Detroit activists launch guerrilla campaign for mail-order abortion pills

  • Courtesy picture
  • With Roe vs. Wade at risk, posters in Detroit for, a mail-order abortion website.

Across the city, more than 100 posters were plastered on the walls with a bold message: “ABORTION PILLS FOREVER” as well as a website address, “”, 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 ended on Saturday, the 49th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that protects a pregnant person’s right to choose to have an abortion.

“We hope to exploit the anniversary because it may be the last time we have an anniversary for Roe vs. Wade“says Blackmore Metro timetables.

At. On December 1, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Reproductive Health, a Mississippi case that challenges Roe vs. Wade. With its conservative majority, the Supreme Court’s decision could lead to the banning or heavy regulation of abortion in much of the country. In Michigan, an inversion of Roe vs. Wade would automatically reinstate a 1931 law that criminalizes abortion as manslaughter — one of the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion laws.

Psst: You can buy abortion pills online.

Psst: You can buy abortion pills online.

By Dan Savage

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But the site offers an interesting alternative. On December 15, the Food and Drug Administration lifted restrictions on access to abortion pills, allowing them to be received by mail – part of a general trend towards telehealth amid the pandemic. For $150, anyone can order abortion pills from and mail them directly, with financial assistance available from organizations such as the National Network of Abortion Funds. The pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, are safe and effective, and are the same ones offered by abortion clinics for medically induced abortions, usually offered up to 11 weeks gestation. (After 11 weeks, clinics generally require a surgical abortion, although people have used the pills beyond that date. If abortion became illegal in Michigan, people would have to travel to another state where it is legal, or in another country such as 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 patients to be offered to see their ultrasounds. In Michigan, clinics also require a 24-hour period before having an abortion.

“So as such, you can just ignore all of that,” says Blackmore. “It’s very loaded and it can be a really traumatic experience – not the abortion itself, but just having to jump through the hoops that the state makes you jump through.” Plus, people can get them now and store them in case they need them later.

Blackmore says the poster’s black, white and red design was chosen to make the message as clear as possible. A team of about 20 volunteers helped paper the city with the posters while avoiding busy tourist areas, to ensure Detroit residents saw the information. The crews seemed to have done a good job putting them up – one poster already has a torn corner, but the wheat dough held on.

Someone once tried to remove one of the abortion pill posters, but the wheat dough held out.  - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy picture
  • Someone once tried to remove one of the abortion pill posters, but the wheat dough held out.

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

It is possible that the right to abortion is protected in Michigan. Governor Gretchen Whitmer called on the state Legislature to repeal the 1931 law, and State Senator Erika Geiss introduced a supporting bill. An organization called Michigan’s Reproductive Freedom for All has also launched a petition to “explicitly affirm” abortion rights in Michigan, which would ban criminal penalties for abortion.

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

“The majority of people in Michigan support access to abortion,” says Blackmore. “But I think the Republicans too will go to nefarious ends to throw a wrench into this.”

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

“I know abortion organizers on the ground in many states have decided to change direction,” Blackmore says. “Before, there was tremendous pressure to get Democrats elected, to have a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood and ACLU, and it seems those methods didn’t work very well. I think it is obvious that this strategy has failed.

Instead, Blackmore sees a shift in focus toward smaller, grassroots organizations that help fund abortions, or provide transportation and other needs.

“The message that we kind of said is like, ‘Fuck the Supreme Court,'” Blackmore said. “We do this on our own. We are going to find our own ways to make it work in order to protect our future and our bodily autonomy.

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