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Green and pink image with “fight for reproductive rights” statement in bold letters.
Lauren Malatesta

Lauren Malatesta

As the Vice President of Operations, I'm responsible for Detroit Labs' business operation and health.

Update: On Friday, June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, revoking the federal constitutional right to an abortion. 

It’s hard to put into words what we’ve been experiencing – feelings of sadness, anger, fear – coupled with uncertainty about how this decision will impact other settled case law, including cases that specifically protect queer and BIPOC Americans.

Our team member’s health, safety, and comfort is a top priority. Early May, Detroit Labs put into effect a new Health Equity Travel Reimbursement benefit. 

This benefit allows for reimbursement of travel expenses that may be incurred by team members accessing any reproductive, gender affirming, sex affirming, and abortion care that is unavailable for legislative reasons to them in their state of residence.

The logistics of this benefit are daunting, and we don’t enter lightly into this commitment. Private, for-profit companies like ours are not designed to provide healthcare services. Our initial discussions on offering this benefit included logistical concerns around privacy, ways to respond to law enforcement, eligibility, and the position we are placing our team members in, regardless of our good intent. Our attempt to make this situation better does not in any way make it right. But our organization will do what it can to serve our team members. Public health is business health, and body autonomy is a fundamental right. As long as access to healthcare is tied to employment in this country, we urge companies of all sizes to follow suit. 

As of today, abortion is still legal in our home state of Michigan. Learn about some different ways you can get involved and make a difference with the resources offered in the blog post below, originally published in May 2022.

Originally published on May 13, 2022.

In early May 2022, a leaked US Supreme Court majority opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization confirmed what many reproductive rights advocates have been telling us for decades — medical and privacy freedoms, including the right to abortion, that had previously been protected under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey are set to soon be eliminated at the federal level.

This ruling will have devastating consequences across the United States. As a woman, as someone who is passionate about reproductive freedom, as a human who is striving to understand intersections of oppression, and as a leader in an organization that is committed to doing our part to protect the health and well-being of our employees, I am outraged, but unsurprised.

After the news of the leak had broken, our team grieved together, sharing fears and holding each other up in support. 

Detroit Labs is vehemently opposed to the degradation of reproductive rights, and the attack on LGBTQIA+ rights that is sure to follow. Our Co-Founder, Nathan Hughes, wrote the following to our team members this week:

Detroit Labs is committed to doing our part to protect the health and well-being of our employees, while supporting to the extent possible an individual’s right to make personal health decisions without interference from an employer. As we’ve learned during the pandemic and resulting public health crises, public health issues are business issues.

The recent leak of a Supreme Court draft signals the possibility of different levels of rights to reproductive health care, including abortion, based on residence. Access to reproductive health care has been a critical factor to the workplace gains and contributions women have made over the past 50 years [1]. Further restricting or criminalizing access will jeopardize that progress and disproportionately affect low-income [2], women of color [3], and LGBTQ+ individuals [4], putting those communities at even more risk.

Our position is in line with our values towards supporting our team members at all stages of their lives, and our intent is to help team members access the health care, including abortion, they need. It is also in line with majority public opinion in the United States, which shows that 59 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases [5].

Effective immediately, Detroit Labs has instituted a new Health Equity Travel Reimbursement benefit. This benefit allows for reimbursement of travel expenses that may be incurred by team members accessing any reproductive, gender affirming, sex affirming, and abortion care that is unavailable for legislative reasons to them in their state of residence.

We’ve pledged support to two independent abortion funds, Reclaim, our local Southeast Michigan fund, and Indigenous Women Rising, an abortion fund that helps Indigenous women across the US and Canada.

We strongly urge other companies of all sizes to follow suit.

If you are also passionate about protecting access to reproductive healthcare (including postpartum care, fertility treatments, miscarriage management, access to contraceptives, and abortion access), you can get involved to make a difference. 

Learn More

Follow larger voices like the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights, but it’s important to center Black, Brown and Indigenous activists in your learning. They have been doing this work for many years, and understand how to organize community-focused collective actions and networks that lead to real liberation, rather than performative responses that may validate rage in the moment, but ultimately don’t lead to impactful change to systemic oppressions.

