do end up having a complication, as long as they go into a hospital and simply say, “I’m pregnant. I think I’m having a miscarriage. I’m scared” and nothing else, that it’s impossible for a doctor to know that they tried to induce their own termination.
KH: While abortion funds are going to be working overtime to help people who need care gain access in states where abortion remains legal, not everyone will be able to travel. For a variety of reasons, a lot of people are going to choose to self-manage their abortions at home. This is a key reason that abortion rights organizers have asked protesters to stop using coat hanger imagery, because while that imagery has a powerful place in the history of this struggle, we want people who are losing legal access to abortion care to understand that we are no longer living in the era of back alley abortions, and that here, in this moment, they have other, medically safer choices. Today, the risks associated with a self managed abortion primarily come from a force we discuss regularly on this show: the carceral state.
RM: Everything is a lot different when we look at a post-Roe America than it is back when we were looking at what things were like for people who were pregnant prior to Roe v. Wade being decided. The most important part obviously is the fact that we do have reliable, accessible, and highly safe options when it comes to managing your own abortion. And that’s in the form of medication abortion.
But on the other hand, while we don’t have the idea of septic wards and bloody coat hangers, what we do have is the very strong possibility of surveillance and arrest. That means that for a person who is pregnant and ambivalent about that pregnancy, it’s very important that they think about who it is that they can actually trust with that information. The person that you tell, if you text a friend and say I’m pregnant, and I don’t think I want to be, the issue isn’t just that you could be accused of having an abortion if you do decide to terminate a pregnancy. It’s that you could also see those exact same text messages used against you, should you decide that you want to continue the pregnancy, but have some sort of issue with it, that means that you miscarry or you have a very premature birth.
So these are the things that all people have to protect themselves around in this new scenario. And we’re not just talking about people who try to manage their own abortions. We know specifically in the states that are the most likely to ban abortion completely, that these are also the states that have the worst maternal health outcomes, they have the highest child poverty, they often have not expanded Medicaid. These are people who do not have access to regular health care or preventative health care or prenatal health care. And quite frankly, most of the times they don’t have access to affordable or free contraception either.
It’s a perfect storm of people who are in the most stressful conditions and the worst health conditions starting out, being denied birth control to be able to prevent pregnancies and hold on until they’re at a healthier place. And then being expected that they have to somehow manage to carry these pregnancies completely to term at no harm to themselves or to the fetus. We know that it’s a setup for failure for so many of them. And because of that, it’s not just about protecting themselves when it comes to trying to terminate a pregnancy outside of a legal clinic setting. It’s about protecting themselves in all ways, shapes and forms, because this is an area where we see hospitals are racist. They already criminalized things. Our judicial systems are racist and sexist. And so because most of the people who will be in these situations are usually poor, but especially Black and Brown, and already criminalized in all other aspects of their life, they’ll be criminalized in this as well.
KH: I know a lot of people want to volunteer right now, and I have heard from some folks that it can be hard to get plugged into the work that’s happening. That’s largely because abortion funds and clinic escort groups are dealing with a political nightmare, right now, and while an influx of potential volunteers is a wonderful and necessary thing, these groups have to vet people very carefully. Proper vetting takes time, but keeping right-wing infiltrators out of reproductive justice spaces is deeply important right now, so we have to be patient. But I do want to emphasize that one thing we can all do right now is to gather and share good information. Because right now, there are books and trusted websites that can help guide people who may need to self-manage their abortion or support someone else in doing so, but we shouldn’t take any of that for granted. In fact, I expect to see sweeping efforts in the coming months and years to both censor and criminalize information-sharing about self-managed abortion.
RM: I think that the ability to find abortion information, whether it be online, in bookstores, throughout the country is actually the next frontier. And the thing that we as activists and allies need to be the most aware of. This is something that has actually already happened in a lot of places, either through legislation. There was legislation that was introduced in Mississippi in their legislative session that stated that not only were they making all abortion a felony, but that providing information to people about how to terminate a pregnancy would be a felony as well. That meant that telling people where they could go to access pills, telling them how they could use medication abortion. All of these things would be looked at as potentially trying to help somebody have an abortion and could also then put charges against the person who was sharing that information.
