Roe v. Wade: What You Can Do NOW to Help

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Well, it happened: America is now living in a post-Roe v. Wade world. I covered most of the gruesome results of this decision in my video from back in May when someone leaked this decision, so I won’t spend too much time rehashing it. The basics are that this decision WILL kill people: research shows us that when states and countries restrict legal abortion, women continue to seek out abortions, and they take bigger risks to get them. Those risks result in more dead women. As an example, check out this heartbreaking New Yorker article that details how one clinic in Houston, operating for 40 years, was forced to shut down on Friday after the Supreme Court announced its decision: “On the phone with one of the medical assistants, a pregnant woman screamed furiously, before dropping the phone, “I guess I’ll just have to take matters into my own hands, won’t I?” The clinic’s counsellors knew of patients who had thrown themselves down a flight of stairs or had seriously contemplated suicide. “We’ll see more babies in the dumpsters,” Lupe, another medical assistant, said.”

“Lingering in the parking lot, uncertain, was the Cuban woman who had earlier been given a leaflet that listed options she couldn’t read. As she left the clinic, a picketer named Raúl had tried to lure her into a large bus that could take her to the Houston Coalition for Life, which he referred to as a “medical center,” but she decided to walk past him. “I can’t keep the child. I already have three,” she said, adding that they were aged two, four, and eight. The woman was five weeks into her pregnancy. “Why would they do this?” she said of the Court. The woman said that she couldn’t afford to travel to another state. Even the fund that was meant to pay for her abortion that day had gone dark. But she was convinced that she would find a way. A friend of hers had told her about a Mexican man who could go to her home and perform the procedure. “She told me that, if things didn’t work out at the clinic, I could always call him,” she said hopefully, looking straight at the closed clinic door.”

Know this: it will not be as bad as it was before Roe, because as I said in my previous video, we have medical abortion pills that we can distribute to people who need them. But it WILL be bad. People like this will fall through the cracks – people who don’t know where to go for help, people who don’t speak English, people in abusive relationships, people who are already on the margins of society – they’re going to call a man who they do not know, to come to their home and use some kind of method to abort the fetus. Mifepristone and misoprostol, which are known to be safe and effective? Maybe. But maybe he can’t get those in bulk. Maybe he makes more money by mixing up some pennyroyal, which might result in an abortion but will more likely kill the patient. Maybe he tries to do a surgical abortion. We don’t know.

It’s understandable that you may hear all this and desperately want to help. All over social media, I’ve seen this type of post popping up: “Just so everyone knows, if you need to suddenly go on a camping trip to California, you can come over and we go on the camping trip together. We can take my car camping and go for as long as you want. I don’t care if we have never talked before, I’ll be here to help you with planning out the camping trip and whatever else you might need.”

So…I get it. I am a privileged middle class white lady living in a state with a government that has repeatedly reassured residents that they will protect our rights and privacy from the Religious Right, and further promised nonresidents that they will be welcome to come here for healthcare if they need. So I want to leverage that privilege to help others, and further I want to let others know they’re not alone, and to be honest maaaaaybe I also want a lil pat on the back for being a good person. Maybe, a little bit. Come on. Admit it.

But here’s the thing: cops, prosecutors, and judges aren’t idiots. Okay, well, most of them. Well, most prosecutors and judges. I digress: they know what “camping” is. If regressive conservative states criminalize traveling out of state for abortions,  they will prosecute pregnant people for “camping,” and maybe they will try to prosecute you, too, for helping with the “camping.”

But also let’s look at this from the perspective of a random person who lives in Texas who needs an abortion. I assume these messages are directed at strangers, since personally I know that all my friends already know that I am here to offer my guest room if they need to come here and get an abortion. Like, obviously. So a stranger out there is in desperate need of an abortion but they don’t have the funds or the ability to get to a clinic out of state, meaning they are vulnerable, in every sense of the word. Maybe they don’t even speak English, so while prosecutors know what “camping” means, they don’t. But let’s say they do, and they happen across a public post from a stranger offering help. They have nowhere else to turn, not even an unnamed guy someone said could come to their home to perform the abortion.

I fervently believe that at least 99% of the people posting this stuff right now has their heart in the right place. But there are reasons why a handful of people might not be so wholesome: maybe they’re a forced birth proponent trying to lure marginalized pregnant people to one of their “crisis pregnancy” centers; maybe they’re catfishing to report them to the authorities; maybe they’re an abusive man looking for a vulnerable woman to control; maybe they’re a serial killer. We basically just invented a new way to murder women and others seeking abortions.

I know you want to help hands-on, and you want to be part of what you keep calling the “underground railroad” of abortions, which, please stop doing that, that was about slavery and we don’t need to steal that very specific phrase.

Here’s the good news: we already have a network of pro-choice organizations with vetted employees and volunteers who have spent DECADES mobilizing for this moment. The National Network of Abortion Funds was formed in 1993 as a coalition of 22 pro-choice organizations from 14 different states, and now include more than 80 organizations across 38 states and four countries. They provide DIRECT funding to people needing abortions, covering the cost of the medication, transportation, and housing, and they also provide much needed services that help the most marginalized people, like translation services and education to help people navigate an increasingly hostile and confusing process.

And they are SWAMPED. Before this Supreme Court decision, they could only afford to support one out of four patients in need. Now they are flooded with panicked people suddenly unable to access basic healthcare, and they need YOU and ME to step up and help.

There are ads on this video and I’m hoping YouTube leaves it monetized, because I will donate 100% of the revenue to the National Network of Abortion Funds, and I hope that if you are able to do so, you join me. In case it isn’t monetized, I’ve already thrown $100 in to start things off.

I know that just throwing money at a problem doesn’t SEEM like enough. I can assure you that money is the resource that these organizations need the most right now. But if you want to get more hands on, you have some other options: The Network of Abortion Funds provides an easy search to find your local funds, which often are in need of volunteers. For instance, Access Reproductive Justice is an organization here in California that needs practical support volunteers. According to their website, they will vet you and give you training, and then you commit to being on-call for a year, all based on your own availability. When a patient is in need of things like a ride to a clinic, childcare, a place to stay for a night, or translation services, you can leap into action like an abortion superhero.

These volunteers are crucial in every state, whether they’re protecting our bodily autonomy or not, because even in places like California there are poor, marginalized people who fall through the cracks. So if you have the time and the resources, go find your local abortion fund and be a hero. If you don’t, but you do have money, consider either funding your local organizations directly or give to the National Network.

If you don’t have any of that, that’s okay! You can call your state representatives and let them know you want them to protect bodily autonomy and right to privacy, and if they won’t you will vote them out of office. You can call your federal representatives and let them know you want them to do, well, any of the things that AOC is agitating for:

– Restrain judicial review

– Expand the court

– Clinics on federal lands

– Expand education and access to Plan C

– Repeal Hyde

– Hold floor votes codifying Griswold, Obergefell, Lawrence, Loving, etc

– Vote on Escobar’s bill protecting clinics

Finally, you can share useful information with others instead of well-intentioned but not particularly helpful posts about camping. If you found this video educational, just liking, commenting, and subscribing goes a long way toward YouTube showing it to others. I appreciate you simply watching and learning. Stay safe out there! Oh, and if you need help finding a place to camp here in California I actually do have some great suggestions. But also let me know if you need an abortion I guess.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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