In light of the overturning of Roe v Wade, it’s with a heavy heart that I revise and expand this article from 2019 with a new goal to take back reproductive rights.
Our mission at BGR is to help people use money as a tool for greater personal autonomy, community stability, and social justice. The sudden unjust denial of abortion access to many Americans has us utterly shaken. We have stated many times that reproductive rights are a non-negotiable basis for success. It is impossible to work toward any of those goals without the right to freely determine the number and timing of potential children. But here we are.
The average American child costs a quarter million dollars before they reach age eighteen. The idea that any person or family should be forced to make such a financial commitment—or several such commitments—for something they don’t passionately want is fundamentally repugnant to us.
We mostly write about money and careers on Bitches Get Riches. It’s not because we love them so much we wanna kiss ‘em on the mouth—it’s because in the society that we have today, money and careers are the best tools we have to attain complete independence and autonomy.
We believe that each individual is an expert in their own happiness. And given a modest level of financial stability, people will have the freedom to make the choices that make their lives feel deliciously worth living.
Limiting abortion access—much less criminalizing it—stands in direct opposition to these values.
Piggy and I are sick with worry for the people impacted by this ruling. We’re grieving, as we know many of you are too. We are not alone. We’re not even a minority, as two thirds of Americans didn’t want this ruling. But we’re also furious, and ready to fight. Together, we have more power than the tyrannous minority of withered shitheads bent on turning our country into a racist, misogynist, corporate-sponsored theocracy.
Phew. Getting spicy and it’s just the intro! Did I mention I am furious?
Today we’re discussing how, and why, to take back reproductive rights. How do we get abortions to people who need them? Who can undo this injustice, and what can we do to exert influence on them so they take action? And how do we make sure that the changes endure permanently? Let’s get into it.
The creeping, invisible opponent
Longtime readers know I love to garden. At long last, my early retirement has afforded me time and energy to spend on my hobbies. So I’ve spent a good chunk of the last few months down in the dirt, adding freckles to my shoulders.
I love planting new things and seeing them flourish. Let’s skip the part where I plant something and it dies—so I plant it again, and it dies again but for a different reason I swear—and focus on the third time where it finally takes root and thrives. The shrubs I planted as pathetic twigs are now tall enough to offer me shade while I work. I see songbirds making homes in the neglected trees I’ve revived. On warm days, my flowers and shrubs are alive with honeybees and butterflies. It’s fucking cool.
But the time I spend in my garden isn’t all twirling through native wildflowers like a mead-drunk dryad. On the contrary, it’s only lovely because of the hours and hours of unglamorous, repetitive, mind-numbing, back-breaking work I put into keeping it that way. To sustain the health and beauty of my little world, I have to fight.
So. Many. Weeds. And none of them the fun kind!
The never-ending fight
I’m always struck by how suddenly weeds appear. In the space of a few days, my seemingly empty flower bed will abruptly fill with wild violets, dandelion, creeping charlie, and whatever that one plant is that smells like old cum. There are worse things. Prickly things. Toxic things. Deeply rooted things. Weeds that can grow so powerfully they rip apart concrete.
The thing is, they didn’t really appear out of nowhere.
I always know they’re coming.
They left their seeds and their taproots behind last autumn. Their seeds stayed quiet and waited for conditions to be right. When the planet tilted in their favor, and the sun shone warmly down upon them, and the snowmelt watered them, they began to unfurl, out of sight, under the crust of the earth.
Every spring, I feel the warm air and stomp through the puddles left by the rain. And even though I can’t see them, I know they’re there. I watch my flower beds like one watches a door they know is about to open. When they finally show themselves, I am ready to destroy them.
I think this is a useful metaphor for taking back reproductive rights, because it describes the strategy of forced-birth advocates. They have sown themselves in a thousand places (through TRAP laws and medically unnecessary restrictions), exhausting the vigilant gardener with their sheer tenacity.
