Mary Margaret Olohan
- Abortion activists are reportedly strategizing underground ways to defy pro-life laws in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned.
- The Supreme Court will take up a major abortion case in October — one that advocates on both sides of the aisle say could directly challenge Roe v. Wade.
- “If Roe goes down — we hope it won’t — there are always going to be ways to access abortion,” Plan C co-founder Elisa Wells told Politico. “Plan C included, we’re already working on alternative ways to access the pills.”
Abortion activists are reportedly strategizing underground ways to defy pro-life laws in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The Supreme Court will take up a major abortion case in October — one that advocates on both sides of the aisle say could directly challenge Roe v. Wade. This will be the first major abortion case in which all three of former President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice appointees participate, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who gained a seat on the court after a contentious confirmation process in October.
In the event that Roe is overturned, underground abortion activists are preparing to fight back, Politico reported.
“Even though our work is legal and we’re not doing anything wrong, we operate under the assumption what we do could become illegal at any time,” an anonymous member of the Mountain Access Brigade told Politico, referring to the group’s efforts to create privacy-supporting technology to advise mothers on how to obtain abortions or abortion pills.
During the pandemic, a number of Republican governors banned abortions as nonessential procedures, sparking anger and fear from many abortion proponents. Yellowhammer Fund activist Robin Marty told Politico that the pandemic allowed abortion proponents to get “a real view of what a South without access would look like.”
“People have so much fatigue when it comes to, ‘This is the worst. No, now this is even worse. Oh wait, this is even worse than that’,” Marty said.
With the rise of the at-home abortion pills, activists believe they will be able to conduct underground operations providing women with the abortion drugs at home even if the procedure is banned across the country, according to Politico.
One of the biggest online abortion pill providers, Aid Access, receives almost 30,000 requests per year, according to Politico, and their requests spiked 27% between March and April of 2020.
“We can handle more requests when needed,” Aid Access Co-Founder Rebecca Gomperts said.
In April, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute announced that lawmakers have already introduced 536 pro-life pieces of legislation since January, including 146 abortion bans. The institute called the sheer quantity of the legislation “unprecedented.”
“Right-wing ideologues are engaging in a shock and awe campaign against abortion rights that is largely getting lost against the background of a broader attack on other basic rights, including a wave of voter suppression laws and attacks on LGBTQ people,” the institute said in a press release.
“The number of abortion restrictions—and specifically bans on abortion designed to directly challenge Roe v. Wade and the U.S. constitutional right to abortion—that have swiftly been enacted over the past four months is unprecedented,” the press release said. “If this trend continues, 2021 will end up as the most damaging antiabortion state legislative session in a decade—and perhaps ever.”
Activists told Politico that getting average citizens to fight back is the best way to combat pro-life lawmakers and legislation.
“If Roe goes down — we hope it won’t — there are always going to be ways to access abortion,” Plan C co-founder Elisa Wells told Politico. “Plan C included, we’re already working on alternative ways to access the pills.”
Pro-life advocates have long warned that easing access to abortion pills would result in increases in abortions. Even former President George W. Bush warned as a presidential candidate that “making this abortion pill widespread would make abortions more and more common.”
“If the abortion lobby’s ultimate dream succeeds, however, brick-and-mortar facilities will become obsolete,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser wrote in a 2020 Townhall column condemning funding of abortion through coronavirus stimulus, predicting that internet distribution of abortion pills is the “next frontier” for the abortion industry.
President Joe Biden’s administration announced in April that it was lifting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) former restrictions on abortion drugs, allowing the pills to be delivered by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Supreme Court had backed former President Donald Trump’s policy in January that the pills could not be dispensed by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. But acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in April that sending the drugs by mail will not increase risks for women and will protect those who want the drugs from COVID-19, according to Politico,
The FDA had approved the use of the abortion drug mifepristone, also called Mifeprex, in 2000 for up to 10 weeks’ gestation. But the FDA explicitly warned that buyers should not purchase Mifeprex over the internet “because they will bypass important safeguards designed to protect their health.”
The FDA has since updated its website to note that it conducted a “careful scientific review” of both in-person and by-mail dispensing of the drugs, “either by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber, or through a mail-order pharmacy when such dispensing is done under the supervision of a certified prescriber.”
But advocates like March for Life President Jeanne Mancini warn that lifting the drug restrictions will both increase abortions and endanger women, citing FDA data from 2018 showing “thousands of adverse events caused by abortion pills” since 2000, including hundreds of hospitalizations and 24 deaths.
“With this action, the Biden administration has made it clear that it will prioritize abortion over women’s safety,” Mancini said in April. “Allowing unsupervised chemical abortions via telemedicine, without requiring timely access to medical care, will put women in grave danger.”
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