by Gennette Cordova
Last week, for the first time in history, conservatives on the Supreme Court decided to strip away a constitutional protection it had granted the nation half a century ago. The despair, outrage, and panic in the air is thick, and if you’re thinking this is the worst it’s going to get, you’re wrong.
As Democratic voters are receiving urgent fundraising emails from Nancy Pelosi about needing your money to unseat anti-choice Republicans, many are trying to reconcile the strong-sounding language with Pelosi and other Democratic leaders just recently backing anti-choice, NRA-supported Henry Cuellar over his young, progressive challenger in their primary election in Texas.
Reuters is reporting that, despite the majority of the country wanting to defend reproductive rights, Biden and his advisers “are concerned that more radical moves would be politically polarizing ahead of November’s midterm elections.” The use of “more” when referring to “radical moves” from this administration is bewildering.
This is the beginning of the normalization of bounty laws which effectively deputize neighbors against one another. Some legislators in states that are hostile to abortion are floating the idea of subjecting reproductive rights advocates to gag orders. Already, legal experts are expressing concerns about what this landmark decision will mean for privacy protections. Beyond abortion, the leaked Roe decision revealed that the Court may soon be aiming to strip privacy-based rights like same-sex marriage and birth control.
It is evident that this is no longer a matter of whether or not things will get worse — it’s a matter of to what extent? It feels almost ghoulish to find an upside in such an appalling situation, but the silver lining is that this will undoubtedly shake a lot of people out of complacency.
To begin, I believe it’s necessary to recognize that, although most decisions in this country are decided by an elite few, the polling favors the pro-choice. A University of Texas poll, from April of this year, indicated that even in a deep-red state like Texas, just 35% of voters supported automatically banning abortions upon the decimation of Roe.
With that in mind, let’s shift our focus to organizing and preparing for assorted battles, both cultural and political. In the short term, we must work to provide assistance to those most directly affected by the ruling. You can do this by supporting established orgs and abortion funds in your area and nationwide.
Abortion funds are grassroots organizations that directly connect people who need abortions to services and resources while amassing power to push for political change. Many of these orgs and their networks benefit from decades of being on the frontlines of abortion access with a depth of knowledge of how best to navigate obstacles within their specific landscapes.
And while these funds support tens of thousands of people annually, needs are far from being met. Volunteering is one of the best and most fulfilling ways to get involved. Abortion funds may be in need of volunteers to answer phones for their hotlines and assist with practical support for patients. Practical support can look like child care, overnight housing, transportation, translation services, etc.
Additionally, the most crucial support you can give to an abortion fund is, of course, funding. Abortion funds in states where abortion will soon be illegal and states like ours where abortion will remain legal will both be in need of increased financial support — the latter will be experiencing an influx of those in need coming from other states.
With inflation and many Americans still feeling the effects of COVID-19, disposable income is often nonexistent. We’ll be challenged with getting creative with fundraising, whether it’s finding effective ways to spread awareness and solicit donations, hosting events that bring in cash, getting people and businesses to donate goods for raffles, etc. Encourage people you know to rethink donating to politicians and legacy reproductive orgs, and instead give to abortion funds and other mutual aid efforts. Unlike being a faceless donor to large charities, mutual aid work is a radical practice that builds community — everyone leads, everyone participates, and we give directly to our neighbors who need it most. Through the act of developing our own community-oriented solutions rather than depending on systems to save us, we expand solidarity and increase the potential to unlearn hyper-capitalist individualism.
You’ll notice that I’ve not yet advocated for simply voting harder. Contrary to the messages you’ve likely been getting in your inbox this past week, voting will not save us. However, I am pro-voting, and I believe we could benefit from an increased emphasis on primary elections. Voting against conservatives, at this moment, is absolutely necessary. But first, we should seek to replace Democrats in office, who lack forward-thinking views and a real plan of action. Familiarize yourself with elections throughout the country and find progressive challengers to support, and do what you can to mobilize.
Unfortunately, many of our current leaders are in their 70s and 80s and out of touch. They ignore the fact that we’re in need of radical change, and rather than take accountability for their shortcomings, they opt instead to condemn young people and activists. Until they’re replaced, we’ll make little or backward movement on issues from police brutality to climate to the defense budget.
It is now our responsibility to take the reins and advance the country, beginning with developing a deep sense of care and compassion for our communities. Together, we can bring about comprehensive climate solutions. We can work toward the de-commodification of housing, with efforts like Initiative 135 for social housing, to alleviate the unsustainable burden of housing costs that have exacerbated homelessness. We can expand access to quality education and health care in our country.
We can reimagine a world with strategies for crime reduction centered around improving our collective quality of life and addressing people’s basic needs while undoing centuries of criminalizing race and poverty. If reproductive rights are your main issue, you will unfortunately soon see how it is directly linked to police violence and mass incarceration.
There’s little comfort that can be offered except to reaffirm the idea that we have more power than we realize. There are painful moments in history that radicalize people en masse — if we’re lucky, it heightens consciousness and moves us in a positive direction. In recent years, for some, it was the murder of Trayvon Martin. For others, it was school shootings like Parkland. Devastation, it seems, is useful in teaching us that we can’t be passive victims of our circumstances. It is with that understanding, the desire to build coalitions, and the discipline to organize on the ground that we lay the foundation for our path forward.
The South Seattle Emerald is committed to holding space for a variety of viewpoints within our community, with the understanding that differing perspectives do not negate mutual respect amongst community members.
The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the contributors on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the Emerald or official policies of the Emerald.
Gennette Cordova is a writer, organizer, and social impact manager. She contributes to publications like Teen Vogue and Revolt TV and runs an organization, Lorraine House, which seeks to build and uplift radical communities through art and activism.
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