I am not a politician, a pundit or a prognosticator, but you don’t have to be any of those to see that pro-choice advocates may be in for some very turbulent times with the Republican party back in control of the U.S. House as well as the governorships and legislatures of a majority of the states. What’s a pro-choice activist to do?
Having lived through the Reagan years and the first and the second set of Bush years, I’ve developed a few coping techniques to live through times like these. I hope these help:
1. Educate yourself about your elected officials. Find out their position on reproductive rights issues and contact their office to introduce yourself and let them know where you stand. Don’t underestimate the significance of that contact. I’ve worked for elected officials, and believe me, too many of them never hear from their constituents.
2. Educate yourself about the issues. Check out the Feminist Majority Foundation (publisher of Ms.), NARAL Pro Choice America, Center for Reproductive Rights, National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation and other pro-choice organizations.
3. Once you’ve become conversant with the issues, talk to your friends and family about them. You’ll be surprised to learn how many people agree with you but have never discussed it with anyone. Encourage them to get educated, too.
4. Get involved locally. I don’t mean simply send a donation, although that’s very helpful, but find out what abortion restrictions exist in your state, what’s being proposed and what’s being done by pro-choice groups. Then help out whenever and wherever you can–write letters, make phone calls, provide escort services at clinics, write letters to the editor, submit op-ed pieces, march, etc.
5. Learn about candidates in your area and support pro-choice candidates by donating and volunteering. Encourage leaders who are pro-choice to run for office. Above all else, VOTE.
Former President Bush has once again drawn our attention to the fetus and a man’s reaction to it. We have to remind people that women are at the center of this debate. We have to stay strong, committed and vocal.