[NOTE: My former employer, the USPS, is close to being the least glamorous government agency. I learned there a basic lesson of working-class life: the better we did our jobs, the more invisible & taken for granted we were by the public. I’m not complaining.
But as I watched and waded in the mail stream (we did speak of it as a river: it flowed in, it flowed out; sometimes flooded), I also learned that in its routine way, the mail also delivered many more dramatic chunks of the nation’s life and the people’s’ rights. It was once necessary for freedom of the press, and much of religion. It was Amazon before Amazon, bringing much of our stuff. It even served death: the cremated ashes of many citizens have bounced anonymously down its conveyor belts into parcel tubs; and it brought life: millions of prescriptions every day.
Even though digital now reigns and hogs the attention, the USPS still does all that. There’s no 3-D printer yet that can spit out my blood pressure pills, but the carrier slides them into my mailbox, and thereby delivers one of many important pieces of my national patrimony.
When seen from this angle, it’s no surprise that the mailbox is also a frequent scene of conflict, even battle: it has been the hammer of censorship; in the antebellum South, and again in World War One, it was sifted for seeds of abolition and terrorist anarchy.
And it is now contested again. It may sound far-fetched, but is entirely plausible that soon, otherwise ordinary Americans will be clapped in jail for using the mail. . . . Maybe you. Maybe me. . . .]
The Next Phase of the Abortion Fight Is Happening Right Now in New York [And in Your Mailbox]
Prine is a New York physician and co-founder of the Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline, which provides support to people using pills to end their pregnancies on their own. She started the hotline during the Trump administration in response to escalating state restrictions. At first, with abortion clinics still operating in every state, there weren’t many calls. Then Texas banned most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, and more calls started coming in.