Oglala Sioux president on state abortion lawSo there's one possible response to the post-Roe United States. Another response may be the return of self-care, now being called DIY abortions. This was practiced in the 1960s and 1970s by women's groups, most famously Chicago's Jane Collective. It was a way of taking control of women's health care, and making abortions safe, if not legal, for those who needed them.
"When Governor Mike Rounds signed HB 1215 into law it effectively banned all abortions in the state with the exception that it did allow saving the mother's life. There were, however, no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. His actions, and the comments of State Senators like Bill Napoli of Rapid City, SD, set of a maelstrom of protests within the state.
Napoli suggested that if it was a case of "simple rape," there should be no thoughts of ending a pregnancy. Letters by the hundreds appeared in local newspapers, mostly written by women, challenging Napoli's description of rape as "simple." He has yet to explain satisfactorily what he meant by "simple rape."
The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, was incensed. A former nurse and healthcare giver she was very angry that a state body made up mostly of white males, would make such a stupid law against women.
"To me, it is now a question of sovereignty," she said [to the writer] last week. "I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction."
From Voices of Choices, stories of US doctors who performed abortions before Roe v. Wade:
The Jane Collective was a group of women who became trained by a physician to provide abortions themselves. I was not part of the Jane Collective, but I was involved in the next tier out, the people who would lend their apartments to Jane. Somebody would appear at your door and say, "Jane would like to see you next Thursday. She'll be here at 7:30 in the morning." And that meant you should leave. And so you would leave your apartment at 7:30 in the morning and you would only know the one person who approached you. And at the time of your departure, the person would say something like, "Jane will be here until 7:30 tonight." So that meant don't come back until after that time.Last time I posted about the US's rapidly dwindling reproductive freedom, a reader asked me what concerned Canadians can do to help. I've been giving this a lot of thought.
They had this really extraordinary safety record and people didn't get into trouble. I've read that the Chicago police decided pretty much to leave them alone. Part of the way in which my experience with Jane pushed me towards becoming a doctor was that even though Jane's reputation was exemplary--their reputation was one of providing very sensitive, thoughtful and good care for people--I did come home sometimes after Jane visited and find blood spatters.
And even in my unsophisticated state, I thought, "Nobody should be subjected to having an abortion in my apartment and have blood spatters on the wall, and nobody should be in the position of trying to provide an urgently needed service without all the right equipment and training." It was very important personally in helping me decide to go to medical school and be in a position to provide those services properly myself.
I guess it must be about 15 years ago, I was the Director of New York City's Bureau of Maternity Services and Family Planning. I knew all the chiefs of ob/gyn departments around town. And I remember having conversations with two in particular, each of whom was an older, very religiously conservative man, neither of whom were themselves abortion providers. Both came from orthodox religious traditions that didn't approve of abortion. And they both said to me, "Wendy, if you've seen a 13-year-old dying of gas gangrene, you can never really be opposed to abortion after that."
In the immediate sense, I think the best thing you can do is donate money to pro-choice groups. I don't know the laws governing foreign donations to US nonprofits, and I haven't been able to learn much online. I know there are laws prohibiting foreign donations to election campaigns and lobbying groups. So far I haven't come across any prohibitions on donations to charitable groups - but I really don't know. I'm sure there's at least one person reading this who knows, so please fill us in and I'll update this post.
In my opinion, these are the places your hard-earned loonies will do the most good.
The National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF - pronounced En-Naf) helps low-income women pay for procedures. Click here to see the states that don't cover abortion in their Medicaid programs, thanks to Henry Hyde [spit!], Republican of Illinois. NNAF-affiliated funds are run by volunteers, so your whole donation goes to helping low-income women obtain abortions.
The Planned Parenthood Federation is a vital link between women and reproductive health. In addition to its comprehensive clinics, Planned Parenthood is involved with education and advocacy work, and is a leader in the ongoing struggle for true equality for women, people of colour and low-income people all over the world. Look here for all the good things they do.
NARAL Pro-Choice America is a very important pro-choice advocacy group. However, as a Political Action Committee, it's not allowed to accept donations from non-US citizens. American readers may want to contribute to their excellent work.
In the longer term, if you are concerned about reproductive rights and willing to donate time and effort - and if you live near the US border - it's very likely you'll be able to help individual women exercise control over their bodies. The abortion underground railroad may be coming to your town soon. If this happens, I'll be a part of it, and I'll let you know how you can help. The new passport regulations at the border may prove to be the biggest obstacle.
Running the Haven Coalition was exhausting, maddening, electrifying and incredibly rewarding. It was a huge amount of work. But being a Haven "host" - volunteering to take a woman (and often her friend or partner) into your home - was not. It wasn't always a breeze, there's effort involved, but it's a relatively easy form of direct-action activism, as well as simple human compassion.