We’ve already seen how cities, libraries, public WIFIs, are able to throttle what information can go through by blocking certain websites. For example, one thing that I really noticed when I was working on my book the first time was that when I was using the public libraries in Minneapolis, I was able to access all sorts of websites that were blocked to me when I went across the street to Columbia Heights, which was the neighborhood right next to me, and very conservative. So there’s already a lot of ways in place that people have been able to throttle information without it even really being noticed. From Instagram and Facebook and other social media networks refusing to show information when it comes to how to access abortion pills online, or how to manage your own abortion by taking one mifepristone and then 24 to 48 hours later, putting in four pills of misoprostol either in your cheek or in your vagina. And then repeating that until the pregnancy has been expelled.
I just said that information and in a new world, we could be at a point where your podcast just got yanked because I said that. I hope it doesn’t happen, but that is why we have to keep sharing this information as much as we can, wherever we can in order to make sure that all people can hear it. Prior to, long before Roe v. Wade, long before even Griswold v. Connecticut, which was the Supreme Court case in 1965, that allowed married couples to be able to have access to birth control. And that right there is really alarming to realize it wasn’t that long ago that birth control was illegal. In the 1800s we had what was known as the Comstock Law, and the Comstock Law was this idea that anything that had anything to do with birth control, sex, abortion was considered morally unsound. And because of it, all information, be it advertisements, pamphlets, any ads, how to do an abortion at that point, people thought that you could use Lysol in order to end a pregnancy.
All of these things were blocked under something called the Comstock Law and people were sent to jail because of it. Right now, we have our own version of it. If you look specifically in the state of Arizona where a law was passed in 2014, that says that you cannot advertise for abortion services online. [Editor’s Note: The Arizona law regarding abortion advertisements passed in 2013.] So we aren’t that far away from a place where we are going to see technology used, not just as a tool to help us spread information, but also as a way of censoring those things that the powers that be have decided are too dangerous, or too uncomfortable, or that they just don’t want that information out.
KH: So, we have talked about what preparing for what the end of Roe might look like on a personal level, but what does preparing for the end of Roe look like for abortion providers in a red state? At the West Alabama Women’s Center, it means working to keep the doors open, even if clinicians are no longer allowed to provide abortions themselves.
RM: We have been preparing at my clinic for the end of legal abortion in Alabama and honestly, much of the South, basically since I first arrived here. We’ve known that abortion has always been held on by a tenuous thread here in Alabama. In 2018, there was an amendment [to the state Constitution] that was passed by 60 percent in the state that says that the state has the right to, and has the duty to protect the unborn. In 2019, there was a total abortion ban that was passed. And it was the first abortion ban that was not just an abortion ban from the point of conception, but also said that there was no exceptions for rape, or for incest, or for a fetal anomaly, or even a person’s health unless their life was threatened. So we’ve been ready for this, but also we’ve known that even without abortion, if you take that out of the picture, Alabama health care, especially reproductive health care, quite frankly is abysmal.
There are two Planned Parenthood clinics in the entire state. The rest of the accessible free contraception in the state can only be accessed if a person goes to their county health department and there’s one in each county. It doesn’t matter how populous the county is. It doesn’t matter how wide, how large the county is. There’s just one of them. And if it’s something that is the most effective form, like an implant or an IUD, there’s only a particular doctor that can come in to do that. So we’re seeing patients who come in pregnant because it takes three, four months to be able to get an appointment in order to get an IUD or an implant. These are people who want to not have unplanned pregnancies, but don’t have any way to prevent it themselves.
So when we head into an illegal abortion in Alabama scenario, our intention is to stay open as long as we can, basically running off of the ability to make sure that people can access birth control. We’re also working to provide gender-affirming health care and are working on a program which does HIV prevention and treatment with the Knights & Orchids Society, which is a Black trans organization here in Alabama. We are going to do everything we can to stay open because with those services, we know not only will we be helping people health care-wise and helping people prevent abortion necessary in the first place. But that there is going to be a population of people who are simply not going to be able to leave the state to access safe, legal care in a clinic. They are going to try and do their own abortions. And as I’ve said repeatedly, there are very safe ways to do it, but also those ways can get a person in legal trouble, especially if they have a complication.
