The chaos and anguish caused by last year’s Supreme Court ruling to take away our right to abortion has led to devastation for tens of millions of people. Although bans have eliminated some or all access to abortion in 20 states and counting, the country is not divided on the issue: Gallup polls show 85% of Americans want abortion to be legal. Since roughly one in four people will have an abortion by the age of 45, we all know and love someone who’s had or is going to have an abortion. Here are 5 ways we can show up for them:
1. Really Listen
Abortion is a normal, common, and essential part of sexual and reproductive health care. But the culture of shame and silence that targets abortion causes stigma. That can mean that not everyone feels comfortable sharing their decision. One of the most important actions of solidarity is actively listening to understand their abortion experience. The medical procedure, while common and safe, is personal. At times, having an abortion can be a complex decision to make. When we listen to people’s experience with abortions, we are affirming each other’s humanity. Our community thrives when people feel seen and heard, and it ultimately helps break down the unwarranted stigma placed on a simple health care decision.
Learn how to create a safe space for a friend or loved one to lean on by using these resources from Planned Parenthood.
2. Be Open
Because of stigma, we often expect to hear a “respectable reason” for having an abortion, but the truth of the matter is, all reasons are valid. The need to have an abortion is reason enough for a person to have one. And as an ally or supporter, it is our job to respect that. Whatever the reason, choosing abortion is valid — everyone should have the ability to control their own body and future.
3. Help with practical resources
“Let me know if you need anything!” is a nice sentiment. But, we need to put our money where our mouth is. A friend might need help with paying for an abortion, medications, sanitary pads, food, and any other necessities. If you can, offer money and tangible assistance. If you’re not able to help financially, point them to the national network of Abortion Funds.
You might also help them with rides to the doctor, childcare, housekeeping, covering work shifts — even just bringing a care package to your loved one post-procedure goes a long way.
4. Check your language
Language has power and affects the way we as a society think and behave. Be part of the solution: use inclusive language in abortion conversations. It is not solely a women’s issue. Trans and nonbinary people also have abortions — it’s gender-affirming care for all, and we must discuss it as such.
A great way to learn (and unlearn) habits is to make sure you’re up to date with the facts.
5. Speak Up
hether it’s crowdfunding, volunteering, writing letters to your legislators, or even correcting your misguided relative at the dinner table, continue to advocate for safe and accessible abortions for all people — it’s just as important as one-on-one support for a friend.
Together we can win the fight to protect and expand reproductive health and rights. All people deserve to make their personal medical decisions — without interference from lawmakers. Freedom is our birthright, and we can build a just world that includes nationwide access to abortion for all. No matter what. Make a difference with the movement for abortion rights in any way you can. Visit Planned Parenthood to get involved.