We knew it was coming and still the news launched a million expressions of fury across the media landscape and onto the streets. We've known this was coming for years, decades. The steady march of the Republican party as it took over school boards, rallied candidates for local offices, blocked judicial appointments at all levels until it could appoint those who would do its bidding. The agenda has always been the same. The GOP has created a brilliant blueprint for minority rule and on Friday, June 24 won a major victory against women and those with uteruses, whose autonomy its members have demonstrated they hate. Against the people they do not believe deserve healthcare. Against the people who bear the burden of forced parenting, racism and poverty. Against the people who've been raped.
Having failed to stop them, what are we going to do now? Grab your placard and yell in the street if that calls to you, yes. Let our anger be seen but don't, for the love of all things good, stop there.
Listen, here is the difference between those who believe in individual freedom and those who would reserve all rights only for those who are cis male, white, rich: The latter have lawmakers on their side. Senate Republicans operate without shame and in full commitment to their party's goals, which include, explicitly, taking away the rights of women, of non-straight men and of everyone not-white. On the other side, the Democrats, despite representing more people and winning the popular vote every year since 1996, continuously fail to exhibit such strength and commitment. What that means is, if all you care about is forcing people to have babies, you barely have to work at it at all — your boys are all over it. But if you think we should have self-determination over our own bodies, holding on to that right is on you.
One of the most effective ways to help with any cause is to give money to organizations successfully supporting it. As of this typing, five states have outlawed abortion with eight more expected to follow suit momentarily. Whatever California's problems — and we have a lot of them — the criminalizing of abortion is not among them. That frees me up to donate to funds and places specifically aimed at helping people less lucky. In Kentucky, for example, where I set up a recurring donation directly to Planned Parenthood's Lexington branch. www.thecut.com has the best list I've found to directly assist those most in need.
Let's talk about recurring donations, a useful way to support the work of organizations looking out for us. Even small monthly donations add up and enable groups to budget further into the future. Let's also talk about amounts. No one who is truly struggling to pay their bills should feel shamed into donating beyond their means. But, as Australian philosopher Peter Singer would say, a lot of us have more than we need to live a comfortable life. We could be, and should be, saving lives with the excess.
Between Netflix, HBO and Amazon Prime, I spent about $50 per month on streaming services. Is a person's right to make their own health care decisions more or less important? Is protecting victims of rape from having to bear unwanted children more or less valuable? We're not going to win if we're unwilling to sacrifice. Not until we overcome gerrymandering and an otherwise rigged system, which doesn't seem poised to happen any time soon.
The other part of this equation is showing up. But again, if you live in a blue part of California, where do you show up to? What's the ask? Well, here's something to think about: As the CalMatters story on page 11 notes, "40 percent of California counties do not have any abortion clinics." The state legislature has put forth a package of 13 bills to help advance access within the state. Check it out, then call your state senator and assembly person and tell them to vote yes on each of those bills.
Call every single person who represents you at every level and ask them their position on abortion. Make it clear you will not vote for anyone who is not 100 percent pro-choice. Report out on social media, tagging the politician, give kudos for being on the right side, announce your commitment to voting them out if they're on the wrong. Can't find a pro-choice candidate to vote for? Run. Show up at the demonstrations. Follow what the activist organizations are doing and find out where you can plug in.
Need more? Google "how to help women get abortions." A long list of possibilities will appear.
Look, this is a lot. I know. And when you want to burn it to the fucking ground, "donate and call your representatives and do a Google search" is a few million miles short of cathartic. Why bother taking part in a broken, corrupt system? Fair question. The only answer I can give right now is we have to fight on all fronts. So, speak out, donate, call your reps, do your research, show up where you're needed and, importantly, hold on to hope and each other.
Jennifer Savage (she/her) is a political strategist and mother of three.