Less than 24 hours after Alabama lawmakers voted to ban almost all abortions, Planned Parenthood’s Southeast call center was inundated with hundreds of calls from women in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. Each and every one is asking a similar question: If Gov. Kay Ivey signs the bill into law today as her Republican colleagues expect, what does that mean for my reproductive health care?
In a press call Wednesday morning, Staci Fox, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, stressed that abortion is currently still legal in all 50 states. Now that the Alabama bill has been signed into law, it will take six months to go into effect. Similarly, the “fetal heartbeat” bill that the governor of Georgia signed into law earlier this month won’t go into effect until 2020, reports The New York Times. And both are likely to face immediate legal challenges that would temporarily stop them from going into effect.
“It’s important that we continue this cadence of reminding patients in states, especially here in Alabama and here in Georgia, that abortion is still safe, and legal, and accessible—and we are fighting every step of the way to make sure that stays true,” says Fox.
Accessibility, however, is a relative term. As of 2014, 93 percent of counties in Alabama do not have an abortion clinic. The state already requires mandatory counseling, followed by a 48-hour waiting period, for women seeking an abortion. And worse, if the law takes effect, women living in Alabama will have to travel to neighboring states, like Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, or Mississippi to obtain an abortion. Each of these states requires a waiting period ranging from 24 to 48 hours, meaning Alabama women will need several days to travel, wait, have the procedure, and, if necessary, recover—an unrealistic option for most considering the cost of travel and amount of time off from work. Some may try to order abortion pills, but self-managed abortions have brought legal consequences. Working to close existing accessibility gaps is the Yellowhammer Fund, which provides transportation to and from Alabama’s three abortions clinics. The organization will have more ground to cover should a near-ban on abortion take effect. (A protracted court battle is likely to occur.)
You can advocate for abortion rights now without leaving your home state. (This Twitter thread provides suggestions based on your geographical location.) Start by circulating a message championing reproductive rights throughout social media, and to any acquaintances, relatives, or friends you may have in Alabama and Georgia. You can also sign a petition from Planned Parenthood Southeast urging Gov. Ivey to veto HB 314. Once you’ve made calls, sent texts, and drafted tweets, here’s what to do next.
What you can do uphold the reproductive rights of people affected by the proposed Alabama abortion ban
1. Donate, donate, donate
National Network of Abortion Funds: Apart from legislation that seeks to stand between women and abortion, financial and logistical hurdles also present a real problem. Donations to NNAF, a network of reproductive justice organizations, help provide support including childcare, transportation, translation, and more to lessen the burden on women receiving the health care they deserve.
Planned Parenthood: One in five women in America have visited Planned Parenthood for their health care needs, including obtaining legal abortions. The organization’s action fund is dedicated to promoting reproductive health throughout the U.S.
National Abortion Federation: Donations to NAF go directly towards educating people about their reproductive options, ensuring high quality care for women everywhere, and keeping abortion clinics across the nation open for business.
The Yellowhammer Fund: As previously mentioned, transportation and lodging are just a couple of barriers that keep women in Alabama from receiving abortions. The Yellowhammer Fund seeks to remedy that.
Donate locally within your state: As HuffPost points out, there may be a number of clinics within your state that could use your contribution. You can also donate directly to the Alabama Women’s Center, or other abortion providers in states like Georgia and Ohio that are particularly at risk.
2. Offer up your support to organizations that help elect pro-abortion rights candidates
Of course, the long game in ensuring women have proper access to reproductive health is all about who we elect into power. That’s why supporting places like Emerge America, Emily’s List, Run for Something—all of which are on a mission to elect candidates who support abortion rights—is so critical. Many of them are looking for volunteers and donations, so help in the way that best suits you.
3. Get involved in activist groups
Groups like Supermajority, the American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL, and the Guttmacher Institute unleash the power of activism throughout the community. For example, Supermajority offers trainings to teach group leaders how to organize, as well as an online database where you can sort the stances of candidates and elected officials on hot button issues.
4. Become part of a volunteer clinic escort program
“Volunteer clinic escorts are an extremely important volunteer position,” Planned Parenthood writes on its website. “They help get patients to the door of our clinic with as little harassment from protesters and picketers as possible.” You can apply online to become a clinic escort today, or check to see if another local clinic in your area is in need of this type of assistance.
If you’d like to discuss your reproductive health care options, call Planned Parenthood at 1-800-230-7526 or text “PPNOW” to 774636.
This story was originally published on May 15, 2019; it has been updated to reflect that the bill was signed into law by Gov. Ivey (R-AL) on May 16.
We did the math, and a six-week abortion ban adds up to a dangerous situation for women. And here’s what happens when women take the morning after pill.
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