A long time coming
The election of Donald Trump in 2016 hit a lot of people as a gut-rending feeling of despair. And there were a smorgasbord of reasons for that, but today we’re going to focus on just one of them. A lot of people with uteruses (uteri?) got really scared about the future of their bodily autonomy. After his election, demand for IUDs (a long-term birth control method) rose by 900%. Good gravy that’s a lot! And—spoiler alert—they had good reason to be scared.
In 2019, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, and Utah all passed laws suppressing abortion and reproductive rights. Their passage reflected a very successful “long game” to stack every court in America with ultra-conservative judges, their qualifications, impartiality, or general fitness be damned. It suddenly felt like everything was happening everywhere, all at once. The fall of Roe may have felt like a sudden shock to some, but to many, it was the bitter, painful culmination of a death-by-a-thousand-cuts campaign against reproductive rights.
In America, we stand on soil that is richly sown with countless evil weeds. Scientific illiteracy—giving superstition and misinformation equal seats at the table with logic and reason. Paternalism—believing that limiting another person’s choices can ever be benevolent. A strange form of ageism—giving idealized hypothetical children priority over living, complicated adults. Moral imperialism—feeling entitled to impose personal beliefs and opinions on others. Erotophobia—thinking sex is shameful, evil, and merits punishment.
And of course misogyny—that old chestnut!
The choices we no longer have
The Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v Wade. This makes it possible for individual states to criminalize abortions. This is the fruit these evil weeds produce:
- People dying from botched abortions
- People dying from pregnancy complications
- Rape victims incubating their trauma
- Children with bellies swollen with responsibilities for which they aren’t prepared
- People who’ve miscarried met with criminal suspicion rather than compassion
- Babies dying from medical conditions incompatible with life
- Families bankrupting themselves on ill-timed children
- Children who aren’t given the resources they need and deserve
- Human beings used like livestock for breeding
The worst part is that none of this suffering even accomplishes the stated goal. Legal or not, global and historical precedent shows the abortion rate stays flat, regardless.
Wealthy women will be able to dodge these horrors by traveling for healthcare or choosing to relocate to a friendlier state. Poor women will not. And it will lead to wider wealth gaps, higher crime rates, greater reliance on social safety nets, and the continued degradation of wages and workers’ rights.
So what do we do? How do we stop this endless cycle?
The same way we’ve won every right in human history: fighting like hell for it through tenacious, strategic collective action.
How we take back reproductive rights
In the short term, we must weed. Anyone who values the dignity of human life, of happiness, of personal sovereignty needs to get down on their hands and knees and rip this shit up root and stem.
Stop framing reproductive rights as a “women’s issue”
There are three major reasons for this. First and most obviously, trans and nonbinary folks can get pregnant too, so it’s not super accurate.
Second, it reinforces an unfair paradigm in which women are solely responsible for sex, pregnancy, and childrearing. Despite earning less money than men, women statistically absorb the high cost of pregnancy prevention. Over twice as many tubal ligations are performed compared to vasectomies, even though the vasectomy is less invasive, less dangerous, and less costly. Any sex that carries a risk—or desired outcome!—of pregnancy should be approached with as much egalitarianism as biology allows.
But most importantly, it leaves our largest group of allies out of the conversation. Some people say men have no place in issues of reproductive rights, but I am absolutely not one of them. This conversation most definitely includes and needs men! Men support abortion in similar numbers to women. If anything, we need men to step up and show that they are as personally invested in this fight as women are in order to bolster our collective strength. This thread from Dumpster Doggy (blessed be Her name) is a great example of how powerful this reframing can be.
Obviously, the lives and experiences of pregnant people belong at the center of this “debate.” But framing matters. It’s one of the main reasons proponents of forced-birth have been so successful. Be thoughtful in how you discuss and engage on this topic. Being expansive and inclusive is, in our experience, almost always the correct decision.
