REPRODUCTIVE

We Needed This: These Seattle Tees Aid and Abet Abortion

No Roe? No problem.

By Zoe Sayler August 24, 2022

Amelia Bonow (left) , Lila Bonow, and Emily Nokes rep Shout Your Abortion.

Abortion activists knew, long before the rest of us dared admit it, that Roe v. Wade wouldn’t last.

When the Dobbs v. Jackson opinion leaked and promised to reverse the decision many spent decades taking for granted, the only thing that surprised Seattleite and Shout Your Abortion cofounder Amelia Bonow was just how quickly the nonprofit's latest merch—tees stamped “I will aid and abet abortion” in fluorescent, iron-on-inspired ink—took off.

Amelia Bonow and Emily Nokes's shirt design, now available as crop tops.

And even that was a possibility she was prepared for: As the country reeled, stacks of shirts started piling up at North Beacon Hill print studio Ink Knife Press. “We had, in anticipation of [the final Supreme Court decision], had a bunch of stuff already made,” says Ink Knife’s founder, M. “And we had a bunch of blank garments, because we weren't sure how well this artwork would be received.” That’s the case with a lot of pieces she’s printed for the pro-abortion organization since its 2015 founding: “They don't really pull their punches, they’re very to the point, they're very unapologetic about the things that they care about.” 

But at a time when fear, anger, and helplessness threatened to prevail, the Aid and Abet Abortion tee provided a much more satisfying response: defiance. “When people put this shirt on their body, it's not just a slogan,” Bonow says. “It's a statement of intent.”

What does that statement mean? It can mean donating to abortion funds, supporting local clinics, or helping educate your community about abortion pills. But Bonow recognizes that those actions carry different levels of risk—for marginalized people, or in states where abortion is illegal, openly supporting abortion can lead to harassment or even legal troubles. In Texas, doing what this shirt says you'll do can cost $10,000 in fines: Infamous law S.B. 8 allows a civil suit to be brought against anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” The shirt, Bonow says, “is a direct subversion of that language.”

Seattle restaurateur (and fashion icon) Linda Derschang owns the tee in several colorways.

Despite being a reference to illegal activity—or, perhaps, because of it—the sentiment caught on quickly. M says that Ink Knife has “had this on the press every week since two weeks before the Supreme Court announced this decision.” The shirt’s been spotted on everyone from CNN host ​​W. Kamau Bell, who wore it on the air, to local celebrity restaurateur Linda Derschang: “I was in high school in the 1970s so I remember what it was like before and after Roe,” Derschang says. “It’s truly unbelievable that we have just taken this huge step backwards.”

Thanks to a solid bit of sloganeering from some dedicated abortion activists, though, the path forward is clearer than ever. “As we face down post-Roe America, we know what we have to do,” Bonow says. “We just need more people to help.” 

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