So we see our role in the future as one, where we keep our clinic open to do all of this other health care, but we know that we are there as a safe space for any person who either has tried to manage their own termination and wants to follow up and make sure it was successful, or follow up because they have a question about it, or they have a concern about what it was that they did and whether everything’s okay. But also as a place for people who are pregnant and intend to continue the pregnancy, but are worried that there’s something wrong, some mysterious bleeding, cramping, things like that, but are afraid to go see their doctor or their hospitals because they’re just as worried that they could be accused of abortion as anyone else.
KH: As terrible as the right’s legal assaults are, we know that right-wing violence has also intensified in recent years. Abortion providers have long been targets of right-wing attacks, from fire bombings to assassinations. Many people know the story of Dr. George Tiller, who was gunned down in 2009 while serving as an usher during a Sunday morning service at his church in Wichita. This weekend’s violence in Buffalo, where 10 Black people were killed by a white supremacist mass shooter, was a terrible reminder of what the right is capable of. So as we get our political bearings in this moment, let’s be sure to remember the risks abortion providers, and all clinic employees, are taking, because they deserve our solidarity as workers, and as people who are risking their lives to provide an essential form of care.
RM: I am definitely worried about the safety of abortion providers. I’ve always been worried about the safety of abortion providers, but I’ve worried even more so since I was responsible for talking our provider into moving into the state of Alabama from a very safe state where she was doing her own practice. She picked up everything and moved to the state, knowing that this is a state that has bombed abortion clinics, that we are right next door to Florida, Pensacola, very close, where more than one abortion provider has been murdered. The South is volatile, and it’s disturbing and it’s alarming, but it’s even more alarming because even with all of the unrest that’s going on down here, we, for instance, just recently in our legislature, passed a bill that said that not only do you no longer need permits to carry a gun, you don’t even have to apply for anything.
The idea is that if you have done something bad, and it was so bad that you shouldn’t have a gun, you’ll probably do something bad and so the police will discover that when you commit your next crime or something. I don’t understand quite frankly, what the logic is behind it. Alabama, for me coming from Minnesota where there’s definitely not this sort of gun culture, it’s difficult to walk around the city and around the state, and wonder who is carrying because it can be concealed. It’s difficult to wonder which truck that just drove by with frankly, a Confederate flag has a shotgun in there. I worry for all providers every day, but especially mine.
KH: Since news of the draft opinion leaked, there has been a lot of discussion of the Jane Collective, which was an underground network of volunteers, known as “Janes,” who helped pregnant people access safe abortion care in Chicago from 1969 to 1973. I know there is a lot of interest in this kind of work right now, and I think that’s a very good thing, but I also hope people will educate themselves and move with great intention. Surveillance and criminalization have come a long way since 1973 and there is a lot to consider. Robin’s book includes a wealth of information that could prove useful to people who want to practice this kind of mutual aid, but I also appreciated her strong words of caution around assessing personal risk. The criminal legal system poses a greater risk to some people than others, and none of this work should be entered into lightly.
Some of us are going to break laws over this issue, whether we are taking direct action in the streets or providing assistance to someone in need. But as a direct action educator, I feel very strongly that we should all understand the gravity and potential impacts of every act of defiance we undertake. If we educate ourselves about the risks and decide that they are worth it, then good for us. That’s a decision I have made, in various forms, many times. But if we step into danger, we need to do it with our eyes wide open, and as Robin cautions, we also have to do it without ego.
RM: If you are truly interested in being the next Jane, if you are truly interested in being someone who is going to break laws in order to make sure that the human right of bodily autonomy is still accessible, the most important thing that you can do is reach out to people who are already doing that and make sure that you are following their lead. There are organizations out there that are able to potentially assist people when it comes to the idea of how to provide care, but people need to realize that: A, these organizations already exist. And because of that, don’t reinvent them. Because these organizations, by the simple fact that they do exist, means that they’ve figured out how to do that in the right way. But also they are going to vet the hell out of you. The biggest thing in every space right now, and it’s only gotten worse ever since the idea of these bounty hunter bands is that everyone is terrified of someone who claims to be someone they’re not.