Refuse to leave anyone behind
Piggy and I both live in states that have formally protected abortion access. If we were shortsighted and selfish, we’d feel bad for people in other states, but shrug and say “thank god I live in [state!]”
Now, the pair of us may be famous idiots. But neither of us is so foolish as to think we’re anything close to “safe.” Demographics change. Representatives change. State laws change. Plus, I won’t be surprised if a Republican-controlled Senate kills the filibuster to pass legislation to preserve wealthy white supremacy in America, sometime in my lifetime. That could easily include a national ban on abortions. I try to choose optimism on this blog, but I don’t think we can afford to be charitable to those who describe Roe’s overturning as a “historic victory for white life.“
This victory isn’t the end of the war for those opposed to abortion. It’s the end of Phase One.
I think I’m officially confirming Godwin’s Law if I co-opt Martin Niemöller’s “first they came for the socialists” quote… but here I go anyway! We absolutely can’t afford to have a “first they came for the pregnant women in Missouri, and I said nothing because I’m not pregnant and I’m in Illinois” mentality on this issue.
Abortion access is affected by differences in race, class, and gender. Remember that poverty and systemic racism make abortion access more difficult for some people than others, and give space for those voices. You may be “safe” for now based on your circumstances, but that doesn’t mean we will sit on the sidelines. If we do, we’re leaving our sisters and siblings to suffer alone—until it’s our turn. We are all next.
Choose collective action
Until last week, abortion was legal in all fifty states. And that was solely due to the efforts of persistent people with serious expertise, dedication, and resources. We can make it legal throughout the country again. And we can do it in a way that’s far more enduring than the shaky legal ground upon which Roe was originally decided. We discuss that in more detail in the below podcast episode, by the way. If you haven’t listened, check it out. It might offer some hope.
There are many groups that have seen this day coming, and they have good plans to strike back and take back reproductive rights. Don’t go out and try to start your own thing—we gain little from replicated efforts. Donate time and money to established organizations that are already doing good work. Be humble and join up. These are the ones I’ve heard good things about:
- Planned Parenthood (although not present in all states, it has incredible reach)
- Abortion Care Network (helps independent clinic providers)
- National Network of Abortion Funds (removes financial and logistical barriers to abortion access)
- SisterSong (a reproductive justice collective for women of color)
- The American Civil Liberties Union (strategically sues the shit out of civil rights violators)
- Emily’s List (a national political action committee that works to elect pro-choice candidates for every level of government)
Help provide travel, lodging, childcare, and financial support for people seeking abortions
I’ve seen a lot of people offering to host “camping” trips. Good! Put your money where your euphemism is and sign up to help people seeking abortions in your area.
If you want to organize locally, the National Network of Abortion Funds has a fantastic and comprehensive list of local abortion networks by state and region. Find one in your area, and follow the portal to sign up to volunteer. If they offer a newsletter, sign up for that too. They will be the ones organizing protests, strikes, fundraisers, and action days.
Stop the spread of dangerous misinformation
Science always matters. But in issues related to the intersection of anatomy and ethics, it’s especially important to be accurate. Hold yourself to a high standard. Don’t share shit that’s not accurate and helpful. If you see “tricks” or “hacks” on social media that don’t look right, report them before someone gets hurt. If you, or someone you know, is desperate enough to be considering a self-administered abortion, please start by exploring some of the options we list in this article:
Evangelize, but don’t waste your breath
I think it’s super important to be vocal about your support for reproductive rights, including abortion, within your immediate sphere of influence. In doing so, you might signal that you’re a safe person to ask for support. Your voice can inspire others to speak up. Solidarity is a beautiful thing!
That said, I release you forever from arguing with random people on the internet. In fact, I forbid it. Engaging in this way is just not productive. It’s so draining. Plus, it tricks you into thinking you did good work when all you did is shout uselessly into the void.
