A coalition of abortion rights advocates are launching a mobile billboard set to travel around Tampa Bay Saturday — the 49th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling — in order to highlight the safety and effectiveness of medical abortion pills.
Plan C and the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund partnered to put on the drive-around billboard event in response to the state Legislature fast-tracking a proposal that would prohibit abortion procedures after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The billboards provide information on how one can access the abortion pill by mail, a recent decision approved by the Food and Drug Administration in December to broaden access and allow more pharmacies like mail-order services to distribute the medication.
“We want everyone to understand they can take advantage of internet technology and the post office to access and complete an early abortion entirely from home. In many states, this is available through modern telehealth services with no legal or medical risk,” Elisa Wells, co-director at Plan C, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Florida doesn’t allow doctors to provide abortion using telemedicine. But we know that people in Florida are still accessing pills online for self-managed abortion and want them to have complete information about how to use the pills and potential legal risk if they choose to do this.”
The billboards will be traveling around St. Petersburg from noon to 2:30 p.m. for the St. Pete Roe v. Wade Visibility Event. In Tampa, the billboards will run from 3:45 to 8 p.m., starting their route at Ybor Heights, then cir ling to Hyde Park and around Ybor City.
The billboards will be broadcast in English and Spanish, with short messages reading “Make abortion accessible, not just legal,” and “Your guide to abortion pills by mail.”
“Knowledge belongs to everyone, and being informed about the most basic best practices when it comes to your body remains a right to every person capable of pregnancy – whether abortion remains legal in this state or not,” Kris Lawler, TBAF Board President, said in a statement. “We implore the Florida legislature to end restrictive laws, such as the Florida ban on telemedicine abortion, that strip pregnant people of bodily autonomy over their reproductive needs in the privacy and convenience of their own home by following the lead modeled in California and other states. Floridians deserve the same access to modern medical care that is available in other states.”
Plan C maintains an up-to-date Guide to Pills and refers people to the Repro Legal Helpline, a free resource that can help people understand potential legal risk in every state.
“We already live in the age of self-managed abortions and have been for two decades,” said Lawler. “Whether a person obtains their medication from a local abortion provider, or purchases them from a verified provider, the dosage, instructions and potential medical risks are all identical.”
While self-use of abortion pills is medically safe, there have been 24 known prosecutions of people who have self-managed their abortions since 2000. It is important for people considering self-managed options to understand this potential risk and that it may be higher for people of color, those in the LGBTQ community and other underserved communities.