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How to Fight For Abortion Rights in Your State

People’s ability to exercise their reproductive autonomy, control their reproductive lives, and decide if, when and how to have children is essential to the full realization of human rights for women, girls and all people who can become pregnant*. Access to abortion is a human right, and international human rights committees have consistently found that criminalizing abortion violates the rights of women, girls, and people who can become pregnant in a number of ways. Pregnant people themselves—not the state—should have the ultimate authority when it comes to their decision on carrying a pregnancy. If a pregnant person decides to seek abortion care, it is their human right to have access to a safe and legal procedure without the fear of discrimination.

The following guide has been created to assist activists to fight for abortion rights in their home state, as well as other states across the country, when abortion restrictions are introduced and after they have taken effect. 

Fill out this form and we’ll work to connect you with abortion rights advocacy in your state.

May 2022 Leaked Opinion: Crisis Action
Know Your Rights 
Find proposed laws in your state
Contact us to get involved
Types of abortion bans
Legislation that protects reproductive rights
What’s at stake
Educate your community
Build an Advocacy Campaign Plan 
Choose campaigning tactics
Build a Messaging Guide
Contact Your State’s Legislators
Other actions you can take to support the right to abortion care in the US and around the world 
*A NOTE ON INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE WHEN TALKING ABOUT ABORTION

USA: Abortion is a Human Right

https://www.amnestyusa.org/abortiontoolkit/crisisaction

Today, tomorrow, and every day we need to show up, join protests, and take action across the nation for the right to abortion.

Tell your two Senators to vote YES on  the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify a person’s right to seek an abortion into federal law.

The right to abortion has been under attack since the moment Roe was ruled by the Supreme Court in 1973. While the abortion rights movement has fought at every level to protect our rights, we now find ourselves in this worstcase scenario: on Monday May 3rd, Politico leaked the news that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn both Roe and Casey in their entirety and end the federal right to abortion in the United States. If it holds, the ruling will reverse nearly 40 years of essential protections in the United States of the rights of women, girls, and those who can become pregnant, and is a massive blow to gender equality. Following the official ruling, over half of states are expected to ban abortion totally or neartotally. This is an egregious attack on our human rights!

Access to abortion ensures people have the right to autonomy and privacy; liberty and security; equality, non discrimination, and equal protection; health, life, and in some cases to be free from torture. Denying safe and legal access to abortion jeopardizes all of these rights. While we expect the end of Roe v. Wade, we haven’t lost yet; we still have a
window of opportunity and now is the time to seize it! It is our responsibility to step up, show up and defend our human rights.

On Wednesday, the Senate is going to vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify a person’s right to seek an abortion into federal law. It is our responsibility to step up, show up and defend our human rights. Tell your Senators to vote YES on the Women’s Health Protection Act!

TAKE ACTION

By each of us doing a small part, we can use the power of collective action to generate a national tidal wave of pressure on our Senators to respect human rights. It won’t be easy, but it IS possible. Amnesty is using all of the tools in its global toolbox, from activism to researchbut we need YOU! Members of Congress are influenced by their constituents, and if they hear that abortion matters to you, they’re more likely to enact policies that will protect our rights to abortion.

It is your life, your health, your body, your sexuality, your identity, and your reproductive life! Together, we can and must defend all of our rights to live free from fear, coercion, violence, or discrimination. Together, we can and must ensure all people enjoy their rights.

