Over the past two days, I have been in a state of varying emotions — shock, sadness, anger, disbelief and several others. I have heard similar sentiments from not only other activists but much of the general population. One concern that many people have had is that President elect Trump will turn back the clock on women’s health and reproductive justice. Seeing as though he could appoint two Supreme Court Justices, this is definitely in the realm of possibility. However, those concerned about reproductive justice must not be discouraged. Our efforts are needed now more than ever. Thus, here is a list of actions YOU can take foster awareness and action in your community and nationwide.
- Become a Planned Parenthood Volunteer: In most states, PP has a presence and there are a number of ways to get involved. If you like an office setting, you can volunteer to do administrative work at the clinics. If fundraising is your thing, you can organize a walk or other event to help secure financial resources. If you are more of a political person, in many states, there is always almost ALWAYS something regarding reproductive health on the ballot or being debated on legislative floors. If you are a student and have a Generation Action Chapter at your school, join it. If not, start one!
- Do Outreach Work: Many communities have several health fairs a year. If you are a member of an organization, you can set up a booth and pass out valuable information about pregnancy, STDs, abortion services, and other topics related to reproductive health. In addition to tabling, you can always schedule speaking engagements and set up shop in places where large numbers of people frequent such as night clubs and sporting events. (A fun event that I participated in once was a condom crawl on Halloween at local bars!) If there is no organization do this work in your community, you can always start one.
- Stay Informed About and Involved In Your State Politics: While Federal Government plays an important role in access to reproductive health services, the bulk of relevant policy is passed on state levels — i.e. abortion laws, sex education in public schools etc. For instance, most of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws were passed in states like Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Thus, it is crucial that you open and maintain a line of communication with your state legislators to make your concerns and the needs of your community heard. In addition to one on one conversations and letter writing, you can also testify at public hearings and put in cards showing support or opposition to bills. Additionally, you can volunteer for and donate to(if you have the funds) to candidates who are advocates for reproductive justice.
- Mobilize others: While it is crucial to stay informed and engaged yourself, the real power is getting others involved as well. This can be done in a number of ways including utilizing social media, writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, building mailing(both electronic and physical) lists and simply talking to family and friends about why reproductive health is important.
- VOTE!: With the results of this election, I have heard several people become disillusioned with the electoral process. While it is understandable to feel that way, that is not the right course of action. We MUST keep voting for our state and local officials in addition to paying attention to and voting in mid term elections. The latter is particularly important because winning back control of congress for the Democrats can SUBSTANTIALLY cut down on damage done to reproductive health and liberty under a Trump presidency.
On November 9th, our country suffered a major blow. No doubt. However, it does not have to be fatal. As advocates for reproductive justice, we MUST do our part to prevent that. Through continued awareness and involvement, we can preserve the freedoms and services that so many Americans rely on.
* This post appeared in medium.com on November 10, 2016.