This Is How We Fight
Links, resources, and a story
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Sorry for all the typos, I sent this without the edits of trusty Kim the Editor.
On Friday, the day the Supreme Court announced humans no longer had the right to an abortion, I went to a protest. It was a larger crowd than I expected. Iowans aren’t much for shouting and my city isn’t that big. But there were almost 300 people there in a parking lot across the street from the federal courthouse.
People were anxious to do something, anything. Our right to bodily autonomy was being taken away. They held up signs in the golden evening light. We said “hi” to neighbors and acquaintances, we all knew each other mostly. How could we not? When you live in town long enough, you realize your therapist is best friends with your doctor and the server at the restaurant? His mom taught your kids in preschool.
I spoke at that protest. I told people the story of my sister. I told them how she’d had to fight so hard to fight for her life after a car accident at 16. How I stood over her bed in the surgical ICU and screamed at her to “BREATHE!” The doctors hoped she’d hear me through her heavily medicated state. Her oxygen levels would rise when she heard my voice.
I told them their voices mattered. That sometimes our shouts could pull someone back from the dark place. I told them we didn’t have the luxury of despair. And that while our reproductive choices were being stripped, hope was a choice, fighting was a choice. And we could choose it that day.
I told them I wanted them to live. I wanted to shout and shout and keep them all alive, like I’d done with my sister.
After the speeches, about 150 of us marched through the city, holding our signs and chanting. It was hot and the walk was long. By the time we streamed back to the parking lot the protest was done. Just a handful of people left. We crossed the busy street with the traffic light and in the crosswalk. When I got to the curb, I turned and saw a black truck that was sitting behind two cars weave around them and head straight through the crosswalk. People tried to stop him, they banged on his hood and hit the side of his truck. A crowd of people surged around the truck as it pushed through the intersection trying to pull two women away from the front of the truck. I learned later another woman fell and hit her head. One woman had her foot crushed. The truck drove away.
In the hours and now days since the incident, I’ve had people tell me we should have been more polite and better behaved. Was I sure, they ask, that the people injured didn’t somehow incite it? As if anyone deserves to be hit by a car. As if anyone can be good enough to protect them from the violence of our country. I witnessed a man try to kill people and in response, people told me I should be nicer.
You can’t politely smile hard enough for the state to give you your rights back. You cannot be sweet enough to protect yourself from violence. You cannot dress in a dress pretty enough. You can’t be blonde or white enough to protect you from what is coming.
The day my community showed up to protest our loss of bodily autonomy, I saw a man try to kill us. And he got away. Because of Iowa’s laws protecting drivers who hit protesters, it doesn’t seem like any charges will be filed. Also, our mayor put out a statement casting doubt on the protesters and city council has been quiet. The local news as framed the issue as an “altercation.” As if pedestrians telling a truck not to kill them is a both sides issue. As if walking back to your car is a provocation. No the only provocation was existing. The only provocation was us screaming that we wanted a right to exist. To live. To choose our own lives.
I haven’t been able to forget his face. His red screaming face. It was so full of hate and I see it every time I close my eyes. I see it now when I cross the street. I went on a run on Saturday and a truck drove by me and I thought it was him. I jumped into a nearby yard and started crying. This country wants me dead.
But I refuse. I’ll keep screaming.
Here is How We Survive:
We get organized. We cannot do this alone. We cannot bootstrap our way through it. Already, organizations and networks exist that are doing the work. Our job is to join their networks and give them our time and talent and money. You might not like every activist in your town (I sure don’t). But guess what? Who cares. Put your ego aside and get the work done.
Find a local mutual aid group to get involved.
Here is a link to a Google document that has good resources for information, training, and best practices for your activism.
Anne Helen Petersen has a newsletter with important information that you might find useful.
Also, here is a list of abortion funds in every state. These independent organizations will also have information on how you can volunteer and get involved.
This Law Dork newsletter has an interview with the woman who started Run for Something about ways to enact legislative change.
Here are some tips from people who live under abortion bans.
Abortion Access Front is hosting a training on July 17.
What federal action can be taken? Well, great question. AOC has the answer.
Remember that these groups are probably overwhelmed right now. Follow up in a month. Be persistent and polite. Remember, they’ve been doing the work for years.
And also, get educated.
Iowa Specific Information:
In Iowa abortion is still legal, but it won’t be for long. Our governor and state lawmakers have been trying to make abortion illegal for a long time and now that Roe is overturned they have the opportunity to do so.
Here is what we can do right now.
The Iowa Janes have a comprehensive document that has links to training, organizations, and ideas and tips for community activism.
The Iowa Abortion Access Fund could use donations and they also have a resources page.
Join me on July 10 at 12 at the capitol in Des Moines. Shouting is important too. I know protests seem silly, but they are important for building networks, for showing solidarity, and for reminding you that you are not alone and there are so many, many people shouting for you to live.
I am hoping to host a fundraiser or two in my home. That’s right. You get to hang out with a wolf and drink my wine. If you are interested in being on a hyper-local list for organizing and outreach and fundraising opportunities, fill out this form. Also, feel free to share it with other people even if they aren’t subscribers. I will not share this list for anyone or use it to solicit subscriptions or donations (just invites to fundraisers). Here is a short link you can copy and paste into emails and on Facebook: https://forms.gle/wNMnWdWDJx5qCCbN7
Don’t give up! Remember hope is the choice we still have. And what are we going to do? Quit? No. Not us.
This fight is also a fight of memory against forgetting. So keep using your voice. Keep shouting. It matters. If it didn’t matter they wouldn’t be trying to hit us with their cars.
“So keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to have fun doin' it. Be outrageous... rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through celebrating the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was!”
— Molly Ivins
I want to open the comments to everyone, but given my Twitter replies right now, that’s not a good idea. But if you have suggestions for organizing and activism or places to volunteer or donate, leave them below. I’ll update the newsletter and this can be a kind of evolving resource for the change we make in this world.