By Cady Drell
Last weekend saw the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a divisive decision ultimately made by the smallest margin in 137 years. (Yeah, this dude is not popular.) Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s brave testimony alleging that Kavanaugh assaulted her in high school was harrowing, triggering, and ultimately ignored by a bunch of primarily white men and one very disappointing white lady. And a battle now looms: Kavanaugh represents a huge threat to women’s (and non-binary folks’) reproductive freedom, and there’s evidence to suggest that he doesn’t quite see Roe v. Wade as settled law, despite his claims to the Senate Judiciary.
One of the reasons Senator Susan Collins of Maine chose to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, she said, was her belief that he considered Roe v. Wade settled precedent. But that’s not necessarily what his history suggests. In a speech just last year to the American Enterprise Institute (a conservative think-tank), quoted in full by Vox, Kavanaugh referenced Justice William Rehnquist’s Roe dissent at length, suggesting he’s personally and publicly anti-choice.
Plus, he basically admitted he doesn't understand how birth control (or reproduction, for that matter) works, calling contraception "abortion-inducing" during his Supreme Court hearings. Seriously! That happened!
The same Vox article contains another Kavanaugh quote—spoken after the Supreme Court struck down a would-be Nebraska law banning dilation-and-extraction abortions—that suggests he considers repealing abortion rights very much on the table: “I think the Court, eight years ago in [Planned Parenthood v. Casey], thought it was calling an end to the national controversy over abortion. I think the court misperceived that the issue would stay front and center, and I think Justice Kennedy’s dissent yesterday indicates some deep unease by him about the course of the Court on this issue.”
There’s plenty of reason to believe that reproductive choice in danger now that Kavanaugh's installment on the court creates a conservative majority. And while many pro-choice activists may understandably be very tired, the fight isn’t over.
There are some very real things you can do to protect reproductive choice, but you have to start now. Like, right now.
For God’s sake, vote.
It’s probably annoying how much you’re hearing it, but nearly 60 percent of eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot in the last midterm, so clearly some people need to hear it again: Voting is the only way to make sure your elected officials represent your actual interests—and that includes upholding reproductive freedom.
“The single most powerful thing Americans can do to support women’s rights and freedoms is to vote this November,” Kelley Robinson, the National Organizing Director of Planned Parenthood Votes, tells MarieClaire.com in an email. “This is an action that all of us can take to ensure that brave women like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford—and all of the other survivors that came forward with their stories—did not tell their truth in vain. As voters, we have the ability to take back the face of power and we must. Our health care and our rights to live free from discrimination depend on it.”
Make sure you know the positions of your local candidates before you vote. The ACLU’s 2018 Legislative scorecard is an easy way to track how in line each candidate is with the ACLU’s pro-choice vision. Check it out here.
The deadline is rapidly approaching (or has passed in some states, sadly) for voter registration. Go to the nonpartisan and easy-to-use Vote.org to register right now, here. Seriously, right now.
Finally, find your voting location here.
“Our job as voters is to hold elected officials accountable,” says Robinson. “If your Senator voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, then they have chosen to side with those who have disrespected, disbelieved, and mocked survivors. If your state legislator voted to restrict access to reproductive healthcare, you will have the chance to vote them out of office—and you should.”
Election Day is Tuesday, November 6.
Get the word out.
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities to not just get out the vote, but to do so by stressing how important reproductive freedom is to you.
First, go and tell all your friends and feel free to be very pushy and judgmental if they admit to you that they’re not yet registered—it’s totally fine in this circumstance— and then help them get registered.
In terms of organizations, Robinson points to Planned Parenthood Defenders, which you can sign up for here, which will inform you about opportunities to join a phone bank or canvassing operation, write letters to important congresspeople, or even help organize meetups. “We’re planning on making 3 million door knocks and reaching 4.5 million voters come November,” says Robinson. “We need your help.”
After the election, protect reproductive rights on the local level.
You know that saying, “Think globally, act locally?” Well that applies to reproductive health access too. No matter how the election goes, the fight has to continue.
Contact your local representatives and make sure they know how important reproductive rights are to you. The smaller the election, the more clout your individual voice will have. Stress to the people you helped elect on the local level that they have an obligation to represent your interests. To find who your representatives are, go to CommonCause.org, which will show you every single elected official who works for you.
Support an abortion fund.
To ensure that everyone has safe access to abortion providers, you can create or donate to a fund through the National Network of Abortion Funds. The organization works with local groups to “remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice.”
Volunteer to become an abortion clinic escort.
The more reproductive rights are threatened, the more harassment those seeking an abortion might face when they exercise their rights. If you’d like to help escort those seeking reproductive health services safely to clinics, you can find clinic escort volunteer opportunities through the National Organization for Women.
If you care about the rights that women and non-binary folks have over their own bodies, you need to act now to ensure their protection. These are just some of the ways you can do that. We’ll update this article as other options become available.
This is a really pivotal moment, and if we work together we can make it through okay.
From explainers to essays, cheat sheets to candidate analysis, we're breaking down exactly what you need to know about this year's midterms. Visit Marie Claire's Midterms Guide for more.
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