If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice

The reproductive justice impact of our work has meant reaching millions of people looking for a lifeline for connection, advice and understanding about self-managed abortions.

United States

The Situation

Access to abortion has become increasingly restricted across the U.S., as policy reversals have resulted in closed clinics, lack of health insurance coverage, as well as stigma, shame and criminalization of people seeking to end their pregnancies. As a result, an estimated 30 percent of people today self-manage abortion or end their pregnancy on their own. Self-managed abortions can be a safe and effective option, and using the medications mifepristone and misoprostol has become more common. However, laws around self-managed abortions are complicated and vary based on states and situations—and in some cases, politically motivated police and prosecutors may target people for self-managing an abortion or for helping someone else do so. In response, the nonprofit organization If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice created the Repro Legal Helpline, a free, confidential online-to-offiline resource to provide legal support and assist people in learning their rights regarding self-managed abortion. Over the course of 10 months, we honed a unique creative approach and ambitious digital marketing strategy to drive traffic from people considering self-managed abortions to the Helpline website.

Our Role

Resource Media worked with If/When/How to develop and launch a major nationwide marketing campaign for the Repro Legal Helpline. By leading with comprehensive landscape analyses and data gathering, Resource Media came to understand existing narratives around self-managed abortions, the motivations and values of our target audiences, and their online behavior; to inform our creative, branded campaign. We mapped our audience journeys and user experience, overcoming the challenges of working with an audience that did not wish to be identified, for privacy reasons. Then we designed an advertising strategy to reach our audience at critical touch-points such as a crisis due to an unintended pregnancy. We developed a creative concept, messaging and content that portrayed the Repro Legal Helpline as a connection between the user and legal counsel and part of the puzzle that users must piece together as they weigh their options—making it clear that there’s no such thing as a “good” or a “bad” abortion, and activating familiar ideas such as safety, privacy at home, and human connection. During the pandemic, community isolation and a need for immediate answers guided the visual style of the ads like a 30-second animated video, reinforcing the Helpline service as supportive, trustworthy and accessible to anyone, anywhere. Resource Media also adapted the ads with a multicultural lens, creating Spanish and Mandarin Chinese language versions of creative materials and “characters” to ensure our audiences identified with the people in our ads.

The Impact

Our Repro Legal Helpline multilingual marketing campaign delivered search, digital display, video, social media ads, and printed materials like stickers and wallet cards to a nationwide audience. The result was a major uptick in inquiries to the Helpline, borne out by real time evidence from If/When/How’s lawyers, as well as digital advertising metrics. Contextual and online placements of advertisements were at the heart of our strategy to reach our audience when they were most in need, based on specific search terms and online habits. The ads generated more than 46.5 million impressions, with higher-than-average click-through rates, lower-than-average costs-per-click, and extremely low bounce rates by people visiting the Helpline website from our ads. These metrics indicate the resonance of our storytelling and effectiveness of our ad-targeting strategy. The success of this advertising campaign positions If/When/How and the Helpline to be a major resource for people seeking self-managed abortions, in a context where Roe v. Wade precedent is threatened and abortion access needs are likely to increase. The reproductive justice impact of our work has meant reaching millions of people looking for a lifeline for connection, advice and understanding about self-managed abortions.