When I began talking about my plans to start Reproductive Transparency Now (RTN), people responded with a range of reactions. The spectrum ranged from "Hell yeah!" to "Why? Abortion is legal and it's fine." Of course, most of these discussions happened before Texas Senate Bill (SB) 8 went into effect on September 1st. Since that day, there has been a remarkable shift in the way many people think about abortion access in the United States. Roe v. Wade is not--and never has been--a guarantee that abortion will be legal, safe, affordable, and accessible for all in the United States.
Texas SB 8 one of the most staggering of the recent "heartbeat bills," of which we can expect to see more in the coming weeks and months. Florida House Bill (HB) 167 was filed on September 22nd, just three weeks after SB 8 went into effect. Georgia HB 481, which was passed in 2019, has been tied up in federal courts, but may have a new path forward. Just in the past week, pro-choice activists gathered at the Ohio Statehouse to protest Ohio SB 123 (the Enact the Human Life Protection Act). Rest assured, there is already and will continue to be more anti-abortion legislation.
The pro-choice marches and rallies that took place all over the country on Saturday is a new call to action, and a new beginning for reproductive rights activists to take a stand. No more relying on Roe v. Wade as a safety net for reproductive choice.
Let's circle back to the beginning of this story, where I highlighted the response I received to the news that I would be founding RTN. In the fight for reproductive rights, there are many layers, nuances, and challenges which must be addressed, and there is no single organization or group that can address them all. People seeking a wanted abortion face barriers that many people do not realize exist, and these barriers disproportionately affect poor people and people of color. Reproductive justice will not be achieved in the U.S. until people of all socioeconomic classes, races, genders, and ages are able to access legal, safe, and affordable abortion care.
Reproductive justice requires that both the overt and hidden barriers to abortion care are removed. At RTN, we will be focusing on raising awareness of the hidden barriers that are created by crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs for short. You may also hear CPCs referred to as "pregnancy care centers" or "pregnancy resource centers." When I start telling folks about CPCs, they stare back at me with a look of confusion...I mean, how could something called a "pregnancy care center" be a bad thing, right?
That's why I'm calling it a hidden barrier. CPCs advertise free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds as a way to attract people who may not otherwise be able to pay for these services (which is yet another social issue that needs to be addressed). CPCs also claim to provide "options counseling"--those options are parenting, adoption, and abortion--in a non-judgmental, compassionate environment. The problem is that most CPCs are run by religious groups that are staunchly anti-choice and their primary mission is to make sure that people facing an unplanned pregnancy do not obtain an abortion.
Let's be clear: This is not OK. The deceptive tactics that CPCs use to dissuade pregnant people from seeking an abortion are well-documented, and they are hurting those among us who are most vulnerable and in need of reproductive care. All people deserve truthful, medically-accurate information so that they can make the decision that is best for themselves and their families. At the same time, our society must build up social programs that allow individuals to pursue their individual choices with the support they need to survive and thrive.
The marches and rallies that took place all over the nation on Saturday were just the beginning. This is where the real work begins, and there is much to do. I hope you will join RTN on our journey to raise awareness of CPCs by following us on social media--Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter--and subscribing to our email list.
On a larger scale, reproductive rights activists are calling for swift action related to 5 words: Resist, Repeal, Register, Donate, and Demand. Read more about what you can do at bit.ly/abortionishealthcare.
On behalf of our organization, thank you for taking the time to learn more about our mission and I hope you will continue forward with us during this very important time in history.