Friday saw the overthrow of Roe V Wadegiving US state governments the right to restrict or ban abortion altogether.
The result is a huge loss of physical autonomy for women, transgender people and non-binary people (basically anyone with a uterus). For those living in banned states, it means it’s difficult to access abortion elsewhere or be forced to give birth in a country without universal health care, childcare, or science-based sex education.
Understandably, there has been a huge outcry with activists mobilizing. If you work in tech (or even just have an interest in tech), there are many ways you can do more without donating money – but if you here are some organizations to which you can donate.
Okay, you might be in an office full of guys who don’t plan on joining meetings, but there’s plenty you can do to help.
- Provide a free space for personal meetings.
- Host websites or servers for web campaigns.
- Provide free website support, including backend, CRMs, UX, copywriting, and social media support.
- Let activists use your copier, printer and mailroom.
- Provide training on digital privacy.
And maybe there are even more ways to get involved. Over the past decade, Code for Abortion and Abortion Access Hackathon (both defunct) have brought together social justice activists and developers.
It provided much-needed infrastructural and digital support and resulted in tools such as: Exposing fake clinicsand activist campaigns to leave reviews on Google and Foursquare to expose fake abortion clinics.
We need this kind of effort more than ever.
Think about what you stand for
Don’t underestimate the impact that corporate values can have in practice.
For example, outdoor clothing brand Patagonia provides training and bail for those peacefully protesting for reproductive justice, resources to make informed decisions at the ballot box, and free time to vote.
google supports remote workinggiving people living in states that restrict abortion the opportunity to relocate.
Maybe you pay staff to volunteer? You can suggest some local women’s organizations that your company could partner with. For example:
It’s not just about posting on social media, it’s about walking.
Become an ally for health
You can also become a more important ally for the health of women and transgender people in general:
- Provide period of leave†
- Resource company bathrooms with historical products.
- To organize blood floats at work for people to donate blood who are eligible and interested.
- Take mental health seriously and offer your employees access to free advice such as: Help better or OpenUp†
- Take paid parental leave.
Don’t confuse this as just an anti-abortion issue in the US
Some people in Europe would say the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade as ‘only in America’.
It is significant that the US is the world largest donor to global health† This has major implications for the aid received in other parts of the world — and the conditions attached to it.
For example the Mexico City Policy (MCP)Also known as the global gag rule, foreign NGOs that receive certain types of foreign aid from the US are not allowed to perform, refer, or advise on abortions as a method of family planning.
It was withdrawn by President Biden in 2021, but a new ruling could have major consequences for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
This may be the beginning of things to come
On page 119 of the pronounciation to Roe vs. Wade, Judge Clarence Thomas writes that the court must analyze several other legal precedents:
“In future cases, we must reconsider all substantive precedents of this court, including Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell.”
Let’s tease this:
- Griswold (1965): The right of access to contraception.
- Laurentius (2003): Decriminalizing gay sex.
- Obergefell (2015): The right to same-sex marriage.
Those are pretty serious human rights risks. So a solid commitment to equality, diversity and support for all staff is hugely important.
If you can’t stress, at least make room
I had dinner with an American friend on Friday night here in Berlin, and of course our conversation turned to the verdict.
She told me how she found out at work, and it led to her male European boss commenting
“Oh, you’re really upset. Fortunately, living here is no problem for you.”
While undoubtedly well-intentioned, his comment showed a lack of understanding that women worldwide are angry and mourning the loss of reproductive rights in the US, no matter where we live.
It’s about generations fighting: for access to contraception, sex education, and safe, timely abortions.
If you don’t know what to say, at least give the space to listen and respect that, for some this is so deeply personal that they don’t want to talk about it.
Lack of access to abortion not only affects the physical and mental health of women and transgender people, but also hinders access to education, work and income prospects. If you and your company care about human rights, it’s time to give your voice and your infrastructure.