An Open Letter to All Abortion Activists From a Young Activist

To say that Millennials are less “committed” or “present” in the fight to ensure safe and legal access to abortion for all women in America is simply false. We are out there. Because we have to be.


To All Abortion Activists,

My name is Carly Manes, and I am a nineteen-year-old abortion-rights activist. In other words, I am a Millennial who is fully committed to ensuring safe and affordable abortion access for women all over the United States. Although I hold this title in the highest esteem, it is not the only title which I champion. When I am not planning my next visit to Lansing to express my opposition to anti-choice legislation (such as HB 5711), I am busy being a student, a progressive activist on all fronts, an athlete, an environmentalist, a vegetarian, and simply, a teenager.  

It is only because of the generation of abortion activists before me that I can claim each and every one of these roles, all at the same time. If it were not for the generations of women who tirelessly fought to establish the legal right to abortion, then I would not be able to hold any of these titles without significant sacrifice. This is the case for most Millennial abortion-rights activists. It is because of the courageous work by our predecessors that Millennials no longer have to focus all of their energy and efforts solely on establishing the legality of abortion.  

And, isn’t this what our mothers and grandmothers worked for all those years; so that one day women could take for granted the right to decide when and if to have children. Didn’t they want us to live in a country where women (and men) had access to and could afford contraception and, when needed, be assured that safe and affordable abortion would be available?

To say that Millennials are less “committed” or “present” in the fight to ensure safe and legal access to abortion for all women in America is simply false. We are out there.  

Because we have to be.

Unfortunately, the dreams of our mothers and grandmothers have yet to be realized. So we carry on. We continue to push back against the dehumanizing restrictions to abortion care, the threats to providers and their patients, and the efforts to stigmatize and  isolate women who get abortions.

Let me tell you about Millennials who are for abortion care. We are passionate, engaged, and entrenched in the fight for abortion access. And, we see that in order to uphold the right to abortion care we must ensure that it is available, affordable, and free of burdensome hurdles to care.

When anti-abortion activists descended on my campus, I knew we needed to stand up. We needed to do more. We could not allow the lies, misinformation, and intimidation to continue. I was not alone. Many young women and men on my campus felt the same way. We knew we could not just turn our heads and look the other way. We needed to do what our mothers and grandmothers did. We needed to take a stand. So, we started to hold group discussions about abortion focused on discussing personal experiences with abortion, the stigma associated with abortion, and the ways communities can address stigma and promote access to safe abortion care. 

We are not alone. Millennials all over the country are standing up for abortion access – they are activists, clinic escorts, hotline volunteers, directors of abortion funds, bloggers, and more. 

To move forward and finally one day realize the dream of so many decades, we must acknowledge that the world has changed. And, we are fighting on much different terrain now then our mothers and grandmothers. Millennials are fighting not only to ensure that the legality of abortion remains upheld, but that it’s an attainable reality for all women. That means that abortion care is affordable, that clinics are easy to get to, that we put a stop to needless hurdles such as waiting periods and notifications, and that we reduce stigma so no woman is made to feel alone or ashamed.

So, I just want to ensure you that we are here, and that we are fighting.  We will not stop until the dream is fully realized. So no woman ever again has to question her opportunities, value, or her future because of restrictions to reproductive choice. 

Carly Manes