Abortion pills and menstrual extractors – activists prepare for US abortion bans
Pro-choice activists across America are gearing up for the probable scenario that abortion rights which have been in place for 50 years will be snatched away this summer.
A ruling, known as Roe v Wade, legalised abortion nationwide in the US in 1973. If it is overturned by the Supreme Court, 26 states are poised to immediately impose severe restrictions on abortion, affecting millions of women.
Kate Kelly is a human rights lawyer and organiser of Shout Your Abortion, a network of individuals who promote talking about abortion to take away the stigma.
They also encourage women to learn about pills which are available to terminate a pregnancy and can be delivered in the post.
“They are trying to criminalise provision of medication abortion pills in many states,” she says, “but this court cannot stop us”.
“We will get the medication to the people who need it. And we will share information about abortion pills and where to get access because this is a fundamental human right.”
Kelly believes if a Republican candidate becomes president in 2024 and the party regains control of Congress, the party will seek a total countrywide ban on abortion.
“If they flip the house from blue to red, and then take the presidency in 2024, I think there’s no question that we will see an attempt for a federal abortion ban,” she says. “It’s impossible to imagine a landscape where you cannot access a basic lifesaving piece of healthcare that everyone should be able to get if they need or want it and that is what it will become.”
Read more: Explainer: What is Roe v Wade?
Carol Downer is an abortion activist who helped create an underground network of women who performed home abortions in the pre-Roe era. She was distressed to read the leaked draft opinion which indicated the Supreme Court may vote to overturn Roe v Wade.
“It’s along the lines of what many people had predicted,” she says, “however, I did not anticipate the physical, visceral reaction I had.
“It is a blow. We are going to be hurt very badly by this.”
Downer, a trained lawyer, taught other women how to use an instrument known as del-em, a form of menstrual extraction which can be used to terminate a pregnancy. She thinks more women may turn back to using it if abortion is outlawed in many states.
“I’m glad we have it [the del-em] but I’m mad that we have to have it, I’m very angry. I want to see women not ashamed to learn about their bodies. I want to see much wider education and just taking charge of it and not having a doctor who is usually a man, who can say whether he will be willing to do the procedure.”
Some states in America are promising they will be safe havens for women who seek abortion. California is one such state, its governor pledging abortion will remain legal there.
“It’s just a remarkable moment in American history,” Gavin Newsom said. “At a time when countries around the world are expanding liberties, expanding freedoms, expanding rights, here we are in the United States of America about to roll back rights.
“This Supreme Court is poised to roll back constitutionally protected rights and don’t think for a second this is where they stop,” he said, “they’re coming for you. Wake up, America”.
If America is asleep, it will surely soon be shaken from its slumber. A decision just weeks away which has the potential to further fracture this country.