Gretchen's List: September 2021

Welcome to Post-Roe America.

Dear Friends,

Welcome to post-Roe America.

For 48 years, Roe v. Wade has been the foundation of abortion access in this country. But the right to abortion has never been absolute. In that Supreme Court ruling, they tied state regulation of abortion to gestational age of the pregnancy based on trimester: during the first trimester, states could not prohibit abortion at all; during the second trimester, states could require some regulations with compelling interest; during the third trimester, states could prohibit abortions entirely as long as there were exceptions to preserve the life and health of the pregnant person. The definitions of “compelling interests” in regulation and “undue burdens” on access have shifted with the subsequent cases of Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016).

States have always tried to limit access to abortion earlier than Roe allowed them to do; the federal judiciary has always stopped them. Last night, they did not. The Supreme Court did not respond emergency request to block Texas’s SB8. As of midnight, abortion is illegal in Texas after 6 weeks gestation.

But the Texas law goes further: any private individual, including anti-abortion advocates, can sue anyone they believe is providing or helping patients obtain abortion after 6 weeks. This can include driving them to a clinic or helping them pay for their abortion. The individual filing the complaint does not need to have any connection to a patient. The state of Texas will pay these individuals $10,000 if their complaints are successful.

Effectively, Roe v. Wade is not the law of the land in Texas, the place where it was first fought.

For too long, the people doing the work of organizing and fundraising for progressive causes have ignored, siloed, and sidelined abortion rights. I have been told, by a very successful organizer and fundraiser that “well, we’re all pro-choice, but that’s an issue our mothers focused on.” I have been told that progressive organizing parties are “aligned with the value of reproductive justice” but are “unlikely to initiate or lead a campaign in that area.” I’ve seen funding strategy proposals that talk about intersectionality but not gender, healthcare but not Hyde, economic and racial and criminal and climate justice, but not reproductive justice — as if the latter isn’t part of all of the former. I voted for a President who doesn’t say the word “abortion.” I am really tired.

This is in contrast to an opposition that thinks about abortion in every race they message, every candidate they elect, every judge they appoint, every SCOTUS they steal. We have the House, the Senate, the White House, and the majority of Americans on our side; they have a shamelessness and a single-mindedness that does not allow for any other outcome. We cannot, could never, win a fight without similarly united political strength. And so we didn’t. And we won’t until we tackle this without shame or marginalization or concession. But we will.

I believe abortion access is a social and moral good, and that abortion provision is heroic work. For those of you not already as deeply immersed in this world as I am, I hope you will consider how to incorporate abortion access into your giving priorities and your understanding of social change. We will not win until abortion is understood as the core part of a just society that it truly is.



Where to Send Money Right Now: Texas Abortion Funds

Here’s your one-stop link for supporting abortion funds in Texas. Your contribution will be split between the Lilith Fund, Support Your Sistah at the Afiya Center, West Fund, The Bridge Collective, Texas Equal Access Fund, Clinic Access Support Network, Fund Texas Choice, Frontera Fund, and Jane's Due Process. As always with abortion funds, this money will go to helping people trying to access abortions — including logistical support for traveling out of Texas. (Please note: because of the new law, it is probably not legal to do this if you are a Texan.)

What else to do? My brilliant friend Renee Bracey Sherman is gathering people at the Supreme Court this evening at 6pm ET to share their abortion stories; if you’re in DC, join her. Feel free to share, a great resource for those navigating how to get care in Texas (and anywhere) right now. Read my colleague’s article on self-managed abortion prevalence in the United States; learn more about how it works and why it’s safe. Check out my thoughts from last March on court expansion; consider supporting Take Back the Court. Chip in to If/When/How’s Legal Defense Fund for people who are investigated, arrested, or prosecuted for self-managed abortion.

If you have more questions about where to give, what to do, what to read, who to follow on Twitter: please know the abortion funding and reproductive justice work was what brought me to activism, philanthropy, and politics. I live in this world every day. I am always happy to talk about this and share my thoughts.

California Recall Update

Right, there’s also still this fucking recall. (For background, check out my thoughts last month.) Here’s your “to do” list:

  1. If you’re a Californian, vote. If you’re not a Californian, remind all your friends to vote — you have a stake in this, too. Just go to Facebook and type “my friends in California” in the search bar and then bug all those people to vote.

  2. Post your “I voted” selfie. It’s so easy, and it helps.

  3. Register for this Zoom training with Vote Tripling, TOMORROW, Thursday, September 2nd and 4pm PT. Vote Tripling involves simply standing outside of a polling place and asking exiting voters to text three friends with a reminder to vote. It sounds so simple, but data show that under typical conditions, an hour of polling place vote tripling nets many more additional votes (high-impact friend-to-friend contacts) than traditional GOTV tactics. More detail here.

  4. Want to send money? The California Donor Table is encouraging contributions to the Million Voters Project for mobilization and GOTV in communities of color and central California.

September Events

September 2, 5pm PT: Representation Matter is hosting a virtual event in support of the two leading contenders to be the next Black women in the United States Senate: former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley for North Carolina (check out her announcement video below), and Congresswoman Val Demings for Florida. There are, of course, zero Black women in the Senate right now. North Carolina is winnable; Florida is Florida. (Val is down just two points with over a year to build her message.) Cheri and Val are the best possible candidates for these states, and here's a chance to hear from and support them both. RSVP and contribute here.

September 9, 4:30pm. Please come to this afternoon reception in the Presidio with Abby Finkenauer, candidate for the U.S. Senate from Iowa. Iowa broke our hearts in 2020, but former Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer is a young, proven candidate and she’s going for the seat of 87-year-old Chuck Grassley, who was first elected to the Senate eight years before she was born. No one likes Grassley; his approval ratings are dismal, with only 27% of Iowans saying they’d vote to re-elect him. Come meet the woman who’s going to beat him. RSVP and contribute here.

September 22, TBD: Please come meet Sarah Godlewski, candidate for the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin at dinner in San FranciscoThis race is one of our best opportunities to flip a Senate seat, and given her history of winning statewide office, I believe Sarah can get it done. She’s fifth-generation Wisconsinite, a small business owner, an Emerge Wisconsin alum, and the current state treasurer. She’s been endorsed by Emily’s List and leaders from all over the state. I admire her jumping into the race early and running a campaign to engage all WisconsonitesPlease RSVP and contribute 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: How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America by Heather Cox Richardson.