BLANK WHITE SPACES AT THE EDGES OF PRINT
“We are the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print.” - Margaret Atwood
As a response to the recent US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade and allow trigger bans to occur in multiple states, the ongoing project consists of public domain mugshots of women convicted of a felony or crime related to the enactment of new restrictive abortion laws.
The series takes inspiration from famous historical headshots of vigilante group “Janes”. These women built their own clandestine abortion network in the South Side of Chicago between the 60-70s, providing more than 11,000 women the ability to obtain safe, free, and low-cost illegal abortions. The group was shaken in 1972, when seven members were arrested and charged with multiple counts of abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion, and were faced with up to 110 years in prison. The following year, Roe v. Wade legalized abortions and their charges were dismissed. However, in a post Roe United States, their story and legacy become more relevant than ever.
The women in the photos were convicted for everything from claims of self inflicted miscarriages, possession of abortion pills through mail or otherwise illegal forms, or for being healthcare professionals providing abortions to patients despite individual state bans.
Even before Roe was overturned, conservative states like Texas had already been working on systems to greatly reduce women's ability to receive abortion care on state soil. While the recent events have aimed a spotlight onto those being directly affected by the new bans, women being arrested for abortion care is not new whatsoever, it just was not always the most discussed political topic in a tumultuous sea of rising and falling political trends of discussion.
Taken from the famous Margaret Atwood quote in The Handmaid’s Tale, "blank white spaces at the edge of print" depicts women suffering on the fringes of society newly hyper-focused on the topic of bodily rights for women. These women have not always been the center of news outlets or headlined papers and tabloids, but have instead existed quietly in the margins of an ever deepening and complex argument in the US over women’s rights to bodily autonomy.