So when you are a person who is reaching out and saying, hey, I want to help. I can provide this and this, there’s no way that those of us who are already involved don’t know that you aren’t actually trying to entrap us into something. So be extraordinarily patient if you are going to reach out to organizations. Make sure that you are open and honest about who you are. Be prepared for mistrust, because mistrust is honestly the only thing that is going to keep all of us out of jail right now. If you are not willing to provide all of this information about yourself, to follow the people who know how to lead, and to be sure to do exactly what they say, then this was never about you providing care to other people. This was about you wanting to center yourself in this moment.
KH: While it is deeply important to plan for the realities of a post-Roe America, it is also important to remind people that we are not there yet. The leak of the draft opinion created a sort of panicked, emotional limbo for a lot of people, as we await the final Supreme Court decision. But this time before the ruling comes down is actually very precious to people who need care, and part of the work of this moment is helping those people access legal abortion care in a timely manner, while they still can.
RM: I just want to make sure that as we go into the next month, maybe longer, that people understand that: A, abortion is still legal everywhere. Everybody who needs one should reach out for an appointment. Clinics are doing everything that they can to see as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Funds and practical support groups are trying already to move people to clinics to get them in before it’s too late. But it’s so hard right now, especially in the South. We are a series of states that were already decimated by taking in the patients that have been out-placed by Texas banning almost all abortion, almost nine months ago. For us, we are the only clinic in the Gulf area, except for maybe Huntsville that you do not have to wait for two, three, four weeks from the point in which you call in order to get your appointment. And that’s shifting already because Oklahoma just passed the same ban as Texas. And Oklahoma was a receiving state for most of Texans.
We are in truly dire straits right now. We are overwhelmed. We are overrun. And on top of all of that, we have to sit and think about what it means when in just a few weeks, we could be closing our doors completely. For us, the most difficult part of this is knowing that because we have a law that’s already on the books before Roe and has not been enforced because of Roe, that we have to stop services the moment that the court says Roe is overturned. I’m hoping there’ll be some different language, but if they say Roe is overturned, any patient in our waiting room has to go home. Any patient in our exam rooms has to go home. We cannot do a thing. And what is going to be the most heartbreaking is that we’ve had this situation before, where we’ve had to turn patients away.
We had the Alabama Department of Health do something that made it so that we had to immediately send patients home one time. And we were closed for a bit and people still came. They came to our doors even when we were closed. They came to us even when they couldn’t get appointments. And they just came to the doors and begged. And they said, “I know you aren’t supposed to, but I need this. And I’m willing to risk it.”
Patients in Alabama have for years often thought that abortion was illegal. The draft hasn’t changed anything because they thought that it was illegal back since 2019 when that bill passed. And they still show up at the clinic, even though they think that they could be arrested because the option otherwise is to be pregnant and continue a pregnancy and give birth when you don’t feel like you can do that. They’d rather be arrested. They’d rather make that risk. And I can only imagine how many more of them there’s going to be when it’s not just us, when it’s every clinic in our state, every state in our region. And there’s literally nowhere else to go.
KH: In the wake of the draft leak, thousands of people have taken to the streets. A lot of people are overwhelmed, but I have also sensed, from many people, an overwhelming desire to be constructive. Not everyone is entirely sure what to do with that energy in this particular moment, but a lot of people are taking action and moving toward action. Some people have attended marches or reached out to organizations about volunteering. Some people are fundraising for abortion funds, which is so deeply important. And I hope, in addition to building power by funding abortion care, people will also remember that we need to fundraise for the legal costs of people who are criminalized for pregnancy outcomes. We can do that by supporting efforts like the Repro Legal Defense Fund, which covers bail and funds defenses for people who are investigated, arrested, or prosecuted for self-managed abortion.
There has been some controversy around the fact that some people have protested outside the homes of Supreme Court justices. I fully support the protesters who have undertaken those actions, not because I believe it will affect the court’s final opinion, but because if people want to make those justices feel their rage, I think that’s valid. Right now, we are seeing a lot of expressive direct actions, and by that, I mean that they are protests that are not necessarily instrumental to any immediate path to victory. What the Supreme Court does next is ultimately not within our power to decide, and we don’t have much in the way of political leverage where they’re concerned. But if we are talking about the comfort or privacy of the people who built that illegitimate court, and the justices who are poised to strip us of our legal reproductive rights, I don’t see any reason why any of these people should know any peace. Our values and demands should be heard and they should be felt. I say let that noise rise and let it grow louder. Let it echo unceasingly, because there will be many battles ahead — from civil disobedience to fight state level bans to defense committee work and beyond — all of our anger and energy will have a place.
