Brittany Mostiller had just turned 23 when she found out she was pregnant again. She thought about suicide. The Chicago native was already a mother of three girls under the age of seven and barely getting by, working part-time as a grocery store cashier and living in a two-bedroom apartment with her sister and niece. Since Medicaid doesn’t cover an abortion, she thought of ways around the expensive procedure. “I thought about throwing myself down a flight of stairs or having my eldest daughter jump on me,” she said.
Mostiller terminated her pregnancy, with help from the Chicago Abortion Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income women obtain abortion services. She now works on behalf of the group.
Telling this story isn’t easy, but she does it often, despite the backlash she sometimes receives. “I know how important it is to be a black woman in society and to say ‘yes, I had an abortion,'” she told me. “And yes I’m fine, yes I have a family, and yes I made the best decision for me and my family.”
Mostiller is one of over 100 women and activists sharing their experiences with abortion today as part of the 1 in 3 campaign. Named after the number of women who will have an abortion in their lifetime , their movement encourages people to tell their stories as a way, they say, to fight the stigma that comes with the procedure. So far, 550 women have posted their stories on the project website.
The eight-hour online Speakout, with presenters as diverse as the stories featured, is just the most recent example of women coming out of the abortion closet. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards unabashedly shared her story last month on Elle. Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator derided as the “abortion Barbie” by the far right, revealed two terminated pregnancies in her memoir. Earlier this year, Emily Letts recorded her own abortion and posted it online to show other women that, in her words, “there is a positive abortion story”.
Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show and women’s rights advocate, was the first to share her story for the 1 in 3 campaign event. She became pregnant in high school, after first having sex. Winstead was lured to a Christian pregnancy crisis center, where a woman in a white coat (who clearly wasn’t a doctor) gave her two options for dealing with her pregnancy: “mommy or murder.” “I felt so alone. I felt worthless and invisible,” Winstead said.
Dr Julie Bindeman, a married mother of three, cried as she told the story of her two abortions. She was in her second trimester when she and her husband received a grim prognosis. “The longed-for son we were carrying had no brains,” she said. Due to state laws that denied her access to surgical abortion after 20 weeks, Binderman was forced to give birth and deliver her son. When the same anomaly was detected in a subsequent pregnancy at 18 weeks, she was able to undergo a surgical abortion. “I was very grateful to have the choice,” she said.
Jenny Kutner, a 23-year-old writer for Salon, opened up about her abortion after a failed IUD. She was simply “neither financially nor emotionally equipped” to have a baby, she said. In New York, she could easily access a safe medical abortion. “My experience has been very ordinary, but very privileged,” she said.
Feminist author Jessica Valenti, who called for “free abortions on demand with no excuses”, described her overwhelming sense of relief after ending an unwanted pregnancy in her 20s. Her second abortion, years later, was not such an easy choice. Valenti already had a daughter, a pregnancy that nearly killed both mother and baby. When she got pregnant again, she and her doctors knew her body couldn’t handle another pregnancy. “It upset me. It almost destroyed me…because I really wanted to have another child,” she said.
“We all have these stories, but we don’t share them,” Debra Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth, the group that sponsors the 1 in 3 campaign, told The Daily Beast in a phone interview. “Because you don’t know what they’re going to get back. Young people, in particular, have been brought up over the past 30 years with anti-abortion rhetoric, stigma, shame and even violence.
“It gives women a voice and puts us at the center of the political debate around access to abortion.”
Thursday’s event comes at a time of unprecedented abortion legislation at the state level. In the past three years, states have enacted more restrictions on abortion than in the past decade. Right-wing governors and state legislators took control of many states in 2010. In 2013, 22 states enacted 70 anti-abortion measures, including heart rate and pregnancy limit bans, provider regulations and drug regulation and abortion insurance coverage, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Polls on the issue show that the country is fairly divided on the issue of abortion, figures that have remained stable over the past two decades.
Indeed, one of the goals of the 1 in 3 Campaign event is to garner political support to fight what abortion rights advocates see as an attack on Roe v. Wade. “It’s not really aimed at pro-abortionists; they feel what they feel,” Hauser said. Instead, she says these stories are more likely to energize soft-spoken supporters, who think abortion should be legal, but halfheartedly, or only in certain circumstances. About half of Americans support legal restrictions on abortions.
“It’s much harder to make judgments when you know someone and their situation,” Hauser said.
In the social sciences, this “contact hypothesis” – the idea that prejudice decreases with intimacy – is widely accepted, but it becomes more complicated when it comes to a secret issue, such as abortion. According to a new study from New York University, about a third of women who have abortions hide it from people they normally confide in. Only 52% of people say they know someone who has had an abortion, and those who consider themselves ‘pro-life’ are much less likely to hear about an abortion from someone they know than those who are ‘pro-life’. -choice “.
If the current trend of openness about abortion continues, there will soon be very few people – regardless of their ideology – who can claim not to know “the kind of woman” who would have an abortion.
Abortion Speech 1 of 3 streams live here.