Every year at the Abortion Care Network conference we honor someone who lives the vision of stigma busting every day. This year’s recipient of the ACP Vision Award is Melissa Madera, PhD founder of the Abortion Diary podcast. This is the presentation given by Peg Johnston, Acting Chair of the ACP Board, with remarks by Melissa Madera, read by Board member Jimena Lopez.
The Abortion Conversation Project gives out small seed grants to grassroots projects that challenge abortion stigma. This year’s awardee applied twice and was rejected twice, which just goes to show that giving away money is a very imperfect and complex task.
For this person was an early leader in the storytelling movement, a pioneer in letting women who had abortions speak for themselves without the overlay of agenda or political scripts, or changing minds. She made safe spaces for women to speak publicly. She showed the incredible diversity and complexity of the abortion experience.
I am speaking, of course, of the amazing Dr. Melissa Madera, creator of The Abortion Diary, an online audio archive of over 300 stories in four languages. She has traveled to more than 20 states and 8 countries in her quest for women to tell their stories.
In her own words, "There's a lot of conversation about the diversity of narratives in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, socioeconomic status, and age, but that often doesn't take into account the diversity of emotional, mental, or physical experiences...by not listening and not putting forth (these types of) diverse narratives, the (prochoice) movement itself stigmatizes and silences. Moreover, when people don't see their stories reflected around them, they feel stigmatized and silenced... Abortion stigma ultimately results in people feeling guilty and becoming silent, ashamed, and isolated from others and from their community."
Melissa Madera is committed to changing that and continues her quest to share stories about abortion. So, we offer her this award that states, "From Silence to Dignity" and with our humble apologies, a check for $500 for gas money.
“Thank you so much for honoring me with The Vision Award. Having a “vision” is sometimes lonely. Sometimes only you can see it. My vision for The Abortion Diary has not always been something that other people saw, understood, or supported, but I have always continued to do the work and go wherever that vision leads me. But along the way I have met people that have fed my soul, and understood and supported this vision however they could. I’m especially grateful for the nearly 300 people who have trusted me with their stories. They keep me going every day.
I have always known that The Abortion Diary would be a space where we could create community, and talk about our abortion experiences in all our truth and that in that truth we could challenge all stigmas around abortion. I remain true to that work and vision, and I always will no matter who can or can’t see and support that vision.
Thank you to the Abortion Conversation Project for supporting that vision today. Thank you to this community of folks that support this project and support us in sharing our stories every day.”
(Note: Madera is currently planning a trip to Croatia, Malta, Italy, and Spain to record abortion stories.)