How to Handle the Emotional Aftermath of Roe Being Overturned

Fitness

We’ve known this was coming since early May, if not earlier. But it was still gut-wrenching to actually get the news on June 24 that the Supreme Court was officially overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that protected the constitutional right to abortion. According to the most recent Gallup poll, 85 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in some or all circumstances — which makes the blatant disregard of public will all the more infuriating and, frankly, terrifying.

“It’s really clear that this court has failed,” Angela Cobián, director of coalition advocacy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America says. “Specifically, it’s failed this country and delivered a victory to politicians who have been pushing to control our bodies and our decisions.”

To make matters even worse, in his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas seemed to indicate that other rights founded on the “implied” right to privacy (which was partially established by Roe v. Wade) should also be reconsidered, including the right to same-sex marriage and contraception. “If folks aren’t particularly worried about this decision, know that this is just the first,” Lupe M. Rodríguez, executive director at the National Latina Institute For Reproductive Justice (also called the Latina Institute), says. “This is a very, very dire moment in this country.”

This ruling is proof positive that our basic rights aren’t guaranteed and that fighting for them is more important than ever. But the experts we spoke to — all people active in the fight for reproductive justice — agree that it’s also essential to carve out space to take care of ourselves, considering the road forward will be long and difficult. We asked them about how to best deal with the anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, and helplessness so many of us are feeling right now in order to avoid burnout later on and better enable us to fight for our rights.

Protest, Volunteer, and Vote

Actually channeling your anger into action can be one way to cope with the emotions that set in after the ruling. Safely attending protests and rallies, in particular, is a way to both make a difference and express your outrage while connecting with others who feel the same way. Rodríguez describes it as cathartic. “Going to local rallies and yelling is something that I’ll be engaging in and is a part of letting out these frustrations,” she tells POPSUGAR. Check local news sources to find the closest protest to you, or find a Planned Parenthood-organized rally on BansOff.org.

If you can’t attend a rally, you can also volunteer at or donate to an abortion fund, which helps people access abortions (often by aiding with the cost of care or travel). Also important: voting and reaching out to your representatives. Yes, many of us are feeling disillusioned with the government right now, but with abortion now in the hands of state governments, it’s crucial to contact your local and state officials and push them to fight for this fundamental right. If these actions feel more frustrating than hopeful at the moment, consider leaning on your community. Ask friends or loved ones to accompany you to your voting center, or invite them over to look up, call, and write to your representatives together. Connecting with your like-minded loved ones is key right now.

Follow and Share Trustworthy Resources — But Know When to Step Away

While sharing or retweeting articles and posts that resonate with you emotionally can be tempting (and provide a two-second hit of dopamine), it’s crucial to be thoughtful about your information consumption and sharing habits. For one, while passing along information and calling for action and support can feel good at a time like this — like you’re doing something when so much is out of your control — you also run the risk of getting too sucked into the news cycle. (We’re talking about doomscrolling, which can be legitimately harmful to your well-being.) A good place to start is limiting the time you spend online, trying to balance your information dives with lighter reading or nourishing offline activities, and making sure to regularly check in with yourself.

When you do choose to be online, focus on seeking out information from reputable resources. “It’s important to educate yourself,” Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign, says. “Understand what is it that this decision actually did. Where are abortions illegal? Where are they legal? What does it look like if they’re legal? Because that can bring a little bit of reassurance as well.”

The same goes for sharing. In times like this, misleading information and even speciously do-gooding trends can spread quickly, and you don’t want to perpetuate them. (Case in point: the “auntie network” posts flooding social media this week.) Aim to share abortion news only from vetted, trustworthy news sources or organizations like Planned Parenthood, the Latina Institute, Guttmacher, and other abortion-advocacy groups. Cobián also recommends sharing resources like AbortionFinder.org and INeedAnA.com, both of which can help people find their nearest abortion provider when they need care. “We can’t underestimate the power of amplifying resources in an era of so much disinformation,” she says.

Seek Out Additional Support

Cobián suggests leaning on friends, family, or trusted loved ones for support during this overwhelming time, and both Cobián and Rodríguez also recommend reaching out to mental health professionals to help you manage your emotions and share coping techniques. After the ruling was released, “I had to talk myself through deep breaths,” Cobián says. We may have known it was coming, but living through the reality of it is a different experience altogether. It’s normal to need additional help working through all the emotions you may be feeling.

Carve Out Time For Rest

Rest is also key, so remind yourself that it’s OK to take a break — whatever that means for you — if your energy is low or your mental or emotional health is suffering. “We’re in this for the long haul,” Rodríguez says. “We need to all be able to sustain this work for a long time, and so we’re going to rest and go at this in a sustainable way.”

While it can be hard to step away when you know that there are people out there who are quite literally fighting for their lives as a direct result of this ruling, it can be crucial. “When people take a moment to care for themselves, they’re not doing a disservice to anybody else,” Warbelow stresses. “It’s OK to have that down moment, to take that breath, to read your favorite book, go for a run, listen to your favorite songs. Those are things that can help people recharge and allow them to be a part of the fight longer rather than burning out.”

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