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The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has called the new health secretary’s record on abortion rights “deeply concerning”.

Therese Coffey, appointed by new PM Liz Truss, has previously voted against extending access to abortion care.

Abortion charities have accused Ms Coffey of putting her personal beliefs “above expert clinical guidance”.

But Ms Coffey told the BBC abortion access already available in England will continue while she is in post.

Ms Coffey recently voted against making at-home abortion pills, introduced during the pandemic, permanently available in England and Wales.

It was a free vote in the Commons, meaning that MPs made a decision based on their own beliefs, rather than on party lines.

When asked about the vote, Ms Coffey said she was “a democrat and the vote was won in Parliament by people who wanted to make that permanent”.

“There are many other people who are exceptionally pro-abortion who did not want that to happen,” she said.

“However Parliament voted, it’s happened, and the regulations are already in place.”

She said as health secretary, she would focus on “what the vast majority of people use the NHS” for – ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists.

In June, when asked about her views on access to abortion in an interview with Sky News, Ms Coffey said: “Abortion law isn’t going to change in this country.”

Ms Coffey, who is a practising Catholic, said she would “prefer that people didn’t have abortions but I am not going to condemn people that do”.

As a backbencher in 2010, Ms Coffey also introduced a motion in Parliament which called for “mental health assessments” for women seeking an abortion.

Her motion in 2010 said: “In its 14 March 2008 statement the Royal College of Psychiatrists advised that healthcare professionals who assess or refer women who are requesting an abortion should assess for mental disorder and for risk factors that may be associated with its subsequent development” and called on the government to “give its full backing to mental health assessments for women presenting for abortion”.

She voted against extending abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland, but wrote at the time this was because she supported devolution and did not believe the UK Parliament should be “exercising direct rule on this issue”.

Ms Coffey also defended former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt after he said he believed the abortion limit should be reduced to 12 weeks, tweeting that the “majority of European countries have [a] 12 week limit #abortion”.

Clare Murphy, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), said while politicians were entitled to their own views on abortion, what mattered was whether their “personal convictions stand in the way of women’s ability to act on their own”.

Ms Murphy told the BBC that by voting to revoke access to at-home abortion care, she was voting “against the advice of leading medical bodies including Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the BMA”.

“To have a health secretary who would place their personal beliefs above expert clinical guidance is deeply concerning.”

Ms Murphy said the UK should be “a beacon for women’s reproductive choice”, especially after the repeal of Roe v Wade, a legal precedent that safeguarded access to abortion in the US.

“Anti-abortion protest activity is escalating, with women and clinic staff facing intimidation while seeking to access and provide an NHS-funded service,” Ms Murphy said.

“Every week, women with complex medical conditions are forced to continue pregnancies against their will because of a lack of appointments within NHS hospital settings.

“We need a health secretary who wants to improve access to a medical procedure that one in three women will need in their lifetime, not impose further restrictions.”Media caption,

Rosie Duffield calls for the government to enshrine in law “a woman’s right to choose”.

When the new PM, Liz Truss, was foreign secretary, the UK government organised a multinational statement committing to the rights of women and girls as part of an intergovernmental conference it hosted in London in early July.

It was later amended to remove references to “sexual and reproductive health and rights” and “bodily autonomy”.

The joint statement was signed by 22 countries before it was amended. One country, Malta, where abortion is illegal, has signed since the amendment.

A question was tabled on 19 July 2022 to ask Ms Truss about the decision to remove reference to reproductive healthcare from the statement.

Foreign minister Vicky Ford responded on behalf of Ms Truss and said: “In our capacity as chair of the event, we amended the statement we made at the Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference to make the final statement more inclusive of all perspectives and views to allow for a constructive exchange of views on all issues.”

Labour MP Stella Creasy, who has campaigned to make abortion a human right in the UK, told the BBC: “There’s every reason to believe this new administration will lead to abortion access being reduced because the new prime minister herself removed a commitment to protecting this from her own international activity.

“It’s why we have to put the freedom of women in the UK to choose to have an abortion beyond interference just as the government has pledged to protect freedom of speech from interference too.”

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-62805268

ABORTION RIGHTS ACTIVISTS GATHER DURING A “RESTORE ROE” RALLY AT THE MICHIGAN STATE CAPITOL IN LANSING, ON SEPTEMBER 7, 2022. (PHOTO BY JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

“What a sad marker of the times,” the Michigan Supreme Court chief justice wrote.

Just five weeks after Kansas stunned the nation by voting in overwhelming numbers to preserve abortion rights in the state, voters in Michigan will also have a chance to decide the future of abortion.

On Thursday, the Michigan Supreme Court agreed to add an initiative to the ballot in November that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. Supporters of abortion rights had gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures in support of adding the initiative, especially after the overturning of Roe v. Wade earlier this summer turbocharged the national debate over abortion. 

The Michigan Supreme Court order came down just days after the Board of State Canvassers—which has two Republicans and two Democrats—had deadlocked on whether to certify the initiative, which meant it wouldn’t appear on the ballot. Opponents argued that the language of the initiative didn’t have enough visible spacing between words on the petitions shown to signers. 

In its order Thursday, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the Board has “a clear legal duty to certify the petition.”

“The meaning of the words has not changed by the alleged insufficient spacing between them,” the court wrote.

In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Bridget McCormack noted that more people had signed in support of the ballot initiative than ever before in Michigan’s history.

“The challengers have not produced a single signer who claims to have been confused by the limited-spacing sections in the full text portion of the proposal. Yet two members of the Board of State Canvassers would prevent the people of Michigan from voting on the proposal because they believe that the decreased spacing makes the text no longer ‘[t]he full text,’” McCormack wrote. “They would disenfranchise millions of Michiganders not because they believe the many thousands of Michiganders who signed the proposal were confused by it, but because they think they have identified a technicality that allows them to do so, a game of gotcha gone very bad.”

“What a sad marker of the times,” McCormack added.

Michigan is one of several states where abortion will, either literally or effectively, be on the ballot. California and Vermont are also set to vote on whether to cement abortion rights into their state constitution, while Kentucky will vote on whether to clarify that its state constitution does not protect abortion. In numerous other states, Democrats need to hold onto or gain seats in order to prevent Republicans from limiting access to abortion.

Regardless of the outcome of the elections, abortion currently remains protected in Michigan. On Wednesday, a judge struck down a state 1931 law that banned most abortions by ruling that it violated the state constitution’s principles.

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/jgpj9x/michigan-ballot-abortion-initiative-supreme-court

Some indie clinics in states that have banned or are expected to ban abortion say they won’t be able to stay open without help. 

