Posted tagged ‘abortion’

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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What’s in a logo?

May 15, 2015

ACP-Logo-Standard-JPG

Heather Ault, ACP Board member and creator of 4000 Years for Choice, designed a new logo for the Abortion Conversatiion Project. Initially she produced over 20 designs for the board to look at and  discuss.

Then attendees at the Abortion Care Network conference voted on their favorites from 4 possibilities. It’s amazing how engaging the process was and how thoughtful people were: “I love the conversation bubbles.” “This one is too cartoony” “Is the topic abortion or ACP?” “I like where they overlap.” “I like the free flowing one…” etc etc. Until finally a version of the logo above was chosen in a squeaker of a contest.

Logo design is not for the faint-hearted, and we are so lucky to have Heather Ault on our team! She tinkered with just the right font, the coolest colors, and different versions of the logo for various uses. Need a logo or design services? Consider Heather Ault!

Reaching out to New Audiences: The Dating Game

April 5, 2015

ACP President, Terry Sallas Merritt, recently did an interview with datingadvice.com, a decidedly new audience for the Abortion Conversation Project. Usually, and unfortunately, pro-choice activists are guilty of “talking to ourselves.” A dating site attracts ordinary people, perhaps people who have never really considered the topic of abortion. And yet, these are  folks that may face an unintended pregnancy or who have already had an abortion experience. Remember, 37% of all women will have an abortion before the age of 45. So, introducing the topic on a general interest site is precisely where we need to be.

According to Sallas Merritt, it’s all about taking small steps that stop perpetuating silence and encourage listening and understanding.

“When the conversation comes up and you hear that stigma language, you don’t want to let it hang in the air. You can say ‘For me, I would not assume I could make this important decision for anyone else but myself,’” she said. “This is what being pro-choice is all about, respecting the moral authority and capability of people to make these decisions. I think even if you are not comfortable sharing your story, you can be comfortable sharing the universal idea of respect and dignity.”

Hayley Matthews, the editor in chief of Dating Advice, is responsible for creating diverse and controversial content for the site. Even if you don’t need a date, check out her content.

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Spring Grants Announced

May 12, 2014
Emily Letts quote

Emily Letts quote

Abortion Conversation Project Awards Six Grants

 

The Abortion Conversation Project announced six successful grants totaling $5,000 in its Spring 2014 round of mini-grants. “The awards represent diverse ways to extend necessary conversations about abortion,” noted Peg Johnston of the Abortion Conversation Project Board.

 

The Abortion Conversation Project’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.”

 

Emily Letts, whose video, “This is My Story” has gone viral after winning the Abortion Care Network’s Stigma Busting Video Competition, was awarded a grant to do further videotaping and to enter film festivals. Lori Brown, an architect, whose book Contested Spaces examines the controversy at clinics as a design issue, was awarded a grant for a contest to design a fence outside the Jacksonville abortion clinic, the only remaining clinic in Mississippi.

Megan Smith, who founded the Repeal Hyde Art Project, plans to create a leadership course for young women in the Boston area. Also, the Boston Doula Project received a grant to host a monthly Salon Series to foster dialogue about reproductive experiences, including abortion.

Another grant will help establish Social Workers for Reproductive Justice by creating training materials for social workers. The Peace Foundation in Pakistan, where abortion is legal but is considered a sin by many, has received a grant to buy software to communicate vital abortion information with women in far-flung rural areas.

The Abortion Conversation Project was founded in 2000 and spent its early years defining post abortion emotional health, de-stigmatizing abortion through handouts for parents, partners, and patients themselves, and staging community conversations to have deeper conversations among diverse prochoice audiences. After helping to launch the Abortion Care Network, ACP explored conflict transformation techniques and decided to offer small grants to engage many more people in its mission. The Abortion Conversation Project has a website at www.abortionconversation.com and a blog at https://abortionconversationproject.wordpress.com/, as well as a Facebook page. Supporters can also receive an e-newsletter by clicking on the link on the home page of the website.

