Tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 22) is gearing up to be a big day: In addition to marking the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, there’s also a massive blizzard brewing that’s forecasted to dump feet of snow along much of the East Coast. This perfect storm has led to the creation of a clever—and potentially powerful—Twitter hashtag: #SnowvWade.
The name originated on Facebook, where user Brian French commented on a post about the snowstorm from Capital Weather Gang, writing, “So a potential blizzard on Jan. 22 with the possibility of coastal flooding? I hereby name this system Snow v. Wade.”
From there, people started using the hashtag #SnowvWade to tweet about preparing for the impending snowmageddon and national shovel shortages. A few anti-choice activists also began using the hashtag alongside their comments in support for DC’s annual March for Life, which will coincide with the arrival of the blizzard—and may ultimately have to be canceled as a result of the snowstorm.
Pro-choice activists quickly re-claimed the hashtag for their own, though, and on Wednesday evening, (Jan. 20), Rachel Perrone, the Communications Director of DC-based Reproductive Health Reality Check, tweeted a brilliant suggestion: “How ‘bout we pledge a few bucks to @DCAbortionFund for every inch we get.”
Others quickly started tweeting their support for the idea and suggested expanding the movement to encourage people everywhere to pledge to donate $2 or $10 or $15 per inch of snow to their own local abortion fund. Naturally, abortion fund organizations across the country soon joined in to welcome the sudden flurry of #SnowvWade donation pledges.
Some hashtag users also pointed out that the storm could potentially bar access to abortion clinics in a large number of states, creating extra demand for the services provided by abortion funds and urging others to join in for the spontaneous pledge drive.
When the Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973, they determined that the right to privacy extends to a person’s right to make their own medical decisions when it comes to abortion, and that the ability to choose whether or not to have children—without interference from strangers—is a constitutional right.
But despite the fact that Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, politicians and anti-choice activists have worked to dramatically erode abortion rights at both the state and federal level over the last 43 years.
In 2007, the Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on certain types of abortions, making abortion care access more difficult for many women, and just last year—on the anniversary of Roe V. Wade—the House passed anti-abortion legislation that would have restricted federal funding for abortion care. (A year later, it still hasn’t passed in the senate.)
"Despite the fact that Roe V. Wade is still the law of the land, politicians and anti-choice activists have worked to dramatically erode abortion rights at both the state and federal level over the last 43 years."
Nearly 400 anti-abortion bills were introduced in the U.S. in 2015, and in many Southern states, it’s so difficult to get abortion care that the procedure is now practically, if not officially illegal. For example, thanks to the controversial HB2 in Texas (the law Wendy Davis famously filibustered), which requires abortion care clinics to follow strict, difficult-to-adhere-to regulations, only 18 of 40 clinics remained open in a state with nearly 27 million people as of June, leading to a dramatic rise in dangerous, DIY abortions in the state.
This whole debate may soon come to an end, though. In November, the Supreme Court agreed to rule on the validity of HB2 in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole. The ruling will effectively either uphold or completely undermine Roe v. Wade, since it will set a precedent for whether states may continue placing an “undue burden” on a person who wishes to exercise their constitutional right to choose to end a pregnancy. The case is expected to be argued in March, and huge numbers of abortion rights groups and activists have flooded the Supreme Court with briefs urging them to uphold the right to choose.
#SnowvWade is a great reminder that our rights are not irrevocable, and that if we want to hold onto them, we’ll have to stand up and fight. Or, in this particular case, stay in—preferably under a massive pile of blankets with a mug of hot cocoa—and fight.