Culture

Women Are Tweeting Their Abortion Stories To Help End The Stigma And Shame

"I could not have given that child the life it deserved. I would not have been the mother I want to be."

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For over 24 hours now, Twitter has been inundated with the hashtag ‘#ShoutYourAbortion‘. The movement was started by abortion rights activists Lindy West, Amelia Bonow and Kimberly Morrison in response to Congress’ proposed defunding of women’s healthcare organisation Planned Parenthood. The group have asked women to share their abortion experiences online to help end stigma and shame still associated with the procedure, and to raise support for the ongoing federal funding of the US’s biggest abortion clinics network.

Some of the women who have tweeted have shared how their lives have been positively impacted by safe and legal abortion; sometimes giving an explanation as to why they had the procedure; sometimes not — as many point out, the decision is personal and should not need justifying. And while many allies have been using the hashtag to show solidarity and support for the right to choose, anti-abortion activists have been quick to co-opt it to cut down and shame women — providing a not-so-friendly reminder that women’s bodies are, for some reason, not always perceived as their own.

Some women have been drawing attention to hypocrisies displayed in the anti-abortion activists’ stances. For instance, as author and comedian Catherine Deveny points out in the tweets below, those against abortion are also not usually against loose gun laws, and in a country where mass shootings and gun crime is sky-high, it feels a tad contradictory for them to call themselves “pro-life”.

The anti-abortion crowd have been attacking Planned Parenthood — who is the US’s largest provider of abortion procedures — for some time, but the harassment peaked a couple of months ago when activists went undercover as medical research professionals and secretly recorded Planned Parenthood officials discussing foetal tissue donation. The videos were released online and were supposed to reveal the organisation selling foetal body parts — a crime in the US — however research firm Fusion GPS found that the videos were heavily edited and misleading.

Planned Parenthood has sent a letter to Congress, which included the report by experts finding the undercover videos to be heavily altered, defending its practices and outlining its plan to fight the “smear campaign”. “These baseless and fraudulent attacks are part of a much bigger political agenda that we believe is harming and will harm women all across this country,” Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said. “We will not let that happen.”

Congress is currently stuck in gridlock over the defunding vote, and is even predicted to go into lockdown — like it did two years ago when Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act — until it’s sorted out.

Feature image via Kate Ausburn/Creative Commons.