Archive by Author

Blog Transition, or In Pursuit of the Next Abortion Gang

30 Oct

I started the abortion gang blog in March 2010. The debate over healthcare reform raged on, seemingly without end. Then-representative Bart Stupak made a snide comment about having an “abortion gang” ready to veto the proposed bill if it didn’t contain restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion. I decided that if anyone should have an abortion gang, it should be a group of young, fierce abortion rights activists, certainly not some reactionary old white guy who clearly repudiates everything that a real “abortion gang” would stand for. Around the same time, several mainstream media articles quoted feminist leaders proclaiming that young people don’t care about abortion rights. That just about put me over the edge, so I did what I knew how to do best: I took the rage to the internet and started this blog.

Over 650 posts later, we’ve blogged about everything from a to z. We’ve had 43 different bloggers and over 55 guest posts. We’ve gotten tattoos, had children, had abortions, gotten new jobs, started and finished graduate school. Many of us came to this blog as with idealistic young radicals. Most of us are still young (three years isn’t that long), but we have transitioned a lot over the past few years, and it’s time for the blog to have a fresh face and new perspectives.

You may have noticed that there haven’t been many posts over the last few months. We’ve been having offline conversations about how to move forward with the blog. We want to keep it as a space for young (millennial) activists to experiment with ideas, strategies, thoughts, experiences, and more, outside of an organizational structure.

To that end, we’re offering this space up to new writers. About half of the current writers (myself included) will cycle off. We’ll pass the passwords to the facebook, twitter, email, and website on to the new folks who want to take over this space. About half the current writers will stay on, because they are devoted to the blog and want to keep writing in this awesome space we’re created.

If you and/or your crew are interested, email us at info AT abortiongang DOT org. Let us know what direction you want to take the blog in, what you want to write about, and why. We’re hoping to hand off the blog by January 2014 at the latest. We’re not looking for essays or anything—just a commitment to documenting feminist badassery.

Until then, you may see sporadic posts here. But know that we’re doing the hard work of evaluation and transition. Any thoughts, comments, etc. can be emailed to us: info at abortiongang dot org or posted in the comments.

We Love You, Texas

26 Jun
Texas Feminist Army! Image via.

Texas Feminist Army! Image via.

Last night, hundreds of pro-choice Texans and a badass Senator stood for over 13 hours to make sure that a terrible anti-abortion bill DIDN’T PASS the senate. AND THEY WON. They fucking won.

If this has got you feeling inspired, support the local Texas organizations working every day to make abortion access a reality:

The Lilith Fund

The Texas Equal Action Fund

Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas

Whole Woman’s Health

And of course, the inimitable Senator Wendy Davis.

Remembering Dr. Tiller: Creating Safe Spaces for Abortion Providers and Patients

7 Jun

Four years ago last week, Dr. Tiller was murdered while ushering at his church in Wichita, KS. Dr. Tiller was most well known for providing abortions after 24 weeks for patients who couldn’t be seen elsewhere; his clinic was one of the only places in the country where people who needed abortions in the third trimester could go to receive safe abortion care.

What’s happened to the landscape of later abortion care since Dr. Tiller’s murder? In a political environment where some states are trying to restrict abortions at 12 weeks, it’s no surprise that there are now only two states where it’s legal to obtain an abortion after 26 weeks. Who are the clinicians providing this care? What are their stories?

The movie After Tiller attempts to answer this question by profiling four abortion providers–Dr. Leroy Carhart, Dr. Warren Hern, Dr. Shelly Sulla, and Dr. Susan Robinson–who’ve pledged to carry on Dr. Tiller’s work of providing later abortion care. The movie is beautiful both in aesthetics and in spirit. We see each provider grapple with the moral complexity that sometimes comes with providing abortion care, and yet the movie isn’t really about whether abortion is right or wrong, but rather how these clinicians treat their patients. We see them comfort and coach their patients through heart-wrenching circumstances, even providing patients with language to help explain their pregnancy loss to family and friends. We see them talk openly about their own moral struggles in performing later abortions, how they decide if they’re able to perform an abortion for someone, and what happens in the circumstances where they cannot. We see them emphasize time and again that they believe that women can struggle with complex moral and ethical issues, including a ending a pregnancy in the third trimester.