To anyone who feels like a bad feminist for avoiding ideological battles with redneck relatives and shitty old high school classmates, I set thee free! No one has ever had their mind changed about a significant issue by a random stranger making a zippy comeback on a bad “pro-life” Facebook meme comment thread. Focus your attention on actions that help people who need abortions now, please!
Vote, unionize, and run for office
Our age-old refrain here at Bitches Get Riches is to “fucking vote.” Presidential elections are important—but if it’s the only one you vote in, you’re part of the problem. Local elections matter so much more.
Voting in every election is absolutely necessary. It physically hurts me to say this, considering an unelected handful of Matthew Hale-stanning, insurrectionist-banging armchair jockeys can still cause so much suffering. Including when they’re actively seeking to diminish the impact of your votes.
Which is why I want to expand upon it, and suggest that now is a great time to get a lil’ more radical, and consider running for office yourself, volunteering for a candidate who represents you well, participating in labor organizing including unionizing efforts, and literally any other form of collective action.
This list was greatly informed by several excellent reproductive justice advocates on social media. The comments section is wide open for more thoughts, suggestions, and resources.
What comes next?
Allow me to return to my tortured seed metaphor. The long game is to get those seeds out of the ground. Crises like this come from hatred, disrespect, misunderstanding, and ignorance. Systemic inequality supports those evils and lengthens their lifespan in our culture.
So many issues touch reproductive freedom. If you’re passionate or knowledgeable about some interrelated issue, keep at it. You are working to positively change the culture, and that is the ultimate long-term goal.
Henry VIII chopped off six wife heads to get the male heir he wanted in the fifteenth century. (I know he didn’t behead them all, don’t @ me.) It’s only as of 2013 that Britain changed their laws to do away with this preference for male heirs. It wasn’t the arbitrary, altruistic epiphany of one powerful person. The change was made necessary when the culture around the law had transformed to the point of demanding it. Scientists and artists and educators and economists changed the culture, piece by piece, until the shitty idea just didn’t fit anywhere anymore.
(Just don’t ask me why they’ve still got a monarchy at all. As far as I can tell, it’s to give tabloids something to do. But my president was elected by the Electoral College, so who am I to throw stones at the glass houses of the good people of Britain? Love your clotted cream, it definitely goes on top, Cornish ’til I die.)
Issues like healthcare, housing, childcare, schools, pay gaps, workers’ rights, and representation all touch issues related to reproductive justice. Make progress in any one of them, and you erode the space left for sexist, racist, classist ideas to grow.
That’s why we run this blog! We want to share wisdom that makes lives better. The choice of what to do with that life is yours and yours alone.
To anyone who wants to leave a shitty comment, please know this:
This is our website, not a public fucking square. We do not have a quota of man-on-the-street interviews to fill. We moderate comments with shameless, despotic glee. So if you came here to sprinkle some “different perspective” fairy dust, save your eBreath. Moreover, I will masturbate furiously while deleting it. We will trundle your comment into a mine cart and send it flying into the darkest chasm of Khazad-dûm.
This blog is a resource for people who need more stability, confidence, freedom, and choices in their lives. To that end, safe, local, legal, affordable, accessible abortions and contraception are a non-negotiable cornerstone.
If you want to read more on the intersection of money and reproductive health, we’ve got you:
- How To Get an Abortion
- How to Prepare for a Post-Roe World (Bonus Episode)
- Queer Finance 101: Ten Ways That Sexual and Gender Identity Affect Finances
- Blood Money: Menstrual Products for Surviving Your Period While Poor
Finally, if you have additional resources that might be helpful to our readers, especially those in affected states, please leave them in the comments below! We’re always blown away by the collective knowledge of Bitch Nation. And if you found this article helpful, please share it and consider paying us for our labor through our Patreon. I needed to rage-eat an entire box of Better Cheddars to write this article, and with inflation being what it is, I’m out $27.59.
An earlier version of this article was published in 2019. It has been significantly updated to reflect recent events.