Posted tagged ‘abortion stigma’

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Let It Out! Abortion Stigma-Busting Video Competition

December 12, 2014

let it out green

Sponsored by the Abortion Care Network, 1 in 3 Campaign and the Abortion Conversation Project

WHAT: We welcome submissions to Let It Out: Abortion Stigma-Busting Video Competition. Stigma is a key strategy of anti-abortion extremists who want to shame everyone into silence about abortion. This year we have seen the consequences of this stigma—clinic closures, women who can’t find services, and right wing extremists in charge of women’s health. It is urgent that we create cultural pushback against those who would try to stigmatize us. So, we encourage you to “Let It Out”, be it about your own or a loved one’s abortion experience, outrage over current politics, or calling out those who would stigmatize us. Video is a great outlet for your passion!

WHO: Co-sponsored by the Abortion Care Network (ACN)  and the 1 in 3 Campaign, and the Abortion Conversation Project (ACP).  ACN creates communities of support around independent abortion care communities and engages in stigma reduction and resistance. Individual activists, writers, artists, and regular folks are part of this community of support. “1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. These are our stories” is the 1 in 3 mission of using stories for stigma reduction. ACP offers seed grants to grassroots stigma-busting projects.

HOW: Video submissions must be under three minutes and under 100 MB and may be humorous, satirical, activist, or about a first person experience. Very short videos using Vine or Instagram or other smart phone applications will also be eligible for entry. Registration form at this address: http://bit.ly/letitoutvideo or email us at Info@abortionconversation.com. The “How to Make an Abortion Video” webinar with last year’s winners Katie Gillum and Emily Letts is available to interested people at  http://abortioncarenetwork.org/resources/video-gallery/508-making-an-abortion-video

WOW: A nationally known filmmaker will judge the competition. Winning entries will be awarded a cash prize of $100 for each of three entrants, with matching donations to the Abortion Fund of your choice. (See www.fundabortionnow.org) There will also be three Honorable Mentions awarded without a cash prize. Qualifying videos will be displayed by any of the sponsoring organizations and in other reproductive rights and justice venues, at the discretion of the Abortion Care Network. The Judge’s Choice and Honorable Mention entries will be shown at the Abortion Care Network’s Annual Conference and other related meetings.

WHEN: The deadline is January 22th, 2015. Fee only $5! Each video must be posted on YouTube.com or Vimeo.com or similar public site and a registration form must be submitted at http://bit.ly/letitoutvideo. A confirmation email will be sent to each entrant upon receipt of form.

Nov 1st Grant Deadline

October 24, 2014

Here is the revised application for the Abortion Conversation Project’s Seed Grant program for innovative, creative projects to bust stigma. It’s due Nov. 1, 2014 to info@abortionconversation.com.

Abortion Conversation Project

Seed Support Grant Application Information

Applications Due November 1 and July 1

The Abortion Conversation Project offers small seed grants to individuals and small groups for innovative 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. We are particularly interested in innovative and creative approaches to challenging and eradicating abortion stigma. We also want to encourage projects that engage people on a grassroots level.

The ACP Board is committed to an ongoing, collaborative relationship with our grantees; we respect your project and offer support not often found with other grantors. Our Board has expertise and connections in many areas, so 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. Contact Info@abortionconversation.com to get in touch with someone who can review your idea/proposal.

ACP offers both seed money and help for grantees. Our goal is to connect each grantee with advice about implementation challenges, including fund-raising, extending outreach, dealing with difficult conversations that come up, and developing an evaluation process.

We maximize the reach of stigma-busting culture change by granting ‘seed’ money grants in smaller amounts that allow us to assist more projects. We give priority to new, innovative projects or for new portions of existing projects. Grants are available for direct project costs, including technology, equipment, facility and other material and production expenses. 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.

The Abortion Conversation Project encourages social change, so we intend to work with you to publicize your project. Grantees agree to allow ACP to promote their projects on our website and in other ACP publicity materials and to provide evaluative feedback from their projects. Likewise, grantees agree to acknowledge ACP in all communications about their funded project. Logo and ACP tag line will be sent to all grantees.

