Below is a blog post by Shout Your Abortion and coincidentally ACP chose SYA as its Vision Award recipient at the Abortion Care Network Conference March 4th.
In our award speech, we recited the great quote by Muriel Rukeyser:
“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?
The world would split open.”
Presented by Brooke Bailey and Peg Johnston, we continued: In 2015, that’s what happened when Amelia Bonow posted on social media that she had an abortion. With the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion Amelia and Lindy West unleashed a viral outpouring of storytelling. They weren’t the first to “come out” about abortion but they threw off the stigma of abortion at a crucial moment in history, and our world did split open. They followed up that viral moment with a savvy organization that continues to make room for people to stand up and shed that stigma. Shout Your Abortion makes stigma busting look cool and fun but we all know the bravery it takes to withstand the backlash of the stigmatizers. Undaunted, they keep trying out a dizzying array of strategies.
Abortion Conversation Projects and Shout Your Abortion: Partners in Stigma Busting
By Erin Jorgensen, SYA Communications Director
Shout Your Abortion recently worked with Abortion Conversation Projects to help distribute the new Shout Your Abortion book to abortion clinics across the USA. I’ve been trying to write an objective blog post about the experience, but I keep failing because everything keeps turning back to my personal experience with abortion...
Before I worked in abortion activism with Shout Your Abortion, I was (and still am!) a person who had multiple abortions. I remember the doctor appointments, the packed waiting rooms with none of us looking each other in the face. The weird silence in a room full of people, the reading material consisting of health pamphlets and months-old magazines. In my experience none of us talked to each other about what we were all there to do. Not beforehand in the waiting room as the hours dragged on, not afterwards when we got juice and crackers, not really even with the doctors and nurses themselves. No one really said the word “abortion” out loud. It is strange to realize that my abortion experiences were very isolating, even though I was surrounded by people, all of us doing the same thing.
Nothing like the SYA book existed then. I can’t imagine how comforting it would have been to pick up a book full of art, life, and people talking about their abortions on their own terms. I had no idea that so many other people had abortions, for so many different reasons. I had no idea it was ok to speak openly and freely about abortion, that it was ok to take control of your own life, that I wasn’t a bad person or even a person in the minority. I feel that a book like this would have saved me from years of shame and silence, from contributing to abortion stigma myself out of fear.
The Shout Your Abortion book is a first of its kind - a beautiful coffee table book packed with abortion art, stories, and resources. There are personal abortion stories, told in the narrator’s own words, accompanied by professional portraits; abortion art, abortion activism; abortion fashion (yes, it’s real, and it’s cool) and much more. The book is an incredibly strong testament to the strength of all of us who have decided to have abortions for any reason and to the incredible power in owning and sharing our own stories.
The book itself is a beautiful authentic work of art and we are so proud of everyone whose work and words appears in it. We are so grateful to people who offered their honest, wildly differing life stories in such a public way. With the help of Abortion Conversation Projects we have been able to get this book into abortion clinics all across the USA! We hope this book provides a sense of community, connection, and power to people waiting to get their abortions. We hope they see themselves reflected in some way and realize they are NOT alone. We hope they will take advantage of the many resources provided and are inspired to perhaps share their own abortion stories, in any way that feels genuine and safe. In this way we can dismantle the stigma of abortion one story at a time.
Thank you ACP for helping to make this happen!
Shout Your Abortion is a decentralized network of individuals talking about abortion on our own terms and encouraging others to do the same. Following the US Congress’s attempts to defund Planned Parenthood in 2015, the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion became a viral conduit for abortion storytelling, receiving extensive media coverage and positioning real human experiences at the center of America’s abortion debate for the very first time. SYA quickly evolved into a grassroots movement, which has inspired countless individuals to share their abortion stories through art, media, and community events all over the country. Learn more and submit your own abortion story at shoutyourabortion.com.
Are you a abortion clinic who received the book or would like to?
The ACP grant afforded us the opportunity to send approximately 40 books, but to date we have received 105 requests which we fulfilled with other income sources. These clinics have had books for a couple of months now and we’re excited to hear how this project is impacting their clients. If you have a Shout Your Abortion book in your waiting or recovery room, it would be wonderful if you could drop us a quick line to let us know any feedback! If you are a clinic who missed this first opportunity, please let us know about your interest here. We will be fundraising to send more books to clinics this spring!