While watching the film, I kept waiting to hear more from patients. All we see of them throughout the movie is their clasped hands or messy ponytails. We hear their shaky voices, but we never see their faces. I can imagine that Martha and Lana, the film directors, probably asked patients if they wanted to be filmed head on, and they declined. They have every right to do so. When you take into consideration the risks involved in putting a public face to later abortion—possible community condemnation, judgment from friends and family, not to mention harassment from anti-abortion activists—it makes sense to keep a low profile. In a cultural context where abortion even in the first trimester is so stigmatized, it makes sense that a family pursuing an abortion in the third trimester wouldn’t want their experience or their faces to be made public.

Yet this disappearance of the full selves of patients makes me uneasy. It gives the impression that these patients were victims, and that doctors were their saviors. These wonderful, brave doctors got to have faces, full stories, moral complexity. Patients didn’t even have names. I don’t think the filmmakers intentionally created this dichotomy. Of course, with all the rampant negative stereotypes about abortion providers, “savior” may be a welcome label. Yet it doesn’t leave room for these physicians to be just that—doctors who are following their conscience and taking care of their patients.

Maybe I am asking for too much. Abortion providers, especially providers of abortion in the second and third trimester, are frequently victims themselves of vicious anti-abortion smear campaigns, not to mention under the near-constant threat of violence. This film is explicitly about showing the compassion and empathy inherent in providing abortion care, particularly later abortion care, and it does a remarkable job. Perhaps it’s not the right space to tilt the camera up and allow patients the same room to talk about empathy and compassion in ending their pregnancies. As I watched the movie I found myself wondering what other abortion providers would think. Do they think of themselves as “saving” their patients? Do these four providers in the film think of themselves as heroes? In fact, on a panel with the four profiled providers after the movie, one of them explicitly said that she doesn’t like being referred to that way.

There’s no doubt in my mind that After Tiller is a significant film. Everyone who can see it should. It lets the audience go behind the curtain of the political debate on abortion and into the realm of personal experience. I hope we can continue to explore personal experiences with later abortion care, and find ways to include the voices of people who obtain abortions, too. Dr. Tiller said that he was a “woman-educated physician.” I’d like to think that part of honoring his memory is figuring out how address the risks of sharing personal experiences with abortion so that the people who educated him can educate us, too.

Remembering Dr. Tiller: Reflections Four Years Later

31 May

May 31, 2013 marks the fourth year since Dr. Tiller, an abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas, was brutally murdered while serving as an usher in his church. Dr. Tiller was known worldwide as a provider of compassionate, kind, respectful later abortion services that focused on preserving the dignity and integrity of his patients.

To honor his legacy, the Abortion Gang and the Provider Project asked folks to reflect on later abortions. Below is a list of posts taking on this topic and thinking about Dr. Tiller. This list will be updated as the day goes on:

Dr. Tiller Remembered
The Legacy of Dr. George Tiller
In Memory of Dr. Tiller, on the Fourth Anniversary of His Death
Dr. Tiller, Beatriz, Savita, and all the others
Remember
Remembering Dr. Tiller
Dr. Tiller was my abortion provider and he changed my life
On Anniversary Of Dr. Tiller’s Murder, Anti-Abortion Harassment Is Still Hurting Women And Doctors
Abortion Rights 2013: To Honor George Tiller’s Legacy, Give to An Abortion Fund
Late-term abortions: Remembering Dr. Tiller
I write letters

If you’ve written a post in honor of Dr. Tiller and don’t see it above, please email the URL to info@iamdrtiller.com or tweet the link to @AbortionGang.

