April 29, 2015 — The U.S. is "seriously overdue to have a public dialogue about abortion, a need reflected by the fact that nearly one-third of American women will have one in their lifetime," Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards writes in a Time opinion piece.
Richards notes, "In the current political environment and with so much shaming in popular culture, women get the message early and often that, while they may have the legal right to get an abortion, there's still something wrong with that choice."
However, she writes that while "no woman should ever have to justify her personal medical decisions," various celebrities and public figures, including Richards herself, recently have shared their abortion stories. According to Richards, these stories highlight how "women's access to abortion and other reproductive health care [often] is seriously limited due to their economic circumstances and because of the part of the country where they live." In addition, she notes that the stories serve as "a reminder that the ability to decide when or whether to have children is key to women's opportunity to be financially secure and pursue their dreams."
She writes, "Silence about abortion means that the void is filled with myths, stereotypes, and stigma." She praises a growing trend in television and film depicting "honest portrayals about abortion," adding, "It's time we talk openly about the caring and compassionate doctors and clinicians who provide abortion services." We also need to "educate the public about how safe the procedure is, and about the consequences for women in need when more burdensome and unnecessary restrictions are passed by politicians."
According to Richards, the abortion conversation has changed as more women "are increasingly feeling supported to share" their stories, resulting in a discussion that is "louder and bolder" and, "most importantly, ... an authentic conversation with women at the center" (Richards, Time, 4/28).