Following the worst legislative year ever for abortion rights in the U.S., with more than 560 abortion restrictions introduced in 47 states, the Supreme Court now appears poised to completely overturn Roe v. Wade within weeks. Roe v. Wade, and 50 years of additional legal rulings, affirms the right to abortion across the country. If it is overturned, abortion will be completely or near completely banned in half the states, triggered by state laws that go into effect the moment Roe falls.
What does this mean for you and your loved ones?
If Roe is overturned, rules about abortion will fall to each individual state. Now more than ever, it’s critical that every American learn about their state’s laws, take steps now to protect yourself and the people you care about, and work to elect active champions for abortion rights. Here’s how:
Find out about the laws in your state.
Check out this interactive map to see what changes are coming to your state if Roe is overturned. NARAL Pro-Choice America keeps an updated guide on the current laws in each state. Have a child considering where to attend college? Thinking about relocating? Check the laws before you decide! And remember, laws can be changed or rolled back depending on who controls your state government in any given year. Republicans in congress have every intention of making abortion illegal nationwide if they regain control. Elections matter.
Consider long term contraception.
Not only are there now multiple options for long-acting reversible contraceptives that can provide pregnancy prevention for between 3 and 10 years, IUDs and implants are also up to 20 times more effective than birth control pills, patches, and rings. And don’t forget about vasectomies! Most health insurance plans must cover preventative care, including birth control (thanks, Obama!). Planned Parenthood is a great resource for all forms of birth control, and provides care even if you don’t have insurance.
Keep emergency contraception and pregnancy tests on hand.
Anyone of any age can purchase emergency contraception (aka “Plan B” or “morning after pill”) off the shelf in drug stores, pharmacies, superstores, and also online. ID is not required. Look in the “family planning” or “feminine hygiene” section. They have a shelf life of four years, so keep a bunch of these and also a stock of pregnancy tests on hand at home and at school.
Make a plan.
If you live in a state where abortion will be banned, take the time now to identify a friend or relative in a state with strong abortion laws (like Maine). Make a plan and set aside enough money to “go camping”. Some states are planning laws so dystopian that even talking about a pregnancy or termination plans should be avoided once a pregnancy is confirmed.
Need to find an abortion provider?
These resources can help, no matter where in the country you’re located.
What’s next on the legal and legislative front?
If Roe is overturned, the only remedy that protects all Americans is a federal law. The Women’s Health Protection Act guarantees a pregnant person’s right to access an abortion—and the right of an abortion provider to deliver abortion services—free from medically unnecessary restrictions. The bill passed in the House, but recently failed in the Senate. Every Republican in both the House and the Senate opposed the bill, while every Democrat and Independent except Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin supported it. Let your legislators know how you feel about their vote!
A Supreme Court ruling on the Mississippi case (the one with the leaked opinion overturning Roe) is expected in June. We will post updates here. But even if the court unexpectedly upholds Roe, it’s important to remember that laws that slowly chip away at access are just as dangerous. Six states currently have only one abortion clinic in operation.
We are also monitoring what broader impact overturning Roe could have for contraception and LGBTQ rights. Even interracial marriage could be challenged. We will post updates here.
WHAT MORE CAN YOU DO?
Not comfortable talking about your support for abortion access? Get comfortable. We need everyone (men, too) to speak out in conversations with friends and family, on social media, in letters to the editor, and in legislatures. Get caught up on abortion facts and the legal background before you start, and follow these golden rules:
Be honest and accurate. Focusing on the realities of abortion as a part of people’s lives can counteract stigma and misinformation. Know where to point people who want to learn more.
Understand the constitutional context. An individual’s right to an abortion is based on almost 50 years of legal precedent. Understanding how the constitution protects all abortion before a fetus is viable helps people recognize how many new laws violate people’s rights.
Be non-judgmental. Believing that individuals have the right to make decisions about their own bodies means that no one abortion is more ‘justified’ than another.
Recognize diversity. No two abortions are the same; they occur in a huge variety of different socio-economic and cultural settings, and affect a wide range of people with different experiences and values. This short video is a great one to share.
Avoid stigmatizing language and images. Use medically-accurate terms, such as embryo and fetus, and avoid using words or images that perpetuate false stereotypes about how people feel about their abortion. And remember that not all people with a uterus identify as female. Using “pregnant people” rather than “pregnant women” is not only inclusive, it’s more accurate.
Support the organizations working to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion and those suing to block abortion bans, including:
Clinics and advocacy organizations organized by state
The clinics and abortion advocacy groups in your state need your help, especially those that serve people of color, low income people, and the LGBTQ community. Find a list of groups in your state here.
Run for office
Yes, you. The best way to stop anti-abortion laws is to elect abortion rights advocates at the local, state, and national level. Get trained to run through Emerge America and support those who step up through Emily’s List.
Find trusted up-to-date information on reproductive health at these sources:
The Guttmacher Institute: tracks abortion legislation and policy and conducts research
National Abortion Federation: maintains list of all abortion clinics by state, is the professional association of abortion providers
Women Help Women: offers secure self-managed medication abortion info and support
If/When/How Helpline: offers secure legal information and support surrounding abortion
International Planned Parenthood Federation: global abortion info source