Posted tagged ‘abortion conversation’

Caution: Personal Abortion Stories in the Marketplace

March 9, 2016

Displaying Thurston.jpgACP believes cultural change happens in connection.  Sharing your own abortion experience story can be healing for those who find their voice and for those who hear you and grow stronger.

ThurstonACP is honored to welcome our new Board Member, Karen Thurston and her personal insights about media treatment of the growing trend of people bravely sharing their abortion experiences on-line.  

Be warned, she advises if, among other conditions, editors are “Asking readers to send in a particular kind of abortion narrative to fit a specific frame.”

 

For decades, stories in the media about abortion have been told by everyone from preachers to politicians, but rarely by those who have actually experienced abortion.

Since 2014, that skewed dynamic has changed. More people are breaking their silence, challenging the stigma, and sharing the complex situations around ending their pregnancies. They are opening up in highly public venues, from Facebook and Twitter, to digital magazines and traditional newspapers.

Ideally, every personal abortion story would be handled with respect in the media, encouraging more people to talk about this common medical procedure. But in reality, some venues will exploit abortion stories to sell subscriptions, advertisements, and political points of view. Story tellers and readers alike should approach every media venue with healthy wariness.

Consider TheAtlantic.com, which since early January has been inviting readers to send in their intimate experiences of abortion.

Personal Stories of Abortion Made Public is part of the digital magazine’s ‘reader engagement’ effort — a business strategy to attract consumers and advertisers in an intensely competitive field crowded with social media platforms, blog sites and news apps.

The editors post prompts pegged to various news events in the Notes section, and readers are encouraged to write in with their opinions and experiences.

 What happens next is hidden from our view. People we know nothing about make undocumented changes to the text, create headlines, and add introductions, all in a bid to attract and keep reader attention.

Here are key questions to ask when reading The Atlantic series, as well as other first-person abortion narratives published in the popular and profit-driven media:

Do the headlines and other editor-created text contain stigmatizing language?  Several of The Atlantic’s abortion narratives are topped with emotionally charged headlines: Blood Was Pouring Down My Face and Down My Throat, screams one. I Got Down to the Basement and Blood Was Everywhere, blares another. Roe v. Wade ‘Unleashed a Beast,’ warns another.

Introductions to the stories prime readers with subjective appraisals of what’s in store. The editors size up the stories for us, characterizing them as gruesome, tragic, heartbreaking, and harrowing. We are told this author is anguished and that author struggles.

At one point, an editor adds her own commentary after a story, introducing the term infanticide and elaborating that the topic is “particularly charged, not least because of the common-sense ‘disgust’ factor.”  She  includes a handy link to a dense, 29-page academic paper titled, Infanticide.

Do the editors hold personal biases about abortion?  The two editors whose names appear with The Atlantic’s reader-generated content, Chris Bodenner and Emma Green, do not state their individual views on abortion. This lack of transparency leaves readers to wonder about their editing decisions.

Some indications of editor bias include:

  • Asking readers to send in a particular kind of abortion narrative to fit a specific frame.  Green, the publication’s managing editor who also writes about religion and culture, did just that after one reader’s abortion entry. Green asks the audience to send in more stories, “particularly ones that show some of the moral ambiguity in these choices.”
  • Offering a negative assessment of the words others use when they talk about their abortions.  That’s what Green did when she launched the abortion story-telling section with a ‘note’ titled The Power of Making Abortion Personal. Her prompt, which focuses on the 113 attorneys who filed briefs about their abortions in the Supreme Court case Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, spotlights what she terms the “cognitive dissonance” in the language of the briefs:

“My child” is a way of talking about a person, an entity that can think and has a moral identity. But that’s the opposite of the argument that this brief is making—it’s not a moral issue, these women are saying. It’s a health issue, and a lifestyle issue, and a career issue. The vocabulary seems to fall short of that.

  •  Including stories that are not told by people who have experienced abortion.  The Atlantic editors included a lengthy entry by a man whose narrative is about rejecting abortion, headlined Fathers Have Virtually ZERO Rights.
  •  Expressing a viewpoint about abortion in other published pieces.  For example, last summer, Green wrote this piece headlined, Why are Fewer American Women Getting Abortions? It’s not, she concludes, because women have better access to affordable birth control. It’s because “fewer women feel comfortable getting an abortion.”  

Millennials, she declares, are deeply conflicted about abortion for moral reasons, as their views are shaped by religious faith. And Americans in general, she asserts, “are moving away from embracing abortion, not toward it.”

Also, Green recently wrote this story about a book spotlighting progressives in the anti-abortion movement, and her analysis was featured in this enthusiastic piece at The American Conservative.

