After Roe, an Abortion 'Underground' Emerges

Meet the doulas and others in this 'makeshift national network of helpers'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 4, 2024 10:30 AM CDT
After Roe, an Abortion 'Underground' Emerges
People help assemble reproductive health kits at the Community Center in Boise, Idaho, on April 12. About two dozen people filled boxes with emergency contraception, condoms, and information about accessing abortions.   (AP Photo/Kyle Green)

Waiting in a long post office line with the latest shipment of "abortion aftercare kits," Kimra Luna got a text. A woman who'd taken abortion pills three weeks earlier was worried about bleeding—and disclosing the cause to a doctor. "Bleeding doesn't mean you need to go in," Luna responded on the encrypted messaging app Signal. "Some people bleed on and off for a month." It was a typically busy afternoon for Luna, a doula and reproductive care activist in Idaho, a state with some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation. Those laws make the work a constant battle, the 38-year-old said, but Luna draws strength from others in a makeshift national network of helpers—clinic navigators, abortion fund leaders, and individual volunteers who have become a supporting cast for people in restrictive states who are seeking abortions, per the AP.

"This is the underground," said Jerad Martindale, an activist in Boise. Abortion rights advocates worry Idaho is a harbinger of where more states may be headed. Here, abortion is banned with very limited exceptions at all stages of pregnancy, and a law signed by the governor (but temporarily blocked) forbids adults from helping minors leave the state for abortions without parental consent. Recently, the US Supreme Court heard arguments about Idaho's enforcement of its abortion ban in hospital emergencies. Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said such laws protect the unborn. While she doesn't know if anything can be done to prevent people from helping others get abortions, she said, "I would certainly wish that they wouldn't do it." But Luna and others consider their work mutual aid that's essential to the community.

Luna (who uses they/them pronouns) helps run Idaho Abortion Rights, launched in 2022 with extra bail money raised after they got arrested at a protest. Luna is a full-spectrum doula, aiding in births and abortions. Most abortion work is remote, providing support, advice, answers, and referrals to resources like abortion funds. That also includes caring for people after abortions. In April, about two dozen people gathered at a Boise community center to help Luna assemble boxes containing emergency contraception, condoms, and information about accessing abortions. Martindale and his wife, Jen, now devote much of their free time to Idaho Abortion Rights; they keep thousands of packages of emergency contraception on hand to donate. "It's a community responsibility," said Jen Martindale. More here.

(More abortion stories.)

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