What millions of Americans had worried about during the 2016 presidential election has happened. Several states — such as Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, and more — are passing dangerous legislation to drag the state of reproductive health and a woman's right to choose back down into the dark ages. Yes, things seem terrible and bleak right now, but there's still a fight to be had and here's how you can support abortion rights in Alabama and other states with draconian laws affecting countless people's reproductive and constitutional rights.
On May 15, according to The New York Times, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the most restrictive abortion bill in the country into law: the Alabama Human Life Protection Act. This law intends to potentially punish doctors who perform abortions with essentially life in prison, and would only allow exceptions if the mother's life was in danger (like an ectopic pregnancy, for example), and there are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, according to CBS News.
"Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature," Ivey said in a statement, according to CNN. "To the bill's many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians' deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God."
Alabama is not the first state to start peeling back reproductive rights; the state has followed in the footsteps of six other states that have introduced bills to ban abortions after six weeks, including Georgia, Ohio, North Dakota, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa, according to USA Today. And sadly, this terrible step in the wrong direction from Alabama is continuing the ripple effect. On Thursday morning, May 16, the Missouri Senate passed a bill to ban abortions at eight weeks gestation, as NBC News reported.
Though abortion rights are indeed constitutional rights, as decided under the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade, it seems they are severely at risk. Anti-abortion activists and politicians are pushing hard to see the safe and common medical procedure outlawed and they're gaining ground in states like Alabama, Missouri, and more.
But many are already hard at work to challenge this extreme legislation and here's how you can help turn the tides.
Share Your Story
As women, transgender communities, and non-binary people across the country begin to contemplate what this law could mean for their reproductive future, it's important for them to have as much support from others, including men, as possible.
As actress Padma Lakshmi noted on Twitter, men have their own abortion stories, and she's encouraging men to share those stories with the #himtoo to spark a conversation that abortion rights affect all humans. Especially in the wake of the fact, as USA Today reported, that it was 25 white men who voted against abortion rights in Alabama.
"If you identify as male and someone you love has had an abortion or you just support a woman’s right to choose, NOW is the time to let it be known. Use #himtoo and share your story," Lakshmi urged on Twitter.
Donate To Yellowhammer Fund
People seeking abortion services in Alabama are clearly in real trouble at this point. To be perfectly clear, though, abortion is still legal in the state as the new law won't take effect for six months, according to BuzzFeed News. Still, the state has just three abortion clinics, according to The Washington Post, and with this new law it's obviously going to get much more difficult to access abortion care.
The Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama provides funding to anyone in the state who needs an abortion through the National Network of Abortion Funds, helping out with travel, lodging, and whatever else might be an impediment.
You can donate to the Yellowhammer Fund here.
Support Doctors Who Support Choice
The Alabama Women's Center is the only abortion clinic in the northern part of the state. While this new law has threatened doctors who offer abortion care, the Huntsville, Alabama clinic has no intention of ceasing services.
As Dr. Yashica Robinson, AWC Medical Director, shared in a press release, "The AWC will continue to provide quality healthcare services for women and families. As a medical professional my patient’s health and well-being is first and foremost."
You can support these brave doctors by donating here.
Become A Clinic Escort
Making the decision to get an abortion can already be a difficult time for a person on its own. But adding in the fear of protesters outside the clinic shouting terrible things at you or even resorting to violence... this is the sort of thing that might stop someone in their tracks.
Financial support is wonderful, but sometimes the best thing you can do is stand shoulder-to-shoulder and offer your physical support. Read more about how to become a Planned Parenthood escort here.
Stop The Spread
Complacency has no place here. People across the country need to protest, need to speak out, need to make their voices heard. Not just by each other, but by their local politicians.
You can text "resist" to 50409 to connect with your local government officials to keep this madness from spreading, because we cannot go back in time.
Keep The Conversation Flowing
Abortion has managed to remain an incredibly divisive issue for generations. So perhaps one of the most important things we can do is keep the conversation flowing.
Talk to your friends and family members, especially those who might have voted for President Donald Trump, about why abortion rights matter. Why choice matters. Instead of shouting down people who might disagree with you, redirect with education. Let people know that Alabama has no intention of allowing abortions even in the case of rape or incest. Talk about all of the reasons why a person might seek out abortion and how no one is "trying to murder a baby" (as is often the common counter argument). Don't judge, don't get angry. Calm, clear, focused, and armed with actual information will win the day.
We have to stay the course. We cannot go back.