Savita Had a Heartbeat, Too
How to Get Started? I’ve been asked several times recently by people how they can get started as a repro rights activist. I appreciate how overwhelming it feels with so many devastating things going on all over the country right now. Where and how to begin? As with most things in life, you need to begin with you! Here are a few questions to ask yourself that I hope will help you get started and, just as important, stay in the fight since this is going to be a years’ long series of campaigns and battles.
1) Why is reproductive freedom important to me? Think about what it means to you personally when women are no longer allowed to decide when to have children. Why does this make you angry or sad? Have you actually said it out loud to anyone?
2) What kinds of activities give me energy? Again, this is a marathon not a sprint. So, you need to find ways to engage that leave you feeling energized and ready for more, not depleted and ready to climb in bed. Maybe you want to escort patients from Planned Parenthood clinics? ( Maybe you want to donate to abortion funds through the Network of Abortion Funds? Maybe you want to provide advice to people seeking abortion medication through the Online Abortion Resource Squad? Or maybe you want to write a newsletter! I have been providing specific ways you can help in these newsletters, so take a peek at a previous one!
3) Do one thing. When the world feels overwhelming, it always feels better to focus on doing just one thing. Find one way to help, sign up, send your check, put it on your calendar, do whatever you need to do to make it happen. This is your contribution today to the cause. And tomorrow, do one more thing.
What We Can Learn from Ireland. The national vote in 2018 that repealed the 8th amendment to their constitution that made abortion illegal in Ireland passed overwhelmingly. It was such a shock not just in Ireland but around the world that this predominantly Catholic country voted to allow abortions. And it wasn’t a squeaker of an election, with the repeal vote at 66%. Here is a great article about what we can learn from the Irish experience.
A few key takeaways:
Foundational stories are essential tools for advocacy efforts. They had the story of Dr. Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, who was not able to get a medically induced miscarriage and died from sepsis. Summing up the heartbreak of this story, one observer said, “Savita had a heartbeat, too.” Since the overturn of Roe, we are hearing a growing number of foundational stories, stories about rape victims being forced to give birth, mothers being forced to carry non viable fetus’ to term, and the life of the fetus taking precedent over the life of the mother. We need to tell these stories over and over again.
Clarifying the “ask.” The Irish advocates appealed to potential voters by talking about abortion as health care and giving everyone options, even if that might not be their own choice. We heard this exact sentiment from voters in Kansas, particularly Republican women, after their recent vote to repeal the abortion ban in the state constitution. I wouldn’t have an abortion, they said, but I think other people should be able to decide to have one. As one repeal poster read, “Someone you love may need your yes.”
Solidarity with other rights movements. We need to make our movements bigger, more inviting to people who are fighting for equal rights in other areas. Ultimately, this is a fight for restoring our democracy because a healthy democracy is required for safeguarding human rights.
Surge in early voting. Tom Bonier, a well-known voting analyst, gave a talk last week that was encouraging for voter turnout this fall. One thing he is seeing, in particular, is that the people registering to vote and requesting ballots by mail are young people, particularly young people of color. And these are the hardest people to find for polling purposes. We can’t count on this happening, but we can be encouraged by the data showing that it is happening. Here is a video of Tom’s talk: https://www.ndn.org/tom-bonior-surge-women-video
Ham4Progress! Finally, here is a really fun video from the cast of Hamilton encouraging people to vote in the midterm elections.
The song is fun, but more important is the message everyone to go to When We All Vote to find out the rules for voting in your election district.