What You Can Do

In the branch: 

Have a discussion within your board of directors or branch on the topic: what do we mean when we say we empower women?

Schedule programs on the topics described in the information posts. Encourage respectful discussion and emphasize facts. Invite speakers from local women-serving agencies and get their viewpoint on the impact of current abortion regulations on real people. Invite legal speakers and current legislators (not candidates). But do not invite representatives of groups that oppose our public policy. See Article III, Section 1 of the national AAUW Bylaws: “The policies and programs of AAUW shall be binding on all members of AAUW (“Members”) engaged in AAUW activities, and no Member shall use the name of AAUW to oppose such policies or programs.”

In the community: 

Consider forming alliances with other groups that are interested in promoting reproductive rights, especially if they emphasize education. Many of these groups, however, are able to endorse candidates, which AAUW cannot do. What AAUW can do Is to emphasize the facts. There are many myths concerning abortion, but according to experts, “myth busting” is seldom effective, especially when it is directed at true believers. What is more effective is bringing out accurate information, for example the connection between poverty and abortion.

Should we march for reproductive rights? I personally did this a number of years ago in Washington, as did a good representation of AAUW members including then board president Patricia Ho. Did it change hearts and minds? I doubt that. Marching, or standing still and holding signs, are good ways to encourage people who already agree with us, and it can show them that we are on their side. This can be valuable. But I think that we need to devote the “smarts” and the education of which we are so proud to coming up with ways to educate others. We cannot change the minds of those who are irrevocably committed, but there are many people who may not have considered all the aspects and implications involved in the loss of reproductive rights. Some of them are our fellow AAUW members. They need to hear accurate information and participate in civil discussion.

Author: Pat DeWitt

I am a retired institutional researcher, a musician and musicologist, and support AAUW as well as several environmental causes.

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