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'Abortion Speak-Out' Challenges 'Hierarchy of Good and Bad Abortions'

'Abortion Speak-Out' Challenges 'Hierarchy of Good and Bad Abortions'

November 21, 2014 — "Though the majority of people in America ... and so many other places believe abortion should be legal, too many of us still think about reproductive rights as if there's a hierarchy of good and bad abortions -- the kind that women 'deserve', and the kind women should be ashamed of," writes The Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti.

On Thursday, Valenti joined other women in "a live-streamed, national abortion speak-out" organized by the 1 in 3 Campaign, which gets its name from "the fact that 1 in 3 American women will have an abortion," she writes.

Valenti notes that while she has previously written about ending a wanted pregnancy because of a life-threatening medical condition and "the turmoil [she] faced with the decision," she has never spoken publicly about an earlier abortion that ended an unwanted pregnancy in her 20s -- "not because [she] was ashamed, but because it truly didn't have that tremendous of an impact on [her] life." Valenti notes that although some people might find her views "callous ... the truth is that, despite the abortion stories that often dominate the public pro-choice narrative -- the wanted pregnancies that must end because of health concerns or severe fetal abnormalities -- most people who end their pregnancies do it for the same reason" she did the first time: "Some women just don't want to be pregnant -- and there's nothing wrong with that."

Valenti adds that "for too many women, the consequences [of sharing their abortion stories] are just not worth it," such as job loss, online harassment or fractured family relationships. Still, she writes that "if some of us do choose to share" abortion stories to help "combat the stigma against all of us who have abortions, there's really no explanation necessary" (Valenti, The Guardian, 11/20).