#ShoutYourAbortion Aims to De-Stigmatize Women’s Choices
The campaign to defund PP “relies on the assumption that abortion is to be whispered about.” #ShoutYourAbortion pic.twitter.com/r1ilpCVr30
— Lindy West (@thelindywest) September 19, 2015
While I’ve never had an abortion, I have plenty of female friends who have. What’s always struck me about the way that they talk about them is that, even though they had no problem making the decision to do it, and had every legal right to do it, they still felt the need to talk about them to me, a friend, in whispers.
The topic will come up when we’re out and about, and our loud, raucous conversation will dive into hushed tones when discussing “my abortion.” One friend of mine, when talking about it with me while sitting at a cafe, looked over both shoulders before leaning in close to talk to me about it. Again, not ashamed of her decision, but concerned that no one around us be able to hear, and therefore judge. Because despite having certain legal freedoms, women often don’t have societal freedom to talk about their needs, concerns, or experiences safely.
Which is why hashtags like #ShoutYourAbortion are so important. Writers Lindy West and Amelia Bonow started the hashtag after the recent vote by the US House of Representatives to de-fund Planned Parenthood with the hope of allowing women to be open about their experiences, de-stigmatize discussions surrounding abortion, and show the world that this one decision does not mark these women as horrible people, or parents. That their lives are actually better now having made the decision, and that different women have different reasons for having abortions, but that none of them should be ashamed to talk about it.
18 & broke + pregnant = bad. Abortion + 3yrs later + married + stable job = a great life for my baby. #ShoutYourAbortion
— Sophia (@SophiaSkySays) September 21, 2015
Had an abortion procedure done at age 22 because I was WAY too young to parent. Have never, ever regretted it. #ShoutYourAbortion
— Mary Emily O’Hara (@MaryEmilyOHara) September 20, 2015
And of course, the inevitable backlash has started with a rival hashtag in #ShoutYourMurder. What’s interesting about that is that aside from the anti-abortion crowd who are “pro-life” even at the expense of women’s lives, there’s another group of people who may or may not support a woman’s right to choose, but nonetheless seem to misunderstand the purpose of #ShoutYourAbortion. This tweet sums it up nicely:
#ShoutYourAbortion isn’t about “bragging,” it’s about not being ashamed. There’s a difference. People who use the hashtags #IHaveCancer or #MentalIllness aren’t “bragging” that they have a certain medical condition, they’re trying to de-stigmatize discussion of that condition. Likewise, the women who are shouting their abortions right now aren’t bragging about having needed to have them – they’re trying to de-stigmatize talking about them.
If I were ever surprised by a pregnancy, I likely wouldn’t have an abortion. It’s not the choice I, personally, would make. However, I want nothing more than to protect the rights of my sisters on this planet to have their needs met and to be able to discuss those needs without shame. They shouldn’t have to look over their shoulders to feel safe enough to talk about their experiences. They should be able to speak freely and live honestly without society, figuratively or literally, throwing stones.
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