On Friday 24 June, the US Supreme Court voted to overturn the landmark case of 1973, Roe v Wade, thus ending the constitutional right to abortion. Hours after the decision was published, states began banning abortion – 26 states are currently certain or highly likely to outlaw it with almost no exceptions.
This has been in the works for quite some time. In 2019, several states passed “heartbeat bills” which banned abortion from six weeks into a pregnancy. Then in May 2022, a leaked document suggested US Supreme Court justices were planning to support the overturning of Roe v Wade. In the end, justices voted in a 5-4 decision to overturn Roe v Wade and the court ruled 6-3 for Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
As the news broke, people flocked to social media and took to the streets to react and protest the decision. At Glastonbury Festival, performers including Kendrick Lamar, Phoebe Bridgers, Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion and Lorde criticised ruling, and Olivia Rodrigo named each justice who voted to overturn Roe v Wade and added, “we hate you!” before singing F**k You with Lily Allen.
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Unsurprisingly, Twitter and TikTok have been the leading platforms for online reactions with #RoevWade reaching over 2.8 billion views on TikTok. These platforms have also been highlighting how the ruling impacts privacy data, with users encouraging one another to delete their menstrual tracking apps so their data cannot be used against them in potential future criminal cases.
If you’re not familiar with language on TikTok, creators have long used code phrases for words such as sex (‘seggs/s3x’) to avoid being shadowbanned or violating community guidelines – now they’ve adopted new phrases to discuss abortion (often written as ‘ab0rtion’).
People who are offering their homes to others who need to travel out of state for an abortion are using code names phrases such as “camping” or asking if people want to discover a new place while using the song Paris by The Chainsmokers and tagging #ifwegodownthenwegodowntogether, which has over 33 million views.
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Many US creators have been using their online platforms to reshare information on Instagram Stories and UK influencers have been speaking out against the ruling also. Beauty journalist Ateh Jewel shared a photo from The Handmaid’s Tale and explained her thoughts on the announcement, noting “…the overturning of Roe V Wade is about control and misogyny.”
Model Simone Murphy posted a series of tweets and told her followers, “We should all be very alarmed that a developed global superpower has made the decision to allow states to make abortions illegal.” Blair Imani, who is based between the US and UK, explained the overturn of Roe v Wade and its consequences in her Smarter in Seconds series and shared a list of resources.
However where some have been vocal, many high-profile influencers have also been noticeably quiet, and this isn’t the first time influencers have remained silent on political issues – many were muted about Russia’s war on Ukraine.
US YouTuber Meghan Reinks took to TikTok to air her frustrations about influencers not speaking out about the decision and explained, “Here’s what it boils down to me for. Why should your followers give a sh*t about you, if you do not care about their literal rights?”
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Some creators have already explained they will not be discussing the recent restriction of abortion rights. In a now-deleted video, US lifestyle TikToker Taylor (MadeAndTaylored) responded to a comment about her silence on the overturning of Roe v Wade and said, “I’m not going to use this platform in ways I don’t feel comfortable using it. And if that is something you cannot respect, then I ask you to please unfollow my page.” Makeup artist Mikayla Nogueira, hair TikToker Theresa Van Dam, and family TikTokers Hunter and Devin Cordle are some of the many influencers who applauded her stance.
But in 2022, can influencers still avoid discussing the news and Supreme Court decisions? Time will tell.
Women’s rights are at the centre of furious discussion, and as we’ve seen time and time again, social media is a powerful tool that can spark change, raise awareness and lead to offline action. As the consequences of overturning Roe v Wade emerges, influencers taking a stance play an important role online in educating and informing their own communities as the ruling continues to have a worldwide impact.
By Caroline Edwards, staff writer at CORQ. Picture credit: The Times via Instagram