Thanks to stigma, a new study shows, people who have had abortions often hesitate to tell more than one or two trusted family members, partners, or friends about the experience. This, in turn, can lead to individual isolation and restrictive government policies.
RH Reality Check recently spoke with Beth Matusoff Merfish, co-founder (with her sister, Brett, and mother, Sherry) of Not Alone about how her organization combats abortion stigma through storytelling. As Merfish explains, these stories have the potential to “open people’s minds” and hearts.
Despite the work I do, I’ve been contributing to abortion stigma by not always speaking plainly about the work that I do. I’ve been afraid of starting arguments, of offending friends and family members, of ostracizing myself as the abortion lady. A few months ago, I decided to change that.
Obvious Child‘s treatment of abortion as an important moment in both the development of the main character and her romantic relationship is just one of the beautiful ways the film—a raunchy joke-fest with an undeniably humanistic heart—deals with women’s choices and power.
Culture change is distinct from policy change and health-care access, but it’s just as important. It’s difficult to imagine long-term policy gains without doing the hard work to change norms, beliefs, and behavior.
Because of an article I wrote about my abortion story,
people I’ve never met requested that I kill myself, get raped, die in childbirth, and be sterilized. But I also received love and support from friends and allies, and I’d love to see a whole movement emerge telling people who share their abortion stories: #YouAreLoved.
Iowa legislators want to pass a law allowing women to sue abortion providers if they regret their abortions. Why not let women sue the people who actually caused the regret—the people who shamed and guilted them about the abortion—instead?
Hearing an uncensored abortion story articulated by an individual who has terminated a pregnancy provides an emotional boon that is impossible to achieve with statistics. The pro-choice movement needs that emotion.
This past weekend, the New York Times profiled a couple who talked openly about their shared abortion experience.
The act of telling someone how, when, where, and why they should, or should not, share their personal experience is one deeply rooted in privilege.