Women organize and educate for abortion rights

November 8, 2022

From the November-December 2022 issue of News & Letters

by Adele

On Oct. 8, 2022, the Women’s March and other groups held a Women’s Wave Day of Action, demanding a nationwide right to abortion. Thousands rallied and marched to the U.S. Capitol grounds to urge the public to turn the Congress Democratic in the midterm elections and to hold all politicians accountable for reproductive rights.

Similar marches were held in numerous cities in all 50 states, also protesting the imposition of local anti-abortion laws. Our Rights DC, the group organizing protests for months outside the homes of the right-wing Supreme Court justices overturning Roe v. Wade, held simultaneous protests at the homes of all six.


Demonstration in downtown Chicago for abortion rights on June 24, 2022, protesting the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Photo: Terry Moon for News & Letters.

Demonstrators noted the centrality of reproductive rights to all human rights. Rachel O’Leary Carmona, Women’s March executive director, stated, “Now everything feels very much like a fight for everything we love.” Staci Lee, age 45, stated, “I don’t know why they are now saying we are a Christian nation. We are a melting pot nation, and putting your religious views on everything is just wrong.” Merritt Andruss, age 75, stated, “I’m still concerned about losing our democracy.” Signs read, “Abort the Court!” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fundamental Rights!” “Won’t Go Back!” and “Abortion Justice Voter!”

On Oct. 6, students at 60 high schools and universities in 29 states held student walkouts and events for reproductive justice. The Day of Student Action was organized by the Graduate Student Action Network (GSAN), which formed in response to the Supreme Court decision, alongside the Young Democratic Socialists of America. GSAN sent a letter demanding President Biden declare a public health emergency and provide free abortion pills and pregnancy tests by mail.

Their letter to Congress demands safe, legal, accessible abortion, free contraception of all varieties, and federally mandated sex education. GSAN and numerous other student groups plan to continue fighting for these, often using social media to organize. They’ve become interested in issues including climate, justice, Indigenous sovereignty, and health insurance.

Student disability groups became involved since doctors and pharmacies have denied medications for chronic illnesses to women if they can be used to induce abortions. This happened to a 14-year-old Arizona girl with severe arthritis.


March by the abortion network Red Necesito Abortar in Mexico. Photograph: Sandra Cardona.

Mexican feminist groups including Las Libres and Red Necesito Abortar, mail free abortion pills to U.S. volunteers distributing them to women. They provide medical and legal advice over the phone. Aid Access in the Netherlands and Women on Web in Canada sell pills through the mail. Plan C is a website list of online U.S. pharmacies selling them. This method has limitations. It cannot induce late-term abortions or expel ectopic pregnancies, and some may still face arrest. However, U.S. networks are rapidly growing. Right-wingers fear it could make abortion more accessible than before Roe v. Wade.

Molly Davis of Islander Feminists at Texas A&M University stated that destigmatizing abortion through education is important. She said youth are realizing this. “We’ve found a sense of unity, and it’s empowering to work in an organization with others my age fighting for the same thing.”

Over 800 scientists and several scientific organizations provided evidence to the Supreme Court that abortion is essential to women’s healthcare. They proved abortion availability important to women’s access to jobs and careers, contradicting right-wing women who claim it’s no longer necessary since they personally hadn’t needed one.

The conservative justices overturned Roe on a technicality anyway. The right wing knows disempowering and controlling women is part of establishing an authoritarian country. As a result of this assault on our rights, women, youth, and our allies are more aware of the importance of reproductive justice to our lives and democracy. They are motivated to organize and creatively fight back.

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