Remembering Dr. Tiller: A Call for Collective Remembrance

29 May

This Friday, May 31, 2013 marks the 4th anniversary of Dr. George Tiller’s murder. One year ago, we at the Abortion Gang and the Provider Project hosted a collective blog call for remembrance in his honor, and we’d like to make this an annual tradition. Unfortunately, threats against abortion providers are still all too real and we are fighting an ongoing battle against abortion restrictions across the United States. This year has seen a surge particularly in laws banning abortion after certain points in pregnancy, from a 12-week ban in Arkansas to the recent proposal to ban abortion nationwide after 20 weeks. Dr. Tiller was widely known for his 2nd and 3rd trimester abortion care, and it was ultimately his unwavering commitment to providing these services that was the reason for his assassination four years ago.

In light of that, we’d like for posts this year to address the question of later abortions, specifically those performed in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. Your post could use some of the following questions as a jumping-off point:

  • Why are there so few later abortion providers in this country? How can we improve the situation so that more doctors provide this care?
  • Why is it so important that abortion remain legal past 20 weeks?
  • How would a nationwide 20-week ban affect the country, or your community? How might it affect your personal reproductive health decisions?

In your post, please link back to this blog post so that folks can come here and find links to other reflections on Dr. Tiller.

The Abortion Gang and The Provider Project will post links to pieces written answering this question, starting Friday, May 31 through the following Friday, June 7. Please feel free to forward this call for posts to anyone who you think would be interested in honoring Dr. Tiller’s legacy. Send the links to your posts to info@iamdrtiller.com and lily@theproviderproject.org, tweet them to @AbortionGang and @Provider Project, or leave them in the comments.

What do polls about abortion really tell us?

5 Feb

Wall Street Journal: 7 in 10 Americans support Roe v. Wade.
Gallup: Americans favor legal abortion, they don’t overwhelming support abortion after the first trimester.
Pew: Most millennials don’t know that Roe is about abortion, but favor the decision once they’re told what it’s about.

How do we make sense of this data? What do these polls actually mean for the pro-choice and reproductive justice movements?

Interpreting polls is not easy. We can dissect each and every poll, hoping it will get to the truth of our nation’s beliefs about abortion, but in reality, these polls are brief snapshots–they tell us part of the story, but not the whole story. The many barriers to abortion access that we fight on a daily basis–from waiting periods to forced ultrasounds to the Hyde Amendment–are the result of coordinated, well-funded anti-abortion campaigns at the national and state level. If we think about social change as happening only in legislatures, then I can see why so many people are so pessimistic  about the future of abortion rights and access in the United States. While it may look bleak from a purely legislative standpoint, I think there’s actually much to be hopeful about.

Instead of looking at our movement as scrambling to catch up to the anti-abortion movement, I would like to see us shift gears and see how abundant our resources are, and figure out how to use them to our greatest potential. We have at least a dozen well-established, well-funded national organization that a majority of the American public supports. Many of these organizations have affiliates with local activists in every state. There are dozens and dozens of smaller organizations such as COLORNational Advocates for Pregnant WomenSpark Reproductive Justice NOW,  and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, working to fight for the reproductive rights of all people, not the privileged few, and encouraging our legacy pro-choice organizations to consider the reproductive justice framework. There is a growing and vocal movement of activists, many under 40, who work outside the traditional pro-choice movement power structure and are also urging our legacy organizations to be bolder in their visions. It is limiting and shortsighted to look only at our problems; it’s also not a very good recruitment strategy. Who wants to be a part of a movement that appears to be in constant crisis?

In addition of naming all the struggles we are facing (and there are many), what if we also thought about our potential? Fighting anti-abortion bills in state and national legislatures is not enough. Are we a political movement only? Or are we also a movement for social and cultural change?

