December 3, 2023

Since the Supreme Court overturned Raw vs. Wade In the past week, after ending the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, social media platforms have been buzzing with anger, panic and offers of help, particularly from people in states with stronger abortion protections.

But a certain kind of show has capturing media attention. In viral tweets, TikToks, and Instagram screen grabs and retweets, people are opening their homes to abortion patients who have to travel for care.

“If you choose to have an abortion, and you need a place to stay, there is always a bed for you in my Portland apartment. Free. No questions asked,” reads one tweet, liked more than 150,000 times and retweeted by more than 20,000 people.

Providing housing or transportation for appointments has long been part of supporting practical abortion, and organizations have honed their methods through decades of experience. with fall RoThere is a growing urgency from people who may not have done this work before but want to now. Making an offer of accommodation seems like a tangible and direct way to help.

But organizations that have been coordinating lodging and transportation services worry that the influx of one-off, public, and unwanted offers arranged via social media could put patients and volunteers in dangerous situations.

Jade, who coordinates volunteers and training sessions with Northwest Abortion Access Fund, volunteers say they go through a number of steps and checks before they can host abortion students in their homes. After the short receipt form, the fund conducts phone checks, training sessions and a home inspection, noting how accessible it is – especially for people just out of a procedure – who has access to the venue, and whether there is privacy for patients.

The NWAAF has suspended stay-homes during the pandemic, and staff are working to retool the process in preparation for the program’s relaunch. Jade says the preference for abortion funds is that people who need a place to stay after they’ve had an abortion go through reputable organizations that know what they’re doing.

It’s a challenge to balance the appreciation of the influx of volunteers and additional resources with very real security and safety concerns, and Jade says they are concerned about this issue as the SCOTUS decision approaches.

First, abortion resources such as financing, transportation, and accommodation come from a variety of sources, and access is often difficult or confusing – now add thousands of new individuals and groups offering sofas, air mattresses, and guest rooms. And without training or experienced staff to facilitate something like staying with a family, a relatively risky arrangement can become even more dangerous.

“My concern is that if there is no vetting process, and there is no obvious place to go to stay in a safe place, that harm may be done from people of goodwill,” Jade says. Even worse, the volunteer hosts may be in bad faith. Anti-abortion individuals who welcome patients into their homes can try to talk to someone to give up their abortion, similar to the method Pregnancy crisis centers operate, or patients could end up in physical danger.

Unmediated and unauthorized stays can also be dangerous for hosts. Recent anti-abortion laws suggest that it is the future of abortion that criminalizes not only people who seek reproductive care but also those who help them access it. The Abortion Ban in Texas It was passed last year, for example, that allows people to sue doctors, advocacy organizations, volunteers, family members, and anyone else who helps an abortion patient (the ban was temporarily blocked by a Texas judge this week).

“There are more legitimate risks right now being someone who publicly advocates for abortion,” Jade says. “It gives people the ability to find your address and phone number, call you, and generally know what you’re going to do.”

That risk is not a concern for Janie Harvey Garner, a nurse and creator of the Volunteer Aunties Facebook group, which started in Dobbs vs Women’s Health Jackson invalidate the decision Ro. Volunteer Aunts is one of many branches that have sprung up since last week, and has grown to about 3,500 members, many of whom Harvey Garner recruited through another Facebook group for health care workers she runs.

Harvey Garner says she’s not trying to reinvent the wheel — she’s simply hoping to connect volunteers with groups already doing abortion access work.

“My goal is to connect those volunteers who come from my demographic with existing organizations,” says Harvey Garner. At this point, the group’s goal is not to match individual abortion seekers with resources, but it says if someone joins the group looking to help, it will direct them to available resources.

But choosing a public platform like Facebook groups to organize pro-choice volunteers isn’t foolproof — many members have raised safety concerns about using the platform to coordinate with each other. People who join volunteer aunts have to answer a few screening questions before being added, but Harvey Garner believes the group is already being monitored by anti-abortion users.

“I’m pretty sure of the first 1000 people [members] “There were anti-women people,” she says.

How will the platforms themselves respond beyond-Ro The world remains unclear and unfolds in real time as people face new challenges to access abortion. Earlier this week, Meta clarified that posts offering to mail abortion pills violate its pharmaceutical drug policies. Even sharing information online about abortion is under legal threat.

says Marisa Falcone, CEO of Apiary for practical support. Perhaps those less experienced representatives have not yet thought about the questions asked by veteran organizations, such as how to do it Reduce the patient’s digital footprinthow to deal with a crisis before or after a procedure, and how to protect patient privacy.

Sofa and guestroom offerings may have gone viral on social media, Falcon says, but many hands-on support groups have purposely shied away from volunteer accommodation in recent years. Her organization provides resources and trainings to abortion groups providing housing, child care, meals, transportation, and other support, and maintains a first of its kind. Providers Guide.

“What clients want and need, in general, is a private hotel room,” she says. “They don’t want to sit at home, let alone sit on a stranger’s sofa.”

Both Falcon and Jade say what organizations really need is money and patience that will allow them to serve abortion seekers more effectively. For people who want to help, this means joining active groups nearby, which tend to be already unfunded, under-resourced and bracing for more pressing needs as abortion safeguards are being phased out.

“A lot of that kind of streaming support is about people who want to deliver the things they want to give and not necessarily think about clients’ needs and interests,” Falcon says. “We need to talk about what people need, not what people want to deliver.”

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