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What to Do Now that Roe vs. Wade is Overturned
With F-Bombs. I'm Not Sorry.
I promised to write you a newsletter about reproductive rights and what you can do, so here it is. It’s been less than a month since Roe vs. Wade has been overturned. To be blunt: the fallout is chaotic, panicked, even cruel.
Yes, it’s depressing AF. Yes, cruelty is the actual point. And yes, privilege impacts your personal choices and what you can do in many, many ways. I don’t want to sugarcoat that because this decision doesn’t impact everyone equally. As such, I don’t have any idea if this newsletter will be helpful for you or not, but I want to emphasize, underline, and highlight that I trust you’ll do what works best for you while leaving the rest.
When I polled this topic on Twitter, you wanted a bit of rage and empathy, so let me start there. The reversal of Roe vs. Wade is fucking stupid. This ruling helps no one, disproportionately harms marginalized women and birthing people, while encouraging horrific abuse. Did you think we had equal rights and knew everything about the human body before this reversal? No. Pregnancy, peri-menopause, and menopause are grossly understudied. There is no such thing as the perfect pregnancy, because it’s different for every body. So different, in fact, myths and legends about bodies are still very much ingrained in our cultures. Do you have any idea how many superstitions, fairy tales, and urban legends still circulate about menstruation and pregnancy? For starters, read Sudeshna Raychaudhuri’s take on “Little Red Riding Hood” and replace Hood with a teenager who just had her first period. My stars, there are so many myths even Snopes compiled crap beliefs about menstruation. And that’s before we get to discussions about gender because not all women menstruate and not all people who menstruate are women, too.
What’s happening now is overwhelming for a lot of people. Maybe you’re one of them. This is not something we can “adjust” to quickly, and because of that a lot of people are being hurt financially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Are you able to become pregnant? Congratulations you are now a container policed by total strangers who don’t understand human biology. Remember all those urban legends about menstruation and pregnancy? Hoo. Get ready for some unbelievable conspiracy theories about aborted cells and fetuses that will shame you into thinking you don’t have body autonomy. Did you hear aborted cells were used to create the COVID-19 vaccine? TOTAL NONSENSE.
These myths are affecting our ability to have an actual, pragmatic conversation about our human right to choose what’s best for our reproductive health and our bodies.
It doesn’t stop there, either. In a post-RvW world, reports are slowly emerging that infertile women can’t get medical procedures or prescriptions with (or without) a pregnancy test which tacks on more time and money for patients. Insurance? It’s a hot mess. And, this article in the LA Times, highlights how this decision has also impacted autoimmune patients, because it affects drugs that may cause abortion—and are denied even when the patient is not pregnant.
Reverting reproductive rights doesn’t help anyone. Reverting the right to choose is inhumane—especially since there are no abortion exceptions in rape or incest. Think about that for a second. Ask yourself what this decision really means and who benefits from it. This order doesn’t “just” revert reproductive rights, it polices and punishes people’s sex lives and places undue burden on the marginalized and their families, too.
Yes, President Biden did sign a Executive Order 14076 “Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services”, but nobody knows how this will work in practice or if the next President will revert that order. This order is, quite frankly, a postage stamp on a much larger issue that is exacerbated by confusion, panic, and incomplete information.
I’m not writing this newsletter because the situation is hopeless. It is, however, extremely serious and only one issue of many. It will cost to revert the damage this decision has already done—and that’s before we get to the other decisions expected in October to, among other things, revoke gay marriage. Restoring human rights is going to be a long, ugly fight, but it’s one I believe we can win. Together.
With all this in mind, here are my recommendations and resources:
1. Secure your own oxygen mask.
I cannot stress this one enough. Yes, there’s a lot of crap happening right now and (again) that’s exacerbated by panic and a lot of bad or incomplete information. One person cannot fix the mess we’re in—and that includes you. To ensure your mask is on, I encourage you to think carefully about your worst case scenario and make a plan. Consider what happens, too, if the Supreme Court overturns more rights including birth control, trans rights, and gay marriage.
