Gretchen's List: June 2021
I hope you all had relaxing holiday weekends and are looking forward to summers full of reconnections with your vaccinated friends and loved ones.
I was deeply struck by President Biden’s words on Memorial Day yesterday:
Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world. What we do now — what we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen will determine whether or not democracy will long endure.
These words, a paraphrase of President Lincoln’s speech on the field in Gettysburg, are not an exaggeration.
The absolute most important thing happening in American politics right now is the fight for Senate Bill 1, the For the People Act. If you aren’t already intimately familiar with this bill, read this explainer from the Brennan Center. (If you’re up for more reading, you can check out the history of the filibuster here.) If we cannot figure out how to get this bill passed before August, I have existential concerns for American democracy. Practically, I do not believe Democrats will be able to ever maintain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives without it (and we already have an increasingly uphill battle to hold any majority in the Senate). Senator Chuck Schumer has already said there will be a vote in June. If you are interested, End Citizens United is hosting a strategy session on the For the People Act tomorrow at 4:30pm PT. You can contribute and RSVP here. Even if you can’t join a call, I encourage you to start talking about this bill to basically everyone you know, especially if they live in Arizona. Call your Senators, even if they support it, but especially if you live in Arizona.
This bill is essential to our democracy, and it’s in the hands of the U.S. Senate — the Senate for which we fought tooth and nail to win the slimmest of majorities. We must find a way to get this done.
June Question: How worried should we be about abortion access right now?
First, some good news: President Biden’s budget does not include the Hyde Amendment! The Hyde Amendment is a restriction on federal funding for abortion coverage, and when I first started working on advocacy to repeal Hyde — about a decade ago — it seemed like a pipe dream. And now we have a Presidential budget without Hyde, the EACH Woman Act to repeal Hyde in the House, and a real pathway to correcting this policy, which has always been rooted in inequities of gender, race, and socioeconomic position. I’m thrilled that President Biden is keeping his word on this.
And now, the bad news: literally everything else around abortion access in this country. States are passing and enacting more and more laws limiting access, and the 6-3 conservative Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Mississippi case that could overturn established precedent to devastatingly erode abortion access. Many of you know that my career is based on studying abortion in the United States, and I could talk all day about what these policies mean and what this case could do. But the bottom line is this: I have been assuming that Roe v. Wade would fall since Trump was elected, and I still think its days are numbered. And SCOTUS can still do untold damage without outright overturning Roe, simply by overturning Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt or reinterpreting Planned Parenthood v. Casey in a way that redefines “undue” burden, and the impact will be the same.
Here are a few important things to remember:
Post-Roe illegal abortion won’t look the same as pre-Roe illegal abortion. First, abortion will still be legal in many states (more states than it was legal in pre-Roe). Check out this map (which features the research of my brilliant colleagues) to see where will be the most impacted. Second, because illegal abortion won’t be back alleys and coat hangers. It will be pills you buy on the internet — which is actually safer than you might think. Under new guidelines, doctors are currently legally allowed to send medication abortion pills by mail. This could inform what safe practice might look like moving forward.
We had a good infrastructure of abortion funds across this country that have also supported women in paying their abortions, and in accessing money and logistical support for things like travel, child care, etc. Now would be a good time to send the National Network of Abortion Funds (and especially your local fund!) some money. Let me know if I can help you find a fund working in your state for you to support.
We have a strong movement of reproductive justice in this country, and we have popular support on our side. Here’s where I send my money, and where I encourage you to send your support, too:
All Above All, leading the fight to remove the Hyde Amendment and repeal abortion funding restrictions;
We Testify, leading the effort to center the experiences of people who have had abortions in advocacy efforts, with a particular focus on women of color, trans* and non-binary people, people who have self-managed their abortion care, and others on the margins;
All-Options, building a new model of reproductive justice by providing support for all experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption; combining direct service in options counseling with pregnancy tests, abortion funding, condoms, diaper banking, and full-options referrals;
If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, providing essential legal services around decriminalizing self-managed abortion;
Center for Reproductive Rights, the primary legal arm of the reproductive rights movement in SCOTUS cases.
Questions? If there’s anything I enjoy talking more about the United States Senate, it’s talking about how we can fund a strong reproductive justice movement in this country, so please — ask away.
June Virtual Events
June 2, 5pm PT: Come meet Assistant Speaker of the House, Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5), in conversation with Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45), in support of Katherine’s leadership PAC, Fair Shot. Katherine has been a champion for reproductive justice, trans rights, democracy, the environment — she shows the work that can happen when we elect strong leaders in solid blue seats to set the agenda of the party. Supporting Katherine’s PAC not only elevates her leadership, the money goes towards protecting and growing the Democratic majority in the U.S. House… think of it as a political giving two-fer. You can contribute and RSVP here, but if you haven’t met Katherine before and would like to join us before deciding on a contribution, just let me know!
June 3, 10am PT: Join me with Congresswomen Katie Porter (CA-45) and Nikema Williams (GA-5), alongside Emerge America President A’shanti Gholar to discuss the economic impact of the pandemic on American women, and the ways in which women and mothers should be centered in the economy. RSVP here, or let me know if you’d like to join me as my guest (for free!).
June 24, 4pm PT: Our three best opportunities for gaining Democratic Senators in 2022 remain in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, and there are qualified women with clear paths to the nomination in all three states. Electing Women Bay Area is hosting all three at once: Val Arkoosh (PA), Cheri Beasley (NC), and Sarah Godlewski (WI). Come meet them, learn about their races, and see how we can increase our Senate majority in 2022. RSVP here.
Donor, sociologist, researcher. Board member at WDN Action and Emerge America, and steering committee member at Electing Women Bay Area -- but all content here is mine alone and not on behalf of any organization or business. My goals are to help others find their networks and feel more comfortable and informed participating in the political giving space.
Currently reading: Persist by Elizabeth Warren.