Twelve years ago, one of us met with a small group of women of color to envision lifting the Hyde Amendment and doing so in a way that would transform our movement. This federal policy, which prevents Medicaid insurance from covering the costs of abortion care, had been spreading its ugly tentacles for decades and disproportionately harming people of color and low-income people. Since that fateful meeting, a campaign launched that has changed the game in terms of how we imagine the future of abortion care.
From day one, our work centered the voices, experiences, and expertise of women and people of color, especially those who are most impacted by abortion coverage bans and inaccessible reproductive health care. This approach has been central to how we tackle both the challenges to abortion access and the potential solutions. Understanding how someone’s race, economic status, immigration status, gender identity, and age can multiply barriers to abortion is not only necessary, but also the key to effectively combatting anti-abortion policies and building power in BIPOC communities.
Embracing intersectionality in our work has taught us how to best advocate for ourselves and our communities; so too has embracing fresh ideas and welcoming new voices and leadership to the table. After more than 10 years of leading All* Above All—as we pass the torch to a new era of justice warriors—we’re reflecting on what has enabled us to make change against the odds.
While we’ve been uncompromising about our vision for change, we’ve also been pragmatic and have embraced a willingness to evolve our ideas, strategies, and approaches. Building power for and by BIPOC communities has driven our commitment to openness, collaboration, and welcoming different perspectives, which in turn earned the trust of our partners and resulted in stronger coalitions. We built power, devised influential strategies, and created groundbreaking campaigns by investing in a networked approach. Partnering in intentional ways with economic justice and immigrant justice organizations helped us align our shared visions, goals, and values with those who, like us, are in it for the long haul and committed to lasting change.
All* Above All’s strategies have resulted in some major wins, most notably that our movement—and lawmakers—are aware of the harm that comes from denying insurance coverage and have committed to ending insidious policies like the Hyde Amendment after decades of letting them stand unopposed. A few years ago, coalition partners and politicians alike viewed Hyde as a third-rail issue—untouchable, unfixable, and even politically dangerous. We proved that with perseverance, effective strategies, and women of color at the forefront, we could make progress to expand abortion coverage. Today, there is strong public support for ending Hyde, and in 2021, President Joe Biden released the first presidential budget in decades without the amendment.
We’ve also seen wins at the state and local levels, with cities allocating budgets to fund abortions and states repealing Medicaid coverage bans and ensuring immigrants’ access to abortion care. And equally as significant are some of the cultural wins—every major Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 opposing Hyde, increased media coverage of abortion, and greater understanding and empathy among the public.
For decades, reproductive justice advocates have known that legality alone is not and wasn’t ever enough—the harms of the Hyde Amendment and its impact on people working to make ends meet are just one example of that. Given the threats we now face from the Supreme Court and hostile states, there has never been a more important moment for a bold vision. So this past year, All* Above All made the decision to apply our innovative strategies to more issues, expanding our mission and scope as a catalyst for abortion justice.
To that end, alongside more than 130 partners nationwide, we recently released our Action Plan for Abortion Justice, a visionary platform that addresses the barriers to abortion access for those forced to navigate the harshest restrictions. We hold close our vision of creating a world where abortion care is affordable, available, and supported for everyone who needs it.
Since our inception, All* Above All has proven that we must be courageous, resolute, and committed to challenging the status quo if we want to achieve abortion justice. Now more than ever, we need know that bold, powerful ideas and action are needed and will continue to guide our work ahead of and beyond the most consequential Supreme Court case on abortion rights in our lifetime.
We cannot overemphasize the power of perseverance, sheer grit, and a collective vision that centers BIPOC communities in the work and leadership. We take great pride that so many of our local, state, and national partners and colleagues directly reflect the people most impacted and those with whom we are building power. We are endlessly inspired by the emerging generation of reproductive, immigrant, racial, and economic justice leaders who are more dynamic, diverse, and determined than we could have dreamed.
Our movement is stronger than it was when we met in that room 12 years ago. While we face much uncertainty and hardship right now, we have no doubt that we can make progress, that we can thrive, and, ultimately, that we can transform our nation. We’ve never waited for permission to challenge power and enact change. From what we can see, the next generation of leaders won’t either. That’s what we need—because abortion justice can’t wait.
Destiny Lopez and Silvia Henriquez, are the former co-presidents of All* Above All.