Blame the algorithms all you want, but you can’t deny that social media often excels at delivering on-point—and sometimes painfully accurate—content straight to the palm of your hand. I found myself cringing the other morning on my post-snooze-button cruise through my Instagram feed at the results of a Q&A on someone’s story. The question? “What does being Southern mean to you?” An answer: “Being both incredibly proud and deeply ashamed of where you’re from.”
I’ve lived many places in my life, but I cannot deny my roots in the American South. Seven years in middle Georgia and four more in rural Tennessee feels like enough time to identify with a region, an identity, a way of life. And it’s certainly enough time to understand that sometimes, you have to leave as a means of self-preservation.
My heart aches with each passing day as I read about more and more states, many of them in the South, that have managed to pass laws to severely restrict reproductive rights for their residents. I am bewildered by the fact that if I had chosen to keep my Georgia residency, I could be charged with conspiracy to commit murder if I were to get an abortion elsewhere under the new state law. I fear for my friends in Alabama who might find themselves completely out of options if faced with an unwanted pregnancy, should the law signed by Gov. Kay Ivey remain.
And, even more so, I feel sick when I think about how these laws criminalizing abortion will permanently alter the lives of thousands of my fellow Southerners, locking them into scenarios that they might not want for their lives at all. Not only this, but these abortion bans will disproportionately affect low-income individuals and people of color, all while doing nothing to address the fact that these states have some of the worst maternal- and infant-mortality rates in the country.
I’ve spoken with a handful of other Southern expats about feeling utterly helpless while watching the places we grew up in and still love descend into a horrific, tangled mess of policies and practices that will continue to exacerbate existing racial and socio-economic injustices in the region. And so, in an effort to take action, even from afar, I’d like to leverage this platform as a repository for information and resources on this issue and direct your attention to the following:
Abortion is still legal in all 50 states.
Yes, abortion clinics are still providing services and existing appointments will not be cancelled because of the passage of these laws. Alabama’s HB 314, the Human Life Protection Act, goes into effect in November 2019, barring any legal challenges. Meanwhile, Georgia’s HB 481, the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act, is scheduled to go into effect in January 2020.
To find a provider, visit the Abortion Care Network website, which lists independent abortion care providers in each state, or search for clinics that offer “Abortion Services” on the Planned Parenthood website.
Donate to organizations fighting on the front lines.
Below, you’ll find a number of groups working to provide and protect the reproductive rights of folks in Georgia, Alabama, and beyond. These include abortion funds, which offer financial resources for those who don’t have the means to access abortion care; policy advocacy and civil rights litigation nonprofits; and other organizations that provide programming and resources to bolster the reproductive justice movement.
Access Reproductive Care – Southeast. ARC – Southeast works with folks in six states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee) to eliminate economic barriers that limit access to reproductive care by providing financial support for abortion procedures, as well as practical support for needs such as lodging, travel assistance, and childcare.
Yellowhammer Fund. This organization provides funding for anyone seeking care at one of Alabama’s three abortion clinics and assists with lodging, travel, and other barriers to access. Additionally, the fund is also committed to collaborations, advocacy, and programming that further the goals of reproductive justice.
American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and Georgia. Both chapters are expected to present legal challenges to the laws passed in their respective states. In an opinion piece published in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young stated, “I affirm that motherhood is a right that may be chosen and never, ever coerced—and to defend that principle. Governor, we will see you in court.”
National Network of Abortion Funds. The NNAF provides leadership development, infrastructure support, and organizing technical assistance to around 70 member organizations, who in turn work to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access.
SisterSong. The largest national multi-ethnic reproductive justice collective, SisterSong is dedicated to growing and supporting the RJ movement, and to uplifting the voices and building the capacity for folks to win access to abortion and all other reproductive rights. Donations help fund reproductive justice trainings and workshops, as well as the creation of movement spaces for leaders, organizers, and activists.
Transgender Law Center. Regarding the Alabama abortion ban, TLC recently tweeted: “Those most harmed by this already have barriers to reproductive health—trans folks, women of color, disabled people. These are the same communities most vulnerable to sexual violence too.” This multidisciplinary organization engages in policy advocacy, strategic litigation, movement building, and other programs to meet the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people nationwide.
If you have additional recommendations for other organizations that help provide access to abortion services, particularly outside major metropolitan areas, or groups working to directly challenge these new abortion restrictions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.