Fight to Keep Women's Abortion Rights !
Safe and legal abortion has been under attack for quite a few years, but now the danger is greater than ever. It's time to fight.
I present some ideas on how one might fight to preserve Roe v Wade nationally, how one might fight on the state level to create laws protecting abortion or remove laws that present obstacles to women seeking abortion, and how one might bring the message home to any male human one is involved with. Also maybe a few ideas to try on employers and insurance companies.
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(note : I appologize to all my LGBT readers if I seem to be ignoring you wonderful men and women and non-binary persons. Many of the actions I describe below are ones which you may utilize just as well as anyone else. The only sections that probably are not relevant are the ones about convincing your spouse or significant other.)
skip to "making the political personal"
At the momment, the currently sitting Justices are split 4 to 4, but just one more Trump nominated Justice will tip it to 5 to 4, with the 5 ready to find a way to over-rule Roe. It is imperative to prevent confirmation of any Trump nominee. Then it's imperative that in 2020 we elect a solidly Pro-Choice POTUS and a solid Senate majoirity who are Pro-Choice. (Dare I hope that women voters will wake up and smell the coffee and become committed Pro_Choice voters ? See Why Safe and Legal Abortion Matters to all of us. )
It's not yet too late to prevent the appointment of a vehemently Anti-Choice nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Kennedy. If the confirmation of a Trump nominee can be delayed until after the 2018 elections, and if those elections yield a Senate majoritiy that is Pro-Choice (or at least afraid to alienate women voters), then confirmation of an Anti-Choice nominee can be prevented until after the 2020 elections.
Therefore write to your own state Senators to demand that they refuse to confirm any nominee who is not unequivocally Pro-Choice and has a track record to support that.
If your Senators are already committed to keeping abortion safe and legal, write a letter praising them for that and reminding them that this issue is crucial for all women, even for those who don't know that yet. Letters of praise can be very motivating. Remind them that you are a Pro-Choice voter. This is especially important if you have a Democratic Senator but your state is considered "red" and your Senator might be weak and cave in to confirm a Trump nominee. Definitely remind that Senator that you will vote him out if he caves.
If your current Senator is GOP or otherwise Anti-Choice, if he will be up for re-election in 2018, write a strong letter telling him that you are a single issue Pro-Choice voter, so any hopes of retaining his job will vanish if he votes to confirm an Anti-Choice nominee. Of course if you can in any way work for his Pro-Choice opponent, that's highly desirable. If he's not up for re-election in 2018, he may feel he can ignore such threats, but you might remind him that you will have a long memory, so he'd better have a "day job" lined up for when angry women vote him out next time he runs.. Start looking for a Pro-Choice potential opponent to defeat him when he does run.
I supply I Am A Pro-Choice Voter as a sample of a brief (one page) letter suitable for use to legislators, newspapers, etc. You are welcome to use this as a model for your own letters. Modify it and personalize it as you see fit.
When Sandra Day O'Connor managed to replace the clean bright trimester rules of Roe v Wade with the "undue burden" test, the protections of Roe were effectively evisceratied. "Undue burden" means that Roe does not prevent Congress or any state from legislating obstacles to abortion so long as that obstacle does not create an "undue burden" on women seeking to abort. But EVERY burden is "undue" for SOME women and will be an absolute barricade to those women, completely preventing them from actually obtaining a safe and legal abortion.. That an educated and affluent woman who is highly determined may be able to surmount the obstacle does NOT mean that it is NOT UNDUE for other women who might lack these advantages. (Note : prior to Roe, women who were sufficiently high status, affluent, educacted, determined , and had a friend or two in the medical field were usually able to obtain a safe abortion, sometimes legally within the USA or abroad.)
