What do the ‘camping’ posts circulating on social media following the overturning of Roe v. Wade mean?

Social media users, particularly those on Twitter and TikTok, have been using the term 'camping' as coded language to describe abortion and offering to help those in states where the medical service is banned help in traveling to a state where it’s legal. — Mobile photo created by jcomp - www.freepik.com

Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that legalised abortion nationwide, people in states where abortion services remain legal have been taking to social media to offer assistance to those seeking abortions in states where it is now banned.

Social media users, particularly those on Twitter and TikTok, have been using the term “camping” as coded language to describe abortion and offering to help those in states where the medical service is banned help in traveling to a state where it’s legal.

One popular meme being shared all over the Internet says, “If you are a person who suddenly finds yourself with a need to go camping in another state friendly towards camping, just know that I will happily drive you, support you, and not talk about the camping trip to anyone ever.”

The United States Supreme Court ruled to overturn the 50-year-old precedent of Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24. The decision immediately triggered abortion bans in roughly half the states.

“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” said Justice Samuel Alito in the Supreme Court opinion released Friday.

The decision, however, is likely to not greatly change the lives of those in Massachusetts, especially after state lawmakers passed the Roe Act in 2020 which lowered the age for abortions without parental consent from 18 to 16 years old and allowed abortions after 24 weeks for a fatal faetal anomaly or if the pregnancy is harming the person who is pregnant.

‘Camping’ code word not likely to protect you

The coded “camping” language has come under sharp criticism with folks on social media calling for people to not use it and for people in need of abortion services to not accept help from those offering it.

“Using ‘camping’ as a code word for abortion isn’t gonna stop people from being prosecuted,” wrote one Twitter user. “Lots of people go to prison who use code words. That won’t save y’all.”

Those in need of abortion services should instead seek an abortion fund or abortion network, some critics of the coded language have said on social media.

“These places know how to transport you safely and discreetly,” one thread reads. “They have years of experience and have prepared for this exact moment. These individuals on TikTok and Twitter have not.”

It’s not illegal to travel from a state banning abortion to a state allowing abortion and to get that abortion care and return back, according to lawyer and Smith College professor Carrie N. Baker.

“Red states can’t control or prosecute somebody based on what happens outside of their borders, they only have jurisdiction over things that happen within their borders, that’s part of our Federalist system,” Baker told MassLive.

It’s unclear whether or not someone could be sued for helping a person from out state receive an abortion, said Baker.

“If they really want to help they should contact their local abortion fund and offer to house people and if that’s if they’re local funds not doing that, then they should contact the Brigid Alliance, and they should contribute money,” Baker said.

Smith College professor Loretta Ross said all strategies need to be welcomed when it comes to the fight for reproductive rights.

“We got a real enemy out here. And so we’re gonna need every strategy. We’re going to need every identity and every generation, doing whatever they can do where they are, in order to save women’s lives so desperately. If camping works for people or golf tourism works for people or whatever. This focus on the women in need, in the centre of our land, instead of being so critical of other people’s strategies, because we’re going to need all the strategies, not just one, we’re going to need legal strategies we’re going to need human rights defenders strategies, we’re going to need abortion funds." – masslive.com/Tribune News Service

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