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Ending Abortion Stigma One Story at a Time

With one in three women having an abortion in their lifetime, chances are you know someone who’s had one. The chances of you knowing that, on the other hand, are far less likely.

If you think about it, abortion stigma—the fact that women feel judged for something that’s not uncommon—seems a little old-school, doesn’t it? Planned Parenthood and many other organizations, lobbyists, and individuals out there agree and they’ve chosen to take a stand by ending the silence.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards recently did her part by using the very public platform of Elle Magazine to announce she knows firsthand how abortion stigma feels. In her article, she didn’t share many details of her story, she didn’t explain why she did it, and she didn’t justify her decision. In relation to her experience, she kept it short and simple.

“I had an abortion. It was the right decision for me and my husband, and it wasn’t a difficult decision.”

Cecile goes on to explain, “I’m here to say, when politicians argue and shout about abortion, they’re talking about me—and millions of other women around the country.”

Cecile isn’t the only one talking about it. There are organizations and movements that have been working for years to continue and expand the abortion conversation. The 1 in 3 campaign led by Advocates for Youth recently launched an effort to get college campuses across the country to host live and online speak-outs.

Cecile recently participated in one of the many 1 in 3 campaign abortion speak-outs hosted by Advocates for Youth, which included over 100 women sharing their abortion stories via live stream for eight hours.

The ANSIRH Program at University of California, San Francisco highlighted filmmaker Katie Gillum who is using video to put a women’s abortion into context, introducing a new way of talking about abortion.

Talking about abortion is not easy, but if the difficult conversations don’t expand, the stigma surrounding abortion will. Years of experience has shown that silence only feeds judgment, fear, and a false separation between the women having abortions and those making political decisions about them.

We’re thankful for pioneers like Cecile, Advocates for Youth, UCSF, and so many more for taking the first steps and making the conversation easier, and we’re more than happy to follow their lead in normalizing abortion as a valid medical option.

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