Robyn Swirling of Advocates For Youth on #1in3Week

Jaclyn Munson conducted this interview over e-mail with Robyn Swirling, Advocate for Youth’s Online Organizing and Outreach Coordinator.

JM: Who is the 1 in 3 Week of Action for? Can anyone participate?

RS: The Week of Action is for everyone! This week, more than 130 events are happening around the country, from book clubs and campus discussions to tabling and abortion speak outs. We held a great discussion about abortion stigma on our Facebook page last night, which is archived for everyone to read here. Of course, everyone can get involved through social media. We’re asking all supporters to take the 1 in 3 Pledge: “I pledge to speak out against the shaming of women who have had an abortion. I will help build a culture of empathy, justice, and support for access to abortion care and for the 1 in 3 women who will have an abortion in her lifetime. The silence and stigma end here.” People can take the pledge, then share via Facebook and Twitter the following message: “The silence and stigma around #abortion care end with me. Do they end with you too? Take the #1in3week pledge: bit.ly/1in3pledge” By sharing stories, and telling our friends and family that we support access to abortion care and the people who have had abortions, we can empower others to end their silence and encourage all supporters of abortion care access to take a stand.

JM: How can communities mobilize after the 1 in 3 Week of Action, and what kind of resources does your campaign have for people who want to get involved?

RS: This is just one week, but the 1 in 3 Campaign is an ongoing effort to reduce the stigma and shame by sharing the stories of people’s experiences with abortion care. Here are a few resources and options for continued action:

  • A great way for people to start conversations in their communities after the Week of Action is to hold book clubs and dinner parties to discuss the collection of stories from the campaign, 1 in 3: These Are Our Stories. We offered those as ideas for Week of Action events, but we’d love to see people continuing to share and engage with the stories going forward. And we want to hear about it as well. Please post to Facebook about your events.
  • The written stories and videos on our site are a tremendous resource for anyone who wants to start a conversation by sharing groups of stories.
  • At 1in3campaign.org, we have a resources section with information about abortion procedures and access, policies at the state and federal levels, a guide for journalists and bloggers about how to cover reproductive issues, and a toolkit for campus activists.
  • We’re so excited that so many campus groups signed up to host events this week, and we’re looking forward to building a presence in more and more student-based communities. If students are interested in working with the 1 in 3 Campaign on their campuses, they can let us know that here.

JM: In a socio-political climate that is becoming increasingly hostile towards women exercising their constitutional right to an abortion, how can we fight against the legislative bodies that are working to limit safe access to abortion, family planning, and reproductive health services? What’s more, do you believe that eventually, with enough education and consciousness raising, that anti-choice legislation will ultimately be obsolete?

RS: With the 1 in 3 Campaign, we’re elevating the stories of 1 in 3 women. This is my story, your story, everyone’s story. We’re creating a new conversation that puts people at the center of the discussion of access to safe abortion care, so we can start talking more about people’s lives than political rhetoric. Anti-choice politicians are able to get away with their attacks on access to abortion care and on abortion care providers because of a culture that shames, stigmatizes, and silences the people who have accessed abortion care and the people who provide that care, and those who support access to abortion. We know that young people are energized to end that stigma, shame and silence, and they are working to change the conversation about abortion so that at the end of the day, legal, safe, affordable abortion care is available. By sharing these stories, politicians will start to understand that regardless of their personal views on abortion, it is a common experience for millions of women and families, and it needs to remain safe, legal, and affordable. We look forward to when abortion care is no longer stigmatized. To get there, we need even more people speaking out, and speaking out personally. And we need more people taking and acting on the 1 in 3 Pledge, to speak out against shaming and stigmatizing language, actions, and policies.

JM: I love that the campaign is working to start a new conversation about abortion that focuses on openness, sharing, and ultimately, the ability to be vulnerable. The stigma surround abortion has left many women feeling silenced and afraid to speak up. What would you say to those women who are uncertain about sharing their stories?

RS: Coming forward with your personal experience with abortion can be a very rewarding experience, but it can also involve some risks. Since the cultural myths that currently surround abortion are ones that shame and judge, it’s possible that the person you tell won’t be supportive. So we want to create a safe space for people to talk about their experiences, which is why the only narratives we won’t publish on the 1 in 3 site are stories that shame or judge others for their choices, or advocate for policies that restrict access to abortion care. On our page, people are able to share anonymously, and many people do. I’ve found, personally, that it can be really freeing to share your story, but nobody should feel pressured to tell their story if they’re not ready to do so.

JM: What can we expect from the 1 in 3 Campaign in the future?

RS: We are so energized by the outpouring of support and participation in this Week of Action. To have over 130 events from around the country, like the Abortion Speak Out at University of Michigan that was standing room only, to the book club my grandmother hosted in a small town in Massachusetts, it’s really inspiring to see how everyone is engaging with this campaign and with the stories. So we are really excited about the future. We will absolutely be holding more events and we’re always looking for new ways to share these stories. We just released a new video, and we’re looking into gathering more video and audio stories. So everyone should stay tuned, because we definitely have exciting new things coming up! For updates, people can sign up to get emails here, and can like our Facebook page.

 

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