“We want to make sure people know: You don’t have to drive 12 hours for an abortion. You can get an abortion by mail. Between safe and effective pills to easily self-manage an abortion and the modern miracle of the internet and the global economy, we have access,” said Plan C co-director Elisa Wells.
A federal court on Sunday declined to block a Texas law (S.B. 8) banning abortion at six weeks of pregnancy. Before the ban takes effect on Wednesday, abortion pill advocacy group Plan C and Progress Texas drove a mobile billboard truck around West Texas for three days to educate people about how they can access abortion pills online.
“As Texas increases restrictions on abortion care, we’re here to let folks know that abortion pills by mail are a safe and effective alternative,” said Francine Coeytaux, co-director of Plan C.
S.B. 8 allows anyone to sue another person for assisting someone who has an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and rewards them with $10,000 and attorney fees if they succeed—creating a “bounty hunting scheme that encourages the general public to bring costly and harassing lawsuits against anyone who they believe has violated the ban,” The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) describes.
The law authorizes lawsuits against health center staff, abortion funds providing financial assistance, anyone who drives a friend to obtain an abortion or otherwise provides help, and even a member of the clergy who counsels an abortion patient, says CRR. The law also allows anyone to file a lawsuit, including a parent, an abusive partner, or even a stranger. CRR reports that anti-abortion groups in Texas have already set up online forms enlisting people to sue and encouraging anyone to submit “anonymous tips” on doctors, clinics and others who violate the law—such as anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life’s website, Pro-life Whistleblower. (The site was quickly flooded with fake reports.)
Advocates fear that if the law takes effect, abortion providers, clinic staff and abortion funds could face ceaseless lawsuits that eat up their time and resources, ultimately shutting them down.
If the law takes effect, abortion providers, clinic staff and abortion funds could face ceaseless lawsuits that eat up their time and resources, ultimately shutting them down.
Due to many barriers to abortion care in the state, approximately 85–90 percent of people who obtain abortions in Texas are at least six weeks into pregnancy, meaning this law would prohibit nearly all abortions in the state.
“Our state and the failed Republican lawmakers running it should get out of the way and give Texans the freedom to make decisions about our health care needs,” said Diana Gómez, advocacy manager at Progress Texas. “When Texans decide to have an abortion, they should be able to do so safely and with dignity—and without fear of legal consequences. The choice to have an abortion is a health care decision and should be treated as such.”
The Guttmacher Institute estimates that the law would increase average distance travelled one way to obtain abortion care twenty times, from 12 miles to 248 miles. The law would be particularly harmful to women of color in Texas, where 19 percent of Black women and 20 percent of Latinx women live in poverty.
“While many Texans will be able to travel to neighboring states to find care, we also know that many more may not be able to,” said Coeytaux. “We want everyone to understand they can take advantage of internet technology and the post office to access and complete an early abortion entirely from home.”
“Road Trip for Abortion Access, So Texans Don’t Have To”
“Regardless of these draconian anti-abortion laws being passed by extremists in our state, there are alternatives available to give Texans autonomy over our own bodies,” said Gómez.
Starting Friday, Plan C and Progress Texas went on a road trip to share information about these alternatives.
“We went on an abortion road trip to let people know that you don’t need to go on a road trip anymore to get an abortion,” Plan C codirector Elisa Wells told Ms. “You can get an abortion by mail basically anywhere in the United States, including in Texas.”
“We went on an abortion road trip to let people know that you don’t need to go on a road trip anymore to get an abortion.”
Advocates drove a truck with illuminated billboards around the towns of Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland and Odessa in Texas. The billboards read, “Missed period? There’s a pill for that. PlanCPills.org. #TXDeservesBetter.” The back of the truck read “Plan C. Convenience. Confidentiality. Control. PlanCPills.org.”
They drove to universities, past City Hall, around the medical district and University Medical Center, and in the evenings by bars and restaurants.
“The reception was fantastic. They started out in Lubbock—a so-called ‘sanctuary city for the unborn.’ For that reason, Planned Parenthood had to stop providing abortion care in Lubbock. That was in part why we chose Lubbock: to point out that all these unnecessary restrictions are creating an access desert. People have to drive like five hours from there to get an abortion in Texas.”
“They started out in Lubbock—a so-called ‘sanctuary city for the unborn.’”
On their website, Plan C offers detailed information on how to find abortion pills online. Wells says the online abortion clinic AID Access, which provides physician-supervised medication abortion, is offering advanced provision of abortion pills to people in Texas for $105.
“If people want to be prepared for if their period is late, they can go to AID Access and order a set of pills for their medicine cabinet,” said Wells.
Delivery from AID Access can take between two and three weeks. Several online providers deliver abortion pills within four to six days but cost more.
Exhaustive research has proven that abortion pills in the first trimester are very safe and effective.
“We want to make sure that people know that you don’t have to drive 12 hours for an abortion,” said Wells. “You don’t have to take time off from work and get childcare and pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in order to get an abortion. You can get an abortion by mail. It’s the 21st century. Between safe and effective pills by which people can easily self-manage an abortion and the modern miracle of the internet and the global economy, we have access.”
Throughout the campaign, Plan C shared activist art on Instagram and hosted a lively dialogue in the comments. On Saturday, Instagram suspended Plan C’s account. Undaunted, supporters flocked to other platforms like TikTok and Twitter to raise their voices and amplify Plan C information and art. Instagram later reinstated Plan C’s account after Jezebel published an article condemning the suspension.
The campaign sought to reach students in particular. The truck visited Texas Tech University in Lubbock and West Texas A&M near Amarillo, talking to students and handing out flyers. Many students had never heard of online access to abortion pills and expressed interest and gratitude to Plan C advocates for the information.
“Ninety-nine percent of people were appreciative,” said Wells. “Now some of these campuses have stickers on the back of bathroom doors that have a QR code that people can scan for more information. We know there’s one in an airport in Texas too.”
“Ninety-nine percent of people were appreciative. Now some of these campuses have stickers on the back of bathroom doors that have a QR code that people can scan for more information. We know there’s one in an airport in Texas too.”
At night, the truck drove by bars and restaurants in towns. “The truck was lit up like a video screen,” says Wells. “At night, it’s like this glowing luminous message. It was beautiful.”
On Sunday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals canceled a preliminary injunction hearing in a case challenging the Texas abortion ban and dismissed a motion to block the law. Abortion rights lawyers immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to block the law before it goes into effect on Wednesday.
Whatever happens, no ban will stop the need for abortion care in Texas.
“With the news of the appeal hearing cancelled, it is seeming almost inevitable that the Texas abortion ban will be implemented, so now more than ever, Texans need the information we are providing,” said Wells.
Join an in-person protest this Wednesday, Sept. 1—the day Texas’s six-week abortion ban (S.B. 8) could go into effect.
South Steps of Texas Capitol at noon CT
1100 Congress Ave, Austin, 78701
The protest at the Capitol will be live streamed on the Progress Texas Facebook page and the Ms. Facebook page.
Tranquility Park at noon CT
400 Rusk St, Houston, 77002
Edinburg City Hall at 5:30 p.m. CT
415 W. University Dr, Edinburg, 78539
San Pedro Springs Park at 7 p.m. CT
2200 N. Flores, San Antonio, 78212