“I don’t need to be called a hero. I need help … abortion providers can’t do it all by ourselves.”

Less than three months into this post-Roe world, each week brings news of more abortion clinics shutting down and moving away from the states that have banned or are expected to ban abortion. Most recently, all three of Louisiana’s remaining clinics announced plans to move out of the state; in Ohio, Women’s Med Center near Dayton is expected to end abortion care by Thursday and is expected to close by October.

But some independent clinics in states that have banned or are expected to ban abortion are fighting to stay open in an attempt to ensure that the end of legal abortion doesn’t mean the end of access to contraception, obstetric and gynecological care, and miscarriage management, especially in rural and other underserved areas.

However, these clinics say they’re in desperate need of more support. Without help, they won’t be able to keep their doors open.

‘People have tuned out’ in the South

West Alabama Women’s Center relaunched as a nonprofit reproductive health center in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in late June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned the constitutional right to abortion. Previously, 95 percent of its patients were terminating pregnancies; now, its mission is to provide comprehensive contraceptive access as well as prenatal care, treatment for pregnancy complications, and other general health care.

In the week following the Court’s decision, West Alabama Women’s Center raised approximately $180,000, according to Robin Marty, the director of operations. The bulk of that money went toward helping over 100 patients who had already completed their first of two abortion appointments to travel out of state to continue their care, Marty said; $40,000 went toward paying the clinic’s malpractice insurance for next year, and much of the rest was invested in emergency contraception, which West Alabama Women’s Center offers on a pay-what-you-can basis. But since the initial fundraising windfall, contributions have slowed to a trickle.

“We are almost two months post-Dobbs, and it appears that people have already decided that the South isn’t worth it,” Marty said in mid-August. “Not worth the effort, the money—any of it.”

Marty acknowledged that the volatile legal environment in many Southern states, which has led clinics in some states to open and close again several times, has likely contributed to the fundraising slowdown.

“There are so many crises that people have tuned out,” Marty said. She said she understands why many clinics are choosing to relocate but pointed out that even with more clinics in legal states, “there will never be enough money to help everyone travel out of state.” People living in Alabama and other states that ban abortion need contraception, and they need medical providers who won’t turn them away if they need follow-up care for pregnancy complications or after self-managing an abortion.

“Everybody says all of that is so important, but nobody wants to do anything to support it,” Marty said.

A key obstacle for West Alabama Women’s Center at this point is that the clinic can’t yet accept Medicaid—also a necessary step toward getting credentialed with private insurers—despite working toward getting state approval for the last seven months. Without that source of revenue, the clinic will be forced to close.

“We’re doing what we can to survive,” said Marty, who added that the clinic is making every effort to continue paying its staff, which mostly consists of Black women who are heads of their households. “I think we can make it to the end of the year, but if we do, that will be every single cent we have.”

West Alabama Women’s Center was forced to lay off a few staff members right before Marty spoke to Rewire News Group.

“It was heartbreaking,” she said, beginning to cry.

Clinics need funding

Elsewhere, some clinics are facing similar circumstances even before abortion has been banned completely. At Preterm in Cleveland, Ohio, finance director Aimee Maple said the clinic is seeing about 50 percent to 60 percent of its usual volume of patients. On the one hand, this is impressive given the fact that Ohio has a six-week abortion ban in effect and a 24-hour mandatory delay.

Before Roe was overturned, Preterm performed abortions up until 21 weeks and six days. The fact that the clinic is still seeing as many patients as they are is a testament to how hard staff are working. Maple said they’ve adjusted their hours so patients can come in early one one day for their first appointment, and later the following day, so that the 24-hour period will have passed and they can complete the process in just two days. However, half the normal volume means less revenue for the clinic, and Preterm has been forced to lay off some staff.

While Preterm is still figuring out exactly what its services will look like in the (likely) event Ohio lawmakers ban abortion entirely, the clinic will remain open.

“We’ve been here nearly 50 years,” Maple said. “We have no plans of going anywhere. Our patients aren’t going to stop calling us. They still need us for lots of things.”

On the day of the Court’s decision, for example, Maple said the clinic fielded dozens of calls from people in the community who were just looking for information.

Asked what type of support Preterm most needs at the moment, Maple answered quickly: “Money.”

‘Abortion providers can’t do it all by ourselves’

In Arizona, abortion is technically still legal, but Dr. DeShawn Taylor has struggled to keep her practice, Desert Star Family Planning, which is one of a handful in the country owned by a Black doctor, afloat.

She was already understaffed because of her COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees, she said, and given the expectation that abortion would be banned in Arizona, many staff members left due to concerns about their job security. By the time the Supreme Court overturned Roe in June, staff had dwindled to Taylor, a receptionist, and a nurse.

After the decision, there was significant confusion in Arizona about whether the state’s pre-Roe ban could be enforced, and abortion providers were also concerned about a 2021 fetal “personhood” law that would make it a crime to perform abortions for a “genetic abnormality” and empower civilians to sue abortion providers for violating the law. Initially, most clinics in Arizona stopped providing abortion services. But Taylor said that after a federal judge blocked the “personhood” law on July 11, she felt comfortable resuming. However, her nurse did not.

With the help of her receptionist and volunteers, Taylor was able to resume providing medication abortions only and also ramped up other services, including general gynecologic care and gender-affirming care, as much as possible, but financially, that first month was a struggle.

The experience is also taking a deep emotional toll on Taylor, and on every other abortion provider I’ve spoken with recently.

“When I realized I had only provided five abortions in July, I cried,” she said. Though Taylor managed to increase the number of medication abortions she provided in August, she isn’t satisfied.

“My hands are being tied because I don’t have any help in the clinic,” Taylor said. “There’s all this righteous indignation, but where are the people who will come into the clinic and help us make sure we can give abortions while we can still do it?”

While abortion remains legal in Arizona for now, Taylor does expect that will change. And when it does, she wants to be there to continue caring for patients who may not get the help they need in an emergency room.

“It’s so important for independent clinics especially to remain, because we provide miscarriage management,” Taylor said. “In the nine years I’ve had my practice here, I have increasingly been managing miscarriages, and increasingly diagnosing and managing ectopic pregnancies that were missed. Thankfully, those patients wanted an abortion and ended up in my clinic.”

Increasingly, Taylor suspects that patients experiencing these pregnancy complications receive substandard care due not to ideology but to lack of training, a problem likely to grow worse in an increasingly restrictive environment.

