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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.

Following the Supreme Court’s reversal of their decision on Roe v. Wade in June of 2022, abortion rights are no longer federally protected in the US, and individual states now determine Americans’ abortion rights. 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. 

 

TAKE ACTION ▼

  1. Use this form to send an email to your governor urging them to protect abortion rights in your state.
  2. Write a letter to the editor (LTE) or op–ed in your local paper: These are great ways to uplift human rights in your local media and we have this useful LTE Sample Letter 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]
  3. Attend pro-abortion rights rallies in your town/city. When organizing or attending such actions, please follow CDC protocols for protecting against COVID-19.
  4. Organize a pro-abortion rally. Invite your local media to cover the action, and post photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #BansOffOurBodies and #MyBodyMyRights and tagging your Senators. For help planning a protest, contact: [email protected]
  5. Get creative! Share your ideas for creative actions with us at [email protected]
  6. If you took action, email us at [email protected]  to let us know which actions you took.

state-level work ▼

Find Abortion Advocacy Groups in Your State

Click here to visit our interactive map with abortion advocacy groups in all 50 states. Connect with them and fight for abortion rights!

Community Care

Click here to connect with organizations that support abortion patients with things like transportation, lodging, and childcare.

You can also support abortion seekers in your community by becoming a clinic escort. To become a clinic escort, you can reach out to your local abortion provider to see if they take volunteers, or you can sign-up online if they have a volunteer webpage. You can also Google “[your city] + clinic escort volunteers” to find opportunities.

EVENTS ▼

Check back here for information on upcoming events and rallies!

 

Know Your Rights ▼

Learn more about how abortion is a human right! A variety of human rights are violated when abortion bans are implemented, such as the rights to: 

  • Autonomy and privacy
  • Liberty and security of person
  • Equality, non-discrimination, and equal protection
  • Health, life, and in some cases to be free from torture

Criminalization of abortion limits people’s right to decide whether and when to reproduce, a right which human rights authorities recognize as integral to physical and mental integrity and to their dignity and worth as human beings. Visit Amnesty’s Access to Abortion is a Human Right page to learn more!

 

Types of Abortions ▼

There are two types of abortions available for pregnant people: medication abortion, and in-clinic abortion. 

  • Medication abortion, commonly known as the “abortion pill”, is what most people call the two medicines a pregnant person takes to end their pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol. Pregnant people can take the abortion pill up to 11 weeks after the first day of their last period. It’s a very effective method of abortion for those who are early in their pregnancy, and in some states pregnant people can receive the pill via mail if they use telehealth services. 
  • In-clinic abortion includes both suction abortion and dilation and evacuation (D&E). Suction abortion uses suction to empty the uterus, and can be used up to 16 weeks after a pregnant person’s last period. A D&E uses suction and medical tools to empty the uterus. This method can be used later in a pregnancy than a suction abortion (beyond 16 weeks since a pregnant person’s last period). 

 

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:

    • States like Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, and Kentucky completely ban abortion with extremely limited exceptions (usually only to save the life of the pregnant person).

    • Prohibit abortion as soon as fetal electrical cardiac activity (“heartbeat”) can be detected via ultrasound, which is usually around the six-week mark during pregnancy. This is often before many patients know they are pregnant, and “heartbeat” is a misnomer- a fetus’ heart is not even fully developed at the sixth week of pregnancy.
    • 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.

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    • “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.

 

Find out what's happening in your state ▼

There are several resources you can use to see what abortion access looks like in your state:

  • The Guttmacher Institute has created a comprehensive map that details both abortion restrictions and protections in every state.
  • The Guttmacher Institute also has a live state legislation tracker so you can get details on the specific types of anti-abortion legislation being introduced across the United States.

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. 

 

Educational Videos ▼

The following videos provide information you can use to educate yourself and people in your community! 

