Alabama has been in the news a lot this week over a bill banning abortion in almost all circumstances after conception. However, despite its governor signing the ban into law on Tuesday, abortion is still legal in Alabama — and there's a veritable army of people in the state fighting to make sure it stays that way. There are many ways Alabama organizers are defending abortion rights, and you can get involved whether or not you live there.
"Our goal is to stop the bill from ever taking effect, so that abortions will always be legal in Alabama," Lucia Hermo, the public advocacy director at the ACLU of Alabama, tells Bustle. "We have this huge swell of support ... so we want to mobilize that and use that action to make sure that people continue being engaged with the legislature win the months and years to come."
To that end, Hermo says the ACLU will be fighting that legislation in court in addition to working with grassroots organizations to put together protests on the ground. One of its partners in the state is Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equality (URGE). Andi Lawhead, Alabama state organizer for URGE, tells Bustle that the group is planning a Sunday rally with other local organizations. The goal of the protest will be to show state officials that those supporting abortion access aren't backing down any time soon.
"We are not going to let this happen," Lawhead says. "We are not going to let attacks on our health care continue."
So the fight against the Alabama abortion law is well underway, and there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved. Lawhead and Hermo urge people to attend any protest they can, because they say it's important to show that as many people are engaged with this issue as possible.
Lawhead also says that abortion rights advocates can support efforts to maintain access in Alabama, whether or not they live in the state. They point to the Yellowhammer Fund, specifically, which provides financial and logistical assistance for those seeking an abortion, including travel and lodging.
If you live in Alabama, Lawhead and Hermo suggest considering becoming an abortion clinic escort (if you live outside of Alabama, you can also look into becoming an escort in your own state). Escorts generally help patients walk from their cars to the clinic and are tasked with helping them feel safe as they do so. This will require reaching out to your closest clinic.
"A lot of the clinics have very vocal protestors who are there all the time, so they’re in need of clinic escorts who can safely protect the patients who go to use those services," Hermo says.
If you're a college-aged person, Lawhead also suggests looking into joining an URGE chapter at your university. The group focuses on organizing students to fight for and protect reproductive rights. No matter what options you've got around you in terms of organizations to join up with, Hermo says that it's important to keep having conversations about abortion rights and engaging with those who might not agree with you.
Hermo also emphasizes that brushing off Alabama as "backwards" could hurt the fight to protect reproductive rights going forward.
"There’s so much amazing organizing that has been done by very talented and compassionate individuals for years," Hermo says. "I think we really need to nationally have a commitment to uplift those voices, and to uplift the work that’s been done."
Alabama isn't an outlier, she notes, but a sign of what's to come elsewhere.
"These abortion restrictions and attacks aren’t just going to stop at the south," Hermo adds. "It’s not just going to stop at Alabama, it’s going to come across the country, and so we need to be ready for it."
Monica Busch contributed to this report.