6 Actions To Take Right Now To Support Repro Rights In America
Reproductive rights are human rights, but try telling that to the Trump administration. Although President-elect Donald Trump has flip-flopped on abortion rights in the past year, his chosen cabinet members are not only decidedly anti-abortion but also against measures that would increase access to contraception, prevent STIs, and lower the cost of prenatal care and delivery. Some measures Trump's buddies do support? Funerals for fetuses, zero family-planning funding, and no abortion exceptions for victims of rape and incest (thank Dr. Ben Carson for that last one).
Reproductive rights aren't just abortion rights. It's an umbrella term for abortion, birth control, affordable prenatal and maternity care, adoption, paternity leave, funding for overseas reproductive health organizations, and overall, rights for pregnant people. And after the result of the last presidential election, all of these issues are now up for debate — and subject to potentially harmful reforms — under the Trump administration.
While the United States Supreme Court, even after the late Justice Antonin Scalia's spot is filled — still has a slight majority favoring abortion rights, the high court can quickly sway to the right on abortion if one of the liberal justices (Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Stephen Breyer) passes away in the next four years. At the federal level, Roe v. Wade is safe for now, but Trump's promise to return abortion "to the states" could be a disaster, leaving millions of American women without access to abortion.
Widespread access to affordable birth control remains up in the air. For years, Republicans in Congress have been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate, which is currently implemented through the Obama administration. Although Trump said after his recent meeting with Obama that he might keep parts of the ACA, Trump didn't say he would keep the current no-copay coverage of birth control. Under a Trump administration, it looks unlikely.
Here are six ways to take action and support reproductive rights, right now.
Donate To Planned Parenthood Or Your Local Reproductive Health Clinic
It should be obvious that Planned Parenthood, the largest family-planning organization that's constantly under attack by Republican legislators nationwide, may lose some of its funding — if not all of its federal funding — under Trump. If there was ever a time to donate to Planned Parenthood, it's January 2017. You can give directly at the Planned Parenthood Action website. Planned Parenthood also provides an option for "specific giving," which means that 10 percent of your donation will go to the Planned Parenthood affiliate of your choice, such as Planned Parenthood Southeast, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, etc.
You can also donate to the local reproductive health center in your area that provides abortion and low-cost birth control. For example, Texans should consider donating to Whole Woman's Health Texas Action Fund, which helps Texans access abortion services across the state. There's also the Women's Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, which helps patients find abortion clinics and funds abortions and emergency contraceptives such as Plan B.
Donate To An Abortion Fund
The long-standing Hyde Amendment bars federal Medicaid funds from going toward abortion, blocking low-income women from receiving the abortion services they need. Currently, just 17 states provide state Medicaid funds for low-income women seeking an abortion. To fill this gap, the National Network of Abortion Funds has stepped in, providing money to patients who can't afford to have an abortion, whether because of the price of the procedure or the travel expenses many women now incur.
You can donate directly to the National Network of Abortion Funds. Or you can scroll through the list of abortion funds in more than 40 states and donate directly to the abortion fund in your state. If abortion rights ever do return to the states, then women in states where abortion is illegal will be forced to travel hundreds or, potentially, thousands of miles for the procedure. Abortion funds are more important than ever.
Become A Clinic Escort
Want to get out there? Then consider becoming a clinic escort. Many reproductive health clinics across America use volunteer escorts to help patients in and out of the clinics, shielding them from anti-abortion protesters. If you're in the New York/New Jersey area, check out this list of clinics needing escorts compiled by NOW-NYC. Clinics in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Englewood, New Jersey are currently looking to train more escorts.
Volunteer With A Hotline
If you have some extra time but don't want to leave the house, there are numerous sexual health, reproductive health, and abortion funding hotlines out there. Planned Parenthood offers a sexual health hotline, while Backline, the all-inclusive organization that provides assistance with abortion referral, adoption referral, pregnancy, and parenting, trains volunteers for its Talkline, a hotline that counsels people who need "a place to talk about a past or current experience with abortion, adoption, parenting, infertility or pregnancy loss."
Support A Friend In Need
Whether a woman has decided to terminate the pregnancy or carry it to term, facing an unintended pregnancy alone is scary. If you have a friend in need of an abortion, read up on some of these helpful support tips, then reach out and offer a ride to the clinic, gas money, or just an impartial ear.
If you have a friend who's going through pregnancy and needs financial assistance with prenatal care, direct them to the Department of Health and Human Services hotline. The hotline helps pregnant patients find reduced or free prenatal care in their area.
Write Your Local Leader
The old standby: Write (or call) your local legislator, especially if you live in a state where birth control access, affordable maternal care, and abortion rights have been rolled back. Tell them why people need low-cost birth control and emergency contraceptives, remind them that abortions still occur even when they're illegal, and badger them about paid family leave and other pro-family measures, such as paid sick days.
Or, you could always call Mike Pence's office in Indiana and provide him with some updates about your menstrual cycle. He'll truly appreciate it.