“I don’t need to be called a hero. I need help,” she said. “There is this disconnect, where everybody wants abortion seekers to get their abortions. And I want that, too. But abortion providers can’t do it all by ourselves. I tried. It’s not sustainable. I’m a human being too. I feel that my humanity is being disregarded.”

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/2022/09/09/clinics-in-anti-abortion-states-struggle-to-stay-open/

Experts say there are still ways to get the medication mailed to you.

It’s only been a little over eight weeks since the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion-rights case Roe v. Wade, but people are already facing barriers to critical health care. Access to safe abortion has shifted dramatically in several parts of the country thanks to “trigger” bans that swiftly went into effect following the court’s June 24 ruling.

Banning or severely limiting abortion doesn’t actually reduce the number of people who have an abortion—it just forces them to seek out less safe options. In some states, the distance to the nearest abortion clinic is estimated to grow to hundreds of miles, per the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization devoted to sexual and reproductive rights. Wait times are only expected to become longer with fewer clinics serving more people seeking out-of-state care, which poses a big issue: When you need an abortion, timing is everything.

In this scenario, abortion pills can play an especially important role. The medication can be prescribed at a clinic or via telemedicine and taken anywhere, including at home. Until at least the 10th week of pregnancy, abortion pills are an extremely safe and effective abortion method.

But people who live in a state where abortion care is out of reach may search for their own solutions online, and some may seek out abortion pills sourced from outside the established medical system, such as pills obtained without a prescription and sent through the mail from international online pharmacies, according to Kirsten Moore, director of the Expanding Medication Abortion Access Project. People who desperately need this care may decide to “self-source medication any way they can,” she tells SELF.

If you want to receive abortion pills through the mail, the least risky option is to go through a health care provider who can write you a prescription—which is why access to telehealth services will become more crucial than ever in a post-Roe world. Here’s what you need to know about booking a virtual appointment right now.

First, a little background on how medication abortion works—and what it means to “self-manage” an abortion.

The abortion pill—also known as medication abortion—requires two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. First, you take a mifepristone pill to block your body’s production of progesterone, a hormone needed for pregnancy. Mifepristone also softens the cervix to help the uterus empty itself. Up to two days later, you’ll take misoprostol tablets. Misoprostol causes bleeding and cramps, which empty the uterus of the pregnancy. You may need a second dose of this medication if you’re 10 or 11 weeks pregnant or a larger dose if you’re taking it without mifepristone.

You can have a medication abortion up to 70 days (or 10 weeks) after the first day of your last menstrual period, although some doctors prescribe it through the 11th week of pregnancy. If you’re further along, you’ll need to have an abortion procedure at a clinic.

Abortion pills, whether you get them in person or via telemedicine, are incredibly safe and effective. Things get slightly complicated, though, when it comes to “self-managed” abortion; this means a person chooses to have a medication abortion without going through a health care provider.

growing body of research suggests self-managed abortion “may offer a safe and effective option for those who cannot access clinical care,” per one recent study of more than 2,700 people. But the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t recommend choosing this route; one big reason for that is that there’s no way to know if you’ll receive a safe, FDA-approved version of the pills if you go through an unverified provider. You may also face potential legal repercussions if you are reported to the authorities for having a self-managed abortion in a state where abortion has been restricted or banned. That said, it’s crucial to recognize how many people might find themselves facing this decision for a plethora of reasons beyond their control.

If you want to get abortion pills in the mail, it’s important to understand where telehealth services stand on a state-by-state level.

Many states already make getting abortion pills via telehealth difficult to impossible: At least 10 states require abortion providers to perform ultrasounds on all patients, meaning they are required to book an in-person appointment, and at least 19 states require a doctor to be present in the room when a person takes the pills, which essentially prohibits telehealth services as an option altogether, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Many other states, thankfully, will continue to offer medication abortion. Some people may be able to travel to these states to obtain abortion pills legally, including through telehealth—but you’ll likely need to have the virtual consultation in that state, pick up your pills or have them mailed to you in that state, and have your medication abortion in that state, depending on the provider and the area’s specific laws. (Planned ParenthoodThe Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Guttmacher Institute each offer free, interactive maps that provide detailed information on each state’s abortion laws.)

While certain states are exploring legal routes to limit or ban residents from traveling for abortions, how this might shake out or be enforced is up in the air. Currently, in states with abortion restrictions, most laws to date penalize abortion providers and not people who have abortions, Abigail R.A. Aiken, an associate professor specializing in abortion policies at the University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs, tells SELF.

However, Greer Donley, an assistant professor specializing in reproductive health care laws at the University Pittsburgh Law School, suspects emerging legislation might target people who get abortions, including those who use abortion pills, in states where it’s illegal, since there may not be a health care provider involved in many cases. There’s already an increase in legislation that would aim to penalize people who “aid and abet” abortions too.

“Although laws that ban performing abortions don’t authorize states to criminalize people, they can nevertheless increase the likelihood of criminalization, because restrictions and all-out bans on abortion foment stigma against people who have abortions,” Jill Adams, lawyer and executive director of reproductive justice group If/When/How, tells SELF. That gives potential rise to “more surveillance and suspicion of people who experience pregnancy loss, and also the emboldenment of law enforcement to target people whom they suspect to have acted to end a pregnancy.”

Moore suspects that some anti-abortion lawmakers will eventually try to enact laws that prohibit sending abortion pills through the mail. First-class packages mailed through the US Postal Service are protected by the Fourth Amendment and can only be opened with a search warrant if a postal inspector suspects the contents violate federal law—and abortion pills remain legal under federal law, at least for now.

People are accessing telehealth abortion services regardless of where they live.

Ultimately, accessing any type of abortion will come down to weighing individual risk as the legal landscape fluctuates state by state. “The biggest issue is going to be the fear these laws instill in people,” Elisa Wells, MPH, cofounder and codirector of Plan C, an advocacy group that researches how people are accessing abortion pills in the US, tells SELF.

If you live in a state without restrictions on medication abortion, you can get abortion pills in person from a health care provider who prescribes them. (You can find a list of providers near you at Plan C.) In those states, you can also get abortion pills mailed to you following a consultation with a health care provider through one of many US-based telehealth services, including CarafemHey JaneChoix, and Just the Pill. These providers are almost entirely asynchronous. For instance, with Hey Jane, you don’t have to schedule a phone call but, instead, fill out a medical form and consult with a practitioner using encrypted messaging. The medication usually arrives within three to four days in an unmarked envelope, but you should always confirm these details with your provider as timing may vary slightly with each service.