Some people are inspired by phrases like “the war on women”—it galvanizes them to participate in the struggle. Others find that kind of language exhausting and exclusive. How many times can you read the headline, “this is the WORST attack we’ve seen” without getting compassion fatigue?  In addition to taking stock of what’s going wrong, what if we also provided support and opportunities for people to re-engage with activism on their own terms? I’m thinking specifically of a new initiative called CoreAlign, which is providing people with a space to discuss the tough questions faced by the pro-choice and reproductive justice movements: Do we want the government in or out? How do we talk about gender in our movement? What kind of abortion stories do we tell to advance our goals? Evaluating where our movement’s been and where it’s going can only make us stronger. And we’ll need a strong movement to fight the legislative hurdles we’re facing.

Engaging in these exploratory, movement-focused questions is often seen as  competing with our legislative work. We can’t function on this binary. We must set gears in motion for both political and cultural change and engage everyone in the process–grassroots activists, abortion fund volunteers, people with mixed feelings about abortion, people who have and haven’t had abortions, political organizers of all stripes. Leadership requires us to go beyond public opinion polls and lead people to where we want them to be. The anti-abortion movement has been doing this for decades. It’s time we stepped up to the plate.

Happy holidays!

20 Dec

Happy Holidays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy holidays from all of us at the Abortion Gang. We’re taking a short blogging vacation and will be back in January with the same sassy and sharp reproductive justice commentary that you love. If you miss us too much, find us on twitter and facebook.

PS Thanks to the amazing and talented Megan for our holiday graphic.

Is coming out about abortion really similar to coming out as LGBTQ?

29 Oct

Over the last few years, the abortion rights movement has lamented over how one of our sister movements, the gay rights movement, has made a lot more progress than us. We point to shifting cultural attitudes towards gay folks, the success of gay marriage campaigns, the enactment of anti-discrimination legislation, positive mainstream media portrayals, and a general sense that the tide is turning on homophobia as an acceptable mainstream political platform. This is obviously a simplistic distillation of some of the successes of the gay rights movement, which of course has its own problematic elements. Taking that into consideration, what we can learn from one movement’s perceived success and another movement’s perceived stagnation?

I hear repeatedly from colleagues in the pro-choice movement that the continued success of the gay rights movement is due in large part to people coming out, making themselves seen to their friends, families, neighbors, employers, and publicly taking pride in their identity. If only people would come out about their abortions, they wonder, then we could really create some culture change. To be completely transparent, I myself have advocated for this very strategy. But the more I learn, the more I realize that this is a flawed and incomplete approach.

It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: encouraging people to “come out” is not a one-way ticket to a movement’s success. We need to invest in supporting people who have abortions before asking them to be public about their experiences. I’m not going to talk about why it’s problematic to suggest that the success of a movement relies on the systematic outing of some of the most marginalized folks in society without offering them any support (Katie Stack can talk to you about that). Instead, I’m going to make some much-needed distinctions between coming out about an abortion and coming out as LGBTQ, and suggest ways that we can transform some of the models of the LGBTQ movement to foster an environment in which people want to come out about their abortions.

1. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and/or queer is often a large part of someone’s identity. It’s a core component of how you move around in the world. Having an abortion is not a parallel identity marker. We see this time and again in abortion research–often, people who’ve had abortions don’t consider that experience to define who they are, and rightly so. Why should someone “come out” about a medical procedure they had once or twice if they don’t think it has anything to do with who they are, or how they want to be known in their communities?

2. Similarly, when someone “comes out” about being LGBTQ, they often have a specific community in which to come out into. Whether that person has a local LGBTQ community or not, there are national LGBTQ communities, and they are visible. When a woman “comes out” about having an abortion, there is not similar community for her to join or imagine herself joining. There’s no national visibility. There isn’t even a word like lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer, for people who’ve had abortions. Abortion alum? Abortion-havers?

