5 Things Reproductive Justice Advocates Can (Still) Be Grateful For
By Amie Newman — November 29, 2016
It’s hard not to give in to the fear of a potential onslaught of restrictions to women’s health care once the Trump administration is in power — restrictions that threaten to stem the progress we’ve made. We fear that we will lose the expanded access to contraception the Affordable Care Act provides, the evidence-based comprehensive sex-ed an increasing number of schools follow, and the ability to obtain a safe and legal abortion that all women deserve.
Still, now more than ever, it’s important to acknowledge the bright lights. They will help guide us through the darker times. We thought it might help to share some of the brightest we’ve found so far. If you’ve got other suggestions that we left out, please leave them in the comments!
- Four pro-choice women of color were elected to the Senate on Election Day. A record number of women of color lawmakers were elected in November and they have made this Congress the most diverse in U.S. history. California Attorney General Kamala Harris is the first Indian American to serve in the Senate. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is an Iraq war veteran and Thai-American, won her seat in Illinois. Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada’s former attorney general, will be the first Latina senator. And, finally, there is Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, who emigrated from Japan as a young child. Besides all being women, they share a fierce commitment to advancing women’s health and rights. They all actively support safe and legal abortion. In fact, Kamala Harris was one of the first to step up to investigate the fraudulent claims against Planned Parenthood by the group Center for Medical Progress.
- Abortion providers. In the wake of the election, many abortion providers are grappling with their fears as the political culture grows more aggressively anti-reproductive rights. They are weighing the risk of their and their families’ personal safety against the never-ending need for compassionate healthcare for people who no longer wish to, or cannot, be pregnant. In an honest, heartfelt op-ed, long-time abortion provider Dr. Warren Hearn said that he fears for his life and he fears for his patients in the forthcoming Trump administration. Another abortion provider, writing about her post-Election Day mourning period, shares, “After about an hour of self-indulgent scrolling through social media posts and news articles, I moved forward. I had a shift scheduled at the abortion clinic where I work as a physician. And I knew that my patients, the clinic administration, reproductive rights advocates, and Hillary Clinton would want me to get out of bed and go, and to do what I had set out to do.”
- Healthcare professionals who immediately speak out in support of contraception access, safe abortion, respectful care for LGBTQ people, and health care access for all. In the week following Trump’s win, a coalition of healthcare professionals from across the United States composed and shared an open letter to their patients, feeling “compelled to act and advocate against any threat to our patients’ well-being.” The letter affirmed that health is a human right, that “women should be able to access comprehensive health services without fear of intimidation or violence,” and that safe abortion and contraception access are essential preventive health services. They pledge to support a woman’s right to self-determination. As of the writing of this post, the letter has almost six thousand co-signors.
- Pro-choice state judges targeted by anti-choice activists who remain on the bench. In Kansas and Alaska, anti-abortion activists campaigned unrelentingly for months to unseat state Supreme Court justices in each state who ruled in favor of abortion rights. The activists targeted the judges only because of their stance on abortion rights. But their campaign was unsuccessful. According to Slate, not a single judge of the seven that were up for re-election lost his or her seat. It’s important news not only because we’ll likely see frightening challenges to abortion access on the federal level and will need whatever state protections we can get, but because there are still major abortion rulings in each state at stake. Last year, Kansas banned dilation & extraction (D&E), the safest abortion method for second trimester abortions. Because of that case, the Kansas’s state Supreme Court will soon rule on whether the state constitution includes the right to terminate a pregnancy. In Alaska, a parental notification law was struck down last year as well.
- You! We are thankful for our readers, supporters, contributors, and colleagues who are our partners in the fight for women’s and girls’ health and well-being. Our Bodies Ourselves started when a group of young women decided they — not their male doctors, husbands, or political institutions — should be in charge of their bodies. We still believe that and we continue to fight for bodily autonomy and access to health care. We are now working to #WriteTheNextChapter on reproductive justice but we need your help. Join our campaign today so we can battle racism, sexism, and reproductive injustice together!
This is a welcome post. Thank you for the reminders. I needed them sorely, despite being in and an ally to the movements.
Thanks for the comment, Ayesha! It’s allies and movement builders like yourself who probably need these even more. Thank you for all of your amazing work!
Thanks, Amie. It’s important to hear that good things are happening…and that we all have to be both tough and as optimistic as possible. Keep writing these wonderful blogs. As a co-founder of OBOS, I really appreciate your care and your work!
Thank you, Jane, for all of your work on behalf of women and women’s health. I consider you one of those bright lights!
We have come a long way in the rights of women. I am so grateful for your continuing work and am heartened by your clear message to law makers and the education of the general populace. We have similar issues in Canada and must safe guard the advances and care of women’s rights. Thank you.