Preterm is an abortion provider in Cleveland, Ohio. Their Development and Communications Coordinator, Anna, joined us this week to discuss their newest campaign.
My Abortion, My Life is a public awareness campaign that challenges the silence and stigma around abortion. Our aim is simple: a world without stigma. Abortion is a common experience women undergo for many valid personal reasons. If even a fraction of the 50 million American women who have had abortions spoke about the experience, the cycle of silence, shame, and stigma would be broken.
Here are some excerpts from just a few of the many stories women from around the world have shared with www.MyAbortionMyLife.org:
I went backwards and forwards for weeks on my decision, and it wasn’t until my 21st birthday that I realized abortion was the best thing for me at this point in my life. I had my abortion a week after my 21st birthday. I was 10 weeks and 6 days pregnant, and it was the hardest day of my life. I sat in the car outside the clinic waiting to go in, and at that point I still wasn’t even sure I was going to go through with it.
It’s been 5 months now since my abortion. Although I know that it was 100% the right choice for me at the time, it still makes me sad every now and then. It is definitely a decision I will have to live with for the rest of my life, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
We are engaging the community in a completely different kind of dialogue than heard on the nightly news. It’s about opening space in our relationships so that others can share. It’s about helping all of us who have been silenced by stigma to find our voice, to speak about our own experiences, and to develop support for and trust in others.
Finally, I told her, ‘Mom, you know, I had an abortion about a year ago.’ To my surprise, she was not surprised. Instead, she replied that for years she had wanted to tell me and my siblings about her abortion. My Mother grew up with eight siblings in a Roman Catholic household, which is why I was surprised when she told me that when she was in high school she had gotten pregnant and went to her Mother, who took her to get an abortion. Her Mother was embarrassed about her daughter getting an abortion so she took her to New York where my Uncle lived, and had the procedure done there. I asked her what she thought about getting an abortion and she said that she didn’t think much of it, she was young and careless and the abortion was just something that needed to be done.
My Abortion, My Life is changing the conversation by creating safe spaces for the sharing of abortion stories and nuanced and respectful conversation about abortion experiences.
It could never happen to me. I am a planner. I am responsible. I always use protection. I waited until I was 27 to start having sex. I’m still 27. And now my abortion is part of my narrative. The weeks following my positive pregnancy test were the most difficult and trying of my life. My conservative childhood collided with my progressive adulthood and forced me to make a choice. And I chose to love myself and make the best decision for me. I am relieved. I am angry I can’t share my narrative with some of those closest to me for fear of making their worlds crash down around them. But I am empowered and thankful to be connected with a THIRD of the women in the United States—and all women throughout history who have taken control of their own bodies.
It’s easy to be a part of the My Abortion, My Life campaign. From having a conversation with a friend, to hosting a house party or inviting a speaker to your community group, there are many ways to break the silence and stigma.
Here are ways to get involved:
Share Your Abortion Story
Do you have a personal story about your own abortion or first-hand experience with someone else’s abortion? If you are willing to share, think about how you might feel comfortable telling it. You can submit your story to www.MyAbortionMyLife.org, or speak out at an event or a house party.
Start a Conversation
Talk about abortion with a friend, family member or co-worker. Share your own story if you have one. Even if you don’t have a personal story to share, you can listen with compassion and respect. Open a conversation with people in your life… you may be surprised how many have a story to share.
Throw a House Party
House parties are small, informal gatherings that promote open and honest discussion. When most people think about abortion, they think about a divisive political or moral issue. House parties provide an intimate space for people to delve into the more nuanced complexities of abortion. These can be powerful and transformative events. A toolkit and facilitators are available to help you plan your gathering and create a safe space for conversation. Find the toolkit here.
Host a Film Screening or Public Conversation
Check out our Conversation Starters list for suggestions of films, readings, and podcasts that can be the centerpiece of an event for your group or organization, large or small, and spark conversation. Representatives from My Abortion, My Life are available to facilitate discussion.
Invite a Speaker
My Abortion, My Life can provide a speaker for your class, group, or organization. Content can include background on abortion and abortion stigma, efforts to effect cultural change and shift in discourse about abortion, and how to create spaces and start conversations.
Volunteer with the Campaign
There are many ways to help spread the work and word of the My Abortion, My Life campaign—from joining our planning committee, training as a conversation facilitator, or writing about the campaign and the need to change the way we talk about abortion.
Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.