Taylor Berninger, MS, MA, MEd, CGC (she/her) ; Elizabeth M. Chavez, MS, CGC (she/her); Alaina Heinen, MS, CGC (she/her)
As our community reacts to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, many are seeking next steps to act and advocate for our patients to be able to access the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare. Below, are some suggestions to channel your emotion into action.
1) CONSULT AND SHARE RESOURCES: NSGC and several groups within the association have been working to support members. The July NSGC Advocate newsletter outlined several resources that are available, including:
• Revised NSGC Access to Reproductive Healthcare Position Statement
• ACMG, ASHG, and NSGC Joint Statement Re: Supreme Court Decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
• Reproductive Freedom, Access, and Justice Task Force Resources
• Prenatal SIG Reproductive Justice Toolkit
• The Impact of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Genetic Counselor Practice Webinar
2) GET INVOLVED: If you are interested in working more directly with advocacy efforts to support access to reproductive services, join an organization that highlights these goals. Many of these organizations are well-established, familiar with the reproductive justice space, well-versed on abortion legislation in various states, and support individuals that may experience greater impact due to social inequities related to their personal identities. Joining forces with experts to help amplify the cause will likely have the greatest impact. Additionally, many national organizations have local branches or affiliates where you can connect directly with your community. Some organizations include:
• Genuine Collective
• National Network of Abortion Funds
• Center for Reproductive Rights
• NARAL Pro-Choice America
• URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
• National Abortion Federation
• Abortion Care Network
• Abortion Access Front
3) DONATE FUNDS: Consider establishing monthly donations to any of the organizations listed under Suggestion 2 (above); even $5/month can make an impact. While one-time donations are also helpful, establishing scheduled donations can help ensure that the important work of these organizations continues to be funded and supported over time. Other organizations to consider include:
• Guttmacher Institute
• American Civil Liberties
• National Women’s Law Center
4) VOICE YOUR STANCE: Let your elected officials know your thoughts and share the actions you want them to take. If your congressional representative is already acting in support of reproductive justice, let them know you appreciate and support their efforts!
• Find your congressional representatives here: https://congress.gov/members/find-your-member
5) CONSIDER YOUR LANGUAGE: When posting on social media, consider your focus and whose views or opinions might be excluded or reduced. Exclusive language is not only harmful to those we disregard, it also creates space between us and those who could be our allies. Below are some questions to ask yourself as you advocate for reproductive healthcare:
• Am I using ableist language?
• Am I excluding people who can get pregnant based on their gender identity or assigned sex at birth?
• Am I using arguments that reinforce a stereotype presuming people who have abortions are inferior parents?
• Does my language to describe consanguineous relationships shame those who are in them?
• Do I reinforce an ‘abortion hierarchy’ in my story-telling or activism?
This list is not comprehensive but can be a starting point to channel very real emotions into productive and thoughtful change. We hope this list encourages our colleagues to continue advocating for every person’s right to access reproductive healthcare.
Taylor Berninger, MS, MA, MEd, CGC (she/her) is a San Diego-based Associate Director of the Augustana-Sanford Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. She is also the Curriculum Specialist for the UCSD Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion, Center for Empathy and Technology, helping to develop education for medical students. (Twitter: @TayJaneGC)
Elizabeth M. Chavez, MS, CGC (she/her) graduated from the University of Arizona Genetic Counseling Program in May 2021. She works as the only clinical prenatal genetic counselor in Southern Arizona.
Alaina Heinen, MS, CGC (she/her) is a clinical genomics analyst at Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine in San Diego. She volunteers on the SCGC marketing committee, as a co-editor for the GC Publications column for Perspectives, and as a mentor for current graduate students.