“The goal of Charley is to provide people with easy-to-access information about how to find abortion care in every state—even states with restrictions.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 12, reproductive health experts launched a new online chatbot named Charley to help abortion seekers in all 50 states find quick, accurate and confidential abortion information, tailored to their individual needs and circumstances.
Available in English and Spanish, Charley explains different abortion methods—from procedural abortion, to abortion with pills—and how to access abortion—from in-clinic, to telemedicine, to self-sourced pills.
Charley only asks for a user’s zip code and date of their last period to determine how far along they are in their pregnancy. Based on this information and the user’s preferences, Charley shares up-to-date information on what’s legal in each user’s state, where the nearest clinics are, how to get abortion pills and estimated prices and wait times. Charley also makes referrals to medical and legal support services, as well as community support networks.
“Charley chats like a friend and answers like an expert, and will give you options no matter where you live or the laws of your state, without tracking or sharing your data, so every person seeking abortion information can do so without fear,” said Kiana Tipton, executive director of Charley. “Through Charley, we empower individuals with information, ensuring that everyone, especially those in restricted states, can make informed decisions that are right for them.”
Co-founded by former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and the former head of Planned Parenthood’s digital department Tom Subak, Charley launched in partnership with INeedAnA.com, Plan C and the Miscarriage + Abortion (M+A) Hotline.
“There’s a lot of fear and confusion out there about how abortion is available, especially in restricted states, and there are different resources out there. But there hasn’t been a single resource that includes all the information. Charley does that,” said Elisa Wells, co-director of Plan C. “Charley walks people through their options and then directs them to the resources that are available to help them find more specific information.”
Vetted by medical and legal experts, Charley automatically pulls information from INeedAnA’s database of abortion providers, which is updated daily, and from the Abortion Policy API, which integrates research and analyses conducted by experts at the Guttmacher Institute, including the latest information on state gestational age limits, nearby clinics and the distance to reach them. Charley also draws from Plan C’s regularly-updated database of telemedicine abortion providers, vetted websites selling abortion pills and community networks giving away abortion pills for free in restrictive states. As the abortion access landscape changes, Charley is constantly updated so messages stay as accurate and relevant as possible.
“Charley is an exciting example of how technology can be used to help abortion seekers,” said Rebecca Naul, founder, executive director and designer of ineedana.com. “The design is really easy to use and, by connecting to data from I Need an A and Plan C, the information is always up-to-date. With Charley’s ability to live on any website, this new tool will help cut through how overwhelming online search results can be and meet abortion seekers where they are.”
Charley will give you options no matter where you live or the laws of your state, without tracking or sharing your data, so every person seeking abortion information can do so without fear.Kiana Tipton
A wide range of reproductive health and justice organizations plan to host Charley on their websites, including the Abortion Access Front, Abortion On Our Own Terms Campaign, Advocates for Youth, INeedAnA.com, M&A Hotline, National Women’s Health Network, RBG Fund, and Expose Fake Clinics. Charley is seeking more organizations to host the chatbot.
“Charley is a game-changer for people in all states because it offers discreet, user-friendly information, effectively bridging gaps in knowledge and breaking down obstacles like uncertainty and misinformation,” said Dr. April Lockley, medical director of the Miscarriage + Abortion Hotline. “Having access to complete information and trustworthy resources is vital to the abortion-seeking journey. In the ever-evolving landscape, informed decisions are crucial for individuals to make the choices that align best with their unique circumstances.”
Charley is private, secure and anonymous, with conversations deleted hourly. Charley does not ask for a visitor’s name, address, email or phone number, and it doesn’t share your information with any third party. Charley only asks for the first day of a visitor’s last period and their zip code. This information is then deleted shortly after the chat is over. Administrators suggest that for added privacy, people using a shared computer or phone may remove Charley from their browser history or use “incognito” or private browsing to look at abortion information.
“Charley is a convenient, private way for people seeking abortion to learn about their options and connect with resources,” said Wells. “We want people to know that abortion options are still available in every state, even in states that ban in-person abortion care.”
People in states with restrictions can travel to other states and obtain FDA-approved abortion pills by mail from U.S.-based licensed telemedicine abortion providers located in states with shield laws. They can also obtain abortion pills for free from community networks, while people in all 50 states can purchase pills from vetted websites for as little as $47.
“There’s a lot of different information in the media right now that’s scary and suggests that access is restricted in many places,” said Wells. “The goal of Charley is to provide people with easy-to-access information about how to find abortion care in every state—even states with restrictions.”
You can support Charley by sharing www.chatwithcharley.org with your friends, family, and followers on social media. Organizations interested in hosting Charley should email Charley@berlinrosen.com.
You may notice that we’ve added Charley to this story page. Try it out!
To add the chat widget to your own webpage:
Copy this code and paste it before the closing </body> tag on every page of your website (or every page that you’d like Charley to appear).
Reload your website. The Charley chat widget should appear in the bottom right corner of your webpage.
U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.