In states where abortion is banned or restricted, some have found possible work-arounds when it comes to telehealth. For example, certain people rent a “virtual mailbox” from a mail forwarding service (such as PostScan Mail) in a state where telehealth abortions are allowed. They then use this address on forms to get pills shipped to their homes without costly travel, Wells says. This way, you’re, at the very least still in touch with a health care provider. (Plan C offers a clear guide for this process.) “When we talk to lawyers, they say everyone appears to be complying with the regulations that pertain to them,” Wells says, adding that authorities may still find other ways to penalize people who use this strategy.

AidAccess is another telemedicine option that’s becoming popular, The New York Times reports. The Austria-based nonprofit, run by Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts, ships abortion pills to you no matter where you live in the US (In fact, research shows the organization received more than 57,000 requests from people in all 50 states between March 2018 and March 2020.) Depending on the state you live in, consultations are done with either a doctor based in the US or a doctor based in Europe. For people who live in states that require a European doctor, the medications are shipped from a pharmacy in India. These pills typically take two to three weeks to arrive, which may be a drawback, depending on how far along you are. Under the Trump Administration, the FDA sent Aid Access a warning letter to cease operations, but the organization refused and sued the federal agency to halt further legal action; it’s unclear whether state or federal prosecutors have plans to place another cease-operations request in the future. (Again, it’s important to research your state’s abortion laws before making any decision.)

Will telehealth abortion access be enough in a post-Roe world?

While preserving access to abortion pills via telehealth is incredibly important, these pills aren’t a panacea for abortion care in a post-Roe world. Some people prefer to come into a health center or prefer an abortion procedure, which is colloquially known as a surgical abortion, Melissa Grant, the chief operating officer at the telehealth abortion provider Carafem, tells SELF. “Those options should be available,” she says.

Telehealth access is also an equity issue. Abortion bans will especially impact Black people, who are already three times more likely to die due to a pregnancy-related cause than white people. Marginalized people, including people of color and those with low incomes, also tend to have less access to quality, empathetic health care, including telemedicine. Aiken points out that communities of color are more likely to lack broadband internet access at home—and broadband is required to access telehealth services. People from these groups who end up self-managing their abortions are also more often targeted by the justice system, Wells adds.

But the fight for reproductive justice is far from over, and those entrenched in the movement still feel hopeful. “We’re diving deep into the legal issues. It’s complicated and changing quickly,” Gabriela Santana, the head of business at telehealth abortion provider Hey Jane, tells SELF. “We want to push boundaries in a way that’s still legal and protects prescribers and patients.”

For many, there are ways to access abortion via telehealth, should you determine that that is the best option for you. Advocates are deeply aware of the ongoing legal limbo and, as Grant says, “Abortion providers are extraordinarily resilient.” They’re here to help you get what you need—so don’t hesitate to reach out for support, because you’re not alone in this.

Source: https://www.self.com/story/abortion-pills-telehealth?emci=3a8395a7-5a25-ed11-bd6e-281878b914e7&emdi=69b11ed9-5c25-ed11-bd6e-281878b914e7&ceid=3411192

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which turned the issue of abortion access back to the states, nearly one-third of all US states have banned or severely restricted access to the procedure. At least seven states, including Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri, have banned abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Health care providers and abortion activists have continued to file legal challenges to stop bans in several states from being enacted. In South Carolina, a judge has temporarily blocked a six-week ban from going into effect, though the state’s House recently passed a bill banning nearly all abortions. In North Dakota, a judge blocked the state’s trigger ban the day before it was set to go into effect.

As these legal challenges make their way through the courts, patients seeking access to the procedure must navigate a complicated patchwork of legislation, often necessitating travel journeys of hundreds of miles.

Here’s where abortion access currently stands in the United States.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/31/us/abortion-access-restrictions-bans-us/index.html

MCKAYLA WOLFF LEFT AND KAREN WOLFF, RALLY FOR ABORTION RIGHTS AT THE CAPITOL IN ST. PAUL, MINN., ON SUNDAY JULY 17, 2022. (JERRY HOLT/STAR TRIBUNE VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Republican candidates, many of whom began their runs for office this year trying to out-extreme each other on their anti-abortion views, are very quickly discovering that those positions aren’t palatable to the overwhelming majority of their constitutents. 

Spooked by polls showing that control of the Senate is effectively a toss-up, as well as the Kansas abortion referendum and House special elections where Democrats are overperforming President Joe Biden’s 2020 showing, Republican candidates are now reportedly gutting their websites of their previously hard-line positions on abortion. 

Blake Masters, the Peter Thiel-backed Arizona Senate candidate, ran an ad last week saying he supports “common-sense regulation around abortion” after attacks from his Democratic opponent, Sen. Mark Kelly. He also published an overhaul of his website that removed a reference to him being “100 percent pro-life,” according to NBC News

Now, Masters’ website says he supports “a law or a Constitutional amendment” banning abortions in the third trimester, which make up roughly 1 percent of abortions in the U.S. and are almost always done in order to protect the health of the pregnant person.

In Arizona, which President Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020, flipping it from the GOP for the first time in decades, the legal status of abortion remains unclear. There’s currently an ongoing court battle over whether a 1901 ban predating Arizona statehood is enforceable, but a judge issued an injunction against enforcing it last month, and Planned Parenthood resumed providing abortions there this week

Michigan state Sen. Tom Barrett, who’s running for a U.S. House seat, deleted from his website last week a “values” section that described him as pro-life, according to the Detroit News. Barrett later told the paper he doesn’t “watch my own website every day,” but that his staff “probably were updating things based upon the issues that were most salient right now.” 

Other Republican candidates around the country are, shall we say, brushing up their campaign websites, Politico reported Monday

Christian Castelli, a House candidate in North Carolina, posted on his website before a contested primary in May that he would “protect the unborn from conception to birth,” according to Greensboro-based Fox 8. Castelli’s issues page now contains no mention of abortion.

And Colorado Republican House candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer, a state senator, spoke at the state’s March for Life in Denver in January and celebrated the fall of Roe v. Wade as an “exciting day for those of us who have toiled for the pro-life cause for so long!”

But although as recently as last month her campaign website said she would “defend the sanctity of life” if elected to Congress, Politico reported, abortion is now missing from her website entirely. 

Polls since the Dobbs decision in June have consistently shown that a majority of Americans oppose the ruling, and an AP poll last month found a majority would also support a federal law guaranteeing abortion access. 

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7g7da/republicans-scrub-abortion-policies-roe

Abortion restrictions do not exist in a silo—they worsen the availability and quality of care for all pregnant patients. Gayatri Malhotra/Unsplash

Abortion bans are not only inhumane, they are also imprecise, hinging on medically inaccurate beliefs.

