Advocates for Youth (AFY) wraps up a week of action Tuesday for its 1 in 3 Campaign, which seeks to end the stigma around abortion by encouraging women to share their personal abortion stories. The campaign is so named because roughly one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Organizers said that 136
action week events took place across the country from October 22 to October 29, mostly on college campuses like the University of Michigan, which held its first on-campus “abortion speak-out.” In Washington, D.C., a diverse crowd gathered at local hotspot Busboys and Poets Monday to hear a presentation by AFY organizers and Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Hogue asked an event photographer to take a picture of the mostly young crowd, saying, “Every time I hear someone from an older generation saying young people just don’t care about this issue, I get to show them this picture.”
Attendees watched a video introducing the campaign that featured interviews with women who have had abortions. “So often, people don’t talk about their abortion with others. … Stigma silences and isolates,” text in the video read.
AFY Executive Director Debra Hauser shared her own story of having an abortion after her husband left her. She said she didn’t know how she would support the son she already had, much less how she could care for a new baby. She said of her abortion, “I can say without any hesitation or fear of contradiction that it was the best decision for me at that time based on my circumstances.”
Hauser told the story of how the 1 in 3 Campaign came to be: A young AFY staffer told the story of her abortion, which prompted Hauser to share hers for the first time in 15 years. “We realized that we had to get out of our heads and into our hearts,” Hauser said. “Abortion is something that women share across the generations.” The campaign, she said, is an attempt to move past the notion that abortion is “just not something you talk about.”
“Stories are incredibly important because they allow people … to sympathize with a character. Put yourself in her shoes,” Hogue told the crowd.
Local pro-choice activists read abortion stories that AFY has collected from women, and audience members shared their own stories and thoughts.
D.C. slam poet Adele Hampton roused the crowd with a piece that ended, “Abortion is an eight-letter word that we should never be afraid to say.”