There is no inclusive democracy without abortion justice

By Amy Herzfeld-Copple, Deputy Director of Programs & Strategic Initiatives

“Our big bold BRAVE vision is a world where all people in all communities thrive … without fear, discrimination, violence or shame.”

That’s part of the opening line in the Foreword of Western States Center’s We Are BRAVE Toolkit: A Manual for Organizations of Color to Champion Abortion Coverage & Reproductive Justice.

In the eight years since the We Are BRAVE Toolkit made its big, bold debut, staff leaders have changed, our logos and strategic plan are new, and our programs and tools have different names and constituencies as we seek to equip communities and organizations to respond effectively to threats to our democracy. But our commitment to reproductive and gender justice, inseparable from racial justice, has never wavered. The organizing conditions are just as stark — authoritarian movements, often rooted in Christian nationalism and bigotry, continue to seek to control our bodies, sexualities and families through policing, exclusion, and violence.

Published in 2014 as the flagship resource for our BRAVE (Building Reproductive Autonomy and Voices for Equity) program after years of leadership development and leading-edge political education and intersectional curriculum in our home region and beyond. For WSC, working on reproductive justice was a necessary, strategic response to the ways women of color and LGBTQ people of color have been consistently targeted by cruel policy campaigns for decades in the West.

The policy and organizing legacy of BRAVE runs deep, including contributing to the historic passage of the Oregon Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) in 2017, a national model for ensuring private health insurance plan coverage of abortions as well as public abortion care funding for undocumented immigrants. And we were proud to join the executive committee with state and national partners in 2018 to successfully defend RHEA at the ballot with the sound defeat (64% to 36%!) of Measure 106.

So when the SCOTUS majority opinion was leaked earlier this month foreshadowing a repeal of the longstanding Roe and Casey decisions, we didn’t hesitate to honor our BRAVE organizing legacy and channel our rage and grief (though not surprise) into facilitating a $25,000 organizational gift to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund. NWAAF, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds, is an abortion fund serving Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington that helps people pay for their abortion care by direct funds to clinics while also providing rides, flights and lodging. In 2021, 49% of callers to NWAAF’s hotline were in Idaho, one of the trigger states in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West should Roe fall. NWAAF also coordinates with clinics and abortion funds around the country to provide support to anyone who needs it, regardless of where they live. Last year, NWAAF provided funds to 1,112 people with an average of $693 each. We hope our contribution inspires our supporters and partners to consider gifts as well, and in the meantime, we’ll keep looking to reproductive justice movement leaders like some of the groups below for their innovative campaigns and deep analysis.

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Western States Center

Based in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain States, Western States Center works nationwide to strengthen inclusive democracy.