This year, the merry social advocacy trolls at the Satanic Temple have devoted themselves to advocating for abortion rights, arguing that a 72-hour waiting period in Missouri violated their religious freedom and filing both state and federal lawsuits against it. Their most prominent Detroit member just made the fight a little more personal, with a lengthy public blog about her own abortion.
Jex Blackmore is the chapter director of the Satanic Temple Detroit and a national spokesperson for the organization; in November, she learned she was pregnant and didn’t wish to be. She launched what she termed the Unmother Project, something surprisingly raw for an organization mainly devoted to high-level political pranksterdom.
In an email in late November, Blackmore explained the project to Jezebel.
“As you know over the past year The Satanic Temple has been invested finding creative ways to challenge oppressive reproductive rights legislation,” she wrote. “As someone who has been deeply involved in the planning and implementation of these projects, it’s surreal to suddenly be on the other side of the mirror—last week I discovered that I’m pregnant.”
Blackmore saw a dearth of accounts written by women planning their own abortions, and decided to create one. She was particularly interested, she wrote in creating a guide “for the uninsured woman navigating the medical system to obtain an abortion in Michigan.” (Michigan’s abortion laws aren’t quite as restrictive as Missouri, although, like most places in the United States these days, they’re still complex. Abortion-seeking people have to get mandatory, essentially anti-abortion counseling, then wait 24 hours; the state also requires parental consent for minors, restricts the use of telemedicine, and virtually never allows Medicaid or private insurance to cover the procedure, except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.)
“It’s my hope that writing about the nuances of this experience will help to demystify the termination process,” Blackmore told us, “and provide support and encouragement to others.”
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Blackmore launched her blog, Crisis Pregnancy Michigan on November 14; she had a medical abortion on November 26, Thanksgiving Day. In the blog, she focuses particularly on how logistically difficult the experience was, by design:
I was told that I must print, receive by fax or physically pick up state-mandated informed consent materials at least twenty-four hours in advance of my procedure. Informed consent materials are written by the Michigan Department of Community Health rather than medical professionals and are intended to “provide a woman with accurate and unbiased information,” under the assumption that the medical professional selected by the patient cannot be trusted to do so, and that the state is more qualified to inform a woman about medical procedures than her doctor. The State of Michigan website requires women to click through and read material which includes a description of the abortion procedure, illustrations of fetal development stages (as if this was necessary), pre-natal care and a brief overview of the responsibilities of parenthood (also unnecessary). Additionally, the State of Michigan website offers a list of “clinics offering free pre-natal ultrasounds.” These clinics are state funded non-medical, crisis pregnancy centers whose mission is to dissuade women from choosing abortion. In 2014, the state of Michigan allocated $800,000 to these anti-abortion centers. If you pay taxes, you help to fund these groups.
The entries are granularly detailed, elegantly written, and, as she intended, serve as a helpful guide for what other people could expect. From the day of the abortion:
I spent the morning preparing for the experience. A mound of warm blankets, heat pads, ginger ale, tea, one can of emergency Vernors, a bag of ice for snacking, a playlist of b-rated movies, one soft cat, a thermometer and a bottle of Percocet (an abortion gift), Ibuprofen 800 (prescribed), an antibiotic, an anti-nausea medication, and four pills of Misoprostol. The video I watched at the clinic informed me that cramping could begin as soon as thirty minutes after taking the medication but up to twenty-four hours to pass the pregnancy tissue. I would be having a miscarriage at home. I could expect contractions, nausea and bleeding. At three o’clock I washed down a half Percocet and one anti-nausea with a tall glass of water. At three thirty I placed two pills against the left side of my cheek, and two pills against the right cheek, took one deep breath, and pressed play on John Carpenter’s They Live. The pills dissolved slowly into a paste of wet sawdust in my mouth. I lay there with swollen cheeks for forty minutes until I could wash away the remaining pill-goo from my gums.
She’s also clear about how physically taxing the experience was:
I couldn’t sleep last night. Low, deep pains on my left side kept me awake. I’m still taking painkillers. I woke up frustrated that this is still happening. My tits still ache. My body aches. I have no energy. I’m sick of this.
Is it manageable? Of course, but I don’t want to “manage” my life. I want to live it.
Now that her abortion has concluded, Blackmore says she’ll keep the site up as a resource for others. Her last entry is a link to the nine new pieces of anti-abortion legislation proposed by Michigan politicians this year.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Image via Jex Blackmore/Instagram. Photo by Chris Switzer, used with permission.