Abortion advocates want the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade to prompt Coloradans to act, to know there are many ways to help in the fight for women’s reproductive rights, but some options could use more harm than good.
Staffers from Cobalt, a Colorado-based nonprofit focused on bridging access to reproductive health care, discussed the best — and potentially harmful — ways people can get involved in the fight for safe access to abortions living in Colorado after the Remain Legal Legislature enshrined the right to abortion into state law.
When the Supreme Court on Friday Roe v. Wade repealed trigger laws in 13 states – Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming. Criminalize abortion in these states now or in the near future.
Colorado is surrounded by states that restrict or ban abortion, making it a popular destination for people seeking the procedure legally.
Following such restrictions, social media posts have surfaced with people using the word “camping” as a euphemism for abortion and welcoming “campers” to Colorado. Posts use phrases like, “I live in Colorado, where camping is legal. If anyone wants to camp here I have space and can take care of you.”
National and local resources for abortion seekers or those interested in advocating for reproductive rights:
— Find a verified abortion provider at abortionfinder.org
— For localized information for abortion seekers, visit ineedana.com
— To donate to Colorado-specific abortion funds and access more information, visit cobaltadvocates.org
“It is not safe to post these posts online,” said Jaki Lawrence, Cobalt’s strategic communications director.
In addition to further stigmatizing the word “abortion” by refusing to name the medical procedure, Lawrence said people who use such euphemisms are putting themselves and people who want abortions at risk by giving their Blow up intentions in a public forum.
It’s not yet clear how other states plan to legally enforce their restrictions, supporters said. Others are concerned about laws in Texas and Oklahoma that allow individual citizens to sue anyone who “supports or encourages” abortion.
“Well intentioned, you have now expressed your willingness to support and support abortion, and yourself and those you are associated with – your family, your friends, those you wish to help – targeted,” Lawrence said. “This is why abortion funds are so important. We’ve been doing this work for a long, long time. Don’t turn to a random stranger for help with an abortion. There is an abortion fund for that. There’s a reason some of this information is silent. It is safer.”
In addition to avoiding “camping” language, Lawrence said it’s best to avoid narratives about starting an “underground” for abortion treatment.
“There is nothing underground about providing abortion care,” Lawrence said. “The Underground Railroad was created specifically for the purpose of freeing black people from slavery, so we shouldn’t use that term for something that is definitely not underground and was intended for black freeing.”
Instead, Cobalt President Karen Middleton said donations to local or state abortion funds give money to the people best equipped to deal with the situation, and have been doing so for years.
“As someone who has had many requests for volunteers, they can clog our phone lines and we try to support clients both financially and with travel assistance, so we’re really directing that energy into sustaining contributions to this work so we can continue to do so Being able to do is the way to go,” said Amanda Carlson, director of Cobalt’s abortion fund.
The number of people calling or emailing Cobalt to get money or help with an abortion has tripled since Friday’s decision, Carlson said.
In 2018, Cobalt’s abortion fund served about 750 people, Carlson said. In 2019 and 2020, the fund served around 1,110 clients per year. Now, Carlson said the number of customers is skyrocketing so much that the people who would be counting those numbers are too busy taking calls.
Before Texas had one of the country’s toughest abortion restrictions last fall, Carlson said Cobalt’s hands-on abortion-seeker support funds would be used here and there for a grocery delivery for someone who traveled to Colorado to have an abortion. According to Carlson, Cobalt has spent $43,000 on hands-on assistance — flights, hotels, childcare costs, gas reimbursements, meals — since he was adopted, with $16,000 of that in recent months.
Laura Chapin, communications consultant for Cobalt, said another way to help is for people to share their own abortion stories with friends and family, or to share why the issue is important to you.
“Sharing this common experience is just so important and absolutely has an impact on politics,” Chapin said. “When people understand that this is health care and that they know people who have had one and literally every person’s situation is different, that’s really the conviction time that we’re in right now.”