But here and now, I urge everyone to take stock of their situation, make personal preparations, and gather as much information as you can. Do not rely on the permanence of online access to that information. We are dealing with fascists. They are already banning books in schools and libraries. We have to expect that suppressing information about self-managed abortion and emergency contraception will eventually be part of their agenda. So if you want to act in opposition to all of this effectively, I am urging you now to become a source of good information. Learn everything you can and discuss what you have learned and where to find it with others. Preserve information offline. Share books and zines and keep concocting new ways to creatively showcase information. Not everything needs to or should happen on the internet, so let’s develop and tap into other skills as we think about what it could mean to share knowledge that could be restricted in a not too distant future.
At the end of the day, I am not going to tell you that things are not bad or scary, because things are fucking bad and scary. But I am speaking the truth when I tell you that we have a tremendous amount of power. We have the power to support each other and to protect and defend one another, and within that work, new possibilities will be born. We will find our strength in this moment. We will find it in each other, and the communities we nurture and create. We will also find strength in the practical and historical knowledge we continue to build, and in the powerful work that is already happening. We have a lot to learn from people who have devoted years, and even decades of their lives to this struggle, and from the models they have built. We will be doing just that, on this show, in the coming weeks, and we will also be discussing the fascist dynamics at play in recent legislation attacking trans people and reproductive autonomy, and how those attacks connect. We all have work to do, and a lot of that work starts by learning, so let’s keep learning together. And let’s remember that, come what may, we are not alone. There are more of us than there are of them, and we will assert our autonomy.
I want to thank Robin Marty for joining me today to discuss the lessons of her amazing book, The New Handbook for a Post-Roe America. I know I tell you all to pick up a lot of books, but I really believe this one belongs in every organizer’s toolbox, so check it out if you can. I also want to thank our listeners for joining us today, and remember, our best defense against cynicism is to do good and to remember that the good we do matters. Until next time, I’ll see you in the streets.
- Don’t forget to check out Robin’s book The New Handbook for a Post-Roe America.
- If you are self managing an abortion and need support, you can call the call the Miscarriage + Abortion Hotline at 1-833-246-2632.
- If you or someone you know does find themselves under scrutiny for a miscarriage of any type, you can contact If/When/How for legal assistance.
- If you live in a red state, you may want to get rid of your period tracking app. One alternative is Euki, a period tracker that does not store any of the information you enter into the app in the cloud or anywhere else
- Aid Access “consists of committed team of doctors, activists and advocates for abortion rights. The purpose of the website and the service is to create social justice and improve the health status and human rights of women who do not have the possibility of accessing local abortion services.”
- Consider using an encrypted messaging app like Signal. Texts have been introduced as evidence in cases where people have been criminalized for pregnancy.
- Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and HowToUseAbortionPill.org have created this video series for anyone looking to learn more about an abortion with pills up to 13 weeks of pregnancy.
- Power to Decide works to ensure that all young people — no matter who they are, where they live, or what their economic status might be — have the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.
- The Yellowhammer Fund is a 501(c)3 abortion fund and reproductive justice organization serving Alabama, Mississippi, and the Deep South.
- The Repro Justice Fund covers bail and funds strong defenses for people who are investigated, arrested, or prosecuted for self-managed abortion.
- The National Network of Abortion Funds builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice.
- You Can Now Order Abortion Pills Before You’re Pregnant in All 50 States by Susan Rinkunas
- Texts, autopsy results shown in Patel trial by Amanda Gray
- I Safely Self-Managed My Abortion. More People Deserve That Option. by Aryn
- Abortion Would Be Immediately Prohibited in 24 States If SCOTUS Overturns “Roe” by Lizzie Chadbourne, Katie Finnigan, Emily Janakiram, Alyssa Leigh & Camila Valle
- Anticipating End of “Roe,” Michigan Judge Blocks 1931 Anti-Abortion Law by Chris Walker
Previous episodes to check out:
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