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Abortion Funds at Olivia Rodrigo Concerts No Longer Allowed to Distribute Contraceptives: ‘Sexual Health Tools’ Are Seen as ‘Promiscuous’

Abortion organizations hosted at Olivia Rodrigo’s “Guts” tour will no longer be distributing emergency contraceptives at the singer’s concerts.

Organizers tell Variety that after widespread media attention, local abortion funds were told Thursday afternoon that they were no longer allowed to hand out free emergency birth control pills and other reproductive health resources at the concerts.

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According to three sources at local abortion funds, that decision came from Rodrigo’s team and was relayed over Slack by the National Network of Abortion Funds, which partnered with the pop star to set up booths at each of her North American tour stops. Jade Hurley, the communications manager for the DC Abortion Fund, says the NNAF said Rodrigo’s team preferred they no longer pass out lubrication, condoms and Plan B because “children are present at the concerts.”

“The reality is that youth have sex, and youth need access to birth control and emergency contraception,” Hurley tells Variety over the phone. “What we’re doing is completely legal in all 50 states.”

A representative for Rodrigo did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

Destini Spaeth, chair of the Prairie Abortion Fund, which will have a booth at Rodrigo’s March 15 concert in St. Paul, Minn., strongly disagrees with the decision, telling Variety, “There is something really positive about a 16- or 15-year-old having a Plan B and a few condoms in her dresser to use as she needs it.”

She continues, “Sex and sexual health tools — whether that be abortion, Plan B, condoms — are villainized because you’re [seen as being] promiscuous. We don’t look at it as a sign of responsibility. … If the kids aren’t getting the education that they need in school, at least they can rely on reproductive health organizations in their communities to get that information and resources to them.”

While the organization was explicitly prohibited from distributing Plan B, lubricant and condoms at Rodrigo’s concert Friday night, Spaeth says the Prairie Abortion Fund will still be out in full force disseminating informational materials as well as hats, buttons and stickers.

Local funds had been distributing sexual health resources on the “Guts” tour since at least March 8 in Charlotte, N.C., but the initiative made global news after a photo of the free handouts, distributed by Right by You and the Missouri Abortion Fund at Rodrigo’s St. Louis show, went viral on X/Twitter.

The initiative received a largely positive response, but, as with anything pertaining to abortion, also provoked a swift backlash from conservative pundits. For one, Breitbart News tweeted about Rodrigo, “Curious how the Disney Channel churns out so many high priestesses of child sacrifice.”

Addressing concerns about children being exposed to sexual health resources, Right by You founder Stephanie Kraft Sheley tells Variety, “The idea that we haven’t been thoughtful or careful in carrying out our work at this event, or any event, is just incorrect.”

Sheley says speaking to young people at community events is quite common for Right by You and other abortion funds, which are “deeply familiar with our own communities and what they need in terms of information and resources.”

“Our position is that it does not hurt a young person to see us out in the community doing that work,” she adds. “None of that pearl clutching happened before our eyes at this event, and it nevers does. It was very normal to see a younger child walk up with curiosity with their parent and have the parent explain to them what’s on the table and why we’re here. … We’re not having children walk up and grab things off the table that aren’t for children.”

Hurley points out that much of the backlash against the funds is predicated on false information. “It’s disappointing that extremists are causing a moral panic over something they don’t even understand,” says Hurley. “They don’t know the difference between emergency contraception [like Plan B] and the abortion pill, which are two completely different things.”

She adds, “Extremists are purposefully conflating the two to restrict access and shame minors out of getting the resources they needs. … Their agenda is just control and power over autonomy, and they always go after young people first.”

Despite the decision, organizers praise Rodrigo for supporting abortion funds and other reproductive health organizations through her Fund 4 Good initiative — especially in states where abortion is banned or severely restricted.

“Nothing I am saying about this particular decision takes away from our intense gratitude that Olivia has given us this platform and this visibility. I think it is remarkable and needed, and I hope others will follow suit,” Sheley says.

Others are holding onto hope that Rodrigo’s team will change course.

“I love that Olivia has taken this public stance,” says Spaeth. “We just need our allies to be all in. We need them to be all in for us so that we can actually do our work. We can’t be given these parameters. We’re the experts at this.”

Funds associated with the “Guts” tour are clear that it was their decision, not Rodrigo’s, to hand out emergency contraception at her concerts.

“Missouri Abortion Fund and Right by You were invited to table at Olivia Rodrigo’s event in St. Louis, but it was our decision to pass out EC,” Robin Frisella, community engagement director of the Missouri Abortion Fund, writes in a statement to Variety. “While we are disappointed to learn that other abortion funds will not get the same opportunity to do the same, we are encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response. We can’t speak to why this decision was made, but we hope this conversation highlights the work being done by abortion funds across the country.”

Other organizations are finding different ways to reach the community, like the DC Abortion Fund, which tweeted ahead of Rodrigo’s July 20 concert in Washington D.C., “Little do these decision-makers know: We have no issue handing out Plan B, free of charge, on the public sidewalk outside the venue.”

Says Hurley, “We’ll keep doing our work regardless of whether we can do it in the Capital One Arena.”

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