With Roe v. Wade expected to backfire, underground Auntie Network wants to help women get legal abortions

Chicago (CBS) With the US Supreme Court widely expected to overturn Roe v. Wade, thousands of women are reaching out to underground aid groups for help.

The groups are known as Auntie Networks, and they specialize in helping women obtain safe and legal abortions. CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey spoke with two organizers as they prepare for the judges’ decision.

Lisa in Texas and Vlada in Oregon are administrators of the nearly 10,000-member Facebook group Auntie Network USA. The group is dedicated to providing support to patients seeking safe, legal abortion.

“Our mission is to help women and there is no law and no power on this earth that stand in the way,” Vlada said.

Lisa said the mission is often met with animosity.

“I’ve totally gotten, you know the DM, from — I mean, unfortunately, women are telling me that I’m like the Devil Avatar, or that I’m like the worst people in existence, ” He said.

Auntie Network USA helps arrange rides and other transportation in accessible states. The group also finds its so-called “niece” to find a place to live, and helps them with comfort items after the procedure.

Vlada and Lisa have been working since 2019 to connect volunteer “aunts” to “nieces” across the country. He saw a rise in membership after Texas implemented an almost complete ban on abortion.

In October of last year — about a month after the Texas law went into effect — Hickey spoke to a woman who had come to Chicago for an abortion.

“It was so much pressure on me, even with the hand position,” she said. “No woman should ever experience anything like this.”

Lisa and Vlada are predicting another boom if Roe v. Wade has officially turned around.

“Now that we have a system that works — and we know it works, and we know it’s safe — I think it’s okay for us to talk about it a little bit. I think That’s also to give people a sense of hope – you’re not alone,” Lisa said.

There are other Auntie Networks out there – including a subreddit with over 77,000 members. But Lisa and Vlada say their schedule is a bit different as they confirm everyone’s identities via video chat.

“We do most of our work behind the scenes,” said Vlada.

When it comes to so-called “safe haven” states like Illinois, Auntie Network USA has nearly as many volunteers as they do in neighboring states—where Roe v. Access is likely to be cut if Wade overturns.

Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan are all among 26 states most likely to ban abortions with certainty if Roe v. Wade is reversed. Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri also rank last—which would leave Illinois completely surrounded by states where abortion would no longer be legal.

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming are also on that list.

“I say to people, ‘Why do you do this?’ I say, this is a hill I’ll die every time,” said Lisa.

“I’ll go up the hill with Lisa,” said Vlada.

Illinois Right to Life stated that they were well aware of the development of the “Aunties” movement. A spokesperson issued this statement:

“The growth of the ‘aunt’ movement perpetuates the fear that pervades the pro-abortion movement: fear of others’ opinions, fear of poverty, fear of the unknown. The ‘aunt’ Reddit thread, while filled with seeming care “There’s an undercurrent of this fear. Women facing untimely, unplanned pregnancies deserve hope, they deserve solutions that help them and their babies. They deserve better than abortion.”

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