At first glance, fighting for abortion rights may seem outside the purview of the environmental movement. But dig a little deeper and it quickly becomes clear that reproductive justice is environmental justice. Having universal access to reproductive health services — including abortion — is good for people and nature.
As the world’s population grows, so do its demands for water, land, trees, and fossil fuels. According to Project Drawdown, a leading climate change research organization, voluntary family planning can help reduce the pressure that the human population puts on the planet. This is especially true in the United States, since Americans consume more, per capita, than individuals in any other country. The average American has an environmental footprint 60% larger than most Europeans and nearly 700% larger than the average person in most African countries.
Family planning and education of women and girls are top climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions. When people have access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunity, they tend to delay having children, have fewer and healthier children, and are more likely to manage their reproductive health. With more opportunities outside the home, educated women and girls earn higher wages and are able to be more involved in sustainability efforts, leading to better outcomes for communities and conservation.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and even helpless by the fall of Roe v. Wade. The good news is that if you’re an environmentalist who wants to support abortion justice, you can use the skills you’ve honed saving the planet to save abortion access, too. Here’s how.
As someone concerned about the health of the planet, you’ve put your reading and research skills to good use to stay up to date on environmental news. Use those skills and brush up on your reproductive justice reading list and share your knowledge with friends and family.
Open Your Wallet
You probably regularly donate to your favorite environmental group. If your budget allows, add an abortion fund to your charitable giving, which provides mutual aid to those who need support accessing abortion care.
It’s also helpful to donate time or money to “practical support” funds in your area. These are funds that help people having abortions with things like gas money, food assistance, childcare, and emotional support. Apiary or INeedAnA are great organizations that provide this kind of help.
You can also directly support independent abortion clinics, which provide two-thirds of abortions in the United States.
Use Your Voice
New research finds that publicly showing your support for abortion can change social norms on the topic. Just as you march for the climate or local environmental issues, you can show up at gender-empowerment marches and rallies across the country. Learn how here. Abortion Access Front also maintains an Activist Event Calendar, which shows you how to plug in nationally, locally, and virtually.
Storytelling changes perceptions. Share your experience with abortion via the platforms Liberate Abortion, Shout Your Abortion, and We Testify. Writing a letter to the editor of your local paper is also a great way to express what reproductive freedom means to you.
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably already talked to your kids about the harsh reality of a warming world and what they can do to be good environmental stewards. Now it’s time to talk to your kids about abortion rights and how to fight for their own reproductive freedoms. This article shares some great tips about how to talk to your kids about abortion.
Flex Your Authoritative Muscles
As an environmentalist, you probably have your congressperson on speed dial. Now’s the time to pull out your phone and ask them to support the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would federally protect the right to abortion care and prevent any national abortion bans. At the state level, check to see if there will be an abortion-related ballot measure you can vote on in November. Finally, many cities are also providing abortion protections through decriminalization or by funding local abortion funds.
You can also call or email your favorite environmental organization and ask them to speak up about reproductive rights. Remind them that the health of people and ecosystems alike are threatened by the same systems of abuse and exploitation. We cannot have environmental justice without reproductive justice.
About the Author
Kelley Dennings works at the Center for Biological Diversity developing advocacy and outreach initiatives that address the connections between reproductive health, gender equity, consumption, endless growth, and the climate and extinction crises. She has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from N.C. State and a master’s degree in public health from the University of South Florida. She’s also a family planning counselor.