Framing this as a “women’s issue” is harmful, as it reinforces systems of harm in medical care for trans men and non-binary people. Seek out queer and, specifically, trans activists to learn from. People of all genders need abortions, and learning to use language that is affirming and inclusive of everyone helps ensure that those who are already part of vulnerable populations are included in our fight for safe and accessible reproductive care.

SisterSong and Black RJ are organizations that do incredible work to amplify the voices of Black and Indigenous people to achieve reproductive justice outcomes. Feminist Health Center is a Black-led center that provides gender affirming care as well as abortion information and services. Women With a Vision does reproductive advocacy work, but also focuses on queer liberation and sex work decriminalization. If you prefer to receive information in podcast format, I highly recommend the Black Feminist Rants.

Destigmatization of abortion is a key element to bringing access to everyone. We can’t demand access to something we’re embarrassed to talk about. Shout Your Abortion is doing excellent work to share abortion stories, and the wide range of feelings that surround abortion. Abortion Access Front is a collective of artists, producers, and comedians who work to destigmatize abortion through art and action.

Study how other countries have successfully led organized movements to affirm reproductive care at the national level. 

Work to Protect Reproductive Healthcare at the State Level

In the state of Michigan, where Detroit Labs is headquartered, Reproductive Freedom for All has started a ballot campaign to help qualify an amendment to the state constitution for the November 2022 ballot. The amendment ensures that important medical decisions regarding reproductive healthcare stays between a doctor and patient, and not the government. Click here to find out how to sign the petition, or to volunteer to canvas for this important movement. 

Promote the Vote has also started an important ballot campaign in Michigan to help make elections more accessible to residents through early voting, minimum requirements for numbers of ballot drop boxes per voter, removing overly cumbersome ID restrictions, established rules for who can conduct post-election audits, and more. Easy access to secure voting has a huge impact on who wins the seats and, ultimately, who makes our laws. 

Contact Your Elected Officials

In addition to your state and federal level representatives, know who your county prosecutor is and what they stand for. Contact them to demand that they follow the lead of Washtenaw County, Michigan prosecutor Eli Savit, and Wayne County, Michigan prosecutor Kym Worthy, who have pledged never to prosecute any case brought before them for a person who receives or performs an abortion.

Donate to Independent Abortion Funds

Abortion Funds are grassroots organizations that connect local communities with the compassionate abortion care they need. The funds we mentioned above that I also personally support are Reclaim, our local Southeast Michigan fund, and Indigenous Women Rising, an abortion fund that helps all indigenous women across the US and Canada. I donate to Planned Parenthood as well, but local funds often have the most direct access to communities in need and are often underfunded and under-resourced. 

Have a Backup Plan

If you’re worried about safe access to abortion in the future and want to do something now to safeguard your own family planning, learn about Plan C, which shares information about the medicines that facilitate Self Managed Abortion (SMA). SMA is a safe and effective way to manage abortion at home. You do not need to be pregnant to be prescribed abortion pills, and they will last up to 2 years if stored properly in your medicine cabinet. 

Support Age-Appropriate and Shame Free Sex Education

Give your kids access to age-appropriate, shame free, and truthful sex education. Talk to them about safety and consent, the real names of body parts, and don’t let them grow up in the same shame-filled way most of us grew up. Sex Positive Families is a wonderful resource for both parents and kids of various ages, with a big library of tools covering multiple subjects available right from their website.

Understand Threats to Data Privacy, and How to Circumvent Them

In states where accessing abortion is criminalized, individuals and organizations may be compelled by the state to share digital information that incriminates those seeking reproductive healthcare. States like Texas and Idaho have bounty hunter laws give financial incentives to citizens helping to enforce abortion bans, which makes it especially alarming that data brokers are selling packages that focus on people who have visited reproductive health clinics for as low as $160. We live in a digital world where Googling and texting are now second nature for most of us, and that means it is more imperative than ever to have a basic understanding of cyber security and digital hygiene.

The Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) is hosting a Digital Security and Reproductive Justice workshop on May 17, 2022.

The Digital Defense Fund Abortion Privacy Guide has abortion specific information related to tech companies storing your location information, browsing history, texts, and other digital concerns. Buzzfeed recently shared an article that breaks everything down quite easily. 

Take to the Streets for Abortion Rights

May 14, 2022 is a nationwide “Bans Off Our Bodies” day of action, and there are marches planned nationwide. If you choose to be involved in any demonstrations, either as an organizer or as a protestor, please stay safe and know your rights