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Women talk about their abortions on TikTok| GuyWhoKnowsThings

“Abort with me,” says a single mother from Brooklyn named Sunni as she circles her kitchen to the sound of a jazz piano, before walking away. TikTok Viewers through the steps you took to terminate your pregnancy at home.

As states expand abortion restrictions and the issue is likely to be at the forefront of the presidential election, women are creating videos on social media describing their own abortions and sharing practical information about how to obtain one.

Sunni explained to viewers that she craved information when she was planning her abortion. “This is the video she was looking for,” she said.

The reaction to his video, which has been viewed more than 400,000 times and has drawn comments of commiseration and condemnation, shows how deeply personal and divisive the issue remains in the run-up to November's election.

One bystander, an activist with the group Protect Life Michigan, remixed the video on the group's own TikTok account, criticizing Sunni for her cheerful tone and for making the video.

“I just don't understand how we're making a video, and we're laughing and joking about going through the abortion process,” the activist said.

The Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022 sparked a cascade of abortion bans and restrictions across much of the United States. twenty one states now ban or restrict the procedure earlier than Roe.

In response, there has been an explosion of abortion-related social media content, some of it overtly political, some of it informative, and some of it testimonial as women search for answers, seek support, or simply seek to share.

The landscape of abortion access is changing rapidly. Last month, the judges heard arguments on whether to restrict access to a widely used abortion pill, with a decision expected in June or July. This month, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law that bans nearly all abortions.

Former President Donald Trump took credit for the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, but he has since distanced himself from the idea of ​​a national abortion ban. Meanwhile, President Biden sees the advantage of blaming Republicans for the shrinking abortion landscape.

With laws changing state by state, Sunni and others have created TikToks to explain how to obtain abortion pills and perform the procedure at home. In other videos on the site, women have grappled with their own experiences, expressing everything from relief to regret. These personal videos have become material for political campaigns, which have used them to defend an expansion of the right to abortion or greater restrictions.

Confused about where and what forms of abortion are allowed in each state, young people seeking to terminate their pregnancies are increasingly turning to social media for guidance, researchers have found.

“Chaos, confusion and stigma is the point with abortion bans and specific regulations,” said Rebecca Nall, founder of an online database that directs users to abortion resources.

“More and more people are going online with their most personal questions,” he added, “and more and more people are offering information.”

Before Roe v. Wade, desperate women called Jane, a clandestine abortion network, for advice on what to do about unwanted pregnancies. Later, campaigns encouraged women to talk openly about your abortion.

As women turn to TikTok for information and as a vehicle for self-expression, the app has also become a forum for discussion. In some videos, viewers posed practical questions about how to obtain abortion medications or how to find a provider. They shared fears of physical pain and anxieties about the logistical complexities of organizing one. Other viewers expressed regret for having had an abortion.

Some voices were critical, blaming women for having abortions and for speaking openly about it, without remorse.

The women who share their stories (and the viewers who write to them for advice) are engaging in conversations that could put them at risk. Attorneys general of some states They have expressed a desire to prosecute those who “aid and abet” abortions, including those who provide information, and to cite online messages.

Sunni, 30, who asked that her full name not be used for fear that abortion opponents would further attack her, said in an interview that she became interested in reproductive health justice when she was pregnant with her daughter in 2021.

She had become active on TikTok and was alarmed to find videos of people recommending herbal remedies such as parsley to induce an abortion. When she was pregnant last year, after experiencing a difficult birth the first time, she decided to have an abortion and share the experience with her followers.

With TikTok awash in activism from anti-abortion activists and abortion rights advocates, Sunni said she wanted to focus on the practicalities of a medication abortion, the most common form in the U.S. That included the order in which mifepristone and misoprostol pills should be taken, and the conveniences, like Totino's frozen pizza, that he relied on to help her manage her pain and recover.

“It's something a lot of people go through,” he said in an interview. “There are people walking around you going through this and until they feel normal and accepted, they won't be able to heal.”

The video he made received more than 1,000 comments. Sunni said she received hundreds of messages from girls and young women asking for guidance on how to get the pills and manage their pain.

“You have to navigate it,” he said, “and no one shows you how to do it.”

Another testimony came from Mikaela Attu, a Canadian who said in an interview that she was shocked by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, particularly because abortion services were not difficult to access in Canada.

In a TikTok video, she took viewers on multiple visits to the hospital near her home in Vancouver, from an ultrasound to confirm her pregnancy to a shot of her feet in stirrups at the start of a procedure to terminate it.

In another video, viewed 7.5 million times, Ms Attu spoke about the heartbreak of becoming pregnant by a man she loved but not being able to move on.

Ms. Attu and her husband plan to have children, she said, but she was dealing with mental health issues when she became pregnant last year and did not feel ready to start a family.

“I wanted to show that abortion is complicated,” she said.

Other women have made TikToks for express your pain for having an abortion.

A spectator of The video of another woman's abortion. She said it reminded her of the pain she endured when she was 16, going through her own abortion.

Desireé Dallagiacomo, 33, a writer and poet from California, recorded a video while preparing for an abortion appointment.

“I'm fine and stable,” she told viewers, “and I just don't want to have a child.”

Dallagiacomo, 33, said in an interview that she wanted to share her story, in part, to challenge dominant narratives about why people have abortions.

With abortion rights increasingly under attack, what women share about their abortions on social media has become a focus of attention.

The attorneys general of Texas, Alabama and Louisiana have expressed interest in prosecuting abortion providers and other groups that coordinate them, creating uncertainty about whether those who share information online could be held liable.

“There is a movement afoot to criminalize information,” said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, who has written extensively about abortion.

In July, a teenager in Nebraska She was accused of concealing a death, that of her aborted fetus, and sentenced to 90 days in jail. In the case, prosecutors cited facebook messages had exchanged with her mother, in which the two talked about abortion pills.

The Nebraska case suggests that the conversations people have about abortion can be used against them, Professor Ziegler said.

“In the post-Dobbs era, there is an interesting and complicated balance,” he said, between sharing stories to destigmatize the experience “and the fact that speaking openly could create unwanted legal risks.”

The specter of punishment for sharing information about abortion was just one of the ways Dallagiacomo said she found her experience with abortion “isolating.”

“There are many things that prevent us from telling our story honestly,” he said.

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