abortion stigma

Tinkering | By Abby Minor

Tinkering | By Abby Minor

I once heard a scholar of queer theory say that masculinity is fragile—if masculinity were so resolutely powerful, why would it need so many institutions, -isms, and machinery to hold it up?

As I look back on the year that’s just passed, I wonder if abortion stigma, too, isn’t oddly fragile: Deeply entrenched, yes, and manifest at multiple levels—from individual to institutional, from cultural to legal—but always threatening to break. Without constant scaffolding and upkeep, stigma fractures; exposed to lived reality, it tends to collapse.

Why Give Money for Stigma Busting?

The Abortion Conversation Project has given seed grants to 25 groups and individuals over the past 2 and a half years. Why? And , what is the impact?

First of all, how does culture change happen? If you are following the model that the Sea Change Program created, it starts with bringing affected individuals together to talk. Then, they might try to extend their perceptions of abortion to other people, to an institution they belong to, to the media, or to change policy or laws. Stigma works on all levels at once, so there are a lot of fronts to bust the stigma surrounding abortion.

We feel that working on a grassroots level with small groups or individuals has a lot of promise. There are a lot of national efforts, some very effective, but to engage people in a community where you can talk face to face is very powerful in shifting people’s attitudes. It’s rare to be asked to join in some activity in your town, and not just donate money or sign a petition. We think culture change starts with a connection.

We at ACP also believe in creativity and innovation.  Truthfully, we love art in all forms. We love when people come up with new and interesting ways to connect and to amplify their voices.  We hope our seed grants encourage a creative touch to busting abortion stigma.

And impact. It’s hard to know who will be touched by the new mural at Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen Texas. Or, by a Plants 4 Patients pot received by a patient at Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, ND.  We can’t always know, but we work hard with our grantees to plan and evaluate projects so that we can maximize impact.

Finally, as much as money helps, we like to think that our support helps even more. We offer advice on organizing, planning, evaluating, and more. Frankly, who doesn’t need a cheerleader for their work? 

So, just a few days til our Nov. 1 deadline. Next one July 1st!