You might want to think about who’s in your life right now and what they believe. Do they respect and honor your right to choose? If not, who does have your back? Yes, conversations like this suck. A lot. Sometimes, it’s better to have hard conversations before the unthinkable happens. It’s been my experience that people with strong beliefs may not necessarily respect your rights even when they’re close to you. And, while you can’t know what will happen in your future or if you’re facing a medical emergency—have the conversation regardless. Your life could literally depend on it.
If you need help with a “Secure My Oxygen Mask” plan, here’s some things to consider:
Protect your data - You might be thinking, what do I have to hide? Why would I be a target for online use? Collating your data and using it for political gain (or personal abuse) is not about you, personally, it’s about using your data. Download a privacy blocker if you’re going to perform any extensive Internet research. Delete your history, cookies, etc. from time to time, too. Those period tracker apps? Sure, nobody wants to read the TOS, but imagine how your medical data could be abused by bad actors. That’s where we are right now.
Know your state agencies - Did you know that every state has the equivalent of an insurance oversight department who can help you navigate disputes? Can help ensure that you have access to basic health care? Your taxes already pay for services like these; department budgets are controlled by your local politicians. Get to know what services are available to you and don’t wait until you’re retired.
Access to contraception - Unfortunately, while it is true that birth control is prescribed for other medical conditions, access to contraception is going to come into hyper-focus over the next year. Pharmacists have, even with a doctor's prescription, denied birth control based on their religious beliefs. Yes, you can buy birth control online but make a plan if your access it cut off or these services are disrupted.
Morning After Pills - There are other, short-term options to consider like Plan B. Robin Marty recommended Aid Access. I’d recommend considering these options even if you’re on a monthly prescription for birth control.
2. Start small. Think local.
While it’s true the Supreme Court made a decision that affected us nationally, the most effective way to win back your rights is to start locally. Get to know your local politicians. Vote in your local elections. And understand that, right now, there’s no perfect candidate and the system we have is broken. But, it’s the system we have to work with. Not using it isn’t an act of protest, because no one cares about what systems you’re not using.
Another place to “think local” is where your community needs are greatest in the places where you live and work. This may include helping out your friends and family to secure their oxygen masks. Or, you might donate time, energy, goods to women’s shelters and/or reproductive rights clinics. You have options.
Locally, you have a chance to making the biggest and most noticeable impact. If you don’t know where to start, don’t be afraid to ask around.
3. Mind your sources.
There is a lot of misleading information circulating on social media and in the news and, unfortunately, a fair amount of scammers, too. This is only going to increase in the absence of affordable health care and access to reproductive health services. Please, make sure you have the right information by choosing sources you trust about policy and your body.
There’s a ton of recommended reading lists you can explore, too. Your local library or bookstore probably has recommendations of their own. Cecelia Nowell from Cosmopolitan Magazine put together a recommended reading list about reproductive rights. It’s a fantastic list and worth checking out!
4. Be active in your community.
Nobody wants to think about the “worst-case scenario” but it could happen to the best of us. You are not alone even if you think you are.
Figure out what community means to you. Take control of your life and build connections slowly. Explore your options to join online-and-offline communities and get to know what groups would be welcoming to you and which ones wouldn’t be a great fit. Consider faith-based orgs, too, like the Church of Prismatic Light which serves LGBTQIA+ people.
Lastly, I mentioned that money is going to be the deciding factor in this fight. Here’s a list of places you can donate.
Author Risa Wolf offered these resources you can check out, too.
New Voices (PA/OH reproductive justice org)
Sisterlove (GA/TX reproductive justice org)
Spark Reproductive Justice Now! (GA-focused)
Overwhelmed? Not sure what to do? This situation is developing so quickly, the best thing you can do is start small by figuring out how this reversal (and the predicted reversals of contraception and gay marriage) affects you. That’s the place to start.
Like this list but want more ideas? Check out this recommended list of post-Roe vs. Wade actions written by Rachel Sylvester and Mara Santilli for additional suggestions.
I’d like to leave you with the knowledge that you are not alone. Stay safe, stay healthy, and above all—please remember that you are fucking powerful. Take comfort in that. Then, use it.
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