As the November election rapidly approaches, we are being barraged with troubling headlines and seemingly endless appeals for donations. It’s unrelenting. It can be difficult to separate the signal from the noise. I’m keeping one thing clear: the overturn of Roe v. Wade must be the galvanizing event to get out the vote for Democratic candidates. Democratic candidates are currently the only ones who will protect women’s health and work toward universal healthcare.
I’ve been heartbroken since June 24, the day the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade was officially issued. The overturn of 50 years of “settled law” has been devastating. I’ve never known an existence without the protections of Roe. This major setback for women’s rights compounded the personal grief I was already experiencing from the loss of two strong women in my life earlier this year. I’ve found it difficult to write about the decision. Instead, I’ve devoured other people’s stories. I’ve attended rallies, read articles, reacted to social media, and had numerous conversations.
From all of this, I’ve learned things I didn’t know before:
- Nearly one in four women in the U.S have had an abortion in their lifetime. This does not include the countless women (like me), who were very worried about becoming pregnant when they weren’t ready, and who would have made the difficult decision to have an abortion.
- Most abortions are performed for women who already have children. These women are making this extremely difficult and personal decision with full knowledge of what a hard journey it is to safely deliver and raise a human being. And for the women who haven’t personally been on that journey, they know plenty of people who have — they know how high the stakes are.
- Late-term abortions are extremely rare and are performed when a woman’s health is seriously at risk.
These facts counter the anti-abortion narratives which have been focused on shaming and controlling women. The anti-abortion narratives have permeated our collective psyche. We must counteract these narratives with facts and compelling personal stories, as hard as that is. I admire and applaud the brave women (and their doctors), who are sharing their stories.
Sharing stories is powerful and necessary. But I still felt very discouraged. I knew that I needed to take action, just as I advised in Marching Toward Coverage.
So I said YES to an invitation to attend a Women’s Forum held by the Democratic National Committee in Washington D.C. at the end of September. I was blown away. I was drawn by headliners Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris, but it turned out to be so much more. I was invigorated by the incredible energy and diversity of the everyday people in the room. It reminded me of every Women’s March I attended. But this time, there were women (and a few good men) sharing the concrete steps they’ve been taking to galvanize voters to protect women’s health. Dozens of women spoke who are out there, running for office or leading grassroots efforts every day. It was truly inspiring!! I especially loved hearing from the women who ran for Congress and won in 2018, many in swing districts.
The best story came from the people who did the grassroots work in Kansas for the election held this summer – their efforts paid off tremendously when they won the anti-abortion ballot initiative by 19 percentage points. Their presence and stories reminded us that, beyond the news media’s choice of headlines, there are so many reasonable people out there, constituents and voters, who feel that Republican extremism has gone too far. And they can be convinced to vote.
The bottom line: If Democrats hold onto the Senate seats they have and add just two more, it would be possible to enact the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe. This can happen if voters turn out at the same levels as they did for the mid-term elections in 2018.
We need to activate right now. We can turn our discouragement and anger into action. When women get mad, they accomplish so much!
There are plenty of opportunities to get involved right now, before it’s too late – you can donate, make calls, write postcards, knock on doors. Don’t know where to begin? Check out my short list of organizations making good change below.
This “Roe-vember,” make your voice, and that of millions of other women and their allies, heard.