Six New Grant Partners Announced for Fall 2015

Abortion is so often silenced in both private discussions and public discourse, which is why ACP’s seventh cycle of seed funding aims to give voices a place to be heard in diverse communities. The Abortion Conversation Project (ACP) announced six successful grants totaling $5,000 in its Fall 2015 round of Seed Support Grants. “Each of these projects will expand where and how abortion conversations can happen,” states ACP President, Terry Sallas Merritt.

The “Artivism” project of the COLORado 1 in 3 Youth Council will blend artistic expression with activism on Denver campuses as it fosters dialogue and story collection to destigmatize abortion among young people, especially Latina women. In Buffalo, NY ACP funds will be used to start a Western NY Reproductive Justice Film Series to stimulate discussion and also encourage small acts of social awareness. The group Passion for Women and Children in Malawi will create a short video to put a human face on abortion in a country where the procedure is highly restricted and stigmatized.

The NYC Doula Project will produce an Abortion Self Care booklet to be shared with patients and other doula groups, thus sharing the philosophy of nonjudgmental care to a greater community. Lena Hann will use her Seed Grant to develop a guide to help clinic workers show interested patients fetal tissue. The Clinic Vest Project will provide more brightly colored vests to patient escort services all over the country.

“Each cycle we are impressed with the level of commitment to end abortion stigma and these projects have shown innovative approaches to shifting the culture around abortion dialogue. It is an honor for us to support them with seed funding as well as a connection for resources and problem-solving,” noted Sallas Merritt.

ACP’s mission is “to challenge the polarization that characterizes abortion conversation, lessen the stigmatization of abortion, and promote speaking and listening with empathy, dignity, and resilience about even the most difficult aspects of abortion.” In addition to funding, ACP supports grant partners in outreach, fund-raising, evaluation and sustainability or next-steps.


Founded in 2000, ACP spent its early years promoting post abortion emotional health, de-stigmatizing abortion through handouts for parents, partners, and patients themselves, and staging community conversations to have deeper conversations among diverse pro-choice audiences. Currently, ACP offers small “seed” grants to engage many more people in its mission. The next cycle starts July 1st, 2016.

The Abortion Conversation Project has a Facebook page, and Twitter @AcpAbortion. Supporters can also receive the ACP e-newsletters by clicking on the link on the home page or Facebook page.

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!

Empowering Communities: ACP Announces Five New Grants

A cultural shift about abortion can happen when people in communities start conversations, and ACP’s sixth cycle of seed funding aims to empower communities. The Abortion Conversation Project (ACP) announced five successful grants totaling $5,000 in its Summer 2015 round of Seed Support Grants. “We are building a Stigma-Busting Community from the grassroots up,” states ACP President, Terry Sallas Merritt.

  1. Texas has been hit hard by regressive legislation that has drastically limited women’s access to abortion services, affecting Black and Latina populations disproportionally. The Afiya Center is receiving funds for Texas Black Women’s Organizing Launch to create a movement for more engagement.
  2. Pope Francis is visiting Philadelphia and The Women’s Centers are organizing positive Faith Messaging During the World Meeting of Families.
  3. Activists at NYU are creating a zine on College Abortion Experiences with the support of an ACP Seed Grant.
  4. Holding the Space in the Boston area will create a space where all pregnancy losses can be recognized.
  5. Emerge, a successful after abortion support group, previously a grantee to develop a curriculum for replication in other communities, now will be offered in two cities by Backline, a national pregnancy talkline.

“It is inspiring to see the innovative projects of people who want to speak up, reach out, and make new conversations that affirm dignity and respect for those making pregnancy decisions. It is an honor for us to support them with seed funding as well as a connection for resources and problem-solving,” noted Sallas Merritt.

What’s in a logo? A beautiful future for ACP

Heather Ault, ACP Board member and creator of 4000 Years for Choice, designed a new logo for the Abortion Conversation Project. Initially she produced over 20 designs for the board to look at and  discuss.

Then attendees at the Abortion Care Network conference voted on their favorites from four possibilities. It’s amazing how engaging the process was and how thoughtful people were: “I love the conversation bubbles.” “This one is too cartoony” “Is the topic abortion or ACP?” “I like where they overlap.” “I like the free flowing one…” etc etc. Until finally a version of the logo above was chosen in a squeaker of a contest.

Logo design is not for the faint-hearted, and we are so lucky to have Heather Ault on our team! She tinkered with just the right font, the coolest colors, and different versions of the logo for various uses. Need a logo or design services? Consider Heather Ault. You can see her design portfolio at

Reaching out to new audiences: The Dating Game

ACP Board President, Terry Sallas Merritt, recently did an interview with, a decidedly new audience for the Abortion Conversation Project. Usually, and unfortunately, pro-choice activists are guilty of “talking to ourselves.” A dating site attracts ordinary people, perhaps people who have never really considered the topic of abortion. And yet, these are  folks that may face an unintended pregnancy or who have already had an abortion experience. Remember, 37% of all women will have an abortion before the age of 45. So, introducing the topic on a general interest site is precisely where we need to be.

According to Sallas Merritt, it’s all about taking small steps that stop perpetuating silence and encourage listening and understanding.

“When the conversation comes up and you hear that stigma language, you don’t want to let it hang in the air. You can say ‘For me, I would not assume I could make this important decision for anyone else but myself,’” she said. “This is what being pro-choice is all about, respecting the moral authority and capability of people to make these decisions. I think even if you are not comfortable sharing your story, you can be comfortable sharing the universal idea of respect and dignity.”

Hayley Matthews, the editor in chief of Dating Advice, is responsible for creating diverse and controversial content for the site. Even if you don’t need a date, check out her content.

Fall 2014 Funding Cycle: ACP awards four grants

How do you shift the conversation surrounding the choice of abortion? Community by community – in safe spaces designed to promote speaking openly.

The Abortion Conversation Project announced four successful grants totaling $5,000 in its Fall 2014 round of mini-grants. “We had many innovative proposals offering unique ways to extend much-needed conversations about abortion,” noted Terry Sallas Merritt, ACP Board President.

What can shifting the conversation look like?

  1. Whole Woman’s Health will coordinate the painting of a huge mural on the exterior building wall of their clinic recently closed by untenable legislative regulations, reassuring women abortion is legal in Texas.
  2. Family Tree Clinic and the Adoption Option Council of Minnesota will coordinate new connections and understanding in a facilitated day of conversation between the Adoption Community and Reproductive Justice Advocates.
  3. Balance in Mexico will present and distribute testimonies and videos of national celebrities reading aloud stories from women funded by the Voices of MARIA Fund.
  4. Two members of WIN.NYC Pro-Choice Network will distribute blank postcards in print and online venues for people to write, draw, picture their abortion connection story and then the project will showcase the postcards online and in a display for viewing and conversation.