Before I founded Firefly back in 2007, I worked at Planned Parenthood Federation of American for over 9 years. They were exasperating, exuberant, often joyful, and many times terrifying years. I started at the tail end of the Clinton years and thought we had seen the worst of times when George W was “elected” by the Supreme Court in 2000. We rallied. We persevered. We weathered attacks on “partial-birth abortion” and the reinstatement of the global gag rule and so many other restrictions on what is generally a safe and standard medical procedure that is best left to the decision of the pregnant woman, her family, and her medical professionals.
While at Planned Parenthood, my colleagues and several like-minded organizations pulled together the March for Women’s Lives, where over 1.3 million folks gathered at the National Mall to rally and march in support of women’s reproductive rights and freedoms. It was one of the most powerful events in my life and a day I will never forget. We thought Roe was nearing its end under W, but it lived on. Some even began to think that if it lasted through a President such as W, it was secure. Many of us knew better.
Many of my personal and professional connections who know how important reproductive rights are to me personally have reached out in the last couple of weeks. Many have offered compassionate thoughts, decried the injustice of the several Supreme Court appointees by Trump, openly wept for the future, expressed outrage, and virtually or physically put an arm around me to help soften the pain we are experiencing at the thought of a Roe-less future. While many of us have believed and literally known it was coming, to see the headlines is still shocking.
Sadness doesn’t begin to touch the surface. Outrage seems futile and inadequate. Terror and anguish and a heavy sense of foreboding is settling in. I weep for my daughter, her friends, and the countless young women who have to grow up into adulthood or the young women just navigating their first serious relationships. My heart hurts for the middle-aged moms who don’t want any more children, or the women of any age who suffer the incomprehensible news of a much-planned baby that will not live to term or survive past childbirth. Countless other stories of women of ALL ages who are about to have a fundamental right stripped from them and their choices, and therefore their lives, unrightfully restricted and curtailed.
Fighting back is really the only choice. I refuse to let them win. I refuse to give up. I refuse to let women again be relegated to a life without full say over their own bodies. The anti-abortion movement has been singular in its purpose, and they are very close to achieving their ultimate victory. So, now, we too on the pro-choice side must have a similar mission and drive and focus. We must work at the local, state, and federal levels to finally put the abortion question to rest once and for all. We need to codify Roe. We did it in Colorado, and we can do it in many other states as well, maybe even federally. Let women gain full autonomy and bodily integrity without politicians or judges getting involved in private, personal medical decisions.
In the meantime, my friends, colleagues, and all like-minded folks and I will certainly mourn what seems like Roe’s pending demise. But we will get up the next day, face the harsh light of that new day in a post-Roe world, and we will support each other like we have always done. Keep up the bigger and longer fight, for there is no other choice! We will work for victories, small and large, to keep what rights we have, and claw back the rights we have lost.
Firefly Partners is dedicated now more than ever to do our part. Like many companies, we have decided to enact a policy that will pay for any staff member or their partner to travel out of state to obtain an abortion in the event that is no longer legal in their home state. That is the very least we can do. Our organization exists in Colorado and we will shelter, care for, and hold our staff with open arms when they need us the most.
We will continue to offer medical insurance that provides coverage for a full suite of reproductive health care. And we will continue to fight and advance the missions of many organizations that carry forward the myriad related issues to ensure full and comprehensive reproductive health care for all. We see you, we honor you, and we are with you in this work.