The morning-after pill was handed out at the concert

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POSITIVE
Madelyn Ritter expected to leave the St Louis date of Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts tour with merch – she didn’t expect to also go home with some free emergency contraception.
But that’s just what she saw upon entering the stadium.
There, right by the women’s bathrooms, was a table where concertgoers could donate to abortion funds and pick up free condoms and morning-after pills, sometimes referred to as Plan B.
“We noticed it immediately,” said Ritter, who is 25 (and, as she jokes, “too old” to love the 21-year-old pop star).
“I was like: ‘What’s this about?’ They told me it was free, so my sister, her friend and I all took some.
I personally don’t need it, but I’m going to save it in case something bad happens.”Last month, in conjunction with her world tour, Rodrigo launched the Fund 4 Good campaign, which aims to protect women’s and girls’ reproductive rights.
A portion of sales from the tour will go toward the fund.
As part of the initiative, Rodrigo paired with the National Network of Abortion Funds, which connected her with local chapters at various stops on the tour.
“There are plenty of singers making a stand about social issues, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” Ritter said.
View image in fullscreen Madelyn Ritter shows off the emergency contraception she picked up at an Olivia Rodrigo concert.
Photograph: TikTok user @madsritterAbortion is illegal in Missouri.
(It is only permitted in the case of an emergency that threatens the life of a pregnant person.)
Missouri Republicans are also trying to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive healthcare like STI screenings and contraception in the state.
Activists who staffed the table Ritter stopped by came from Right by You, a youth-focused text line that connects Missouri teens to abortion care out of state, birth control and information about their rights, and the Missouri Abortion Fund, which helps people cover the cost of an out-of-state abortion.
Stephanie Kraft Sheley, project director of Right by You, said that Rodrigo had not specifically asked for the organization to hand out emergency contraception, which prevents pregnancy.
“She invited us, but it was our decision to bring it and hand it out,” Sheley said.
“It fills my heart with so much joy and gratitude to Olivia, and it shows how well received it will be when other artists step up and do this.
I hope they follow this example.”Like Ritter, many concertgoers did not initially believe they could get the pill, which retails for up to $50, for free.
“There are always some people who reach for the emergency contraception and then say: ‘What do I have to do in order to get this?’ or ‘Is it really free?’” Sheley said.
“You might have to repeat that it’s free three times.
The look on their face when they realize they’re being cared for and someone wants to help, that’s what we’re here for.”Artists frequently use their tour stops to campaign for various social causes.
HeadCount, an organization that works with musicians to help fans register to vote, has gone on the road with Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles and more – including Rodrigo.
(Rodrigo herself lambasted the overturning of Roe v Wade at a Glastonbury performance in 2022, telling the conservative supreme court justices: “We hate you.”) Rarely do those initiatives go as far as doling out free emergency contraception.
But as the 2024 election cycle become increasingly tumultuous, softcore activism can feel hollow and phoned-in.
On Super Tuesday, Taylor Swift posted an Instagram story urging fans to “vote for the people who most represent YOU into power”.
The plea garnered mixed reactions online, with some followers disappointed with the vague, cautious wording.
“I care a lot about who I’m supporting and what I’m putting my money towards,” Ritter said.
“I’m glad to know that I’m supporting someone who has the same values that I do.”Though most emergency contraceptive pills are colloquially known as Plan B due to the ubiquity of that brand, the pills passed out at Rodrigo’s concert came from the startup Julie.
A representative for Julie said in a statement that the company aims to “rewrite the morning-after pill for a new generation”.
That basically means a rebrand: the package is cute and colorful, unlike more clinical-looking options.
“Replacing the stigma and shame often associated with emergency contraception with access, exploration, and education is core to who we are, and we’re thankful for artists like Olivia Rodrigo and initiatives like the Missouri Abortion Fund who share our mission,” the rep said.
Lizz Winstead founded the Abortion Access Front, a non-profit that fights for reproductive rights nationwide.
She praised Rodrigo for centering local organizations doing on-the-ground work in St Louis.
“This gives them the opportunity to provide information and tools like emergency contraception with their branding and contact information,” she said.
“Everyone at her shows can learn who to go to for care.
Long

Madelyn Ritter anticipated receiving merchandise when Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts tour stopped in St. Louis, but she wasn’t prepared for receiving free emergency contraception as well.

Upon entering the stadium, though, that’s exactly what she saw. Attendees could donate to abortion funds and pick up free condoms and morning-after pills, also known as Plan B, from a table near the women’s restrooms.

The 25-year-old Ritter, who jokes that she is “too old” to love the 21-year-old pop star, said, “We noticed it immediately.”. “What’s this about?,” I asked, after learning that it was free. My sister, her friend, and I all took some. Although I don’t personally need it, I will keep it just in case. “.

