The idea that women should have unilateral control over their fertility and health care should not be a radical concept. It seems rather basic, that a woman should be the sole decision-maker as to whether or not she wants to have a child. For who is another to impose ideological ownership of a body that is not their own?
Abortion opponents make no secret of their intent to wage war on women and our reproductive rights, using legislative bodies as a platform to impose their agenda. In the first six months of 2013, 273 anti-abortion provisions were introduced to legislative bodies in the United States. Of those, thirty-eight were enacted.
While the stigma women are made to feel about abortion is intangible, the results of that ideology are not. Laura Bassett recently reported for The Huffington Post that since 2010, more than fifty clinics nationwide have ceased to provide abortions or have closed as the war on the women escalates.
Working to eradicate the stigma surrounding abortion is the 1 in 3 Campaign, a project of the D.C.-based reproductive and sexual health organization Advocates for Youth. By using a narrative approach to advocacy, 1 in 3 shares stories of women who have had an abortion. Advocates for Youth President Debra Hauser shares her own story in the campaign’s latest book and believes that this approach can help dismantle stigmas and create a larger community of supporters.
“1 in 3 is based on a concept that follows the history of other equality movements- the dreamers, LGBT- the idea of storytelling and sharing. By telling our stories, if we can break through stigma and silence then we are much more able to understand each other. Many other people will know someone who has had an abortion,” she says.
That one in three women will have an abortion speaks volume as to how many people are directly affected by anti-choice measures that restrict safe access to health care. It’s been well documented that restricting abortion access makes it unsafe, but as Debra says, it’s her hope that this campaign is part of a “cultural shift.”
“What we know is that throughout life and the generations, women have had to deal with unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. It doesn’t make us selfish. It doesn’t make us promiscuous and it doesn’t make us irresponsible. It’s part of women’s experiences.”
That these experiences are the same for any given person and for agency to have no place one’s decision to have an abortion is central to the narrow lens through which the anti-choice movement functions. These are also core components that perpetuate the stigma and shame women are made to feel about abortion, something 1 in 3 is working tirelessly to eradicate.
What’s extraordinary about the Campaign is their use of storytelling- an ancient tradition that predates writing- as a catalyst for change.
“Storytelling becomes a very important part of the pushback,” Debra says.
The Campaign is currently collecting new stories in both written and video formats and Debra says they are “looking for new ways to package the stories and get them out.” Contributors have the option of sharing their accounts anonymously and can learn more about how to get involved with 1 in 3 by visiting their website.
As the Campaign soldiers on, supports can look forward to a 1 in 3 virtual book club and campus events in the future.