Yesterday was the 49th—and probably last—anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that affirmed abortion is a constitutional right. To mark the occasion, Fox 2 Detroit invited anti-abortion activist Rebecca Kiessling and artist and activist Jex Blackmore to debate each other on a program called “Let It Rip.”
At some point during the segment, Blackmore, who was wearing a pin that says “abortion pills,” held up a white pill they said was mifepristone, the first of two drugs in the FDA-approved medication abortion regimen for terminating a pregnancy before 10 weeks (the second drug is misoprostol). Blackmore told host Charlie Langton on air, “I want to show you how easy it is, how safe it is, by taking it myself.” Blackmore popped the pill, took a sip of water, and smiled.
A visibly shocked Langton asked if Blackmore is pregnant, and they replied, “I would say that this is going to end a pregnancy...This will be my third abortion.”
“Wow, that doesn’t happen often,” Langton replied.
Blackmore told Jezebel that Fox 2 asked them to appear on the show after they’d sent the station a media alert on a guerrilla poster campaign about abortion pills. After the invitation, Blackmore decided they’d take mifepristone on-air.
“Abortion is a common and safe medical procedure surrounded by stigma. Stigma keeps people silent about their personal experiences and creates space for harmful, inaccurate narratives. My action was intended to dispel some of those myths, misinformation, and stigma,” Blackmore wrote in an email. “I wanted to share, that for many of us, it’s a simple process and with mail order pills, we can have an abortion on on our own terms.”
Kiessling wrote on Facebook afterward that she hoped Blackmore would consider “reversing” the abortion pill, referring to a pseudoscientific scheme where people take a bunch of progesterone to try to counteract the mifepristone and has landed pregnant people in the emergency room due to vaginal hemorrhaging, or excessive bleeding. “Please pray...pray for Jax [sic] Blackmore to have a change of heart and do the abortion pill reversal, pray for her baby, pray for us all, pray to end abortion,” Kiessling wrote.
Blackmore said they wished they had time to respond to Kiessling’s abortion pill “reversal” comments during the segment. “The concept of ‘abortion reversal’ is absolutely false and both incredibly irresponsible and harmful. There is zero credible medical data that supports the idea that progesterone can actually continue a pregnancy after the first pill in a medical abortion is ingested,” Blackmore said. “Promoting abortion reversal shows a complete disregard of human dignity and health. People deserve accurate and safe medical information. If anyone tells you your abortion can be reversed, they do not care for your health and wellbeing, it is an anti-abortion ploy and your life is potentially at risk.”
Abortion pills are safe and effective, and make up an increasing percentage of all abortions in the US, but many people still don’t know about them—or know that they can get them before they’re pregnant, or through extralegal means in states that restrict abortion. Activists like Blackmore are helping to get the word out.
In December, four activists with Shout Your Abortion took mifepristone on the steps of the Supreme Court as the nine Justices were hearing arguments in the Mississippi case that could overturn Roe, but none of them said they were pregnant.
Over the weekend, the activist artist group Indecline turned an abortion pill reversal billboard from a Mississippi crisis pregnancy center into a PSA that abortion pills are available by mail.
It’s likely that we’ll see many more guerrilla campaigns and actions like these in the coming months as communities seek to reduce the harm that courts and state legislatures will inflict on bodily autonomy.