Post-Roe, "camping" has been interpreted as code for aborting. It may pose a risk to people, according to activists.

Social media has been flooded with posts by people offering to "camp" people -- coded language meant to assist people seeking abortions outside of the state -- since Roe v.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
02 July 2022 Saturday 07:21
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Post-Roe, "camping" has been interpreted as code for aborting. It may pose a risk to people, according to activists.

Social media has been flooded with posts by people offering to "camp" people -- coded language meant to assist people seeking abortions outside of the state -- since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court.

Experts and activists warn that offering shelter to strangers is not as effective as linking them with local abortion rights groups.

These posts are similar to coded language trends that people use to avoid algorithmic censorship of social media and possible detection by law enforcement.

According to Kari Nixon (assistant professor of English at Whitworth University, Spokane, Washington), a code is not a code "if everyone knows what it is." She studies medical humanities.

Nixon stated, "There seems to have been this sense of not taking it seriously enough. It is a sign that a portion of the population, no matter how well-intentioned or not, has never had to fight for their life."

Some activists stated that people who offer help without the proper training and resources are not taking into consideration the existing support networks.

"Is it just being performative?" Kiki, also known as blackpnwlady, asked the question. "Is it all just for show, and you don't intend to help?"

Kiki added, "Which also is bad" after she criticized the trend and asked for anonymity. "People will be scared and desperate. If they reach out to me and I ignore them because this all is for show, then you have someone who is scared and desperate and may not know where to go because you don’t want to help them."

TikTok users began using coded language for abortions in May when Politico published a draft opinion from the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe V. Wade.

Twenty-one states were expected to have pending or pre-existing state-level abortion bans in effect following the Supreme Court's ruling. Thirteen states have "trigger laws" -- laws that prohibit the procedure in their state, either pre-existing or pending after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

People online were quick to jump in and help after Friday's news, which has become a common reflex among "online" people especially after major events.

One TikToker user stated that camping is legal in Florida in a video posted following the decision. "If you need support or a place to recuperate while camping, I'm available to help."

Other states that have bans on abortion already exist offered their assistance, such as sending out negative pregnancy tests or transporting people out of the state.

Another TikTok user posted a video saying, "If you live Texas and need a ride for 'camping', I bought this truck I paid too high for and I think that you'd look great in your passenger seat."

People in Canada, Austria and Italy also supported the cause.

Some TikTok users in Canada offered their homes to anyone who needed abortion care. One user, who claimed she lived four hours away from Montana's border, offered to give hugging and food to anyone who needed it. Another user offered to go "wine tasting" with people.

TikTok users have also used "Paris" from the Chainsmokers as a way to show solidarity for people living in countries where abortion is illegal or not available. The videos show TikTok users lip-syncing the lyrics "If we go lower, then we all go lower together."

Nixon stated that metaphors and following a trend can reduce the vulnerability of those seeking abortion care.

She said that it is not safe to share information about abortion with strangers without knowing their true intentions. This is why volunteers are thoroughly vetted.

Nixon stated, "I believe it truly is word of mouth." "At the minimum, we are diffusing our energies whenever we put anything on Facebook or Twitter and expect that it will be a way through which a desperate lady can find a solution."

Kiki has voiced her disapproval in multiple TikTok videos as well as in a viral tweet.

She noted in her first video that established abortion funds already organize transportation, housing, and support for women traveling to have abortions. She said that the people who work with these organizations have been properly vetted and trained to assist with abortion patients.

Kiki pointed out that the trend's creators could face legal consequences if they offer their homes to strangers. She said that if they were to work through established organizations, they would have access to legal assistance and resources.

"This is the time to stop trying to be Katniss Evedeen. Take a step back and realize that in a grand scheme of rebellion, it might be you whose job is to make copies." Kiki stated, referring specifically to "The Hunger Games."

"If you really want to help, it means you are open to accepting that your job may not be glamorous."

Kiki shared a screenshot from a creator who claimed they would open their house, but then turned down the offer.

The creator of the screenshot stated that "It's the point people know they're not alone." "I don’t expect anyone to come to my home."

Nixon pointed out that many videos seem to be embodied by the "decided White Savior Complex".

Black and Indigenous marginalized communities have created whisper networks to organize mutual aid and protest. Providing help without the training, protocols or resources that community organizations have would be a discredit to these whisper networks.

Kiki, a Black woman, stated that the backlash she received for criticizing the camping trends came from white women who "had a problem" with her "tone." Kiki said that several white Twitter users did the "ally work" and supported her.

Kiki stated that most people are taught a "extremely simplified" version of civil rights movements. This is why many misguided activists participating in Roe-v. Wade protest trends "haven't been properly taught how to do activism."

Kiki stated that many white women are participating in these trends but have never taken the time to learn how to fight for their rights. It's more than just "showing up and asking politely."

Planned Parenthood Toronto requested that well-meaning supporters stop inviting strangers into their homes.

Planned Parenthood Toronto, an online guide for Canadians, urged advocates not to create new networks but to support existing ones. It warned that networks can be hacked and vulnerable to surveillance.

Mountain Access Brigade, an Appalachia-based abortion fund, stated that it has received a flood of volunteer offers.

Mountain Access Brigade asked instead for help fundraising and eager supporters to "be a resource for abortion to the people they know" in an Instagram post.

The organization was disappointed that people had not been motivated to act "at the most stressful times for organizations like ours".

After participating in the trend, some online activists are listening to their feedback.

Jess Mitter's tweet about housing visitors seeking to have abortions became viral following the Supreme Court decision. She apologized Monday.

Mitter did not immediately respond to a request for interview.

She said Monday that she was overwhelmed by emotion and tweeted an invitation to visitors to "show support for my friends" in other states.

She stated that her tweet "unexpectedly became a viral trend" and asked her followers to share information about resources such as mail-order abortion pills.

Kiki stated that protesters who took part in the trend should not be discouraged from continuing their demonstrations. She encouraged them to reflect upon their actions.

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