The public conversation around abortion is crazy. We hear politicians argue about it, and people are even killed over it – but have we ever honestly talked about it? Like, sat down and listened when someone – a real, live person – talked about their personal experience with abortion? Even when talking with people who have the best intentions, “the terminology surrounding abortion can be treacherous.” So how do we de-escalate the craziness, and tune into the heart of the issue?
It turns out that it really matters when people who’ve had abortions feel like they can talk about their experience without being shamed or otherwise harassed. Even though abortion is a common experience, it is still a heavily censored topic. And, when people feel censored and stigmatized, we stunt our ability to connect authentically and lovingly with one another. In a very real way, disassembling abortion stigma, then, is a healing process – not just for the people who have had abortions, but for those of us who know, work with, and love them.
Valerie Tarico wrote a thorough article for Salon this past Fall, describing four, concrete ways to change the conversation around abortion and start to center it around living human beings’ lives. Sara Iacovelli wrote her abortion story, and included a plea for the reader to consider that its high time that we talk about abortion in a humane, respectful way. And, recently, carafem ran what we called the Text Message Campaign, which is a series of imagined text message conversations around sexual and reproductive health decision making. What all of these resources have in common is that they emphasize how each person experiences abortion differently and that they are all valid.
You don’t have to shout your abortion if you don’t want to, but the hope is that – if you wanted to – you could talk as freely about it as you do any other medical procedure you’ve had. The key is that we make abortion personal again, and not some distant event that only a handful of us have gone through. Reclaiming abortion as a normal, legitimate, and responsible choice that many of us make is the way forward.
At the end of the day, one of the best-known late-term abortion providers in US history put it this way:
“Abortion is not a cerebral or a reproductive issue. Abortion is a matter of the heart. For until one understands the heart of a woman, nothing else about abortion makes any sense at all.” – Dr. George Tiller
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