  1. Call your two Senators immediately, urging them to protect the right to abortion access by making the WHPA the law of the land.
  2. Send a letter to your two Senators urging them to vote for the Women’s Health Protection Act and to fight for its passage
  3. Flood your two Senators offices with thousands of emails, letters, phone calls, postcards, and faxes and tell them to vote YES on the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify a person’s right to seek an abortion into federal law! You can refer to our talking points below.
  4. Taking a stand on social media tagging your two Senators telling them “Ending the right to #abortion violates the human rights of women, girls, and people who can become pregnant. As your constituent, I urge you [@Senators] to vote YES on the Women’s Health Protection Act”. Please also share content from the @AmnestyUSA accounts and use the hashtag #BansOffOurBodies and #MyBodyMyRights. You can use our Action Graphics here.
  5. Organize or show up at a proabortion rally in your town/city: Demonstrations, protests, marches, and other visible actions are effective at getting attention of the media, which adds to the pressure on our elected officials. We must fight back and work together to protect abortion access all across the country. When organizing or attending such actions, please follow CDC protocols for protecting against COVID19. When organizing or attending actions with clothing or signs that identify you as part of Amnesty International, please use messaging that reads: “The United States must protect the right to abortion”; “Abortion is a human right”; “Always forward, never back: defend the right to abortion in the USA”; “Hold the line: Abortion Rights are Human Rights”. Invite your local media to cover the action and take and post lots of photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #BansOffOurBodies and #MyBodyMyRights and tagging your Senators. Please contact us for help with organizing events, alerting local media or any other questions:     [email protected].
  6. Write a letter to the editor (LTE) or oped in your local paper: These are great ways to uplift human rights in your local media and we have this useful LTE & OpEd Toolkit to make it easy. Please refer to the talking points below for guidance on what to write. If you need help, email us at [email protected].
  7. Get Creative! Share your ideas for creative actions and stunts with us at [email protected].
  8. Let us know the actions you took: Please email us at [email protected] to let us know the actions you took. It’s important to  report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade.

Talking Points

Main message

  • Access to abortion is a human right. Under international human rights law, everyone has a right to life, a right to health, and a right to be free from violence, discrimination, and torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy against their will for whatever reason is a violation of those rights. Abortion must be legal, safe and  accessible for all.

General talking points

  • Abortion is a human right
    • Denying safe and legal access to abortion is a dangerous violation of that right
    • Access to abortion ensures people have the right to: autonomy and privacy; liberty and security of person; equality, nondiscrimination and equal protection; and health, life, and in some cases to be free from torture.
  • The United States must not backslide on human rights
    • the US must protect the right to abortion!
    • Stripping protections for the right to abortion is out of step with the rest of the world as sexual and reproductive rights advance.
  • Abortion is essential
    • Abortion is healthcare, abortion is a right
  • The vast majority of Americans77% say the Supreme Court should uphold Roe.
    • The majority of Americans believe the right to abortion should be protected
    • 80% of Americans support legal abortion.
  • If Roe is overturned, as we anticipate it will be:
    • 26 states are certain or likely to fully outlaw abortion (out of 50 states)
      • 12 states automatically fully outlaw abortion, and another 14 have laws waiting to outlaw abortion
        if Roe falls
      • Only 14 states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting the right to abortion
    • We will see a proliferation of Texasstyle abortion bansmany states have already introduced legislation
      just like that waiting for Roe to be overturned.
    • People will still need and seek abortions if they are outlawed people will be forced to travel thousands of miles (if they can afford to) or potentially resort to unsafe means.
  • Access to abortion in the United States is already unequal;
    • and abortion bans disproportionately impact poor and rural women, women of color and minority women, Indigenous women, and transgender and gender nonconforming people who can get pregnant
  • For human rights activists in the U.S., these attacks and abortion bans are not a surprise.
    • There have been constant attacks on the right to abortion since abortion through the first trimester became protected by the Supreme Court in 1973.
    • Every year, multiple states in the USA pass hundreds of laws attacking and limiting sexual and reproductive rights. Most are struck down by the court, until now.

Important note

  • We do not use exclusive “women and girls” language when talking about abortion. Transgender and nonbinary people get pregnant and have abortions, too, and can sometimes have the hardest time accessing nondiscriminatory and genderappropriate care, including abortion care. Using genderexclusive language further marginalizes transgender and nonbinary people, which can lead to further rights abuses against them.

Additional Information

For more information, please refer to the following Amnesty documents:

May 5, 2022: Media statement: Amnesty International USA Statement in Response to scheduled US Senate vote on Women’s Health Protection Act

May 3, 2022: Media Quote: Supreme Court leaked opinion to overturn abortion rights is an egregious violation of human rights

May 3, 2022: Media Quote: If confirmed, US Supreme Court decision could endanger abortion rights around the world

Check out our toolkit for activists at the state level: https://www.amnestyusa.org/abortiontoolkit/

Find out more about how abortion is a human right: visit www.amnestyusa.org/abortionrights

IMPORTANT: Until the Roe v Wade ruling is made public, abortions are still legal. You can find an abortion provider here.

