I wrote a handbook for navigating post-Roe America. Here's how to protect yourself and your abortion access.




  • In Health
  • 2022-05-09 16:00:23Z
  • By Business Insider
Robin Marty (left) and her book (right).Courtesy of Robin Marty
Robin Marty (left) and her book (right).Courtesy of Robin Marty  
  • The US Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that enshrined the right to abortion.

  • Robin Marty is the communications director for the West Alabama Women's Center and author of "Handbook for a Post-Roe America."

  • These are Marty's tips for proceeding in a post-Roe America, as told to writer Fortesa Latifi.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Robin Marty, the communications director for the West Alabama Women's Center and author of the 2019 book "Handbook for a Post-Roe America." It has been edited for length and clarity.

After news broke that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that enshrined the right to abortion, people across the country began to consider the true reality of a post-Roe America.

How will pregnant people access abortion if Roe v. Wade truly is overturned, and how can they keep themselves safe in the increasingly surveilled world we live in? I can help.

The pandemic gave abortion advocates the chance to test-run a post-Roe situation

With the pandemic, many states decided that abortion wasn't a "mandatory and necessary medical procedure" and closed clinics in the spring of 2020. This simulated a post-Roe world, and advocates jumped into action and helped spread the word about Aid Access, an initiative started by Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts that delivers abortion pills through the mail.

But these packages of abortion pills were sometimes held up at customs and border checkpoints for too long - some people got their packages weeks after they ordered, when it was sometimes too late for them to be effective.

Through that experience, I've come to suggest that anyone who thinks they have the possibility of becoming pregnant to get abortion pills ahead of time, before they're needed. That way, if you find yourself in the position of needing them, you're not stuck waiting for a package to make its way through customs.

Even with abortion pills, there are concerns

It's a worry that a person could order abortion pills while their data isn't protected, and authorities be able to access that information. I also want people to know that while abortion pills are safe, accessing them can be illegal in some states. Some states have criminal penalties like fines and prison time. (Abortion pills also expire, so check the packaging.)

With that in mind, I urge people to protect their data ahead of time. If you're using a period-tracking app, you should delete it and use Euki, which doesn't upload your data and is completely private. You can even guard access to the app with a password pin.

Periods have been tracked before under the guise of public health, specifically within the context of abortion. Protecting your period data is an unfortunate reality, but in a post-Roe world where surveillance is king and phones are tracking your every move, people need to protect themselves.

It's also important to lock down your online privacy as much as possible

If you're looking for information on abortion on Reddit, for example, make sure you make a throwaway account to search and post. Make your Facebook profile private, and if you're looking for help on Facebook, use a fake profile.

Abortion support groups have been infiltrated by anti-abortion activists, and there's the worry the information could be used against the people looking for support.

Even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, activists are still ready to help

If a person ever has a pregnancy complication like miscarriage or self-performed abortion and police or medical professionals are asking questions, there's help out there. One organization, If When How, has a reproductive health legal help that you can contact for advice or a lawyer.

The biggest fear we have going into a post-Roe country is for the people who are going to be targeted the most: Black people, brown people, trans people, people in rural areas, people of lower socioeconomic status, and members of other marginalized communities.

Marginalized communities are already at more risk in our country, and in a post-Roe America, that risk will be even greater (like in Texas, where there's a bounty for information on people who allegedly aid and abet abortion).

We need to make sure we protect the people who are most harmed by these restrictions

We know who is most at risk, and if we have any privilege, we need to be willing to protect those people.

Moving forward, my advice would be, even outside of legal risks when it comes to abortion access, to only use Signal to communicate. Unlike text messages, Signal is private, deletes messages, and protects anonymity. It's the easiest way to wipe your footprint and make sure it stays out of the hands of big corporations.

Sadly, I also suggest being very careful about whom you share reproductive and pregnancy news with

If someone knows you're pregnant and then they know you're not anymore, whether through miscarriage or abortion, you could be at risk if other states choose to adopt bounties like Texas.

The entire point of this political movement against abortion is to increase stigma and put it back into the shadows. I won't let that happen, and I know so many other advocates who are working their hardest not to let it either.

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