Protecting abortion access through community organizing.

For decades now, the ACLU has tirelessly worked to protect reproductive rights across the country.  

In the past few years, the battlefield has changed. The U.S. Supreme Court infamously failed to protect a right held fundamental for over 50 years by overturning Roe v. Wade, and gerrymandered legislatures jumped on board to pass archaic and inhumane laws to end abortion access.  

The ACLU’s work hasn’t stopped. We’ve stepped up our efforts in the courts and state legislatures. And we’ve opened a new front by leveraging our community organizing work in bigger and better ways to push for reproductive rights to be written into state law.  

This ACLU organizing effort was on full display in Ohio in November. Staff from national and 20 affiliates, including Minnesota, converged in Ohio to help get the word out about a ballot initiative that would enshrine the right to an abortion in the Ohio state Constitution.  

"It was the biggest deployment of staff to a specific campaign at a pivotal moment in ACLU history,” said ACLU-MN Community Engagement Director Julio Zelaya, who traveled to Ohio to join the effort.  “Together, ACLU staff from across the nation helped protect people’s right to control their own bodies and make decisions about their own reproductive health care.” 

Together, ACLU staff knocked on 10,931 doors in the days leading up to the November 7 election. The work paid off when 56.6% of voters elected to protect abortion in the Ohio Constitution.  

ACLU staff celebrated when the votes were tallied. But we know that the work isn't done there, and it's not done in the rest of the country, including Minnesota. 

"Other states, like Iowa next year, will take abortion rights up as a ballot initiative," said Zelaya. "Other places will look to legislation to further codify reproductive rights and non-discrimination. These big statewide initiatives will require a lot of canvassing, a lot of communication, a lot of dispelling of bad information like we had in Ohio. And that's going to require a lot of effort, resources and strategizing."  

Even in Minnesota, where abortion access is protected, we know that we are always one election or one court ruling away from having our rights challenged.  

To ensure Minnesotans can always access reproductive care, and to enshrine these rights into law in other states like Iowa, we must continue growing our community outreach.  

While it can seem like a big lift to help our fellow ACLU affiliates, we believe that no one in this country should lose fundamental rights. We take comfort in knowing that as we participate in this work, we gain skills to bring back to Minnesota and organize people here.  

And if Minnesota ever needs to protect abortion access, we know that we have the community organizing expertise - and support from across the nation, to do it.