On June 24, women in the US lost whatever was left of their bodily autonomy. They lost the right to choose and their full reproductive freedom.
Like us, you probably felt an array of emotions: anger, sadness, confusion or just pure shock. All of the work that the activists before us have done felt like it was undone, with one Supreme Court decision. It’s enough to make you want to shut out the world and crawl into bed forever.
But, of course, a new generation always steps up. Gen-Z and millennial activists are taking their activism to the internet, posting about resources, sex education and ways that people can join the fight. This is the new wave of abortion activists that you need to know about.
Award-winning reproductive justice activist, author and the founder and executive director of We Testify
Describe the moment you realized you were an activist. “Like many women of color, I feel like I was born an activist. Growing up biracial, seeing and experiencing racial disparities and discrimination made it untenable for me to move through the world without advocating for myself and others. My parents raised me to believe that activism and advocacy are a way of life. Advocate in every space that you're in. I also simply hate authority in whatever space I am in so I'm always pushing back against rules.
I became an abortion activist a few years after I had my abortion at 19. Once other people shared their abortion stories with me, I felt safe enough to share mine with them. It put me on a path to support people who've had abortions to share their stories and push back on the stigma that forces us to feel unkind things towards ourselves because we had abortions.”
What is the number one goal of your organization right now? “At We Testify, our top goal has always been and will always be to create a culture in which people who have abortions feel loved, supported and seen. Everything we do is to ensure people who have abortions see and hear abortion stories that are like their own, so they know they're not alone. In particular, we work to make sure that marginalized abortion stories are brought to the forefront, such as the stories of people of color, queer and trans people, immigrants, low-income folks, incarcerated folks, disabled folks, parents, people who self-manage their abortions, those who have more than one abortion and so many more.”
How are you staying uplifted in your mission? And how can fellow women find their power right now? “This moment is absolutely really difficult for people who have and need abortions. So, many of us are feeling deep grief and frustration because we saw this moment coming. It feels like no one listened to us or took our need for abortion access seriously.
I think one way that the We Testify staff and storytellers stay grounded and uplifted in this work is by creating spaces for people who've had abortions, so we can just talk and be, and love upon each other. It's so critical that people who have abortions have our own spaces to support each other and process this moment. We also really love showing up for people who need abortions right now—it's such a rewarding feeling, something that keeps our chins up and reminds us that we can make a difference even as everything else is utter trash.”
Viral pro-choice activist (@Whitneywithheart on TikTok)
Describe the moment you realized you were an activist. “In 2018, I was pregnant and thought I was having a miscarriage, so I went to the emergency room to see what was going on. When I got there, I was leaking lots of fluid and sobbing. For some reason, they separated me from my partner and questioned me repeatedly about what I had done to cause this miscarriage. Terror ran through me; I caused the miscarriage? The only thing I could come up with is that I had a cup of coffee and you’re not supposed to have coffee when you’re pregnant. The whole situation was horrible, and so when I got home (because they said there’s nothing they could do and sent me home anyway), I ended up continuing on with my pregnancy. I was incredibly lucky and immediately researched other women who were investigated, detained and imprisoned for their miscarriages and pregnancies. Knowing these punishments took place in the United States, as well as other countries, jump-started a fire in me. So, from that day forward, I became an activist.”
What is the number one goal of your organization right now? “Pr❤️Choice with Heart has activities and leaders in all the states across the country who help put together our protests. We have been working hard trying to get the word out about what’s happening. Before Roe v. Wade fell, we held hundreds of Defend Roe Rallies. We’ve been sounding the alarm for years and are currently working on a documentary film. As of right now, our petition on change.org has over 200,000 signatures, and we don’t plan to stop growing anytime soon.”
How are you staying uplifted in your mission? And how can fellow women find their power right now? “The most important narrative in the abortion debate was silenced, and that’s the voice of pregnant people and mothers. The majority of people who need abortion healthcare are moms, and banding together has been a huge form of self-care. We are the most hurt by abortion bans, so when we can listen to each other and uplift one another, it’s how we continue to find our power.”
A board-certified OBGYN in Portland, Oregon, and author of Let's Talk About Down There
Describe the moment you realized you were an activist. “I've always believed in the importance of protecting reproductive freedoms, but hearing about the SCOTUS leak in May with the Dobbs case was my ‘holy sh*t’ moment. That's when I realized I needed to show up in a bigger way in educating and speaking out about abortion rights and reproductive justice on my social media channels and elsewhere. The website ThreeForFreedom.com was an idea I developed in the days after the SCOTUS leak as a tangible way to help people do three things to protect their reproductive freedom: getting mail-order birth control, morning-after pills and medication abortion pills in all 50 states. Developing this site and bringing it to life made me realize activism was a central part of who I am in this post-Roe world.”
What is the number one goal of your organization right now? “The number one goal for Three For Freedom is to help people get the medications they need to be in complete control of their reproductive future. There is a lot of information out there about birth control, morning-after pills and abortion, but none as succint and direct as Three For Freedom. My goal is that the website helps as many people as possible take back control and their right to bodily autonomy.”
How are you staying uplifted in your mission? And how can fellow women find their power right now? “I am a doer, and I feel uplifted by getting the work done. Seeing tangible evidence of how our work is helping others keeps me going. The emails and DMs I get from people who said Three for Freedom or my social media posts helped them take control and feel empowered are why I keep showing up. I just read a quote that resonated with me that was, ‘If you can, you must.’ Women and those assigned female at birth can find their power by figuring out what they can do—and it's different for everyone based on their privilege, mental space and life circumstances—and to just start. Don't worry about being perfect. Just start.”
