Last week when I came into work, one of my employees told me that she was having a tough day. She had woken up in the middle of the night, opened her phone, and saw a new article about Alabama’s governor signing their extreme abortion ban.
This wasn’t the first anti-abortion law to have been signed in the past month, and she was beginning to feel hopeless — like there was nothing she could do from here in Florida.
It’s no wonder she was feeling that way. After all, the quick succession of these new bills isn’t coincidental – they’re designed to make people feel overwhelmed and like there’s nothing they can do about them. They’re designed to stir feelings of fear and helplessness, because those feelings overwhelm us, making us more likely to hide behind them than to channel them into something that creates community power.
So, if you’ve been submerged in feelings of anger, fear, helplessness, or isolation, here are 10 things you can do — many from your own home — that can help you reconnect and protect access to safe, legal abortion.
1. Donate to an abortion fund
Abortion funds work to remove barriers to abortion access through providing financial support to those seeking abortions. Some abortion funds may arrange transportation, a place to stay, or childcare for your appointment. Each abortion fund works in a different way and provides different services, so look up the one closest to you to learn what services they offer. If you can’t afford a donation, you could coordinate a fundraising event (like a bake sale or dinner party) or share a fundraiser on social media.
2. Volunteer as a patient escort
Abortion-providing health centers often have volunteer patient escort programs to help patients safely get from the parking lot through the center’s doors. Patient escorts serve as buffers between patients and protesters and can make the difference between someone making or missing their appointment.
3. Learn about your state’s existing laws and proposed bills
We often encounter articles about the same select groups of states, but your state likely has some bills on the table this session, too. Those bills may be positive, enacting further abortion rights protections, but they might be destructive.
Familiarizing yourself with laws that have already been enacted can be extremely empowering, because, well, knowledge is power. Your local abortion rights organizing groups are most certainly keeping tabs on any abortion-related legislation currently making its way through lawmaking bodies, so when in doubt, reach out.
4. Look up your closest abortion provider
It’s a common misconception that all Planned Parenthood locations provide abortions. Do you know where your closest abortion provider is? Do you know if they provide abortions every day of the week or just certain days?
Each health center has its own policies and procedures, and being familiar with some of the basics can allow you to serve as a resource when someone you know is feeling isolated, scared, and uncertain of what their options are. My closest abortion provider is a 13-minute walk (or 3-minute drive) from my house, and they only provide abortion services one day each week.
5. Research crisis pregnancy centers (and spread the truth about them)
Chances are high that you’ve encountered a billboard or advertisement for a crisis pregnancy center. You may have even had a “that seems like a nice place” reaction to the ad. That’s because crisis pregnancy centers notoriously use advertising that plays on feelings of fear and anxiety. They typically present themselves as supportive, non-judgmental, and comprehensive.
The reality is starkly different. Crisis pregnancy centers exist to attract people who may be researching abortion as an option, then by guilting and pressuring them to not get an abortion. While some crisis pregnancy centers are a bit more easily identified, some can be a bit more difficult to detect, with names like “Sarasota Medical Pregnancy Center” and seemingly-supportive imagery.
Learn about the ones that are local to you and spread the message that they are not abortion providers. You can find a list of legitimate abortion providers at the National Abortion Federation’s website.
6. Join a local team
Professional organizers are working to protect abortion access all year long. Who is working on these issues near you? Your local Planned Parenthood affiliate may have an organizing arm, but there may be other nearby organizations doing this work, too. If you have the capacity to be involved in an ongoing way (think anywhere from 1-5 hours per week), then volunteering might be a great option for you.
You might do things like canvassing or phone banking, and smaller organizations may need help with graphic design, social media, or even basic organizational tasks to help their team be more efficient. There are a lot of different ways to get involved here, and the best way to learn if this is a good fit for you is to just ask.
7. Contact your representatives
You might know your US senators’ names, but do you know who your local representatives at the state level are? Those are the people who are crafting abortion-related legislation.
Each state has their own website for the law-making bodies (here are the sites for Florida’s senate and house of representatives), but you can also use a tool like Open States to find this information. Just enter your address and they’ll show you who your local representatives are. You can learn which committees they serve on, which bills they’ve sponsored, and how they’ve voted on a variety of measures.
If your representative is supporting or sponsoring legislation that you disagree with, let them know. Call and email them – and then go a bit further and share what you sent with them on social media. If your representative is supporting legislation that you agree with, let them know you appreciate their ongoing support.
8. Spread the word about support lines
Genuine abortion support lines like those run by Exhale, All-Options, Connect & Breathe, and Faith Aloud provide people who have gotten an abortion (and their loved ones) with a non-judgmental outlet to talk about how they’re feeling. They are largely staffed by volunteers, and some may be seeking more help.
Beyond volunteering, it’s critical to spread the word about these supportive resources, because just like there are fake abortion providers that only seek to shame, there are fake talklines that do the same thing. Learn about them, know their websites, and donate to fund their work.
9. Thank those who share their story (or share yours)
Sharing a personal story about abortion is an incredible act of vulnerability and trust. Story-sharing helps to normalize abortion and the many reasons why someone chooses to get one, and it can let other people know that they aren’t alone. If someone shares their abortion story on social media, thank them (and don’t share it without their permission).
If you have an abortion story to share, participating in movements like #ShoutYourAbortion can be cathartic, build up your local and online support systems, and works to destigmatize abortion. Participating in movements like #ShoutYourAbortion isn’t for everyone, but if it’s something that you feel like you can do, then consider it.
Reach out to a trusted loved one and let them know in advance that you’re planning on participating, and make a clear ask for their support. Their comment or “love” reaction on your social media posts can help alleviate some anxiety you may be feeling about sharing your story.
10. Support political organizations working to keep abortion safe and legal
PACs like NARAL and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) work tirelessly to protect abortion access (amongst other initiatives that they take on). They do this by mobilizing organizers, educating legislators, and advocating for pro-choice candidates. They’re always accepting donations, because doing this work can be expensive.
But if you can’t donate, then learn about other ways to support their initiatives. You may be able to volunteer or lend your voice to their work, and that’s helpful, too.
It’s okay to feel the overwhelmed, but I hope that some of these smaller actions will help you move beyond that feeling and back into your strength.
In solidarity, hope, and power,