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More Women Sharing Abortion Stories To Destigmatize Procedure

More Women Sharing Abortion Stories To Destigmatize Procedure

October 22, 2014 — More U.S. women are publicly sharing their abortion experiences, which has begun to help reduce stigma tied to the procedure and spur "a much needed conversation among Americans," Good magazine reports.

Good profiles the Not Alone project, a website for men and women to share videos and written versions of their abortion stories. The founders of the website were inspired to create the online platform after watching Texas gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Wendy Davis filibuster a Texas antiabortion-rights bill (HB 2) that later became law.

Power of Abortion Stories

Not Alone project co-founder Sherry Merfish said, "By telling your story to anyone, you are combating the stigma. You are eradicating stigma as a woman who is open about her life and instructs others to do the same." She added, "So that the next time someone says the word 'abortion,' the hope is that that person you told won't think about the proverbial bloody fetus, they instead will think about you: a person who they love and respect and made this decision."

Merfish noted that although about 30% of U.S. women have an abortion by age 45, many women who shared stories "thought that they were the only one they knew who had had an abortion," which is "clearly not the case." She urged "women from all sectors -- from the public sector, yes, politicians, private sector, [to tell] their stories in a way that makes this a conversation people can have without regret, fear, or shame."

Emily Letts, a New Jersey abortion counselor and co-founder of the Not Alone project, said, "I think there seriously is a shift that we're seeing through politicians coming out and telling their story, [and] through the movie Obvious Child." Letts drew attention earlier this year after creating a video documenting her abortion and posting it online.

Good also notes that some antiabortion-rights politicians, such as Texas state House candidate Molly White (R), have also shared personal abortion stories and put forward scientifically unproven claims.

Letts said, "Any kind of politician that tells their personal story is using it as a tool ... to get things done. And luckily the majority ... are using their story as a tool to help support other women" (Madrid, Good, 10/17).