The Fight Against Reproductive Rights Targets the Most Marginalized People—Here is How You Can Help
Those disproportionately targeted by state violence for autonomy over their own bodies are fighting for reproductive rights and have been for a long time.
“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” This quote from Audre Lorde (“Learning from the Sixties,” 1982) has been rattling around in my head for the past week, as state after state has begun to dismantle Roe v. Wade by legally criminalizing abortion. Even while mainstream media has largely framed this moment as an assault on “women’s” reproductive rights, we should be wary of how this category is being wielded.
At its core, the criminalization of abortion is about the threat of losing one’s bodily autonomy to the state, and we have to remember that this threat is shared by trans people, Black people, sex workers, incarcerated people, poor people, disabled and undocumented people. To say that this moment is about an assault on “women,” then, is to deliberately overlook the racialized dimension of its violence.
There is perhaps no better illustration of this than the fact that the governor of Alabama who signed the anti-abortion law into being is herself a woman—a white woman, that is. The same is true for Terri Collins, one of Alabama’s Republican representatives in the House who originally sponsored the bill. And again, Brian Kemp, the governor who signed Georgia’s anti-abortion law, was himself voted into office with the blessings of 70% of white women in the state of Georgia.
The criminalization of abortion, then, shouldn’t be framed as an assault on women’s rights, but rather as an injunction to expand the state’s control over the bodies of poor people of color. Alabama is proposing criminal sentences of up to 99 years for abortion providers; Georgia is threatening to prosecute people who terminate their pregnancies after six weeks. Let’s pay attention to the carceral language being employed here.
In a recent NYT column, Michelle Goldberg noted that a post-Roe world would not be a regression toward a prior state of things, but a substantial worsening of them. Before Roe v. Wade, doctors were prosecuted for abortions but patients rarely were. This time, however, they would be. She writes: “Republican politicians in other states are clearly interested in locking women up; last month, Texas legislators held a hearing on a bill that would allow women who have abortions to be charged with homicide and potentially subject to the death penalty. In a post-Roe future, the political fight, at least in red states, could shift from whether women can have abortions to whether they can be imprisoned for them.”
What does this mean for the work that lies ahead? It means that the fight for reproductive autonomy must be firmly rooted in the fight for prison abolition. It means that the fight for reproductive autonomy must be inextricably linked to survivors’ rights, sex workers’ rights, and the #MeToo movement (which, let us not forget, was a movement begun in *Alabama* by *Black women*); to the abolition of ICE, border regimes and policing; to the fight for free healthcare, to safety for trans people and disabled people; to the fight for fair wages for workers everywhere.
Let us not forget that it has already been hard, for a long time, for those disproportionately targeted by state violence to exercise autonomy over their own bodies. By framing this moment as an assault on women, we risk sliding into a knee-jerk #PantsuitNation reaction, in which we contend that simply placing “women” (which women?) in positions of power will ameliorate conditions for the rest of us.
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When our analysis of feminism fails to be intersectional, it risks being co-opted into the violent forces of neoliberalism, as we have already seen with carceral feminist tactics that simply further the reach of the prison system by advocating harsher sentencing laws in cases of sexual assault, and as we are currently seeing in Europe with the rise of “femonationalism,” with white women in Germany and elsewhere justifying their xenophobia and racism in the language of “protecting [white] women’s rights.”
With that being said, we can give our time and money to local abortion funds who have been in this fight for a long time. Why local abortion funds, rather than larger organizations such as Planned Parenthood? Although Planned Parenthood centers do good work, the clinics providing the majority of abortions in the US are independent abortion care providers, and they are currently the only providers in AL and many other states.
Abortion funds directly sponsor abortions at local, regional, and national levels, and together they form a network of over 70 grassroots organizations across the country. In 2017 they supported 28,837 people, but that was only 19% of the 152,000 calls the network received that year. As a result there is great unmet need and they need more support.
Many abortion funds are run and led by volunteers who answer phone calls, drive people to appointments, and coordinate events, and help people navigate barriers in addition to paying for procedures, by providing services such as transportation, child care payment, lodging, translation services, abortion doulas, and more. Abortion funds are autonomous in their structures and policies because they are experts in direct service to their communities across widely varying cultural and political geographies.
Below is a list of abortion funds to donate to or volunteer at as a clinic escort. If you cannot donate to them directly, contact them and ask what kinds of help or support they might need. Amplify them on social media. Subscribe to their newsletters and listservs to stay tuned for upcoming announcements.
Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates
The Knights and Orchids Society, Inc.
Montgomery Area Reproductive Justice Coalition
Abortion Fund of Arizona
NAPAWF Arizona Chapter
NARAL Pro-choice Arizona
Tucson Abortion Support Collective
Arkansas Abortion support network
Little Rock Family Planning
Cascades Abortion Support Network
Women’s Emergency Network
Broward Emergency Fund
Emergency Medical Assistance, Inc.
Access Reproductive Care Southeast
Feminist Women’s Health Center
Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
NARAL pro choice Georgia
All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center
Peggy Bowman Fund
EMW women’s clinic
Kentucky Health Justice
Hope Medical Group for Women
NOLA Abortion fund
Women with a Vision
Reproductive Justice Action Collective
Summit Medical Center
Women’s Center of Flint
Northland Family Planning
In this Together Project
The Choice Fund
Jackson Women’s Health
Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund
Gateway Access Fund
Abortion and contraception clinic
Abortion Access Fund
Indigenous Women Rising
Young Women United
New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
North Carolina abortion fund
Family reproductive health
NARAL pro choice NC
Red River Women’s Clinic
North Dakota Women in Need Abortion Access Fund
Women Have Options
Restoring Our Own Through Transformation
Oklahoma religious coalition for reproductive choice
Oklahoma call for repro Justice
Greenville women’s clinic
South Carolina WREN
Healthy and Free TN
Knoxville Abortion Doulas
Abortion without Borders
La Frontera Fund
Whole woman’s health
Fund Texas choice
Clinic Access Support Network
Richmond Reproductive Freedom Fund
Falls Church Healthcare
Blue Ridge Abortion Fund
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