It’s Time to Turn Anguish Into Action for Abortion Rights

Protesters take part in the Women’s March and Rally for Abortion Justice in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, 2021. (Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images)

Two years ago, millions of young women like me listened to the worry in our mothers’ voices as they explained that we no longer had one of the fundamental rights that their generation fought so tirelessly to gain. We called our doctors asking to be prescribed birth control as soon as possible, in case Republicans planned to come after that next. And we wept tears for not only ourselves, but for all the women growing up alongside and after us.

It’s been two years since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and the young women of America are tired. We’re exhausted. 

Because since then, reproductive freedom has been on the line in every election. Every year is a grating battle to win back the same rights that our parents already had. Every year, women answer the call, driven by frustration and anger that we have to pick up the phone to win back an essential human right in the first place. 

Despite overwhelming support for abortion, 21 states have passed abortion bans or restrictions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that emboldened them to do so. Voters—especially young voters like myself—have been forced to turn our anguish into action, mobilizing every single election to protect abortion in our states. But instead of listening to the very constituents they are meant to serve, Republican extremists are undeterred by the majority opposition to their anti-abortion agenda. They continue to chip away at abortion rights across the country with the ultimate goal of eliminating access. 

Abortion is on the ballot in 2024—plain and simple. Millions of people will be voting on ballot initiatives to protect reproductive rights, while extremists express support for a national abortion ban and Republican-majority legislatures put into effect draconian restrictions and bans that push healthcare out of the hands of millions. 

The stakes could not be higher.

As most women, I remember the exact moment Roe v. Wade fell. I felt a sinking pit in my stomach as I learned that the law of the land for almost 50 years was ripped from us. This was the first time in recent history that extremists took away a constitutional right. And anti-abortion lawmakers took full advantage, immediately implementing abortion bans in state after state, with jarring and devastating impacts on people across the country.

As a young person, I’m tired of already having lived through so many “unprecedented times,” in which we’re undoing progress, instead of making it.  

It’s easy to get lost in despair. I never imagined I would have to fight every day to get rights back. Growing up, I had bigger dreams of advancing reproductive rights to places they had never gone before. But now, it feels like we are back at square one. 

It would be easy for us to let seasoned professionals handle the fight, to sit back and let our parents tell us that it will get better. It would be easy to listen to naysayers who tell us it’s not our time to take action. And it would be easy to just give up. But that is not how we’re going to make change. We’ll make a change by turning out in mass this November to send a clear message: The vast majority of people in every state across the country—red states and blue states—want to protect abortion access. 

The most integral election of our lifetime is approaching, and who we elect will decide whether we face a national abortion ban or protect reproductive rights for all. Who represents us, from the president and vice president down to local elected officials, will be the deciders of what our futures and this country will look like. 

Women have always been our own best advocates, especially when we work together, and it is no different in this moment. The path to protecting and expanding our reproductive rights begins with meaningful mentorship and partnership across generations—leaning on each other for support, sharing our unique and important stories, and coming together as a voting force to be reckoned with. 

The fight isn’t over, and it won’t be easy, but with generations of women coming together to protect abortion rights, our reproductive freedom and our futures, we will be unstoppable. 

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U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.


Anna Gephart is currently a student at American University, getting her masters in political communication. Gephart is an intern at Feldman Strategies, and was previously an intern EMILYs List.