With the Supreme Court’s recent overturn of Roe v. Wade, many people in the United States have lost community access to life-saving abortion care. At Texas Policy Evaluation Project, our latest research in Texas documents how abortion bans and their threat of civil and criminal penalties negatively impact the health care of all pregnant people in our state.

Enacted a year ago today, Texas SB 8 restricts abortion at about five to six weeks’ gestation, before many people even know they’re pregnant. After its implementation, we have witnessed both the devastating impacts on abortion access and the emotional consequences for pregnant people seeking abortion care. At the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, our recent study found that the abortion restrictions in SB 8 also created a chilling effect for clinicians who care for pregnant people and adversely affected patients experiencing medical complications during their pregnancies.

Abortion bans are not only inhumane, they are also imprecise. They hinge on medically inaccurate beliefs that abortion care exists outside of routine pregnancy care and that pregnancy complications have a clearly outlined definition or path.

SB 8 allows only narrow exemptions for when people may receive abortion care. Physicians must document that there is a medical emergency with an imminent threat of death to provide hospital-based care for pregnancy complications that occur after detection of embryonic cardiac activity. This ban therefore obfuscates necessary, immediate interventions for people with pregnancy complications like the bag of water breaking at 18 weeks, a pregnancy growing through a cesarean section scar, or heart failure. The upcoming abortion “trigger” laws of many other states have similarly narrow exemptions as the one in Texas.

In other words, abortion restrictions do not exist in a silo—they worsen the availability and quality of care for all pregnant patients.

We interviewed clinicians across Texas who cared for pregnant patients with complicated pregnancies. This included maternal-fetal medicine specialists, OB-GYNs, and genetic counselors. We also interviewed pregnant patients who had health complications or received a concerning fetal diagnosis and tried to access abortion care in Texas or out of state. After SB 8 and now post-Roe, many of these patients are no longer eligible for hospital-based abortion care in Texas.

Because of the diversity of interpretations of SB 8, physicians are making decisions about the care of pregnant people based on the fear of repercussions.

A mother of four told us that when she was 14 weeks pregnant, she required hospitalization for blood clots that traveled to her lungs. She was terrified and asked five doctors for an abortion, but they refused to discuss anything with her because of SB 8. After being hospitalized again for complications, doctors told her “the only thing they could deduce was that the pregnancy was causing the blood clots.” She asked, “Well, if this is an at-risk pregnancy—I have four other kids that need me, that are alive right now that need me. What happens if I die because of a blood clot?” They still refused to talk to her about an abortion. The only person who offered her any information about abortion was the OB, who “didn’t even tell me. She wrote it down in a book” after her shift was over.

As states pass bans that include limited exceptions for the life of the birthing person, various hospital systems, legal teams, and individual providers will interpret these very narrow exemptions differently. Physicians are already being placed in positions where they have to wait until their patients are “on death’s door” to feel emboldened enough to apply exemptions. Physicians are telling us that they feel like “worse doctors” when they are unable to offer patients timely, evidence-based care.

Because of the diversity of interpretations of SB 8, physicians are making decisions about the care of pregnant people based on the fear of repercussions rather than the best, evidence-based care. Some physicians do not feel like they can offer standard medical interventions for patients experiencing complications and some have resorted to using less common or outdated practices like an early second-trimester cesarean section because these procedures might not be considered an abortion by surgical support staff or formally reported as abortions. This surgery increases a patient’s immediate risks for complications as compared with dilation and evacuation or labor induction and can have negative implications for future pregnancies.

Pregnant people in these situations have described feeling hurt, confused, and overwhelmed when they realized they cannot access the abortion care they need close to home. People who experience multiple structural oppressions have been and will continue to be most impacted by abortion bans. People without the resources to travel out of state for abortion care will be forced to continue pregnancies that will not survive or could be detrimental to their health. Patients who have the means to travel may not be willing to risk waiting until they are deemed sick enough to be cared for under the medical emergency exemptions in state laws—and instead will take their chances traveling by car or by plane with a medically dangerous pregnancy complication.

Both pregnant patients who wait and those who travel out of state are being placed in unnecessarily risky circumstances by laws that defy evidence-based medical practice. Timely access to abortion care is a human right and absolutely critical for the safety and wellbeing of all pregnant people and our communities at large.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/2022/09/01/abortion-bans-threaten-all-pregnancy-care/

OLEG REBRIK/GETTY IMAGES

Even Artwork About Abortion Is Legally Risky Now

Visitors to an installation at a reproductive justice conference last weekend were greeted by a warning.

“If you live in a state where self-managed abortion is illegal, be aware of criminalization risks,” read a sign, its warnings rendered in orange against a blue background and beneath a pair of ominous eyes. “The information in this exhibit is intended to advocate for greater understanding and availability of self-managed abortion, not to recommend or advise that any person obtain and manage an abortion.”

The people behind the installation, the sign added, could not answer any questions about obtaining a medication abortion or performing a self-managed one. 

The installation, titled the “Self-Managed Abortion Stigma-Free Zone,” was an exhibit at the Let’s Talk About Sex! conference in Dallas, hosted by the reproductive justice collective SisterSong. Through a series of Ikea-style room façades and placards about how self-inducing your own abortion works, it aimed to approximate the experience of a self-managed abortion. (The exhibition ended on Sunday, with the close of the conference.) But the installation and its organizers, the Abortion On Our Own Terms campaign, were haunted by a fear: What if someone arrests or sues them over this information?

In the two months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion-rights activists have grappled not only with a new wave of abortion bans but also with the risk that simply spreading information about abortion could land them in the crosshairs of law enforcement. This installation was perhaps especially perilous: Not only was it about self-managed abortion, which remains permitted across much of the country but still carries legal risks, but it took place in Texas, one of the most anti-abortion states in a country that’s full of them.

In addition to a near-total abortion ban triggered by the fall of Roe, which took effect last Thursday, Texas has long had a law on the books that lets people sue one another for helping abortion patients get the procedure past roughly six weeks of pregnancy.  

“We knew, coming to Texas, that we would have to take certain precautions. We consulted with legal counsel,” Kimberly Inez McGuire, steering committee member of the Abortion On Our Own Terms Campaign, told VICE News.

“I have a 1-year-old daughter and I was going to bring her with me, but I made the decision to actually also bring my mother, because on the off-chance that we were unjustly and illegally arrested for doing this, I wanted to make sure there was someone to take care of my kid.”