  • How to educate about abortion (IPPF)
    • Provides tips on how to educate others on abortion in a non-stigmatizing way.
  • The Abortion Pill (Planned Parenthood) 
    • Explains what a mediation abortion is, the steps a patient must take to receive it, and what the abortion process and recovery from a medication abortion is like. 
  • In-Clinic Abortion (Planned Parenthood) 
    • Explains the process of in-clinic abortion (also known as surgical abortion), and what a patient can expect during the procedure.

 

Community Education ▼

When you’re speaking to your friends, family, and community about abortion rights, it can be difficult to choose the best way to explain why abortion access for all Americans is so vital. Here are a few resources you can use to start having open conversations about abortion with the people closest to you: 

  • Use these issue framing and human rights education exercises with a group of advocates to identify the best way to frame the issue of abortion rights for members of your community. 
  • The National Network of Abortion Funds has created a Heart-to-Heart Abortion Conversations guide and deck of cards you can use to reduce stigma round abortion through compassionate conversations. 
  • Check out these facts on abortion access from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and learn more about the importance of comprehensive reproductive healthcare.
  • For a more detailed guide on how to talk about abortion, the International Planned Parenthood Foundation created this document that provides information such as facts on abortion, language you should use in public messaging, and messages that are most appropriate for your audiences. This is a great resource if you’re interested in advocating for abortion in community fora! 

Here are some idea for events and other actions you can take to educate your community on abortion rights! 

  • 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

 

TOOLS AND TACTICS ▼

These are just a few ideas- be creative and do what makes sense for your community! Amnesty has also created a comprehensive advocacy tactic guide that lists other ways you can spread your message. 

    • 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.
    • Implement creative disruption by disrupting 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.

 

BUILD AN ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN PLAN ▼

  • 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.

 

How to organize a protest ▼

Organize or attend a rally, demonstration, or silent protest. This guide lays out logistics, publicizing your protest, and some options for different protest formats. Additionally, this document describes how you can stay safe during protests!

 

Posters and graphics ▼

Download signs you can use at your local protests! You can find a vertical sign here, and a horizontal sign here.

 

Social Media Guidance ▼

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.

 

Shareable Posts ▼

Post Copy

Abortion is a human right, it’s that simple. @amnestyusa #AbortionIsEssential
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Post Copy

The right to an abortion and bodily autonomy is under threat in the United States. I stand with @amnestyusa and people who can get pregnant in protecting this critical right. #AbortionIsEssential #MyBodyMyRights
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Post Copy

Abortion is basic health care for people who can get pregnant. Health care is a human right. Abortion is a HUMAN RIGHT! @amnestyusa #AbortionIsEssential #MyBodyMyRights
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Post Copy

Generations have fought for the right to abortion in the United States. Now is not the time to stand on the sidelines but to make our collective voices heard so that every person who can become pregnant has the right to abortion and control over their bodies. @amnestyusa
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Post Copy

Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy, for whatever reason, is a grotesque violation of human rights- and I will not stop fighting for our rights! @amnestyusa #AbortionIsEssential #MyBodyMyRights
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Post Copy

Abortion is a human right, and I won’t stop fighting until everyone can exercise that right! @amnestyusa #AbortionIsEssential #MyBodyMyRights
Download Graphic

 

General Messaging ▼

We also have general messaging guidance you can use to frame discussions about abortion:

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, non–discrimination and equal protection; and health, life, and in some cases to be free from torture.
  • Abortion is essential
      • Abortion is healthcare, abortion is a right
  • Abortion is safe and normal healthcare
      • Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures a patient can receive– the risk of complications that require medical attention is less than 1 percent.  
      • Abortion is okay and normal healthcare. Stigmatizing abortion is dangerous and can lead to discrimination and rights violations.
  • The majority of Americans believe the right to abortion should be protected
  • 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.

Note on inclusive language:

We do not use exclusive “women and girls” language when talking about abortion. 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 them.

 

Contact your state's legislators ▼

Call your state legislators to demand they support the right to abortion. 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.

 

*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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