Six billboards went up around the San Francisco Bay Area yesterday (February 5) with the following message: “Patients need medically accurate information, not politically-motivated deception about abortion.” The billboards feature the photo of Monica McLemore, a nurse and abortion provider at University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. The group behind the billboards, the Abortion Care Network (ACN), is a national association for independent abortion providers.
The billboards are part of an ACN campaign in response to the California Board of Registered Nursing’s approval of a continuing education course on medication abortion “reversal.” The course was a source of controversy before an approval was issued in December, according to Rewire. It’s taught by Heartbeat International, an anti-abortion group that is “best known for its network of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, or fake clinics,” Rewire reports.
Abortion “reversal” is a scientifically unproven method of stopping an in-progress medication abortion. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) came out against the procedure, writing that “claims of medication abortion reversal are not supported by the body of scientific evidence, and this approach is not recommended in ACOG’s clinical guidance on medication abortion.”
This practice was in the news recently when Vice News reported that Scott Lloyd of the Office of Refugee Resettlement—the same office under fire for trying to prevent undocumented teens in their shelters from accessing abortions—talked to staffers about potentially using it on a teen in their custody.
Billboards are not a new arena for abortion debates. In 2010, a series of anti-abortion billboards carrying statements like “Black children are an endangered species” and “the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb” set off a firestorm of controversy. More anti-choice billboards featuring Black infants showed up in 2015.
The goal of the campaign is public awareness, and the billboards have been placed near crisis pregnancy centers, which an emailed ACN statement describes as “anti-abortion storefront operations that masquerade as legitimate women’s health clinics and provide false information about abortion, pregnancy, and birth control.”
ACN is also collecting signatures for a petition to be delivered to anti-choice politicians. Nikki Madsen, executive director of ACN told Rewire: “We have to make a public statement and really raise public awareness that this is misleading information, not based on science, and it’s politically motivated purely to deceive, pressure and shame our patients.”