Miso Cards

"This Card is an Abortion," read a handful of business cards distributed by Mixl Laufer, a DIY biohacker, at a hacking conference in Queens Friday.

Embedded in the cards are three doses of misoprostol, a medication that safely and effectively induces an abortion when properly used.

"This is a breakthrough that we had," Laufer said, explaining that having a paper card makes it possible to mail it undetected, as well as distributed in public places or semi-public places like a school's toilet. The card has the logo of the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective, a DIY medical collective that Laufer has been a key part of for years, as well as a QR code with directions on how to use it.

"Miso Cards are misoprostol abortion pills, delivered in a card format, because it's easier to send by mail. In use since the mid-1980s, it is 85 percent effective when used alone. It is one of the most effective drugs for terminating pregnancies in the first and second trimesters," the website says.

The website also has instructions for taking each dose, what to expect, and what to do if something goes wrong. Since Roe v. Wade fell, Four Thieves Vinegar Collective has been working on ways to distribute information about how to make DIY misoprostol to the masses. [...]

"Organizations like mine should not exist, we should not exist," Laufer told Motherboard after the talk. "There's nothing reasonable about this being a thing -- it shouldn't be. Makes no sense."

Update: The talk is finally online. The bit about these cards begins at around 40 minutes in.

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23 Responses:

  1. J Greely says:

    FDA raid in 3, 2, ...

  2. Waider says:

    This is a neat idea and all, but... requiring the prospective user to hit up a website to read the instructions seems a bit short-sighted given the concerns about surveillance data being handed over to enable the tracking of such users. QR codes allow embedding of all sorts of data, so why not embed a README file directly into it, or just y'know print instructions on the card so that people can just use their eyes?

    • The instructions are a bit long to print on a card of that size. That said, they could easily include them as printed pages in the envelope, so your complaint remains valid.

      • Xyzzy says:

        The instructions could be a bit shorter if they took out things like suggesting the use of homeopathic snake oil as a pain reliever.

      • jwz says:

        Will you point-missing "well actually" dipshits please knock it off?

      • Elusis says:

        Those instructions don't actually say what you do with the card, though. Are there actual tablets embedded in the cards, like those postcards with herb seeds that some gin company distributes?  

        It just me, or is it the reporting, or are these remarks from the article confusing?

        Laufer also explained how anyone can make an abortion medication on the paper card.
        The first thing that someone would need is an active ingredient of
        misoprostol, one of the two medicines that people can take to have an abortion at home, a micropipette, and a solution with 96 percent alcohol. The process, he explained, is relatively simple. One has to just mix the misoprostol with the alcohol in the micropipette, and then dosing it on the six squares in the card. Then, someone just has to put two of these squares on each cheek, wait a few hours, and repeat the process until all the squares have been used.

        • jwz says:

          Yes, the reporting is confusing. I was hoping that a video or transcript of the HOPE talk would show up eventually. It sounds to me like the cards are dosed with the medicine like an LSD blotter, but the Vice article is the only thing that mentions "put them on each cheek" (did they mean inside your mouth?) and the PDF linked to from the site itself is instructions on taking pills, not using these cards.

          • Elusis says:

            Your reading on both is my reading on both. But it makes zero sense to have the card instructions go to a .pdf about taking pills. I'm like "... pardon but do any of the people doing this project have uteruses? Or do QA?"

            (Also how big is this card? Postcard-sized?  Because 1/6th of a postcard is still.. a lot.. to stick in my cheek, esp when I have one in the other cheek too...  I know, I know, it's a political statement but I'd still like for it to be USEFUL.) (We won't go into who owns micro-pipettes.)

        • thielges says:

          "One has to just mix the misoprostol with the alcohol in the micropipette..."

          A real chemist can confirm but a pipette doesn't seem like a very good mixing vessel. Surface tension capillary action will cause uneven mixture and pipettes are thin: not much room to swing a stir stick.  Seems like you'd want to mix in a beaker first, then draw the mix into the pipette for transfer to the paper.  Descriptive accuracy was lost somewhere between the chemist and the publication.

        • jwz says:

          They have finally updated the instructions to be about the cards, instead of about pills.

          • Elusis says:

            Jesus, finally.  Thanks for keeping an eye on this. Though I have to ask myself, how much do I trust the pharma hacking skills of people who can't print the right QR code on their hack?

    • elm says:

      I think it makes more sense to read this as activism and symbolic resistance rather than an immediately practical tool.

      This is dangerous, and I expect the people behind it know that well. Mailing paper purported to contain medically-active substances on it with the expectation that people will ingest the drug is desperate. They clearly know that and express that in the news piece.

  3. Jim says:

    Remember when Princeton was the only place on the web to learn about DIY emergency contraception, decades before misoprostol became over the counter? That was one of the weirdest minor edit wars on the very strange path to getting Wikipedia's "Birth control" article to Good Article status.

  4. jwz says:

    Looks like the HOPE videos are out, but this one doesn't seem to be there. Anyone find it?

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