HomeUSACan Banning Abortion Pill Chemistry Help Un-Ban 3-D Printing Guns?

Can Banning Abortion Pill Chemistry Help Un-Ban 3-D Printing Guns?

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Abortion is the most divisive issue in the country, with opinions differing along several dimensions. There are people who call themselves personally pro-life but politically pro-choice. There are people who think abortion should be a federal issue versus those who think it should be left to the states, as it was before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The legality of abortion itself opens up a wide variety of beliefs and opinions divided into several camps: mostly legal with limits, mostly illegal with exceptions, completely legal with no limits, completely illegal with no exceptions, bans based on genetic testing, bans on sex-selective abortions, and combinations thereof.

The post-Dobbs landscape has seen a lot of movement on several fronts, with states like Kansas and Ohio legalizing abortion via ballot initiative, and states like Alabama and Florida imposing strict limits.

There are also attempts to limit access to the chemicals in abortion pills, namely, misoprostol and mifepristone, with a lawsuit underway at the Supreme Court. Regardless of where one stands personally and politically on abortion, it’s undeniable that there’s a demand for abortion that’s not going away, ever. Women travel out of state to get abortions if they think it’s necessary. States like New York are shipping abortion pills to states that restrict abortion.

During the months leading up to the historic Dobbs decision that overturned Roe, an “Anarchist Collective” disseminated instructions (archived link) on how to make your own abortion pills.

Anarchist Collective Shares Instructions to Make DIY Abortion Pills

With the Supreme Court poised to overturn the constitutional right to abortion, an anarchist collective that makes DIY medicine has released detailed instructions for making abortion pills. The group has previously released instructions for making a DIY Epipen and for making daraprim, the pill that made “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli infamous.  

The Four Thieves Vinegar Collective first demonstrated how to make misoprostol tablets, which are used to induce an abortion, at the Please Try This at Home conference in Pittsburgh in 2019. Last year, after Texas passed a near total abortion ban, Mixael Laufer, who runs the collective, published a 17-minute video explaining how to make the pills at home.

This anarchist collective published DIY instructions to subvert controls on abortion and render them meaningless.

“The first thing to mention is this has been put together with a little bit of haste,” Laufer says. “There’s been a great deal of panic because the Republic of Texas has gotten up to some shenanigans to benefit people who are in power and to keep a bunch of other people powerless.”

Regardless of where one stands on abortions, the logic of equalizing the powerful and the powerless is familiar to gun rights supporters. We have seen this movie before in our arena, and that’s with 3D printing guns. Recall Cody Wilson, the man generally regarded as the pioneer of 3-D printed guns with his work on The Liberator:

Last year [2013], Wilson and crew unveiled The Liberator, a plastic pistol they created on a 3D printer that fired a shot heard around the world. Then they put the 3D-printing files (or CADs) up on the Internet for free. To folks interested in cutting-edge technology and decentralized experiments in living, Wilson’s gun symbolized an age of uncontrollable freedom. To lawmakers, it symbolized a threat that moved faster than, well, a speeding bullet.

The logic of disseminating instructions for DIY abortion pills and DIY guns is, in effect, the same: undermining and thwarting attempts to curtail different freedoms. I acknowledge that some readers will simply not accept abortion as a freedom at all, but the overall analogy is about the State as an entity and the limits of what it can do.

The 3D printing community’s efforts have run into resistance. The US Department of State used “export control” laws to muzzle what’s basically free speech they don’t like. Likewise, New Jersey and Pennsylvania jumped to ban 3D printing files and instructions. New York and California are taking it a step further, trying to control the supply of basic $300 3D printers that can make anything from small figurines to pistol frames. 

But what’s good for the 3D-printed gun gander is good for the DIY abortion pill goose. Perhaps a deeply anti-abortion state like Alabama should pass a law banning Internet access to the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective’s abortion pill instructions. Texas could go one step further and sue the collective’s members and hound them like New York is throwing Dexter Taylor inside a cage for 10 years.

The gun control side is often pro-abortion. Retaliating against unrelated parties is a bad idea. But absurdity can serve a purpose, and giving abortion supporters a taste of their own DIY medicine might open their eyes to what’s being done to those on the gun rights side. If they don’t do so already, I hope they realize that free speech is what it is, and it covers instructions to make both abortion pills and guns.

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