January 5, 2015 — Groups on both sides of the abortion-rights debate are increasingly encouraging women to share their abortion stories and believe that such efforts will help their respective causes, NPR's "Shots" reports.
Supporters of abortion rights say that discussing women's personal experiences with abortion helps reduce stigma surrounding the procedure. For example, the 1 in 3 Campaign last month held a "live-streamed abortion speakout" for women to share their stories, according to "Shots."
Advocates for Youth President Deb Hauser said the need for women to share their abortion stories is especially strong as states enact additional restrictions on the procedure.
Hauser said, "If we are silent, what's left is this void for other people to fill, and [abortion-rights opponents have] filled it with a lot of shame and judgment," adding, "We have to make the political the personal now, and we have to stand up and put women's real-life stories in the middle of this dialogue around abortion care or we're gonna lose."
Meanwhile, opponents of abortion rights are using websites such as Abort73 to promote stories of women who "wish they had not had the abortion," according to Michael Spielman, founder of the site. Abortion-rights opponents hope such stories will build support for the anti-choice position.
Research on Sharing Abortion Stories
People tend to tell their abortion stories to others who they think will support their decision, according to a study by New York University sociologist Sarah Cowan. Thus, a "person who has more lenient attitudes with regards to abortion is more likely to learn that the women they know have had abortions," while their antiabortion-rights peers, even in the same social group, are less likely to hear such stories, Cowan explained.
However, it is unclear whether individuals on average become more supportive of abortion rights after hearing abortion stories, according to "Shots."
Some researchers have argued that individuals would become more supportive, such as has occurred with the issues of same-sex marriage and race relations. Cowan noted that the issue has not been widely researched with regard to abortion but that her data suggest abortion stories could have an effect on people's opinions (Ludden, "Shots," NPR, 12/29/14).