The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s annual conference is right around the corner, and I can’t wait to meet with you there to discuss reproductive rights.
On Friday, Oct. 28, and Saturday, Oct. 29, freethinkers will be gathering in San Antonio to listen to speakers, attend workshops and commune with secular individuals from around the country. As one of the speakers at the event, I am especially excited to connect with all of you about how we can defend abortion rights.
Discussing abortion and reproductive rights is necessary anywhere, but is perhaps most timely in the Lone Star State. After all, Texas was the first state to employ a near total abortion ban before the ultraconservative Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. And it was the first state to include abortion bounty-hunting provisions in its anti-abortion legislation. I remember participating in Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “Ask an Atheist” program in July of last year and mentioning the looming abortion ban in Texas. Nearly a year and a half later, I will have the opportunity to defend the human right to an abortion in that same state — alongside other freethinkers who value reproductive rights. Indeed, it feels a bit like a reckoning, and I’m glad to be part of it.
This type of workshop is needed more than ever. As of this writing, 13 states have banned abortion and many more are slated to ban or severely restrict its access. Since the high court repealed federal abortion protections, states have seen archaic anti-abortion laws come into effect. Just this past week, the University of Idaho issued a warning to university employees that they are not allowed to tell students, or anyone else, where to get an abortion or discuss how to prevent pregnancy. Violation of this could result in being fined or fired. Furthermore, the university will no longer provide Plan B to students and any discussion or distribution of condoms must be categorized as disease prevention — not as pregnancy prevention. This is due to a 1972 dormant law that makes “advertising” abortion or contraception a felony.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s home state of Wisconsin is no stranger to bad old laws becoming new again. An 1849 abortion criminalization law is still on the books. And without Roe v. Wade, abortion providers in Wisconsin fear violating this pre-Civil War law. As such, no clinical abortions have been performed in Wisconsin since 9 a.m. on June 24 of this year. And while entities such as the Dane County Board of Supervisors have affirmed that abortion is a human right, there is no guarantee that those seeking abortion or those assisting them will be protected in the future.
That’s why we need to speak to our communities about abortion and reproductive rights. I will be leading a workshop on that very topic at the annual FFRF conference. Please join me on Friday, Oct. 28, in a hands-on, participative session where we will discuss strategies on how we can stand up for reproductive rights as freethinkers. I will be discussing communication strategies, as well as connecting evidence-based research with our values as a secular community. We will have time to practice with fellow attendees, as well as reflect on why we are committed to upholding reproductive rights for all. I know that you’ll leave filled with ideas and confidence in your communication.
The time to act is now. I hope that you’ll join me in San Antonio to talk about how we can do just that. Learn more here (registration closes tonight, Oct. 10, at midnight).