Note: The following is a message sent to many pro-choice and pro-voice groups around the country from Aspen Baker, founder of Exhale (4exhale.org) and probably one of the most dedicated visionaries in the reproductive justice movement today. Please forward widely as Aspen's project will require the voices of the most knowledgeable authorities on abortion: the everyday women who have had them. Positive experiences, negative experiences... all is welcome and will be used not to make sweeping claims about "abortion is always right" or "abortion is always wrong", but to create a very realistic, very NEEDED critique of the state of choice in society today, and how we as a movement (including providers) can continue the important work of ensuring not only a CHOICE to all women, but ACCESS and POSITIVE OUTLOOKS on those choices as well, regardless of the chosen option (abortion, adoption, parenting, etc).
In the wake of the tragic murder of Dr. Tiller, I have been inspired to see so many blogs, bloggers, news outlets, journalists and reporters prioritize the voices and experiences of women who have had the kinds of abortions Dr. Tiller performed at his clinic. Not only do these stories help to humanize the debate, they can be a source of real comfort to thousands of other women who have had abortions. The ability to see yourself and your story reflected in public dialogue is a real gift and it is a pro-voice strategy for creating a more supportive and respectful social climate around abortion.
Many of you write to Exhale to ask how you can be a part of the pro-voice movement and be a source of comfort and support to women after an abortion. Today, I am writing you with an opportunity to make a significant contribution to creating a pro-voice future – and for the chance to reach thousands of women after an abortion.
Early next year, Exhale will be publishing my self-help book for women after an abortion, titled: “Be Well: Your Guide to Well-being After an Abortion.” It will be a comprehensive, easy-to-read, step-by-step guide that covers physical, emotional, and spiritual health as well as addresses how women can build a support network of family, friends and community members. The book uses an empowerment-based model that helps women identify and work from their unique strengths.
One of the most important aspects of the book are the words of people like you – people who have had abortions – who share their feelings, needs, strengths and experiences with abortion in its pages. Imagine the feeling of relief and comfort you will offer a woman who reads this book and finds herself, and her story reflected back to her through your words. By telling your story, you can have a real, direct impact on a woman’s life.
I invite you to share your abortion story to be published in my book, “Be Well.”
There is no wrong or right story, or feeling for “Be Well” – there is only the need for your story. I hope you decide to share it. If writing your story feels overwhelming or too time consuming to write, my research assistant is available to interview you over the phone. Please write firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story in writing and/or to schedule a phone interview.
You have seen the power of personal story-telling on political debate, now imagine its power to promote the health and wellbeing of every woman who has had an abortion. Imagine the possibilities for a group of women who feel heard, supported and respected after an abortion to change culture, climate and dialogue.
P.S. In thinking about your story, please consider the following questions:
§ How did your BODY feel before, during, after the abortion? What was unexpected? How quickly did you heal?
§ What kind of EMOTIONS did you have surrounding your abortion? And now? Has anything changed?
§ How did your spiritual self respond? Was your religious practice affected? What did your SOUL need?
§ What was going on in your RELATIONSHIPS? With partners, friends, family? How did they help? Or Hurt? What’s it like now?
§ Was your cultural COMMUNITY a hindrance or a source of strength? Do you feel more or less connected?