The Court has already sanctioned as "not undue" legislation that required women to listen to a highly biased sermon against aborting, to wait one or more 24 hour intervals after presenting themselves to the clinic, to seek permission from one or both parents if the woman is a minor. Rules making it harder and harder to run a clinic have been approved, thus the nearest clinic might be quite far away, necessitating travel and lodging. The only burdens thus far ruled "undue" is the burden of having to get permission from one's husband if one were married. The only other limitation on obstacles has been that there should be an exception when the woman's life is in danger. However absence of an exception when the woman's health is in danger has sometimes been over-looked. Thus a woman whose continued efforts to complete a pregnancy to tern can still be denied an abortion even though doing so will leave her severely disabled but not actually dead.
Thus we really need a more favorable Supreme Court which would recognize that a "burden" is "undue" if it inhibits free choice by women who might be non-affluent, limited in education, live in areas far from clinics, are minors , or otherwise less able to fight to excercise their rights. This can't happen until we get a better POTUS and Senate and then a few of the most misogynistic and/or anti-choice Justices either retire (they rarely retire) or die.
Meawhile keep praying for the continued good health of Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer.
We need to stage a Protest that brings home the reality that while it may be possible to coerce a woman to carry an unwanted fetus to term , it is IMPOSSIBLE to coerce her (or anyone) to actually raise the newborn infant for the next many years.
Back in the days prior to Roe, indeed even prior to the rather modest "reforms" and "liberalizations" occuring in a few states (eg California) a few years prior to Roe, I was advocating demonstrations in which women deposited baby-dolls on the steps of legislatures and churches. Perhaps with messages attached such as "I birthed him, you raise him", "It's your baby now", or "You asked for it , you got it".
That very same idea would be even more appropriate today. Buy or make any kind of infant doll or replica and depoosit it on the steps of the legislature (state or national) while in session or the state or national Supreme Court or federal District Court. Ideally this could be combined with the next Women's March. Also deposit infant replicas in the receiving basket at local "safe harbor" locations.
This would bring home the reality that unwanted infants will be raised at taxpayer expense and that's going to be a very heavy burden. There's also a heavy penalty on the life prospects of those children themselves.
Some years ago I designed and created a "Crown of Coat-Hangers" to wear when handing out leaflets urging voters to vote against a California ballot propostion that would have imposed a "parental notification" burden on young women seeking abortion. (There were such attempts in 3 successive Calif elections, all of which the voters disapproved.) The Crown was to remind people that when safe and legal abortion is too hard to obtain, most unwillingly pregnant women will obtain an illegal and probably unsafe abortion. (I probably should have had some Halloween make-up blood trailing down my face, but I didn't think of that and didn't have the requisite make-up anyway.)
Just marching with a wire coat-hanger in one raised hand would be an easier alternative. Knitting needles would be an alternative, but a wire coat-hanger is more easily recognized.
(In reality, the internet generation of women would be using Abortion Pills obtained over the internet, not coat-hangers. But coat-hangers are so iconic and symbolic.)
Maybe just maybe you actually know a woman who was urged to abort by the sire of an accidental pregnancy . If that abortion-urging man is someone who publically professes to be "Anti-Abortion", encourage that woman to blow the whistle on this hypocrit. Especially if he actually paid for the abortion or if his daddy paid for it. (Didn't you ever wonder if during his drinking days young George W Bush might have caused an unwanted pregnancy ? I've wondered.)
There's got to be some prominent Anti-Abortion men out there who at some point in their life caused a woman to need an abortion. (You do know that for every abortion, there's a man somewhere who participated in causing the pregnancy.)
Likewise if you know a woman impregnated by a prominent "Anti-Abortion" man who then failed to support the resulting baby. Even more so if that baby wound up on Welfare.
We need to bring home the message that for every unwillingly pregnant woman there is a man somewhere in the background. The penalties for unwanted pregnancy need to be imposed equally on the man as on the woman.
We have two goals :(1) enshrining the right to abortion and (2) removing any already existing restrictions and preventing additional ones...
