As of Monday, Amy Coney Barrett is officially a justice of the Supreme Court, where she will serve for life. The rushed and contentious confirmation process has drawn scrutiny as well as fear from the American people — especially when it comes to our reproductive rights.
During her Senate confirmation hearings, Barrett continuously deflected when asked about Roe v. Wade, the case that established the legal right to an abortion, and Griswold v. Connecticut, the case that established the right to birth control. With her appointment, people are rightfully wondering what will happen next. Will Roe v. Wade be overturned? What about the Affordable Care Act? And perhaps the most common question making the rounds on Twitter and group chats: Should we all be hoarding Plan B?
According to experts, no. In fact, stockpiling Plan B could harm those who actually need access to it right now. "This could create a dangerous situational shortage, limiting or eliminating access for individuals who need emergency contraception now," explains Kristina Tocce, MD, MPH, Vice President and Medical Director of the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. It's also a "solution" deeply rooted in privilege: Running out to buy caseloads of Plan B isn't accessible or affordable to everyone, and especially not for the millions of people who have recently lost their jobs and medical coverage during the pandemic.
While it's easy to get lost in the sea of panicked texts and tweets from people urging you to get an intrauterine device (IUD) as quickly as possible, or even to leave the country, there are much more impactful things we can do to ensure that our reproductive rights remain intact and untouchable. Here's how to take action right now.
Don't stockpile resources like Plan B
We already know that stockpiling emergency contraception could lead to a dangerous shortage, but for argument's sake, here's one more reason not to: It expires after four years, and it's not the best longterm plan for your reproductive health. "Morning after contraception is great if you have an 'oops' event, but you don't want to have to rely on it regularly," Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a practicing OB/GYN and professor at the Yale School of Medicine, tells Refinery29. "If you need good contraception, you want to speak with your health care provider who can counsel you on the different options available, taking cost into account."
Just because an IUD can cover you for anywhere from three to 10 years, it doesn't mean it's the right choice for you. "Just because everyone is wearing Manolos, it doesn’t mean that those are going to fit your feet," Heather Bartos, MD, an OB/GYN based in Texas, previously told Refinery29. "Birth control is like that. It shouldn't just be about how long it will last or what your friends are doing. You don’t want to get a method that you don’t love or that doesn’t work for you. You might just end up taking it out in a year because of side effects."
So, before you make a decision on what kind of birth control you can get, do your research first. Then have a chat with your gynecologist to see if it's really the best option for you.
Donate if you can
Instead of filling your medicine cabinet to the brim with emergency contraceptives, you can donate to the Yellowhammer Fund, which is an organization that will mail Plan B to people who need it in Alabama and Mississippi (two states that permit pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception) and the Florida Panhandle, for free. The Yellowhammer Fund also offers financial support for services, travel needs, and other expenses that can hinder someone’s ability to access an abortion.
The National Network of Abortions fund website also has a list of abortion funds by state so you can support your local area as well as states that would be the most vulnerable if Roe v. Wade were to fall. The Center for Reproductive Rights has an interactive map that can help you determine which states need aid most.
Call your representatives
Or email. Or send letters. But let them know that you care, that women's rights are human rights, and that you're holding them accountable to make sure that reproductive healthcare is kept intact and accessible for those who need it.
Head to the polls
Hopefully, you've already voted early — but if you haven't, double check your voting plan and get yourself to the polls as soon as you can. Cast your vote for candidates who fight for racial justice, who agree that women's rights are human rights, who champion the LGBTQ+ community, and who treat climate change as the emergency it is. Chances are, if Roe v. Wade is challenged, it's highly likely that abortion access will fall on the states — meaning that it's imperative not just for the right president to win, but for the right people at the state and local levels to win as well.
It's important to remember that our fight doesn't end at the ballot box. While there's a conservative majority in the Supreme Court and the Senate, our reproductive rights are on the table, and we won't let anyone — including Amy Coney Barrett — take them away.