Amelia Bonow spent the 4th of July talking to strangers about abortion pills at a lemonade stand in front of the Supreme Court. About ten days after the institution ended federal abortion rightsyouhe founding director of Shout Your Abortion gathered friends and volunteers to dress in red, white and blue and the hand popsicles and lemonade, while spreading the word that, thanks to an activist doctor based in Austria, people in all 50 states can order abortion pills, pregnant or not, regardless of local laws. People cooled off with printed paper fans with the words ‘ask me for abortion pills’ superimposed on a mifepristone tablet, while others carried signs saying ‘We will help and encourage abortion’.
Bonow is part of a movement to reclaim the language of Texas Abortion Ban, SB 8who has delegated private citizens to prosecute anyone “help or encourage” an abortion in the state. For Bonow, “helping and abetting” can mean a number of things this, for the moment, stay legal—to make donations to abortion funds and independent clinics, to share information about the pills. When the actor Busy Philips has been arrested as part of a pro-choice protest outside the Supreme Court on July 1, she wore SYA’s “I will aid and abeet abortion” inscription T-shirt. (Admittedly, it’s much safer for a white celebrity in DC to wear such a shirt than an activist in Texas.)
Bonow told Jezebel that anti-abortion lawmakers want to instill fear in people. “SB 8 has made it clear that the anti-choice movement is not just intent on banning abortions, but trying to scare us into helping each other in the post-deer America,” Bonow said. And she won’t be intimidated into silence, given that we’re in what she called immediate health care and human rights crisis. “We must commit to participating in each other’s care. It’s going to look really different to everyone, but we need to respond to this moment with a promise of mass defiance, and by declaring that, we’ll find more helpers,” she said. Bonow added that “to express the challenge and find a way to support access to abortion that is happening in the post-deer America is not only acceptable, it is a moral imperative.
Ni Bonow nor SYA provides pills; they are fair spread the word on Aid Access, the website that sends them to American women overseas, and Diet Cinformation about the pill website. But because abortion pills taken at home are the next frontier for anti-abortion legislation, anti-abortion activists are already working to criminalize just talk about them.
Before deer fell, the National Committee for the Right to Life, the nation’s oldest and largest anti-abortion group, proposed model legislation it would make it a crime to share information about self-managed abortion online or over the phone, i.e. it would criminalize speaking. The “aid and complicity” section of the invoice template doesn’t mention abortion pills, but that’s absolutely what he’s aiming for. The legislators of Caroline from the south have now introduced their version of the law, and many other states are expected to follow.
“We’re going to break these laws all day, every day, and help people around us do the same,” Bonow said. “They can’t stop the spread of information, but this may be the play that leads them to fully embrace fascism.”
Elisa Wells, co-director and co-founder of Diet C, told Jezebel that if those laws go into effect, his organization won’t comply with them either. “Laws that attempt to prevent people from sharing information about abortion access are a gross violation of our First Amendment rights,” she said. “Plan C will not be bullied by legislators who pass illegitimate and unconstitutional laws. We will continue to provide research-based information about our website on how people can find abortion pills and other resources for medically safe self-managed abortion.
At the rate Democrats are moving restore access to abortionBonow said it was essential to ensure that as many people as possible knew how to get abortion pills right now. (It’s also faster than waiting new clinics to open.) People barely know pills exist to begin with: A June 2022 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 60 percent women aged 18 to 49 (and 73 percent of all adults) had never heard of mifepristone or medical abortion, despite the fact that it is now the most common method in the United States If so many people don’t know about abortion pills, it’s safe to say that even more people don’t know they can get them before they become Pregnant.
Renee Bracey Sherman, Founder and Director of the Abortion Storytelling Group We testifymade headlines when she shared the World Health Organization self-managed abortion protocols (SMA) during a Chamber of July 19 sign on access to abortion. “I had an abortion in a clinic. I had the money, I was lucky. But my abortion story is getting rarer and rarer as access decreases,” Bracey Sherman told Jezebel. So, after being asked to testify at the hearing, she said to herself: “OOf course, I will share the SMA protocol.’”
Some would consider it a risky move, but Bracey Sherman said it was necessary. “Actually, I don’t care about anyone except people who are having abortions right now, because the people in power are failing us,” she told me over the phone. “If the government is unwilling to step in and provide the necessary resources to its people, the people must rise up and do it ourselves, as we have done for thousands of years. The only people who are going to save people who have abortions are other people who have abortions and the abortion movement. It’s that simple.
We Testimony has long been sharing information about self-managed abortion on its to place and social media, and Bracey Sherman said the band won’t stop now. “What [lawmakers are] trying to do is deter people from talking about abortion,” she said. “They try to scare people out of the action. And they’re so afraid of medical abortion and SMA because they’re afraid of not having control over us, and they know that SMA is one of the ways they lose control.
“It’s a tactic to silence us, and I won’t accept it,” she added. “I’m also privileged to have resources and lawyers to be able to make this decision.”
Bonow said numbers are safety: the more people who defy anti-abortion laws, the less enforceable they become; and the more information people share about abortion pills, the fewer people are likely to resort to unsafe or ineffective methods.
Bonow launched #ShoutYourAbortion as a social media campaign in 2015 with former Jezebel writer Lindy West to encourage people to share their abortion storiesand now she is encouraging SYA supporters are to share widely how people can get abortion pills. In November, SYA launched sharingabortionpill.info, a site that explains where to get abortion pills and links to legal and medical resources. She considers the commitment “to help and encourage abortion” to be similar to that of Polish activists “I am Justina” country. Justyna Wydrzynskaan organizer from the Polish Abortion Dream Team (ADT), faces up to three years in prison for sending abortion pills to a survivor of domestic violence, and ADT encourages its followers to proclaim that they would also help someone who needed help getting abortion pills.
“The idea that we could live in an abortion-free country is a wacky, magical thought. It’s as real as white Jesus riding a dinosaur,” Bonow said. “They’ll never, ever really win because all along People have found ways to end pregnancies that they don’t want, because their lives are at stake, their whole everything is at stake.”
Bonow is the same activist who taken abortion pills in the Supreme Court during oral arguments in December in the case that the judges used to overturn deer. (She swallowed mifepristone alongside three other activists, none of whom were pregnant.) Like Bonow Told Jezebel at the time, the protest was “a pledge to challenge the decision of this robbed court full of sexual predators and conservative agents who have been groomed since they were young psychopaths in law school to overthrow deer. Stand here and just say “fuck this court, we’re doing it anyway” and it’s not up to you.
“You will never stop us. We take abortion pills forever. We help each other have safe abortions forever.