How heavy a hand do the editors have in altering the reader-generated stories?  We cannot ask The Atlantic’s reader-authors if or how much their words were changed or rearranged, because their identities are kept anonymous.  We can only consider the high quality of the writing and wonder: Do the editors take liberties to accentuate certain scenarios and heighten emotional impact? Do they embellish, omit, or rearrange any details to shape the stories for maximum attraction?

Also, as gatekeepers, do they exclude any stories that don’t fit a preferred frame?

These are mysteries embedded between the lines of the abortion series in The Atlantic’s Notes section, as well as in other media venues publishing abortion stories.

If you want to share your abortion story with the public, spend time researching the site to help ensure your story will be presented with the respect and dignity it deserves. Also, consider sharing through the many grassroots venues listed on our website.

 

Karen Thurston is an elementary school teacher’s assistant in Georgia. She has shared her abortion experiences in several public venues, including elle.com, refinery29.com, thinkprogress.org, msnbc.com, and The Abortion Diary Podcast.

 

 

 

 

 

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Here is the Application for 4.1.14 Deadline

February 10, 2014

Abortion Conversation Project

Support Mini-Grant Application Information

Spring 2014 Due April 1, 2014

See related post below)

 

Image,The Abortion Conversation Project will consider small grants for projects in keeping with ACP’s mission to challenge the polarization that characterizes abortion conversation, lessen the stigmatization of abortion, and promote speaking and listening with empathy, dignity, and resilience about even the most difficult aspects of abortion. For the Spring 2014 grant cycle, we are particularly interested in proposals intended to open communication on an interpersonal level and/or within a community.

The ACP Board is committed to ongoing, collaborative engagement with our grantees; we respect your project and want to give it the best possible support. In that spirit, we encourage each prospective grant applicant to discuss her/his project with a member of the ACP Board or ACP Grant Subcommittee before submitting an application. We also intend to remain connected to grantees and their projects on an on-going basis.

Grants are available for project costs (printing, facility rental, etc.), technological costs (internet access charges, photocopying, etc.) travel expenses (including transportation, lodging, and meals), and other material expenses. Starting in the Fall 2013 cycle we are willing to provide grant money in some cases for salaries/person hours/honoraria, etc. Grants to pay for personnel will be for completed projects and direct costs will be reimbursed with receipts.

Grants are available in amounts up to $2000.00 per project; recipients may not apply for two grants in one twelve-month period; grants must be completed within one year of receipt. We accept applications for collaborative projects. We want to maximize the limited amount of money we have to give, so we will appreciate smaller requests that will allow us to assist more projects. We will give priority to applications for support for new projects or for new portions of existing projects.

Grantees agree to allow ACP to publicize their projects on our website and in other publicity materials for the organization and to provide evaluative feedback from their projects, when appropriate. All grantees agree to submit a Completion Report to ACP no more than one year after receiving their grants. (The Completion Report Form is available on the ACP website.) Neglecting to submit a Completion Report will result in ineligibility for future grants.

Application Process

Applications are accepted for two annual grant cycles; deadlines will be announced on our blog and in relevant media. Applicants are asked to complete the ACP Support Grant Application form, after speaking with a member of our team. Grantees will be notified of the decision of the ACP Grant Subcommittee no later than April 30, 2014, for the Spring cycle. Submit electronically and make inquiries to Info@abortionconversation.com.

 


Abortion Conversation Project

Support Mini-Grant Application Form

 

Contact Information

 Name

 Address

 Telephone

 Email address

 Institution/Organization (if applicable)

 Project title/Summary (Title or 1-2 sentence description of the project)

 Detailed Description of the Project (two paragraphs, up to 500 words)—be sure to address as many of the following questions as are relevant to your project: What do you envision as the outcome of this project? How does the project connect with a community? What relationships do you see coming out of this project? How will you work to decrease polarities in abortion conversations?

 How does this project reflect the Mission of the Abortion Conversation Project (to challenge the polarization that characterizes abortion conversation, lessen the stigmatization of abortion, and promote speaking and listening with empathy, dignity, and resilience about even the most difficult aspects of abortion)? (up to 250 words)

 How did you learn about this grant opportunity?

 Proposed date(s)/timeline of the project.

 Estimated budget for the project

Please provide details of costs, to the best of your ability.

 Amount of grant support requested (up to $2000)

Please note that grantees are ineligible for awards in two consecutive grant cycles.

 If you get less than the requested amount how will you adjust your project?

 Signature (electronically signed)                                      Date

 

4.1.14 Deadline

February 10, 2014

The Abortion Conversation Project announces its Spring 2014 Deadline for Proposals: April 1st, 2014. Grantees can expect to hear the results at the end of April.

ACP’s mission is to challenge the polarization that characterizes current abortion conversation, lessen the stigmatization of abortion, and promote speaking and listening with empathy, dignity, and resilience about even the most difficult aspects of abortion.