Fatima Goss Graves
President and CEO of The National Women’s Law Center
Describe the moment you realized you were an activist. “I don’t remember a time where I didn’t challenge rules that seemed unfair to me. I was an odd kid like that, and it was probably very difficult for my parents. Fortunately, they believed in us using our voices as long as we showed up for others. I grew up learning about the civil rights movement from the stories of my family. I think as a kid, I thought everyone was an activist. I was pretty old before I realized that not everyone grew up learning the names of civil rights elders. “
What is the number one goal of your organization right now? “Our task in this moment is to get the gender justice movement to recommit for the long arc fight ahead. We are in an unprecedented time for gender justice. The end of Roe and the assault on abortion access is a symbol of the deep unraveling of our very basic norms.”
How are you staying uplifted in your mission? And how can fellow women find their power right now? “I am constantly inspired by the elders and the ancestors—the many people who thought creatively and indefatigably in times that were tough and before any rights were established—and the next generation, who is demanding that we all do far more and at a pace that is faster. We will need approaches from both groups to guide and hold us for the fight ahead.”
Amy Hagstrom Miller
Founder and CEO of Whole Woman's Health
Describe the moment you realized you were an activist. “What’s funny is that I don’t think of myself as an activist. I am an abortion provider, an essential healthcare services worker. Whether I’m in clinic, in the courtroom, in the media, in the press, abortion care is my purpose.
At a young age—in my early teens—folks I loved faced unplanned pregnancies, and it was painful to witness people judge their lives with remarkably cruel assumptions, shame and stigma. I saw this judgment especially land on women, and it just pissed me off as totally and completely unfair. I attended my first rally for abortion rights as a senior in college and it was a transformational experience. I started working at an abortion clinic right after graduation and have been hooked ever since.
We abortion providers get the honor of sitting with people as they choose a course for their lives, witnessing their hopes and dreams for the future, listening to their head and heart and providing them with the care they deserve. This work is remarkably intense and remarkably fulfilling. Now as the president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, I feel a calling to continue inspiring my team and the broader reproductive field forward.
The devastation that I have been processing since Roe fell is hard to describe. As my journey takes on this new chapter of the United States without Roe v. Wade, I find myself overwhelmed and energized at the same time. Overwhelmed with the grief of being forced to cease clinical operations in some states and to lose so much of what we have built at Whole Woman’s Health over these last 20 years, but energized by this moment of needing to adapt, grow and innovate. Our patients didn’t stop needing abortion care overnight, people in Texas and other states didn’t stop needing abortion funds for travel expenses. If anything we are needed on a much greater scale. So, we mourn, we process, we adapt and we fight on. The anti-choice movement has done exactly what they planned to do: by getting Roe overturned, so now, we will do exactly what we have planned to do all along: never give up.”
What is the number one goal of your organization right now? “Our number one goal is to provide fabulous, safe, affordable abortion care to any person who needs it. Whether they walk through our clinic doors or schedule an appointment through our Virtual Care program, we are here to serve our patients. To be clear: our mission, vision, values and goals have not wavered since SCOTUS repealed Roe v Wade. We are now more than ever in this fight. Of course, providing care to patients who live in states where abortion has been banned has become
much harder; being forced to cease clinical operations in the communities we have been part of for over almost two decades is devastating… but we are still here. Our phone lines are still on, and we are still assisting patients get to haven states to seek the essential care they deserve.”
How are you staying uplifted in your mission? And how can fellow women
find their power right now? “We know without doubt that abortion is a moral good. Every day we help people as they make the choices that are best for themselves and their families. We know that we stand in the light. There are dark days, and it is easy to feel like the bad guys have won. The SCOTUS gave a win to the anti-abortion minority, and the decision does not represent the feelings and beliefs of most Americans. In fact, most people in the US support access to abortion care. Even conservative states like Kansas have shown us what happens when you let the people decide on their right to care. While it is devastating that states like Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, Mississippi and other parts of the Mid-west and Appalachia are denied abortion care,
we must remember that we are not alone in this fight. My advice to anyone looking to find their power in this moment is to get pissed and stay pissed. Honestly, get angry and make some change. There are mid-term elections all over the country this year, seek out and support the politicians that are true supporters of abortion care and not just those that are looking for a vote. Talk about abortion with your friends and family, talk on social media, normalize the word and the essential healthcare that it stands for. Find it within yourself to be unapologetic in your support for abortion care. If the Supreme Court wants to give the power back to the states, then get to the ballot box and vote in people that use their power to ensure people have the right to safe abortion care.”
Activist, feminist, entrepreneur and the president and founder of Women's March Foundation
Describe the moment you realized you were an activist. “I grew up in Chicago, and growing up in poverty forces you to become a fighter/activist. I have been an activist since the day I was born; I'm one of thirteen kids so yeah, fighting for space is in my blood. My first campaign was fighting for housing rights and the redlining that happens in Chicago. I grew up undocumented, which was a different fight; the uncertainty and trauma of growing up in an undocumented family never goes away. The silver lining is that I developed an incredible work ethic that has helped me succeed as an entrepreneur and activist. I started my first company at 18!”
What is the number one goal of your organization right now? “The one and only goal is to fight back against the abortion bans state by state and elect pro-choice candidates across the country.”
How are you staying uplifted in your mission? And how can fellow women find their power right now? “I am energized by the incredible turnout of women who are committed to fight back, by the thousands of volunteers who have come through our doors and made phone calls, texted and mailed postcards, and who are doing the work day in and day out to clap back against those who are hell bent on taking away our rights. I am optimistic when I see the power of our efforts in places like Kansas, where voters turned out in droves and made their voices heard. I'm in awe of the women that have asked their employers for abortion coverage. This time, the fight for reproductive rights is intersectional and intergenerational, which gives me hope. Women get to decide their fate—not the church, not the state.”
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