In the latest video in our Stop Prosecuting Abortion campaign, some student leaders from the anti-abortion group Students for Life are shown providing callous responses to the prospect of women going to jail for self-managing their own abortions.
That’s why we started calling for the group to take an official position denouncing the punishment of people who have abortions.
To date, that has not happened, though a disturbing new piece on the cruel and unyielding Alabama abortion ban authored by Students for Life leader Kristan Hawkins incorrectly claims that “women have not and should not ever be charged related to abortion.” This is a blatantly false claim – our colleagues at If/When/How (formerly SIA Legal Team) uncovered 21 arrests of people who ended their pregnancies and those who supported them.
From that falsehood, Hawkins’ piece supporting the blanket Alabama abortion ban continues to allege human rights supporters are:
“… Using this legal victory [the Alabama abortion ban] to scare women into believing that abortion bans mean women who endure painful miscarriages will be at risk for legal troubles. This is patently false, as natural miscarriage is fundamentally different than an induced abortion, where the intent is clearly to end life.”
Wow, that’s a terrifying display of true colors. Let’s break this down:
After lying and saying that women have not been prosecuted for abortions, Hawkins singles out those who miscarry wanted pregnancies as not at risk for ‘legal troubles,’ staying silent on those who attempt to have abortions. This is the pro-life movement showing its hand – a hand reaching for handcuffs.
And while I want to be crystal clear that the Alabama ban has not taken effect and abortion is still legal in all 50 states, we are rapidly moving down the predictable progression to an end of the federal constitutional right to abortion that began the day Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the United States Supreme Court.
In this environment, self-managed abortion with pills becomes ever more important. Please check out our full campaign for in-depth information and the World Health Organization protocol, but what you should know now about Hawkins’ false and shaming claim is that there is in fact no medical distinction between self-managed abortion with pills and what she dubs ‘natural miscarriage,’ an invented term that seems to have the intent of further shaming people who have or consider abortions.
A person considering self-managed abortion should know that there are no indications separating a person who has spontaneous miscarriage and a person who has used the World Health Organization protocol for self-managed abortion with pills to induce miscarriage. The treatment for both is the same, and disclosing to a medical provider that a person has taken abortion pills does not change the course of treatment but does put a person at risk of prosecution.
Finally, it’s also untrue that anti-abortion efforts do not unjustly engage people who have miscarriages with the criminal justice system. In Virginia, where I live, just last year a woman was convicted for the non-crime of experiencing a stillbirth at home (she was eventually pardoned by the governor). For more information, check out resources from our colleagues at National Advocates for Pregnant Women who have tirelessly connected anti-abortion policy with pregnancy-related prosecutions, all of which violate human rights.
During this challenging time for abortion rights, many are asking what they can do. The simple answer is to not give up. People will continue to have abortions no matter what the law says, so educate yourself about safe and effective self-managed abortion with pills now. Hold abortion opponents accountable for criminalizing abortion, and sign our petition to demand official ‘pro-life’ positions denouncing the prosecution of people who have abortions. Focus on your state and community, work with your local abortion fund, elevate the voices of abortion storytellers – especially women of color – and consider direct action, which holds the power to transform society. And you.