3. When there isn’t a local or national community, there also isn’t local or national support. It would be inaccurate to say that every person who comes out as LGBTQ has the support of their communities and those they love. Obviously this is not the case. But there are LGBTQ community centers, hotlines, support groups, shelters, pride parades, bars. There are very few support groups for women who’ve had abortions, and most of them are run by the anti-choice movement. There are three non-judgmental post-abortion support hotlines in the entire country (Backline, Exhale, and Connect & Breathe). Three for the 1.2 million women who have abortions every year. How can we ask women to “come out” about their abortions if we don’t invest in the infrastructure necessary to support them in their “coming out” process?

There are obvious overlaps in LGBTQ identity and “abortion-having” identities, and of course there are people who fit in both categories. But when we encourage people to “come out,” we have to ask ourselves: what are we asking them to come out INTO? If there’s no local or systemic support for people who have abortions, if we live in a culture entrenched in abortion stigma, what are the actual benefits of someone coming out about her abortion experience?

I don’t think these differences mean we abandon abortion coming out as a destigmatization strategy or a culture shift strategy. But I think we’re going about it the wrong way. We can’t push people out of the abortion “closet” and off a cliff–with no systemic, cultural, or familial support. If we want people to come out, we have to invest in social support, and in figuring out what facilitates people coming out and why.

We have a lot to learn from the gay rights movement, but instead of copying and pasting their strategies, we need to adjust them to fit our movement’s realities. How?

  • Creating a group like PFLAG for abortion and establishing roles for people who are allies of women who have abortions
  • Continuing to specify what “coming out” means (for example, mothers telling daughters, friends telling friends, etc)
  • Addressing the lack of support for people who have abortions, and encouraging funders to invest in talklines, support groups,  community centers, or other support mechanisms (let’s ask people who have abortions what kind of support they want and need)
  • Figuring out how to help women who have abortions in finding one another
  • Addressing stigma by ensuring that all conversations about abortion involve how you would treat a person who has had one
  • Making sure that television and film representations show women not as alone or isolated in their abortion decisions, but instead, supported and loved
  • Listening to abortion stories, even ones that contradict your perspective or policy initiatives
  • Engaging thoughtfully in the comments section of first person abortion narratives online
  • Supporting your friends when they have abortions, and supporting them  if/when they decide to talk about their experience with others

The next time you see a pro-choice movement organization pushing a “coming out” campaign, ask yourself: are they supporting the people they’re asking to come out? How? Why are they asking people to come out? We can’t expect people to take a risk if we’re not willing to support them in taking that risk.

Full disclosure: I’ve written about comparing movements before in a very simplistic post. I’m hoping this post complicates my previous argument a bit.

 

Operating under a broken system: on legitimate abortions and forced triage

23 Aug

A post by Steph Herold and Megan Smith.

Coverage of Representative Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments have ignited a media storm. It’s clear that Akin’s remarks are more than just misinformation about reproductive health, and that they could have devastating and divisive policy implications for abortion rights and access. Akin’s comments have also sparked a conversation about abortion exceptions, “legitimate” reasons to have an abortion, or if we should even be talking about those reasons.

What do we know about abortion exceptions? We know that they make it harder for anyone to get an abortion, including each person who falls under exceptions such as rape, incest, or threat to the person’s life. Many of us in the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements have written about and fought against the concept of “legitimate” or “acceptable” reasons to have an abortion. Of course we agree that no one should differentiate between an individual’s circumstances surrounding an abortion decision. But that doesn’t mean that we, and by extension, our movement, don’t also play into labelling some abortions as more necessary, important, or worthy of funding than others.

This happens most noticeably at the policy level. We fight for legislation that grants military insurance coverage for abortion in cases of rape instead of fighting for military insurance to cover abortion regardless of if it was an instance of rape or not. When state legislators try to ban later abortions, we trot out stories of people who’ve needed later abortions for fetal anomalies, not those who need later abortions for less sympathetic reasons. And, more recently, the progressive media is aghast that the GOP platform includes an anti-abortion amendment that doesn’t give an exception for rape, when really, shouldn’t we be up in arms that there is an anti-abortion amendment, period?

