My Life Matters
My Life Matters
Having only started in September, the #ShoutYourAbortion campaign received stories from thousands of women openly discussing their experiences. The campaign was begun by activists Lindy West, Kimberly Morrison and Amelia Bonow in a bid to address the stigma which surrounds abortion alongside its misrepresentation. While it may be legal in a number of countries around the world, the topic still attracts a lot of controversy. Indeed, the campaign came about as a response to a US Senate proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, an organisation which has its roots in the first birth control clinic opened by Margaret Sanger, following claims that employees were selling the organs of aborted foetuses.
The campaign seeks to raise awareness that each woman’s abortion story is different and that they reflect the myriad of reasons why a woman would choose to have one. In an article she wrote for The Guardian, Lindy West said, “abortion is common. Abortion is happening. Abortion needs to be legal, safe and accessible to everyone. Abortion is a thing you can say out loud.” All sorts of stories were said virtually aloud on Twitter, from women terminating pregnancies because of the foetuses having life-threatening illnesses to rape to those who simply didn’t want a child. By sharing their stories in this way, women are speaking out and showing that abortion is not a shameful procedure.
However, access to abortion clinics is becoming increasingly difficult as both government officials and pro-life protesters continue to condemn and intimidate women who use them. While Republicans are threatening the future of Planned Parenthood, several clinics have been victims of arson over the last few months. The founders of #ShoutYourAbortion haven’t managed to escape this violence and aggression either, as Amelia Bonow was forced into hiding following death threats as well as having her address published online.
The issue is not a specifically American one though. A lot of coverage on the Irish campaign to #repealthe8th has drawn attention to abortion still being illegal in the country. The punishment for carrying out an illegal abortion is a 14 year prison sentence. In the effort of drawing attention to women’s rights over their own bodies, the campaign currently involves women tweeting Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach of Ireland, details about their periods. On a more serious note, writer of Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd, Graham Linehan and his wife Helen have joined an Amnesty International campaign to decriminalise abortion in Ireland as a result of their own experiences with termination. Graham calls Ireland “a dangerous place to be pregnant” while Helen describes Irish abortion laws as “abusive”. The measures force 12 Irish women a day to cross the Irish Sea in order to access clinics in the UK.
The UK is not exempt from the discussion surrounding abortion with a clinic being forced to close down earlier this year due to the pressure of protestors. The Family Planning Association’s Chief Executive, Natika H Halil tol The Debrief that, “while we agree with the right to protest, women have the right to access abortion and counselling services free from the threat of intimidation, harassment and assault.”
Whether it is done intentionally or out of desperation, it should always be a woman’s choice.
Written by Victoria Rodrigues
Sub Culture Editor
Images (right) – Via Mike Stone/Reuters & Kathleen Kamphausen
Image (header) – Via Jacquelyn Martin/AP