Anti-abortion activists already seemed poised to attempt to tighten the boundaries of what, exactly, people can say about abortion. Ahead of Roe’s then-anticipated demise, the National Right to Life Committee debuted model legislation that proposed punishing people for “aiding or abetting an illegal abortion,” which they defined as including “giving instructions over the telephone, the internet, or any other medium of communication regarding self-administered abortions or means to obtain an illegal abortion,” as well as “hosting or maintaining a website, or providing internet service, that encourages or facilitates efforts to obtain an illegal abortion,” among other actions. 

State legislators in South Carolina have started to run with the idea. In late June, just days after Roe fell, state senators introduced a bill to ban people from providing information “by telephone, internet, or any other mode of communication regarding self-administered abortions or the means to obtain an abortion,” or running a website that does something similar. 

McGuire told VICE News that the Abortion On Our Own Terms exhibition falls squarely under the protection of the First Amendment. But as she walked around the conference wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “mife” and “miso”—references to mifepristone and misoprostol, the drugs commonly used to induce a medication abortion—McGuire wasn’t shy about discussing the risks of the art.

“This is constitutionally protected free speech,” McGuire said. “That doesn’t mean that a rogue law enforcement officer might not misunderstand or that someone who’s seeking to sabotage this might not misrepresent what we’re doing here.”

If law enforcement wants to go after somebody for self-managing an abortion, experts warn, they’ll find a way to do so. At the time of Roe’s overturning, just three states had explicit laws against self-managed abortion on the books. But between 2000 and 2020, at least 61 people across 26 states faced criminal consequences for self-managing an abortion or helping someone else do so, according to research published by the legal advocacy group If/When/How earlier this month.

The installation’s organizers were so cautious that they also put up a sign suggesting that even visitors to the installation needed to watch out. This sign warned that “talking about self-managed abortion can be complicated and risky” and urged people to use some suggested, “vetted social media copy” if they wanted to share information about the exhibit on social media. 

Despite the lurking danger, the exhibit tried to cultivate a soothing, if relentlessly practical, atmosphere. The exhibit included a faux-kitchen, a bed with a pillow that read “Good Vibes,” and a toilet. That toilet was part of the exhibit’s focus on destigmatization: Having a self-managed abortion will very likely involve sitting on a toilet. The installation even set up a chair for someone to sit next to the toilet, as if whoever was sitting there could hold the hand of the person going through the abortion. (Medical experts widely agree that self-inducing an abortion using mifepristone and misoprostol, early on in pregnancy, can be safe.) 

The installation also offered information about Euki, an app developed by a group that supports self-managed abortion in order to help people track their reproductive health. Earlier this month, the app earned a rave review from Mozilla over its privacy features.

“It’s the only period tracker app that the cops can’t use to fuck with you. So we are making sure that people know that there’s an app available that doesn’t store their information,” McGuire said. “Because unfortunately, as we’re seeing, Facebook messages are being used to criminalize people.”

McGuire, who also serves as executive director of URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, said that she hopes to take this installation on the road. She envisions showing it at community centers, college campuses, health centers; perhaps future iterations of the installation could include the packaging for abortion-inducing drugs, so people can get familiar with what it looks like.

But the calculation of what information the exhibit can safely include changes from state to state and even from day to day, as the landscape of anti-abortion laws shift. 

“As we share this information, we’re [doing] an ongoing assessment of the risks and we want to share as much as possible while also protecting our staff,” McGuire said. “This exhibit is being staffed this weekend by three women of color. We’re also about protecting our people.”

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/4axapj/texas-abortion-art-legality

GETTY IMAGES

Anna*, 23, knew that she could not have another child.

She also knew that she wouldn’t get an abortion in Texas, where she lives, as the state has one of the strictest abortion laws in the United States.

So the mother of a four-month-old turned to social media to search for solutions. She found a number online, and sent a desperate text on WhatsApp: “I need an abortion”.

Across the border in Monterrey, Mexico, Sandra Cardona received the message.

Six years ago, Ms Cardona, 54, founded the Red Necesito Abortar (I Need an Abortion Network) to help Mexican women get access to abortion pills, because terminating an abortion was severely restricted in the country at the time.

She chose the name so that women who needed an abortion could find it easily online.

The group sends misoprostol, a medication that induces abortion, to women who ask for it, and helps house some of them when undergoing the procedure at their headquarters in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.

Some come to Ms Cardona to get the medicines “and we explain (the procedure) to them,” she said. “And some want to stay and we ‘accompany’ them,” – meaning to sit with them and take them through a protocol established by the World Health Organization that lays out how to use the pill when there is not a doctor present.

While in the past, they have largely helped women in Monterrey and migrants heading north, the number of Americans has steadily increased over the past year.

“A year or so ago I attended to the first woman,” Ms Cardona told BBC. “I do not speak English, but with the help of Google we understood each other.”

Anna arrived in Monterrey one afternoon in October. That night, she had her abortion and left the next morning.

She has not been the only one, Ms Cardona said. “The demand from Texas has grown a lot” – a reflection of the divergent paths Mexico and its northern neighbour have taken on abortion.

A pharmacy in Nogales, México borders the state of Arizona
Image caption,Mexico is seeing an influx of American women seeking out abortions

In September 2021, a historic ruling was handed down in Mexico, when the country’s Supreme Court of Justice unanimously struck down a law punishing abortion in the northern state of Coahuila, effectively decriminalising it across the country.

That same month, the US state of Texas just across the border put into effect what was one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the US at the time. Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB8) prohibited abortions after the sixth week of conception, a point at which many women still do not know that they are pregnant.

The law permits citizens – whether they be in the state or not – to file a lawsuit against anyone who helps a woman get an abortion past that date.

And with the US Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v Wade – which had guaranteed women’s right to abortion nationwide for almost 50 years – abortion access is becoming even more restricted.

On 25 August, a law further limiting abortions triggered by the overthrow of Roe goes into effect in Texas.

But even before the Roe decision, the number of registered abortions in Texas was falling. According to government figures, there were about half as many abortions in Texas during the six months ending in February 2022, compared to the same time period the previous year.

“If you want to know how post-Roe America will look like, (Texas) is a good testing ground for it,” Jackie Dilworth, an activist for Whole Women’s Health, one of the state’s largest abortion providers, told BBC.

Fewer abortions registered in Texas does not necessarily mean that fewer abortions are being carried out. Many are being done in states with less restrictive abortion laws, or across the southern US border, in Mexico.