In support of women’s and girls’ reproductive rights, Rodrigo introduced the Fund 4 Good campaign last month, coinciding with her world tour. The fund will receive a portion of tour sales. At each stop along the way, Rodrigo made connections with local chapters of the National Network of Abortion Funds as part of the initiative.

Ritter remarked, “I’ve never seen anything like this. There are plenty of singers making a stand about social issues.”.

View fullscreen image Madelyn Ritter proudly displays the emergency contraceptive she received at an Olivia Rodrigo performance. Captured by @madsritter, a TikTok user.

In Missouri, abortion is not permitted. (This is only allowed in situations where a pregnant person’s life is in danger. Republicans in Missouri are also attempting to take away funding from Planned Parenthood, which offers contraception and STI screenings among other reproductive healthcare services to the state.

The activists who manned the table Ritter visited were from two organizations: the Missouri Abortion Fund, which assists individuals in covering the expense of an out-of-state abortion, and Right by You, a youth-focused text line that links Missouri teens to birth control, abortion care, and information about their rights.

According to Right by You’s project director, Stephanie Kraft Sheley, Rodrigo had not requested that emergency contraception—which prevents pregnancy—be given out by the organization. Sheley remarked, “She invited us, but we decided to bring it and give it out.”. It makes me incredibly happy and grateful to Olivia, and it demonstrates how well-received it will be if more artists take the initiative and accomplish this. I hope they take this as a model. “.

Like Ritter, many concertgoers were initially skeptical that they would be able to obtain the pill—which can cost up to $50—for free. “People frequently ask questions like ‘What do I need to do to get this?’ or ‘Is it really free?'” after reaching for the emergency contraception, according to Sheley. “You might need to say it three times again that it’s free. The expression on their face when they recognize that they are in good hands and that assistance is available is our motivation. “.

It’s common for artists to advocate for different social causes during their tour stops. Rodrigo has joined Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, and other musicians on the road with HeadCount, an organization that helps musicians register their fans to vote. (Rodrigo herself criticized the overturning of Roe v. Wade in a 2022 Glastonbury performance, telling the conservative justices of the Supreme Court, “We hate you.”. The distribution of free emergency contraception is a rare outcome of those programs.

Nonetheless, softcore activism may come across as phony and hollow as the 2024 election cycle grows more turbulent. Taylor Swift asked followers to “vote for the people who most represent YOU into power” in an Instagram story she shared on Super Tuesday. Online, the plea elicited a range of responses. Some supporters expressed disappointment with the ambiguous and circumspect language.

Ritter declared, “I’m very particular about who and what I support with my money.”. Finding someone to support who shares my values makes me happy. “.

The pills that went missing at Rodrigo’s concert were made by the startup Julie, despite the fact that most emergency contraceptive pills are simply referred to as Plan B because of how common that brand is. According to a statement from a Julie representative, the company wants to “rewrite the morning-after pill for a new generation.”. This is essentially a rebranding because, in contrast to more clinical-looking options, the package is adorable and vibrant.

“We are committed to eradicating the stigma and shame surrounding emergency contraception through education, exploration, and access. We are grateful for organizations like the Missouri Abortion Fund and artists like Olivia Rodrigo who support this goal,” the representative stated.

The Abortion Access Front is a national non-profit organization that Lizz Winstead founded to advocate for women’s rights to abortion. She gave Rodrigo credit for bringing local groups working in St. Louis to the forefront.

According to her, “this gives them the chance to offer resources and instruments like emergency contraception with their branding and contact information.”. “Everyone can learn who to turn to for care at her shows.”. People who watched Olivia’s show know where and how to make connections in their own communities, so there is ongoing support even after she is gone. That’s precisely what we require at this time. “.

Rodrigo is performing in Nebraska on Wednesday night; the state has a 12-week abortion ban with few exceptions.

Since Missouri’s abortion laws were enacted, proponents have attempted, but failed, to place the issue on the ballot for voters to decide. Missouri voters support abortion rights by a narrow margin, according to a recent poll.

Ritter, an emergency women’s health nurse at a St. Louis hospital, prioritizes reproductive rights. She has given misoprostol, a drug frequently used in abortions, to miscarrying women. In states where abortion is almost completely prohibited, miscarriages are scrutinized more, which fuels fear of criminal repercussions.

It’s repulsive to think that women don’t have the autonomy to choose the what, when, and where of their own bodies, Ritter added. “I’ve been there for women on the worst days of their lives.”. I will be attending another Olivia Rodrigo performance because I am a nurse and I care about women’s health in general. “.

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