If your state does not yet have any laws restricting or imposing burdens on abortion, the goal is to get laws that protect women against any restrictions (other than that bare minimum of laws related to medical safety). Furthermore the state insurance law should require coverage of contraception and abortion in every policy. The ideal would be a state Constitutional section or ammendment delaring the right to use contraception and the right to choose abortion are inalienable rights that belong to women as individuals. Note that if a woman does not have the right to choose to terminate a pregancy, she also would not have the right to carry that pregnancy to term.
If your state already has passed any restrictions or complete prohibition (anticipating an over-rule of Roe), it's essential to repeal these. If it's not possible to get rid of all at once, tackle the most offensive first and then move on to the rest, one at a time if need be. Try to discover which current legislators voted to create these obstacles and put them on your "hit list" for removal next time they run.
This is very similar to writing your Senator, but now the focus is on state laws rather than Supreme Court nominations. State legislators are probably a lot more vulnerable to voter disapproval than are our national legislators.
Your state Insurance Commissioner may be an elective office. So that's another writing target. The goal should be to require all insurance policies to cover contraception and abortion at the same rate that they cover other medical services. Alternatively, at least demand that if a policy covers pre-natal care, pregnancy, parturition, etc then it must also give equal coverage to contraception and abortion. Most employer provided insurance does cover pregnancy .
In some states Judges at various levels are elective offices. In California, even the state Surpreme Court Justices have to run for re-election. Write them too. Remember that a State Supreme Court has the power to declare that an offensive law violates that state's State Constitution, whether or not the US Supreme Court declares that that same law does not violate the US Constitution. For example, the California State Supreme Court declared (in Perez) that laws prohibiting inter-racial marriages violated the California State Consitution about a dozen years before the US Supreme Court declared (in Loving v Virginia) that such laws violated the US Constitution.
These are essentially the same as at the national level. Also drop some infant replicas off at the local office of your local state legislators.
Same as for nationally prominent men.
This might be too intimidating to do as first timer on national level, but try your state level. As of 2018 , women are running in unprecedented numbers. When women are even 30% of legislative bodies and courts, the culture reaches a "tipping point" on women's issues (and children's issues).
Alternatively go to law school and attempt to emulate Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As a civil rights attorney you can make a difference. As a judge, you can make a difference.
Some states make it relatively simple for citizens to put a state constitutional ammendment onto the ballot. California is the "poster child" for this.
If you currently live in a repressive state, start planning to move to a state that has a commitment to Pro-Choice. Start saving up for your move, start enhancing your job skills to fit employment openings there. (As to whether you include husband or boyfriend or not in your plans, see below under the husband or boyfriend section).
If enough women who are gainfully employed tax=payers were to leave the state, letting legislators and the general public know that the move is because of repressive anti-abortion laws (or any other anti-woman laws), this will motivate change. Even a large scale departure of women who are not significant as tax-payers might be influential if their spouses leave with them or if their children are left behind for the state to support.
Back during the westward expansion (and prior to the 19th Amendment), several frontier territories that realized that they had a serious gender imbalance, ie shortage of women, chose to legislate women's voting rights in hopes of encouraging female immigration. Those states might be particularly receptive to the idea that women will leave a state that does not recognize abortion as a woman's inalienable right.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act and various state Parental Leave acts make a higher number of pregnancies burdensome to the employer. A valued employee, possibly one hard to replace during Parental Leave, can affect the profitability of the section. Having this happen once per woman may be OK, but having it happen again and again would be a serious problem.. Of course it's a potential incentive to employers to not hire women at all, but we do have Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to combat that.
Remind insurance companies that contraception and abortion are much less expensive than is ordinary normal pregnancy and birth, vastly less costly than the hyper-expensive Neonatal Intensive Care for a premature or damaged infant.
Insurance companies are very sensitive to the potential for more costly events that they must cover. The mathematical arguement for covering contraception and abortion is one they will appreciate.
