The #AbortionPositive Tour is meant to be daring. After all, it is run by URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity and the All* Above All coalition, whose slogan is “Be Bold. End Hyde.” The tour’s focus is to be unapologetic about abortion and start conversations about reproductive justice and abortion care, both of which were successfully accomplished on the University of Alabama’s flagship campus in Tuscaloosa during the first stop on the tour.
By kicking off the tour here in Alabama, we showed our commitment to reproductive rights in the South, which has some of the most restrictive laws regarding abortion access in the United States. Although abortion restrictions are being passed all over the United States, not just in the South, our situation is pretty dire: Fifty-seven bills rolling back abortion rights have been introduced by Alabama legislators in the last five years, and the Alabama Legislature is currently considering nine bills that would further restrict abortion access. Mississippi and Louisiana both subject abortion providers to targeted regulations intended to force clinics to close; restrict medication abortion; and require biased counseling, ultrasounds and a mandatory delay before someone can access an abortion. In fact, Mississippi’s anti-choice laws are so stringent that there is only one abortion clinic left in the entire state. This climate shows the necessity of the #AbortionPositive Tour: Combatting abortion stigma requires unapologetic, visible support for abortion access.
The tour is also all about taking action. At this stop we offered at least five actions that people could complete, including signing petitions, writing thank-you cards to local abortion care providers, and using a text tool to email national representatives in support of the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act. Although our main goal was to get people involved through actions, we also sparked productive conversations with people whose views on abortion ranged from excitement about URGE’s “Abortion, yass!” stickers to silent protest.
Two speakers headlined the event: Dr. Willie Parker, an abortion provider and nationally recognized reproductive justice leader who works at the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, and Mia Raven, a volunteer with the POWER House in Montgomery. Dr. Parker spoke about the importance of young activists in the reproductive justice movement and the need to treat abortion as what it is: health care (see image below). Mia Raven stressed the importance of voting in all elections, especially local ones, which often have much lower voter turnout but can have an enormous impact on policy.
The first stop on the #AbortionPositive Tour at the University of Alabama was a resounding success. Already, the tour is starting conversations about abortion and igniting interest in a growing reproductive justice movement, and we’re excited to continue spreading the #AbortionPositive message on the next stops of our tour. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter as we visit Kansas, Georgia and Texas!