Keep on Marching: What You Can Do To Protect Reproductive Freedom
© Judy G. Rolfe
The March for Women's Lives is over, but our fight for reproductive freedom must continue. Whether you attended the March, read about it in the newspaper, or heard stories about that historic day from your friends or neighbors; whether you are new to reproductive-rights advocacy or an experienced activist, you can harness the power of the March to make a difference in your community. By taking part in one or more of the following activities, you will be working to ensure that the full range of reproductive health services remains accessible to all women. Bring this list of activities to your next pro-choice coalition meeting, your book group, your place of worship, or other community gathering and Keep on Marching!
1. Make your voice heard in Washington and in your state capitol.
- Join ACLU-Online at www.aclu.org/action to receive updates about federal legislation and find out what you can do to let your opinions be heard. You can use the ACLU website (www.aclu.org/reproductiverights) as a resource on reproductive rights issues.
- Visit your pro-choice state legislators and members of Congress and stress the importance of voting to protect reproductive rights. Thank them for the work they do to ensure access to birth control, prenatal care, abortion, medically accurate sexuality education, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
- Join your local pro-choice coalition's e-mail list and stay abreast of developments in your state.
- Write letters, send e-mails, and call your elected representatives when legislation arises that affects reproductive rights: tell them what you expect, and don't forget to follow up when their votes are cast!
- Attend or conduct a lobbying school; learn from seasoned lobbyists how to effectively get your message across. For additional resources, visit the ACLU website /TakeAction/TakeAction.cfm?ID=11900&c=242.
- Organize a lobbying day for your local pro-choice coalition in Congress or at your state legislature.
2. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about a specific legislative battle or the state of reproductive rights.
3. Start or raise money for an abortion fund, so that all women can access safe abortions. For more information, visit www.nnaf.org.
4. Organize a panel or brown bag to educate the community about the current threats to reproductive rights.
5. Create a pro-choice organization at your school or in your community. If one already exists, add to its power by bringing five friends to the next meeting. Strengthen your coalition by:
- creating an e-mail listserv to update neighbors on the threats to reproductive rights on the local, state, and federal levels;
- designing a coalition website, which can contain fact sheets on pertinent issues;
- expanding membership to include potential allies in the LGBT, environmental, welfare, civil rights, anti-war, and anti-sexual assault communities, and talking to those groups about the links between reproductive rights and other civil rights and civil liberties;
- selling reproductive freedom buttons and t-shirts (such as the ACLU's ""My Body is Not Public Property"" button available through the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project at 212-549-2633) to raise money and visibility;
- tabling at local events, including concerts, outdoor markets, street fairs, and university campuses;
- sponsoring a reproductive rights essay contest and publishing the winning entries in your school or community paper;
- connecting with members of the local medical community, who are often the most effective allies in fighting anti-choice legislation; and/or
- supporting local chapters of Medical Students for Choice, Law Students for Choice, and Public Health Students for Choice, who are the future of reproductive health care.
6. Canvass your community to determine where local advocacy and education is needed. Hold a town meeting to report the results, and invite the press.
- Find out what type of sex education program exists at the schools in your community and advocate for comprehensive sexuality education.
- Call the local pharmacies to find out whether they stock emergency contraception.
- Investigate whether local employers provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans.
- Discover whether hospitals in your community provide abortions, tubal ligations, and emergency contraception.
- Monitor potential mergers between religiously affiliated and non-sectarian hospitals.
- Preserve the stories of those who have needed an abortion. Telling the stories of those who accessed abortions before the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade will help younger generations better understand what is at stake. Talking about why women need abortions today and discussing the obstacles they often encounter will remind everyone of the importance of achieving reproductive freedom for all.
7. Encourage people to register and vote on election day.
8. Join or organize a clinic escort service, to ensure that women can securely access abortion care.
9. Organize a social event to raise awareness about the ongoing assault to reproductive rights B talk about these important issues at a concert, a happy hour, a picnic in the park, or an afternoon coffee break. Print out materials from the ACLU website and distribute them to friends and the public.
10. Host a video night featuring a reproductive rights film (see attached list of recommended films).
11. Assess your personal access to reproductive health care by asking important questions of your providers.
- Ask your primary care physician, gynecologist, and pharmacist whether they know about emergency contraception.
- Ask your gynecologist whether she or he provides abortion services.
- Ask your elected officials whether they support a woman's right to access comprehensive reproductive health services. To learn about a member of Congress's voting record, visit the ACLU' s National Freedom Scorecard at http://scorecard.aclu.org/scoremain.html .