Remind them that they can include coverage for contraception and abortion even if the purchasing employer does not wish to include such coverage. Simply adopt a policy that all health insurance must include this. Alternatively charge a higher premium for policies that lack such coverage because the anticipated claims for the larger number of pregnancies , births, neonatal ICU, and so on are so very expensive.
To whatever extent an employer is paying part of the insurance premium, this same arguement should appeal to the employer. It may not convince the truely hard-core religious fanatics, such as those in Hobby Lobby, but it may well convince the rest of them.
(This is going to be my favorite section.)
If the male in question is one who has publically professed that "abstinence is the best contraceptive" or that "sex is only for procreation", tell him that you have seen the light and that you have decided to practice abstinence except when trying to concieve.. Unfortunately for him, you have no plans to conceive for the next several years or perhaps forever. So he'd better make friends with his left hand -- or perhaps right hand is more appropriate for a Right Wing man ? (note : if sex is legitimate only for procreation, then it's legitimate only once or twice during the period of maximum fertility, ie at time of ovulation, and only when both parties are committed to raising any resulting offspring. That would mean that sex might occur only a very few times during the man's entire future.)
If the male in question does believe in contraception but your insurance doesn't cover it, tell him that contraception now must rank at the very top priority in the family budget. It will rank far above such luxuries as alcohol, tobacco (or other recreational drugs), above subscription to TV sports channels or tickets to sports events. Pick out budget items that he really loves but you don't care about and name them as things to be eliminated in order to pay for contraception. Also the budget must include as a top priority a montly deposit into special savings for an abortion that might be potentially needed in the future. Your savings for abortion should include all potential travel expenses for you to go somewhere that it is safe and legal. Of course he does have an alternative to these expenditures taken away from his fun money : he can get a vasectomy, a one-time expenditure that may well be covered by insurance.. If vasectomy is chosen, you'd be wise to obtain a microscope (which you should have learned how to use in high school science class) and use it to do periodic (monthly ?) verifications that he is still "shooting blanks".
Let him know that if that conception results in a birth, he will have to take full responsibility for fully one half of that child's care. That includes such delightful tasks as diaper duty. It includes taking time off work to take a sick child to medical care or to respond to a call from the school. It will include half the duties of driving the child here there and everywhere. And the added expenses of that extra child will come out of the family budget as high priority items, thus taking away money he might like to spend on things he enjoys.
Let him know that if he fails to do his half of the work for every one of your children, you will be leaving him and leaving the children with him, thus he will have to do both halves of the job. Encourage him to watch the first half of "Kramer v Kramer" to see how much he will enjoy being a single parent.
Let him know that if you have to travel far away to obtain your abortion, especially if you have to travel out of state or out of the USA, you will not be coming back. And any previous kids will remain with him for him to raise.
Let him know that you refuse to remain in a state that has repressive laws. It's his choice to come with you or not. Again, if he remains behind, leave any prior children with him for him to raise.. You might set a time limit for him to pick up and follow you before you go ahead and start divorce procedings.
If you don't already have your travel funds and your first several months living expenses saved up, start saving under a plan similar to that outlined for paying for contraception.
(note : all these suggestions for enlightening a male with whom you are "romantically involved" might be appropriate to try in modified form with other men whom you know. Perhaps fathers , brothers, co-workers ? Let them know that the woman with whom they are "involved" or might be so in the future may also adopt one or more of these tactics. Even if that wife or girlfriend (or sister or daughter) does not adopt protest tactics, if she winds up dead or disabled from a botched "back alley" job, that is going to affect him.)
Too damn many men, whether in role of judge or legislator or husband / boyfriend, think that abortion and unwanted pregnancy only affect women. They don't consider that there will be harmful consequences to men, including to themselves personally. It's time to make them realize that attempting to coerce women to be unwilling gestators has harmful consequences to society and to individual men. (It's also cruelly harmful to any resulting child and to prior children.) Attempting to coerce women to raise unwanted children is an exercise in futility. It's harmful to everyone.return to top of page