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Building a better, more inclusive abortion rights movement

Last month, Nevada residents came out in droves for protests in Las Vegas and Reno when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ignoring a half-century legal precedent and eliminating the national right to abortion. In the streets, you could hear the shouts of disbelief and roars of anguish from those who felt betrayed by their country.

It can be a lot, living through catastrophic historical moment after catastrophic historical moment, as we’ve all been doing for the past several years.  But I’m determined now to join those who are forging the path ahead for abortion rights and social justice, with a focus on including communities that have been left out in the past and are the most impacted in the post-Roe reality.

As residents of Nevada -- where the right to abortion is protected by state statute -- we have resources that millions of other Americans don’t thanks to the many dedicated Nevada activists fought and lobbied to make that a reality. Still, a significant part of the population will feel the impacts of the fall of Roe deeply, regardless of what state they live in, including Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and communities of color as well as those who have low incomes or live in rural areas.

The fallout of the Supreme Court decision has already been chaotic for providers and patients seeking abortion care – essential health care. 

The court’s ruling has pushed abortion-access out of reach for people in more than half the country who already had monumental obstacles to receiving care where they live. Something that we’re acutely aware of in a state with many rural and even urban communities for whom travel and transportation are a barrier to accessing abortion care, even in a protected-access state like Nevada. 

The (SCOTUS) decision will have devastating consequences across the United States and will force people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care or entirely go without care,"

Lindsey Harmon, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, said in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

But, beyond the shock many feel, we must navigate the complexity of this decision and what it means for people who are seeking abortions or providing care in an increasingly complicated legal landscape.

As a movement, we have to ensure that our advocacy is not just inclusive, but rooted in an equitable approach to protecting and improving care. No one’s health care should depend on where they live or how much money they make. The impact of the Supreme Court’s decision also extends beyond abortion care to threatening LGBTQ+ rights and access to birth control as well.

The abortion rights movement will not succeed until every single person -- regardless of their gender expression, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability status, or any other intersecting factors - has safe access to abortion. We urge you to make sure a very diverse group of voices is being heard to emphasize how the outrageous Supreme Court decision impacts so many different communities in devastating ways.

This national health tragedy is not the only urgent social justice issue facing those of reproductive age and their families across the country. We need to fight for reproductive justice, which is defined as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have or not have children, and parent the children we have in safe, sustainable communities. Importantly, the reproductive justice movement was founded and is led by women of color, who also represent the trans and LGBTQ+ communities.

Getting involved with reproductive justice organizations like Make It Work Nevada or abortion-access groups like the Wild West Access Fund of Nevada are excellent ways to ensure that you are fighting back against the impact that the Supreme Court decision has on each of our lives.

While I am part of the generation that has suddenly lost the rights our parents had because of the calamity of the fall of Roe, I am eager to be part of the reconstruction of abortion rights for everyone in this country -- and help connect Nevadans to the resources available to them now.

Taking action together is the key to being most powerful: Vote, donate, and tell your abortion story to keep abortion rights in the national conversation. We must make clear that abortion care is health care, and it must be available to everyone – not just those who can afford to travel to another state.

 In Nevada, the right to abortion is protected in statute because of the hard work of community activists, organizers, and Nevada voters. But we are going to need your help to keep it that way. Let’s get to work.

Resources for Patients & Activists:

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