How Do We Shift Attitudes about Abortion?

Announcing Our Newest Grant Partners

The Abortion Conversation Projects is a volunteer led group that funds small grassroots projects that challenge the stigma of abortion.  “With 62 funded projects and many other projects offered advice and resources, ACP is constantly looking at the ‘how’ of shifting attitudes,” said Peg Johnston, co-chair of ACP. “Our four most recent grant partners offer four distinct approaches to community-based social change.”


The Louisiana Abortion Stories Project is archiving the stories of women who have had an abortion, collected by the Louisiana Abortion Fund. Powerful storytelling is an important strategy in addressing stigma and the group will access a local radio show to share stories. “Part of how stigma works is by internalizing negative attitudes and telling your story breaks the silence and shame,” comments Terry Sallas Merritt, co-chair of ACP.


The Sister Network in Sweden is focusing its efforts on Polish doctors and providers whose prejudices against abortion, even for fetal anomalies, cause women to seek services in other countries and sometimes less effective methods available on the internet.  “Fighting Reproductive Stigma among Polish Healthcare Providers” will expose the medical community in Poland, where abortion is legal but inaccessible, to a more supportive, non-judgmental patient centered model.


“Outfitting Our Troops: Reproaction Visibility at Actions” has a simple approach: brightly colored t-shirts to brand Reproaction at its innovative demonstrations. “T-shirts are a remarkable conversation starter,” commented Merritt.

Lena Hann has spent years exploring how and whether clinics show fetal tissue to their patients. “ACP has taken an interest in this topic, and Lena has advanced people’s comfort levels with the conversations about fetal tissue. Confronting the reality of abortion in an open and honest way is a powerful way to challenge stigma,” explains Johnston. ACP is funding the printing and distribution of Hann’s “Fetal Tissue Viewing Guide” for clinic staff.

These four new Grant Partners bring the total number of ACP-funded projects to sixty-two. This cycle awarded nearly $7000; ACP fundraises each year to pay for seed grants and expenses. Started in 2012, ACP’s seed grant program has recently supported the distribution of Shout Your Abortion’s coffee table book of stories and images and bringing the Southern Justice Birth Doulas’ training to black, brown, and other marginalized groups in South Florida.

Kindred Connections: Why This Non-Religious Doctor Attended a Faithfully Prochoice Training | By: Alexander Curtis, M.D.

Kindred Connections: Why This Non-Religious Doctor Attended a Faithfully Prochoice Training | By: Alexander Curtis, M.D.

“So why would I want to talk with members of Midwestern religious communities about reproductive choice despite unpleasant previous experiences under similar circumstances? As a doctor, I understand the science behind abortion and the dramatic physiologic transformation that pregnancy induces. As a feminist, I support a woman’s right to control her own reproductive destiny. Yet, science and reason alone will not stop religious or political opposition to abortion. If a faith-based group that claims to utilize prophetic witness and pastoral presence to protect reproductive choice is willing to share its insights on how to advance our common interest, then my decision to participate was easy.”

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.

Five New Grantees Bust Stigma


The Abortion Conversation Projects (ACP) Board selected five projects that address abortion stigma for funding in its Fall 2017 cycle. “We chose proposals that would benefit most from seed money and from our capacity to engage with our resources, expertise, and interests,” observes Peg Johnston, Acting ACP President.

Two of the grantees are continuations of previous Grant Partners’ work: COLOR is a group that reaches out to Latina populations in Colorado with normalizing images and messages about abortion. They will be travelling with a Photo Exhibit and a Theatre production “Relatively Normal” that they will be translating into Spanish. Jessica Lechtenberg will be assisting Lena Hann, PhD in testing a Best Practices Guide on Fetal Tissue Viewing.  They have found that clinic staff are looking for guidance when patients ask to see fetal tissue. Last year ACP collaborated on staff education  in discussing other aspects of fetal tissue policy.

Shout Your Abortion (#ShoutYourAbortion) is national group dedicated to helping people affirm their abortion experience. They are creating a high end “coffee table book” with art and stories and ACP will help them distribute copies to independent abortion facilities. EMA (Emergency Medical Assistance), an abortion fund in Palm Beach, will also showcase women’s abortion stories to stimulate public discussion of the reality of abortion experiences and especially the barriers women face.

The Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice received a grant to assist their training of clergy in a tri-state area. Clergy have been effective allies and further training will help them serve abortion patients and their own congregations as well as speak publicly against abortion stigma.

These five new grants bring the total number of projects up to 55 ACP grants since the seed grants program started in 2012 and join recent projects such as In This Together Project (Michigan) which supports staff as well as providing activities for children who may have to accompany patients. “Not At Home”, an Irish Theatre company, continues to educate the public about women who have to leave their home country to access abortion care.

Abortion Conversation Projects is committed to eliminating the stigma of abortion by supporting individuals and small groups engaged in innovative community-based projects that create new ways and opportunities to talk about abortion honestly and publicly. 

ACP designs, contributes, participates, and collaborates on stigma busting projects. ACP forms Grant Partnerships, created to reduce  the stigma surrounding abortion. Our work includes webinars, trainings, workshops, community-based seed grant funding and partnerships with our allies and grant partners. The next grant cycle is July 1, 2018. For more information consult the website, or Facebook page: Abortion Conversation Projects, or join the mailing list.