If you need help paying for an abortion, go to https://abortionfunds.org/.

Know Your Rights 

Learn more about how abortion is a human right! 

Visit Amnesty’s Access to Abortion is a Human Right page to learn more!

Educate yourself on proposed laws in your state

Several organizations have created live trackers and interactive maps to help find abortion restrictions in your state:

Get connected!

Fill out this form and we’ll work to connect you with abortion rights advocacy in your state.

Learn more about types of abortion bans 

States across the country use different tactics to pass abortion restrictions. Make no mistake: all abortion restrictions are put in place with the ultimate goal of banning abortion entirely. Some of the most common abortion restrictions are listed below:

  • (e.g. the Texas, Oklahoma, or Mississippi bills). 
    • The Texas ban allows private citizens to sue anyone in the state they think provided an abortion for a pregnant person after a heartbeat in the fetus was detected, around the six-week mark. This ban has also been described as having a “bounty hunter system”, as people who report possible providers can be awarded $10,000 in damages by the state.

    • The Mississippi ban makes abortions illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which is about 2 months earlier than Roe v. Wade allows. This ban will be reviewed by the Supreme Court in the summer of 2022, and it is the reason why Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

    • The Oklahoma ban is currently the strictest abortion ban in the country. It makes abortion illegal in every case except for when a pregnant person’s life is in danger if they continue to carry their pregnancy (which is a functional total ban).

    • Dictate the point during pregnancy when an abortion is permissible. These limits can be arbitrary, and vary greatly by state or country.

    • Transvaginal ultrasounds are medically unnecessary, invasive ultrasounds that require a wand to be inserted into a pregnant person’s vagina, and some states require that doctors describe the fetus in detail or play its heartbeat so the pregnant person has to hear it. 
    • Third-party authorization restrictions require a pregnant person to obtain consent from somebody other than a healthcare provider, such as a parent or judge, before they can receive an abortion. Most states require parental involvement when a minor decides to have an abortion.
    • When states require biased counseling, pregnant people are forced to receive anti-abortion materials created by the state before they receive an abortion.
    • Some pregnant people are subjected to waiting periods, which are medically unnecessary and can increase the risk of complications for the patient or increase the cost of the abortion procedure. 
    • Health care providers in almost every state can outright refuse to provide abortions and abortion-related care. 
    • Support the notion that a fetus has legal rights that are independent of the pregnant person carrying the fetus.

  •  
    • “Targeted restrictions on abortion providers” are implemented to force abortion providers to be unable to provide services. For example, some states require abortion providers to have an affiliation with a local hospital or have hospital admitting privileges, or they require that the rooms where abortions take place in a clinic meet very specific size dimensions which are not necessary for a safe procedure.
    • Laws in some states restrict abortion coverage in all private insurance plans, or by restricting health insurance plans for public employees.

    • At the national level, the federal Hyde Amendment has blocked Medicaid funding for abortion services for decades, placing an unnecessary financial burden on pregnant people who are seeking an abortion.

Learn more about legislation that protects abortion rights

We are not just fighting bad legislation; we’re fighting for good legislation! Positive legislation that protects the right to abortion care can promote human rights in your state and serve as a model for other state legislatures when it comes to protecting the liberty and autonomy of people who can become pregnant. Examples of positive legislation include:

    • Like CA Assembly Bill No. 1356, which prohibits photographing or recording of patients seeking abortions within 100 feet of a facility that provides abortion care.
    • Like llinois’ Reproductive Health Act, which recognizes that every person that can get pregnant has bodily autonomy and should be able to make their own choices about their body; it also requires private health insurance companies in the state to cover the cost of an abortion. 

Learn More about what’s at stake

The following information shows what could happen when Roe v. Wade is overturned:

 

Educate your community

Educate your community on why abortion rights are important and find new members to build up your advocacy group! 