 

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Calling for “Abortion Stigma-Busting Videos”

October 14, 2013

Really…?! Abortion Stigma Busting Video Competition

Push back against anti-abortion extremism with your video!

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The Abortion Care Network is sponsoring the first-ever video competition to show the world how people feel about the current climate of extreme anti-abortion legislation and societal stigma against abortion. “We are looking for all kinds of videos, from personal stories to pro choice activism, from direct calling out of anti-choice legislators to flashmob actions, as long it busts current stigma against abortion,” according to Peg Johnston, coordinator of the event. “Video is an important tool in changing attitudes and giving voice to those who have been silenced.”

Stigma is a key strategy of anti-abortion extremists who want to shame women into silence about abortion. When women feel they can’t speak up for their rights, conservative legislators can pass laws that close clinics and make barriers for women. It is urgent that we create cultural pushback against those who would try to stigmatize us.

The deadline is January 6th, 2014 and click here for more information and registration form. Or visit the ACN website at http://www.abortioncarenetwork.org/news/video-competition or the Facebood page at www.facebook.com/abortioncarenetwork .  

Videos must be no longer than 3 minutes but very short videos using applications such as Vines or Instagram are also eligible. There are three $200 Judge’s Choice awards and three Honorable Mentions. $100 awards will go to the individual and $100 will go to the winner’s abortion fund of choice. Videos will be shown at Abortion Care Network’s conferences, embedded on related websites, and used for promotional purposes by ACN.

Link didn’t work? Paste this in your browser: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=rrbrm5cab&oeidk=a07e880uqfe81765aa0

2013 Mini-Grants Awarded

July 10, 2013

Abortion Conversation Project Awards Spring 2013 Grants 

            The Abortion Conversation Project announced five successful grants totally $4000 in its second round of mini-grants. “We are interested in supporting small grassroots endeavors that start meaningful conversations about abortion,” states Peg Johnston, board member. The grants are 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.”

Two projects are awarded to doula groups and two are going to international projects for the first time. The Seattle Full Spectrum Doulas were awarded an early grant so they could start Circle of Stories, an abortion support group with a writing and arts component. The Chicago Doula Circle aims to train volunteers to provide support to abortion patients at Stroger Hospital in Cook County. Doulas have traditionally provided lay support to women in childbirth, but in recent years some doula groups have also offered women support through an abortion experience.

With their grant, Education for Choice in the UK will offer information on abortion, pregnancy, and sexual  health, using social networks, such as Tumblr. Abortion, According to Me, will collect interviews from fifteen Indian women about how abortion is viewed in their communities, and the complex nature of their choices. Abortion is legal in India, but only 40% of the abortions are safe.

Another grant goes to Emerge, a successful post abortion support group, to enable them to document their curriculum and process so that others can replicate its results.

Previous grantees include Plants for Patients, a community production of The Abortion Dialogues in Concord NH, Georgia Reproductive Justice Action Network (GRJAN) outreach and training, Inspire, an online support group. In addition to the mini-grants, the board of the Abortion Conversation Project have offered advice and resources to grassroots groups.

The Abortion Conversation Project was founded in 2000 and spent its early years defining post abortion emotional health, de-stigmatizing abortion through handouts for parents, partners, and patients, and staging community conversations to have deeper conversations among diverse prochoice audiences. After helping to launch the Abortion Care Network in 2008, ACP explored conflict transformation techniques and decided to offer small grants to engage many more people in its mission. The Abortion Conversation Project has a Facebook page. Supporters can also receive an occasional e-newsletter on the sign up from the website or by clicking on this link.

Meet our Board member, Rev. Darcy Baxter

November 21, 2012

title=”Meet our Board member, Rev. Darcy Baxter”>Meet our Board member, Rev. Darcy Baxter

In this essay, Darcy Baxter outlines her beliefs and her compassion for women dealing with unintended pregnancies. Her philosophy: Let us say: “Things get messy. We will be there for you through it all.” Proud to work with you!