Women shared their abortion experiences to raise awareness of the decisions and challenges they faced, as reproductive rights are increasingly under attack.
If you’ve never had an abortion, you can’t possibly know what it’s like. Yet 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime — and some of them never tell a soul.
That’s why Advocates for Youth created the 1 in 3 Campaign, a grassroots movement to start a new conversation about abortion. It encourages women to tell their stories to help foster compassion, empathy and support for access to basic healthcare.
The campaign is in the midst of a national “1 in 3 Week of Action” (October 22-29), with more than 100 events across 32 states using storytelling to fight stigma and protect safe, legal, affordable abortion care.
On October 24, one of these events was held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Hosted by U of M’s chapter of Students for Choice, the event drew 300 attendees who gathered to share their stories and hear the stories of others.
Katie Stack, from the MTV reality show “16 and Pregnant,” was there to share her abortion story.
I am one of the 1 in 3 women in the U.S. who will have an abortion in her lifetime, and I believe that our stories are essential to changing the conversation around abortion care. This has been a part of women’s lives for generations, and yet women still face a wall of stigma and shame around sharing their stories and reaching out for care. This has to change.
Carly Manes, a campus activist for Advocates for Youth and the event organizer, was proud to create a safe space on campus where women could share their stories.
It was so powerful. One of the women brought her best friend and said, ‘Before I tell my story I want you to know she doesn’t know about this.’ Another woman said the only person who knew was her boyfriend. One spoke about how difficult it was to access an abortion. Another told everyone how she had to use the lowest amount of anesthesia because it was the least expensive. Her insurance wouldn’t cover it and she didn’t want to tell her parents.
Women shouldn’t have to endure such pain and anguish over a decision they didn’t take lightly to begin with. Manes said Students for Choice is concerned about possible legislation driven by a petition drive by Right to Life of Michigan, which would force women to buy an insurance rider for abortion — even in the case of incest, rape or a risk to the life of the mother.
As Meghan Groen of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan said earlier this month, any such legislation “is absolutely about government overreaching into the private marketplace in decisions about pregnancy, that are quite frankly, personal.”
That’s why there’s a need to raise awareness about abortion and the ramifications of stigmatizing and limiting women’s choices, said Manes.
The 1 in 3 Campaign really changes the dialogue around abortion access. There was a lot of power and strength in the room that night and everyone — including men — said it really impacted them. That’s because these stories aren’t about religion or politics. They’re about people’s personal experiences. So we’re helping educate people who really don’t understand what the experience of having an abortion is like.
You can learn more, and read stories women have shared online, at 1in3campaign.org.
[Image courtesy of the 1 in 3 Campaign.]