Detroit activists launch guerrilla campaign for mail-order abortion pills on ‘Roe v. Wade’ anniversary

With Roe v. Wade imperiled, posters in Detroit for shareabortionpill.info, a mail-order abortion website. - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
With Roe v. Wade imperiled, posters in Detroit for shareabortionpill.info, a mail-order abortion website.

Around the city, more than 100 posters have been wheat-pasted onto walls with a bold message: “ABORTION PILLS FOREVER” along with a website address, “shareabortionpill.info,” where people can order abortion pills by mail.

The guerrilla information campaign is led by Jex Blackmore, an activist and artist whose work often grapples with sexual oppression and reproductive rights, in partnership with the national group Shout Your Abortion. It wrapped up on Saturday, the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that protects a pregnant person’s right to choose to have an abortion.

“We’re hoping to harness the anniversary because it might be the last time we have an anniversary for Roe v. Wade,” Blackmore tells Metro Times.

On. Dec. 1, the Supreme Court heard opening arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Reproductive Health, a Mississippi case that challenges Roe v. Wade. With its conservative majority, the Supreme Court’s decision could lead to abortion being banned or heavily regulated in much of the country. In Michigan, a reversal of Roe v. Wade would automatically reinstate a 1931 law that criminalizes abortion as manslaughter — one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country.

But the website shareabortionpill.info offers an interesting work-around. On Dec. 15, the Food and Drug Administration lifted restrictions on abortion pill access, allowing them to be received by mail — part of a general trend toward telehealth amid the pandemic. For $150, anyone can order abortion pills from shareabortionpill.info to be mailed directly to them, with financial aid available from organizations like the National Network of Abortion Funds. The pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, are safe and effective, and are the same as the ones abortion clinics offer for medically induced abortions, typically offered up to 11 weeks of a pregancy. (After 11 weeks, clinics typically require a surgical abortion, though people have used the pills beyond that date. If abortion becomes illegal in Michigan, people would have to go to another state where it’s legal, or another country like Canada.)

Blackmore says the mail-order pills are an alternative to clinics, which are required by state law to provide anti-abortion propaganda, including requiring to offer patients to view their ultrasound. In Michigan, clinics also require a 24-hour period before getting an abortion.

“So in this capacity, you can just skip all of that,” Blackmore says. “It’s very loaded, and can be a really traumatic experience — not just the abortion itself, but just having to kind of jump through the hoops that the state makes you jump through.” Plus, people can get them now and stock up in case they need them later.

Blackmore says the poster’s stark black, white, and red design was chosen to make the message as clear as possible. A crew of about 20 volunteers helped paper the town with the posters while avoiding heavy tourist areas, to make sure people who live in Detroit see the information. The crews seemed to have done a pretty good job putting them up — one poster already has a corner torn off, but the wheatpaste held up.

Someone already tried to take one of the abortion pill posters down, but the wheatpaste held up. - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
Someone already tried to take one of the abortion pill posters down, but the wheatpaste held up.

“The response has been fantastic,” Blackmore says of the volunteers. “Folks just want to get involved, just working on the ground and staying safe. It’s been really fun because COVID has been a really challenging time for activism, because it involves organizing with groups of people. But this project has allowed us to engage in direct action in a relatively safe manner.”

There is a chance that the right to abortion could be protected in Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called on the state legislature to repeal the 1931 law, and State Senator Erika Geiss has introduced a bill in support. An organization called Michigan’s Reproductive Freedom for All has also launched a petition drive to “explicitly affirm” abortion rights in Michigan, which would prohibit criminal punishment for abortion.

But with Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature, “these initiatives are fighting an uphill battle,” Blackmore says.

“The majority of Michiganders support abortion access,” Blackmore says. “But I think that also Republicans will go to nefarious ends to throw a wrench in that.”

Blackmore says the campaign is part of an effort to take the fight for abortion rights to the grassroots level.

“I know that abortion organizers on the ground in many states have decided to change directions,” Blackmore says. “Before, there was a huge push to get Democrats elected, to have fundraising for Planned Parenthood and ACLU, and it seems like those methods haven’t worked very well. I think that it’s obvious that that strategy has failed.”

Instead, Blackmore sees a shift in focus to smaller on-the-ground organizations that help fund abortions, or provide transportation and other needs.

“The message that we’ve kind of been saying is like, ‘Fuck the Supreme Court,’” Blackmore says. “We’re just doing this on our own. We’re gonna figure out our own ways to make this work so that we can protect our future and our bodily autonomy.”

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About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...
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