Woman holds a sign in support of Texas anti-abortion law
Image caption,Texas S.B.8 is known as the “heartbeat act”

Ms Cardona said she has received so many messages from women in the US, she is turning her second-floor study into a place for them to stay.

“Earlier, we were letting them borrow our bedroom but we saw the need to open up more space,” she said. “It will be called the ‘aborteria’ (the abortion house)”.

And Red Necesito Abortar are not the only ones preparing to expand their work. There is an entire network of groups and activists along the US-Mexico border who also offer services, said Mariela Castro, who works for Marea Verde (Green Tide) Chihuahua, another Mexican organisation that helps women access abortions.

According to Ms Castro, women also go to Mexico because the states they live in do not have enough reproductive health services or financing.

Some women buy pills on their own at Mexican pharmacies. Others are put in contact with people who can go with them to the chemist.

Boxes of misoprostol
Image caption,The drug misoprostol is used to prevent ulcers, and the contractions it causes is similar to a miscarriage

The service these networks offer operates in a grey area.

In the US, abortion pills are supposed to be prescribed by healthcare providers to a patient in jurisdictions where the procedure is allowed by law.

The US government-approved procedure for medically induced abortions combines two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol.

The first works by blocking progesterone. Without that hormone, the uterine lining will thin and an embryo will not stay attached.

The second drug, misoprostol, is taken 24 to 48 hours later. Originally developed in the 1970s primarily to treat stomach ulcers, it was quickly discovered to also induce abortion and has been accepted for that use by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Within hours of ingestion, the drug causes the uterus to contract and expel the embryo. The process causes pain and bleeding, however, and in very rare cases, serious complications like sepsis and uterine damage.

The two-pill regime is approved for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy in the US, and is now the most common method for abortion in the country.

Mexican abortion networks like Red Necesito Abortar only send misoprostol, because mifepristone is not readily available.

The WHO says misoprostol-only abortions are acceptable when mifepristone cannot be obtained, but it is not the method approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Moreover, sending the pills to places where medication abortion is restricted or banned “could potentially be considered a crime,” said Grace Howard, Assistant Professor of Justice Studies at San Jose State University, California.

Even before the Supreme Court Roe reversal, in the first five months of 2022, lawmakers proposed 117 restrictions across 22 states specifically on medication abortion, including outright bans.

In recent days, abortion – including medication abortion – has been prohibited in at least 10 states, and nearly a dozen more are expected to follow.

“Generally speaking, the law is going to be applied in the location where the pills are delivered to and where the person takes them,” said Prof Howard. “But they’re unlikely to extradite people from Mexico.”

The limits of their responsibilities are also unclear. Ms Castro says that Marea Verde’s role ends when “the person who requested the service is totally satisfied” and that the group trains its volunteers on first aid and emotional support, and consults doctors if complications occur.

But anti-abortion activists argue that these semi-clandestine networks put women at risk because they don’t provide medical services like health screening. They also say these medicines are dangerous.

“Mailing drugs that can cause injury, infertility, and even death in women when there are no health and safety standards applied is reckless and deadly policy,” Kristi Hamrick, Students For Life’s spokesperson – one of the largest anti-abortion organisations in the US – told BBC.

Her group is looking into how to stop access to abortion pills from abroad, she said.

Medical experts point out that women who seek help from foreign activists to access abortion pills do so out of desperation, and reject the claim that abortion pills are medically unsafe.

“However, it is important that people taking medications at home have access to safe, non-judgmental, and supportive care within the formal medical system if they need it at any point,” said Dr Nisha Verma, a specialist in Obstetrics/Gynaecology in Atlanta and member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

A pro-life activist holds a sign saying "choose life" at an abortion protest in Dallas, Texas in January 2022
Image caption,A pro-life activist holds a sign saying “choose life” at an abortion protest in Dallas, Texas in January 2022

Jane*, a 22-year-old artist from San Antonio, Texas, ended a pregnancy early with tablets from Mexico. It was her second abortion.

To help her in the process, the group that she had contacted assigned her a “caseworker”.

“She FaceTime, Skype or Zoom me and we would talk,” she told BBC. “She walked me through all my options, and when I decided to do the self-managed abortion, she called me and told everything that going to happen to me, like if I bled more than two Maxi [sanitation] pads in an hour, then that’s a dangerous amount of blood and I should go to the hospital,” she said.

“I had her phone number and I was texting her all day (the day of the abortion). (She acted) like a caseworker should do, just helping me feel safe and making sure I had everything I needed,” Jane explained.

A self-managed abortion with pills “is very painful: it causes nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting,” she said. “It’s very hard on your body”.

But Jane turned to the Mexican network for reasons of cost – the same medication from the US is much more expensive than getting misoprostol from across the border, she said.

She has helped other women seeking abortions by putting them in contact with the organisation that helped her, Jane said.

“I think there’s a lot of women who wish that they could talk but are unfortunately scared and being silenced by everything that’s going on in Texas right now,” she said.

Mexico-based pro-choice activists say they want to do more to help get abortion pills to Americans who want them.

Veronica Cruz, of Las Libres, a pioneer in the defence of medication abortion in Mexico, said Mexican abortion networks are working with US-based counterparts to distribute the pills to women on the US side of the border.

“It is a crazy thing. We always saw the United States like an example country on this matter,” said Ms Cruz, of Las Libres. “Now the world is in reverse.”

*Some names of women who received abortions have been changed to protect their privacy.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-61874921

Students in states where abortion is banned are getting creative when it comes to sharing information on abortion access.

A few days before the Texas abortion ban went into effect in September 2021, a QR code plastered on a Texas Tech University bathroom stall in Lubbock posed a question: “Need to be un-pregnant?”

The sticker was placed there by C, a rising senior, who estimates that she has distributed and posted between 150 and 200 QR codes around campus.

“People really, really don’t like abortion in Lubbock,” C, who asked to be identified only with her first initial due to safety concerns, told VICE News. A few months before C started distributing QR codes, it had been dubbed a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”

In states that have banned abortion, students like C are distributing QR codes that take users to websites that sell pills that induce abortion. The QR code stickers are the brainchild of Plan C, an organization that provides information about access to abortion pills. The code leads to the organization’s website, where links to platforms for purchasing abortion pills are a few clicks away. 

For the first time in decades, students are returning to college campuses for the fall semester without the national right to abortion. For some students, this means finding creative ways of communicating information about abortion access.

“I think the fears that I have are the exact reason why it’s so important to have a way to anonymously spread information,” C said.

Launched in 2021, Plan C’s sticker program has fielded requests from every state, the organization said. Over half a million QR code stickers have been distributed—132,000 of which have been provided to individuals who said they were students.