We see this manifest in a different way in direct service organizations. Our work as abortion fund volunteers is grounded in the belief that each person has a human right to bodily autonomy and to health care access. We trust that a person has the ability to make their own abortion decision, and we do not honor one person’s experience over another. But we also recognize that despite our commitment to providing non-judgmental and compassionate services, we are human–we hold to our own beliefs, or our organization’s beliefs, about who is more deserving of or more in need of our assistance. Even as we are actively trying to shed ourselves of placing more or less value on one person’s experience, we cannot ignore that we have and will continue to make exceptions for those with more difficult circumstances and less access to services.

Abortion funds operate under hostile climates with limited financial resources. That leaves many of us asking difficult questions: who most deserves our limited financial assistance? This is the reality we live in. We know some of us will give more funding to a person who is the survivor of sexual assault instead of someone who is not, or to a  person who is having a later abortion because of a fatal fetal anomaly than someone who is having a later abortion because she took a longer time coming to the decision to have an abortion. Why? Because we don’t have enough money to help every individual, and we want our time and money to go to the people who “really need it”: those who are the most marginalized and therefore have the slimmest chances of accessing services on their own. No matter how much we try to get out of the paradigm that some people deserve our help more than others, the reality is that we have to prioritize, to triage. As a result, whether we like it or not, we are complicit in the exceptionalization of certain abortions.

We live and work in a country where abortion providers and grassroots reproductive justice organizations like abortion funds are becoming more and more scarce. With few funding and staff  to operate, we are forced to limit the populations we serve to those we deem most in need of care. What we need to constantly keep in mind is how we are deciding who is most in need of help, and reevaluating how that fits in with our values. Are we ok with only helping certain kinds of people who need abortions? Can we strategize for a future in which we don’t have to make these tough decisions? How can we get there?

Creating our own exceptions and hierarchy of abortion situations is a necessary evil. It isn’t ideal, and it’s not what we strive for, but it is a reality of a broken system and a reflection of little time, and scarce funding, not to mention a hostile political climate. We did not choose this system, we can’t blame ourselves for operating in a way that allows us to function and sustain ourselves. But we also must ask tough questions about how we, as abortion funders and pro-choice activists, engage in abortion exceptionalism, and keep each other accountable for figuring out answers that reconcile our values with the difficult circumstances in which our organizations operate. We can fight for military insurance to cover abortion as a result of rape as long as we are also fighting to repeal the Hyde amendment. We can provide more funding to a cancer patient who needs an abortion as long as we are also figuring out ways to increase the amount of money we give people who aren’t in dire situations. As much as we critique abortion exceptionalism, we need to examine and acknowledge when we are complicit in it as well.

The New Public Face of Abortion: Connecting the Dots between Abortion Stories

9 Jul

Originally posted at RH Reality Check.

Over the last few months, there’s been an electric energy around the sharing of abortion stories. We’ve seen two stories in the New York Times, a Jewish abortion story on Kveller, a continuation of an abortion story on Thought Catalog, an early abortion story on Boing Boing, and a piece by a woman reflecting on the consequences of telling her abortion story in the Texas Observer. One woman even documented her abortion in photos. And that’s just recently.

What’s going on here? Why are so many people “coming out” now? There are no simple answers to this question. Are women responding to the onslaught of anti-choice legislation? Has the uptick in media reporting on abortion policies eased some of the stigma around speaking about abortion? Are the calls to come out about abortion from pro-choice activistspoliticians, and advocacy organizations actually working?

Without asking every person who’s shared her story, we won’t know the answers to these questions. By looking at what they’ve decided to publish, we can consider more basic issues: what are women saying when they come out? What kinds of experiences are represented? Who is coming out about their abortion experience, and who is silent?

