The Supreme Court is preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that protects the right to abortion in the United States, according to a draft opinion leaked to Politico and published last night. It's an outcome that many have been expecting since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organisation case challenging Mississippi's ban on abortion after 15 weeks first landed in the conservative-majority Court. But there is still something chilling about reading the draft opinion for yourself and experiencing this moment in reality.
"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," writes Justice Samuel Alito in the draft opinion, calling the case's reasoning "exceptionally weak" with "damageing consequences." If the draft becomes official, there will be no federal protection for abortion rights; the decision will reside within each state.
Abortion remains legal (though not necessarily accessible) in the United States until the Court officially rules on Dobbs, which is expected in the next two months. And while justices can technically change their votes until the decision becomes official, Politico reports that Alito's fellow Republican-appointed justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — have aligned to vote with the majority opinion.
"Though the decision we've seen in the leaked draft opinion is not yet final and abortion remains legal, this court's intentions are clear," says Jamesa Bailey, director of Black campaigns at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement to POPSUGAR. "This is a critical time for supporters to channel outrage into action: we will not quietly stand by and let our rights be stripped away." Bailey emphasises that it's not too late to get involved. Here's what you can do right here, right now, to fight for abortion rights.
Donate Money to Abortion Funds
Bailey recommends donating to a local abortion provider, or an abortion fund (organisations dedicated to helping people access abortions). Abortion funds typically help people pay for abortion care or the travel required to get it. You can also contribute to a state fund in one of the 13 states with "trigger laws," which will automatically ban abortions as soon as it's legal. Bailey says 26 states total could "swiftly" move to outlaw abortion, leaving "more than 36 million women of reproductive age — and other people who can become pregnant — without access to safe, legal abortion." Go to the National Network of Abortion Funds to find a local fund to donate to (such as one in a state with a trigger law), or make a donation that the org will split between over 80 different abortion groups.
I know how tiring it is to hear this same message in times of crisis, when it feels like the democratic process isn't working and that voting isn't enough. But at the same time, this moment is an example of just how much voting matters. Three of the justices reportedly siding with Alito's draft opinion were appointed by President Donald Trump, whose presidency flipped the Court from a near-even ideological deadlock between Republican and Democrat appointees to a 6-3 split in favour of Republicans. Had Trump not been elected, the Court and the outcome of Dobbs could have been very different.
Supreme Court nominations aren't the only reason to vote. Abortion rights have been under attack at the state level for decades, as recently as this past September, when a Texas bill banning abortions after six weeks was signed into law. At the federal level, it's also possible for Congress to codify abortion access into law (more on that ahead). If we want to protect abortion access, it's vital to vote at all levels of government for officials who are willing to fight for the same. Research where your current congressional representatives and state legislature reps stand on abortion, and cast your vote in the upcoming midterm elections for a candidate who will fight to protect this right.
Reach Out to Your Elected Officials Now
If the draft opinion holds, it may be a matter of months before Roe v. Wade is overturned, which means that, yes, you want to vote in November's midterms, but it's also crucial to take action now. Reaching out to your state representatives by phone, email, or letter can make an impact on state laws which, should Roe be overturned, would determine the legality of abortion across the country. On the federal level, Congress has the option to codify Roe v. Wade "with a national law protecting abortion rights," Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter. Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have also spoken up in support of codification.
As it stands, such a law would not be able to pass the Senate without a minimum of 60 votes due to the possibility of a filibuster, a strategy that that Senators use to "prolong debate and delay or prevent a vote" on a bill or other debatable question, according to the US Senate website. With the chamber currently split 51-49 in favour of Democrats, Republicans could potentially filibuster any abortion rights bill out of existence. This is why many Democratic members of Congress are also advocating for an end to the filibuster as a way to pass an abortion rights law — and why the filibuster is something to mention when pressing elected officials for abortion rights.
Understand What Resources You Have
Morning-after pills are one of the most accessible forms of emergency contraception, available over the counter for anyone of any age. There are some restrictions on the morning-after pill (nine states give pharmacists the right to refuse to provide it), but experts previously told POPSUGAR that it's unlikely to be outright banned in the US. So there's no need to stockpile dozens of pills — and in fact, doing so could create shortages that affect people who need the medication right now. It's not a bad idea to have three to four packs at home, doctors say, but be careful not to take any that have expired, as this can make the pill less effective at preventing pregnancy. You can also speak with a doctor about other pregnancy preventative options like hormonal birth control pills or intrauterine device (IUDs).
Volunteer to Do Voter Outreach
Besides voting and encourageing your friends and family to do the same, you can volunteer your time with voter outreach organisations. This includes volunteering with local or state level candidates who support abortion, or getting involved with an organisation like Vote Save America's Adopt a State program, which allows you to do outreach specifically in "battleground" states where abortion rights are under the most threat. You can also get involved with Planned Parenthood and other advocacy groups, which are collectively planning to spend $150 million on the upcoming midterm elections.
Get Involved in Protests
Protests over the Court's draft opinion have already begun and are likely to continue for months. If you choose to protest, make sure to do so safely. Wear a mask and cover your skin and eyes (with glasses or goggles) in case of pepper spray, and consider leaving your phone at home due to privacy concerns. Know your rights in case of police presence.
Follow Advocacy Groups on Social Media
Following abortion activism groups on social media is a good way to educate yourself and stay involved and up to date. Groups like the Guttmacher Institute, Centre for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and Still We Rise focus on advocating for abortion and spreading facts and research. Following these groups is also a good way to learn about protest opportunities and other ways to get involved.
Understand What This Means For Your State and Make an Emergency Plan
Now is the time to find out your state's laws on abortion — whether there are restrictions already in place, or whether your state is one of the 13 that will ban abortion the moment the Court allows it. Talk with friends and family to come up with a plan in case you end up needing an abortion in a state with restricted access or a ban. Bailey recommends using Abortion Finder to find a verified abortion provider near you.
If You've Had an Abortion, Share Your Story If You Can
If you feel comfortable sharing a personal abortion story and it's safe for you to do so, Planned Parenthood lists it as "one of the most powerful ways" to fight back against abortion. You can share your story on the Planned Parenthood website or through We Testify.