Abortion is a safe, normal part of healthcare. Sometimes starting with basic facts about abortion itself is helpful:

Here are more tips for educating others on why the right to abortion matters:

  • Video: Tips on how to educate others on abortion in a non-stigmatizing way.
  • Host virtual town halls where you can explain these rights 
  • Record a podcast on the issue and share it on local social media pages 
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
  • Speak with hosts on local radio stations 
  • Educate your friends and family: start conversations with people close to you about why abortion care matters to you!

Build an Advocacy Campaign Plan 

  • Join ongoing efforts
    • Find out who else in your state is working on this effort. Likely folks are already planning and could use your help. Join them! 
  • Build a campaign plan
    • In order to work quickly and effectively, it is important to have an organized plan that your advocacy group can follow. The following template has been created to facilitate the planning of activities, identify campaign targets, and create messaging plans to reach as many people as possible: Abortion Advocacy Campaign Planning Template.

Choose campaigning tactics

These are just a few ideas- be creative and do what makes sense for your community!

    • This guide lays out logistics, publicizing your protest, and some options for different protest formats. 
    • A Twitter storm is when there is a sudden increase in discussion of a topic on Twitter. Be sure you have a specific hashtag for your cause to be able to track.
    • Organize a call-in event where folks gather (maybe with snacks!) and call their reps while there– or have a table where folks take action when they walk by.
    • Send folks call-in info to do on their own timeline (harder to track numbers).
    • Use tactics such as phone zaps to flood legislators’ phone lines for a day.
    • Or use email campaigns to spread awareness for advocacy work that you are carrying out in your area. 
    • Petition delivered to your school administration asking them to make a statement opposing X legislation/ or what they’ll do to support students’ access to reproductive rights if X legislation passes.
    • Walkouts- when a large group of students across campus walks out of class to bring attention to an issue.
    • Sit-ins- when students peacefully gather in or near buildings on campus to occupy space and draw attention to their group.
    • Silent protests- large groups of students gather en masse and remain silent to show their disapproval of the school administration’s point of view. 
    • If you or members of your advocacy group own small businesses, or if you feel that local businesses showing solidarity with your cause will make an impact on legislators, then advocate for them to sign on to a public solidarity letter (like the “Don’t Ban Equality” letter). 
    • Poetry slams allow participants to share what they are passionate about in an artistic and impactful way. You can learn more about how to set up a poetry slam here
    • Disrupt spaces with large numbers of people wearing the same colored clothing or with striking visuals. When creating visuals for this tactic, make sure that you are not using materials that could be disturbing or harmful for other activists (such as graphic images). Be sure you invite local press or record the creative disruption to share it broadly afterwards.
    • Art displays can take a number of forms. Your advocacy group could create a banner and hang it in a prominent area of your campus/neighborhood, project a video onto the side of a large building, create an interactive art piece that members of your community can contribute to…the possibilities are endless! 
    • Creating a social media filter allows people online to show their solidarity and raise awareness for abortion rights. This guide takes you through all the steps to create a filter you can use on Instagram. 
    • Create an image with information on abortion rights that you and other activists can share on your social media account on a specific date, and “fill your feed” with the chosen image so more people will be exposed to the message you are trying to share. 
    • Amnesty has also created a comprehensive advocacy tactic guide that lists other ways you can spread your message! 

Build a Messaging Guide

Using social media to gain support and spread your message is free, easy, and allows you to reach a massive online community. In this guide, we have listed slogans and ideas for social media posts that advocate for abortion rights in your state.

Contact Your State’s Legislators

There are many different ways to get in touch with your state’s legislators. This guide provides information on how to find your legislators; it also provides examples of templates you can use when calling or emailing their offices. 

If you decide to contact your state’s legislators using our outreach guide, please fill out this debrief form to log your interaction.

Other actions you can take to support the right to abortion care in the US and around the world 

Visit www.amnestyusa.org/abortionrights to see what national or global actions you can also take action on.

*A NOTE ON INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE WHEN TALKING ABOUT ABORTION

Q: Wait, why does Amnesty say “women, girls, and people who can become pregnant”?

A: Transgender and non-binary people get pregnant and have abortions, too, and can sometimes have the hardest time accessing non-discriminatory and gender-appropriate care, including abortion care. Using gender-exclusive language further marginalizes transgender and non-binary people, which can lead to further rights abuses against such groups.

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