To map the patterns and gaps in these published narratives, I created a tumblr to collect these stories: ihadanabortion.org. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

  • Some women had wanted pregnancies. Some did not.
  • Some women had illegal abortions. Some women had abortions after Roe.
  • Some women went through their abortions with no support. Some people had the support of friends, partners, or family members.
  • Some women had abortions by pill. Others had surgical abortions. Some attempted to perform their own abortions.
  • Some women talked about having one abortion. Some women disclosed having multiple abortions.
  • For some women, the decision to have an abortion was a decision about motherhood. For others, it was a decision about emotional or financial circumstances.
  • Some women experienced emotional difficulty with their abortion. Others experienced relief. Others experienced a mix of emotions.
  • Some women had explicitly pro-choice, pro-voice, or feminist takes on their abortion experience. Others divorced politics from their abortion experience.

Though there is great deal of diversity in the stories told by the women in these published accounts, there are also several similarities.

Many of the published stories focus on first trimester abortions. This may be slightly misleading, though, because many stories didn’t indicate at what gestation the author had an abortion. Still, the fact that so many of the stories are about first trimester abortions makes sense, since 90% of abortions take place before 12 weeks.

All the published stories that explicitly say that they are about abortions after the first trimester are about ending wanted pregnancies. Research tells us that a majority of those presenting for second trimester and later abortions do so because they were delayed in seeking an abortion, not because they had a wanted pregnancy gone awry.

Three stories discussed multiple abortions. According to the most recent Guttmacher data, about half of women who’ve had abortions have had more than one. Does stigma keep people from sharing their experiences of having multiple abortions? Or do women who talk about their abortions publicly only feel comfortable mentioning a single abortion, even though they’ve had more than one?

Several of the published stories are by self-described middle class, young, white women. White women do make up the highest percentage of abortions by race. However, as compared to their proportion of the population, younger women, low-income women and women of color have higher abortion rates than other groups. There are multiple explanations for why these low-income women, young women, and women of color may be less likely to come forward or have their stories published. These women may have less access to media than women with more privilege or education. Additionally, coming forward may place them at risk for multiple stigmas associated with their age, race, and class as well as with their abortion experiences.

One story mentioned difficultly paying for the abortion (and specifically mentioned an abortion fund). This might suggest that those who need help paying for their abortion may be different from those who reach out to the media to publish their stories. People who need financial assistance for their abortion likely do not have access to the media to share their experiences.  It’s also possible that there is stigma around asking for help to pay for an abortion, and that this specific stigma coupled with abortion stigma increases the chances that a woman will not publicly share her abortion story.

Sharing an abortion story, whether with one person or with an online community, always comes with risks. For some folks, especially those who do not inhabit privileged identities, that risk might be greater. Looking at these abortion stories all in one place makes it obvious that certain voices, among others, are missing from the archive of public abortion stories: the experiences of low-income folks, people of color, people who experience emotional difficulty with their abortions, abortion stories from queer, gender non-conforming, and trans* folks, people who wanted an abortion but weren’t able to get one, and people who had elective second trimester (and later) abortions.

In discussing the implications of sharing her abortion story, Carolyn Jones writes,

As a white middle class woman, I’ve seen how powerful my voice can be. Not to share that power with those who’ve had equally valid experiences of abortion is like stopping a story half way through. But how do we hear the voices of the marginalized when they’re drowned out by the noise of our race, class and gender-riven world? And how, from our eyries of privilege, do we draw those stories out while respecting the political context from which they came?

“Coming out” about an abortion experience is a form of personal and cultural risk-taking. You’re exposing yourself to judgment and stigma from your friends, family, and community. By documenting published stories at ihadanabortion.org, we’re supporting the people who choose to take on this risk and unearthing the gaps between these narratives. We’re figuring out how to create a culture that supports people who’ve have abortions and allows for sharing diverse, multidimensional abortion stories. We know the danger of the single story. Let’s connect the single stories that create the dominant narrative about abortion, and map out ways to expand the frame.