Reporting

All grantees agree to submit a brief 6-month Check-In Report and a Final Report to ACP within 30 days of completion.(The Completion Report Form is available on the ACP website or by contacting info@abortionconversation.com) Neglecting to submit a Completion Report will result in ineligibility for future grants.

Application Process

Applications are accepted for two annual grant cycles; deadlines are July 1 and November 1, annually. Applicants are asked to complete the ACP Support Grant Application form, after initially speaking with a member of our team to discuss your project. Grantees will be notified of the decision of the ACP Grant Subcommittee within 30 days. Recipients may not apply for two grants in one twelve-month period.

Please submit all application forms electronically, and make inquiries to Info@abortionconversation.com.

Abortion Conversation Project Seed Support Grant Application Form

Contact Information

Name

Address

Telephone

Email address

Institution/Organization (if applicable)

Social Media Contact Information

Twitter address

Facebook address

Other:

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

  • What do you envision as the outcome of this project?
  • How will you work to decrease polarities and invite people into abortion conversations?
  • How does the project connect with a community?
  • What relationships do you see coming out of this project?
  • Define your intended audience.
  • What aspect of abortion stigma do you see your project addressing? (How is it manifested? On what level does this kind of stigma operate? ex: Individual, community, institutions, policies/laws, media?)
  • How will you evaluate the effectiveness of your project?
  • If this project will continue, how will it be sustained?
    • What is the plan for continuing the project or taking it to the next level?
    • What does the future for this project look like after ACP funding?
    • What relationships do you see coming out of this project?

How does this project support 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; include source of estimated costs of major items.
  • How much funding have you already secured? Source?
  • What other sources of funding have you sought/are planning to seek?

Amount of grant support requested (up to $2000)

If you do not receive the full amount requested from ACP, how will you adjust your proposal?

 

Signature:_______________________________________________________

Date:___________________

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.

Hard Conversations

November 8, 2013

This is a TedX video by Ash Beckham about being in the closet about something–anything and how to have the hard conversations that open the door. It is about her sexual orientation but as she makes clear it is more about any hard thing you need to say. We have long talked about a “Coming Out” Day for abortion providers and women who have had an abortion (or their loved ones). This seems like a good instruction manual for those hard conversations.

Portman Women: Come Out!!

March 25, 2013

Conservative Senator Rob Portman (R,OH) just changed his mind about gay marriage because his son came out to him. So, the stand that he, and most right wingers, have taken against civil rights for lgbt individuals has become personal. 

So, let’s take this a step further. How many of the Portman family females have had an abortion? Or helped a friend when they unintentionally became pregnant? Gays and lesbians comprise less than 10% of the population, but 37% of all of reproductive aged women will have an abortion! Surely there are some disclosures that are possible at the next family gathering.

Many abortion rights activists advocate a “coming out” strategy for those who have had an abortion, just as the gay and lesbian movement did, designating October 11th (the anniversary of the first large march on washington) in 1988. That strategy has paid off handsomely, as more and more Americans personally know gays and lesbians and support their wanting to have their unions recognized by society. 70% of millenials in a recent Pew poll support same sex marriage.

Last year I attended a conference on Stigma which suggested that approaches that have worked to de-stigmatize homosexuality and HIV status might be used to lessen the stigma of abortion. There are some important differences though. Women who have had an abortion can usually hide it; it’s not generally part of their identity. Gay people continue to be gay, and HIV positive folks have a chronic condition.

But the idea is a good one. If you feel that someone would think less of you (which is the definition of stigma), then you are not going to be eager to tell those people. But if you were able to tell some folks, it would lessen your sense of stigma, isolation, and shame. And, importantly, it would change those that heard your story. The Rob Portman’s of the world need to hear from women close to them who have considered or chosen an abortion. If the Right hears from those women and men who have been part of an abortion experience, will they be so quick to pass every ridiculous law that’s a barrier to abortion access? If Rob Portman’s son’s coming out is an indication, the answer is “no!” So, Portman women, we know it can be hard to speak up, but we’re counting on you. It’s time for an abortion conversation in your–and every– family!