“I think the fears that I have are the exact reason why it’s so important to have a way to anonymously spread information.”

C herself was first exposed to the QR code stickers when Plan C began distributing them to students on her campus. Shortly after her initial encounter with the group, she started distributing QR codes herself. “Save this card in a safe place just in case one day future you (or a friend) needs to become un-pregnant,” the card read. 

She said that some students appeared disgusted upon being handed a QR code card but would briefly examine it en route to the trash can. 

Then, to her surprise, some would quietly pocket it.

C said that for each person who ended up disposing of their QR code, there were probably ten more who kept it. “I think it’s important that we provide that information despite what people believe or what they advocate for. They need that access,” she said.

WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW STUDENT ELENA LEVAN’S PLAN C ADVOCACY MATERIALS, INCLUDING QR CODE STICKERS (ELENA LEVAN)

In 2020, medication abortions accounted for over half of U.S. abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Some abortion pill providers, such as the group Hey Jane, are not currently shipping to the 19 states that have telemedicine abortion restrictions. And some people have already indicated that they will try to get around these restrictions, despite possible legal consequences. 

Abortion restrictions tend to target people who provide abortions, not the people who undergo them. But there’s no guarantee that abortion patients won’t get swept up in a law enforcement dragnet—and, indeed, many already have. And although the vast majority of states do not have explicit laws forbidding self-managed abortion, experts warn that if a prosecutor wants to go after someone for having one or helping someone else do so, they’ll find a way to do it. 

Even in states like Kansas, where in-clinic abortion is currently legal, the ever-changing post-Roe legal landscape has resulted in a patchwork of shifting laws and statutes that even those who pay close attention can find confusing. Abortion-rights advocates worry that even just providing information about abortion could potentially open them up to scrutiny from law enforcement.

“We think the moment that we are being censored and shut down from sharing information on a medically safe option in a certain state, then that is the moment we live in a very different United States.”

Amy Merrill, co-founder of Plan C, told VICE News earlier this summer that the organization has had conversations about threats to the legality of its work.

“We keep coming back to our First Amendment rights to share information,” Merrill said. “We think the moment that we are being censored and shut down from sharing information on a medically safe option in a certain state, then that is the moment we live in a very different United States.”

When Claire Burke, a rising sophomore at Barnard College, returned home to Kansas in possession of QR code stickers she obtained from Plan C at school, she didn’t hesitate to distribute them to friends and post them in public locations around Kansas City. 

In Kansas, abortion remains a topic of contention even after voters upheld the abortion protections in the state’s constitution in August. Burke said that many of her friends at home were concerned prior to the vote, and when they approached her in search of more information, she would hand over the QR code.

“The biggest goal is to make sure that people have access not only to the information but to the pills themselves,” she told VICE News.

Elena LeVan, a law student at Washington University in St. Louis and member of advocacy organization If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, recently ordered 500 pieces of advocacy material from Plan C, including QR code cards and stickers for her organization to distribute during the first week of school. In Missouri, abortion is banned at conception except in cases of medical emergency. 

But LeVan wanted to be prepared for the fall semester; she said she also plans to place them in “random” places, like toilet paper dispensers. 

“I think our university hasn’t really taken a strong stance on abortion,” LeVan told VICE News. “So a lot of this is going to be left up to students to spread these resources and get people connected with information.” 

A joint statement by the chancellor and the dean of the School of Medicine following the Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade focused on “dialogue” as opposed to healthcare access. The debate surrounding abortion “is too frequently reduced to polarized points of view with little to no room for constructive dialogue… As a university that places great value on diversity of thought and opinion, we are far from homogeneous in our points of view on this or any topic.” The administrators then encouraged students to come together as a community in the aftermath of the ruling.

In addition to the Plan C materials, LeVan ordered QR code stickers from ineedanA.com, a platform that provides resources for individuals seeking an abortion, including links to websites selling abortion pills by mail. According to the organization, they have distributed over 2,000 packets containing about 24 QR code stickers per packet—all of which have been hand-packed by a team of five volunteers at a dining room table.

The organization, which has since limited its sticker campaign to donors, volunteers, and organizations, said it’s received over 200 sticker requests mentioning the word “campus,” as well as additional requests mentioning student groups and sororities.

In South Dakota, one activist started her own QR code sticker initiative. Taking advantage of a sticker sale through the graphic design website Canva, Krista prints stickers with QR codes leading to aidaccess.org, a service that ships abortion pills to the U.S. from abroad.

“It’s definitely not a perfect solution by any means,” Krista, who asked to be identified only by her first name out of concern for her safety, told VICE News. “But I think it’s a step in the right direction until we can see some significant changes in our political sphere and our legislature.”

On July 1, a law banning telemedicine abortion went into effect in South Daokta. Gov. Kristi Noem also recently announced that she would take action toward implementing a ban on mail-order abortion pills, but that individuals seeking them should not face prosecution. 

In addition to plastering the stickers around various cities in South Dakota, Krista has distributed them to Students for Reproductive Rights, a student group at the University of South Dakota. She also plans to issue them to a student group at South Dakota State University, about two hours north.

“Maybe they don’t think they’ll ever need it, but one day something unexpected happens and they may be like, ‘Well, maybe I should see if that QR code if that sticker is still there.’”

The current president of Students for Reproductive Rights at the University of South Dakota, Lexi McKee-Hemenway, lauded the QR codes because they’re discreet and easy to use. McKee-Hemenway said she herself has been distributing QR codes since receiving them from Krista, and though she has yet to distribute them on campus, she anticipates seeing them around in the fall.

“It’s so much easier to be able to just go up and scan the code and be taken somewhere versus having to type in a whole entire web address,” she said. “I want people to have access, I want them to be able to get their necessary healthcare… Even if that means that they have to do it themselves.”

Burke, the sophomore at Barnard, said that if she were to encounter any opposition, she feels confident her community would back her up.

“Anyone who organizes in red states is used to resistance, and I think that this is an especially volatile issue,” she said.

In Texas, where private citizens can file civil lawsuits against anyone who performs or “abets” an abortion, C is more concerned about action being taken by Lubbock residents, rather than by her fellow students. Despite her fears, she continues to distribute the QR codes in the hopes of providing students with information and options.

“Maybe they don’t think they’ll ever need it,” she said, “but one day something unexpected happens and they may be like, ‘Well, maybe I should see if that QR code sticker is still there.’”

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2022/07/12/the-outsized-role-prosecutors-will-play-in-a-post-roe-world/