ACP is funding projects that promote in-person discussions about abortion.  We strongly urge that you speak to an ACP Board member before applying. See separate post for application.

Madame Restelle, Abortion Provider in NYC in mid 1800’s from Heather Ault’s poster series, 4000 Years For Choice, $20

 Progress of Current ACP Mini-Grant Projects

“This is the exciting time for Abortion Conversation grantees, says Peg Johnston Board member. “They are diving into their projects and making it real.”

Cindy Cooper of Words of Choice is already mapping a walking tour of Reproductive Justice sites in New York City. One stop is likely to be Madame Restelle’s an 1800’s abortion provider, as well as Rev. Moody’s church: he started the Clergy Consultation Service to help women find abortion services before abortion was legal.

Folks on the tour may see evidence of another grantee-  Project Voice a website created by Maya Pindyck. She and her associates will create materials that “talk back” to anti-abortion propaganda on the streets and subways of New York.

 Another blog about abortion, Abortion Chat has already used grant money to chat up the idea of writing about an abortion experience. She will be at the AWP conference talking to writers about the complexity of abortion in their writing.

Meanwhile, prior grantees are in action. Shweta Krishnan of Abortion, According to Me, is collecting abortion stories of Indian women. Abortion is legal in India but experiences vary widely and women rarely get to tell their stories. Through Education for Choiceyoung people in the UK have access to accurate information about abortion and places to discuss abortion, through an ACP funded project.

Abortion is not really about abortion….Linda Weber

June 22, 2013

Abortion is not really about abortion….Linda Weber

One of the foremost leaders in transforming conversations about abortion is Linda Weber, author of Life Choices, The Teachings of Abortion. She has given us permission to link to her excellent blog posts. Check it out:

 

Abortion is a collection of some of the most difficult issues related to human growth and development.

 Life Choices

Abortion isn’t really or only about abortion. It’s about women’s power in life, and learning to take conscious responsibility for life on earth. For most women, there’s nothing wrong and everything right about having an abortion. So, what’s the source of the idea that abortion is terrible and a problem? For complete answers, you’ll have to read my book! But meanwhile, consider doing the following:

1. Speak freely about abortion. Cut through the shame and stigma in any way you can.

2. Support your friends, neighbors, and colleagues to speak out and include abortion in the normal course of daily conversations.

3. Be a good listener if there is someone in your life who is upset about abortion. It’s natural and normal to have feelings.

4. Don’t play into the false division between “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” No one is against life.

Click on the link to read the rest of things you can do.

Deadline May 15th!!!

May 7, 2013

The mini grant applications are due May 15th. It’s just come to our attention that it’s hard to use the pdf application. For a Word version please contact us at Info@abortionconversation.com. We are excited to hear your ideas about having non-stigmatizing conversations about abortion.Image 

The Real Conversation

April 16, 2013

The Real Conversation

Here is another aspect of silencing: hijacking a story for your own purposes. Right leaning media, or mainstream media eager for the salacious story, have focused on Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who allegedly ran a sub-standard, criminal practice that served mostly poor black women. Erin Grant, of Philadelphia Women’s Center, puts the focus back on the real conversation we should be having: how lack of public funding and excessive abortion restrictions actually contribute to the existence of Gosnell’s. 

Mini-Grants announced!

June 15, 2012

ImageThe Board of the Abortion Conversation Project is jump-starting many conversations about abortion by offering small support grants for projects that are in keeping with our mission. The Abortion Conversation Project will consider small grants for travel expenses, materials, and other tangible expenses for projects in keeping with ACP’s mission to challenge the polarization that characterizes abortion conversation, lessen the stigmatization of abortion, and promote speaking and listening with empathy, dignity, and resilience about even the most difficult aspects of abortion.

 ACP’s mission is to challenge the polarization that characterizes abortion conversation, lessen the stigmatization of abortion, and promote speaking and listening with empathy, dignity, and resilience about even the most difficult aspects of abortion.

 The ACP Board is committed to ongoing, collaborative engagement with our grantees; we respect your project and want to give it the best possible support. In that spirit, we encourage each prospective grant applicant to discuss her/his project with a member of the ACP Board or ACP Grant Subcommittee before submitting an application.

 Grants are available for project costs (printing, facility rental, etc.), technological costs (internet access charges, photocopying, etc.) travel expenses (including transportation, lodging, and meals), and other material expenses. We regret that we cannot provide grant money for salaries/person hours/honoraria, etc.

 Grants are available in amounts up to $2000.00 per project; recipients may not apply for two grants in one twelve-month period. We do accept applications for collaborative projects. We want to maximize the limited amount of money we have to give, so we will appreciate smaller requests that will allow us to assist more projects.

 We strongly encourage applicants to talk with us about projects before submission. Deadlines are Sept 1 and March 1. For more information and application, email Info AT abortionconversation.com.