#ShoutYourAbortion Is Tackling Abortion Stigma on Twitter

September 22nd 2015

Mackensie Graham

Twitter is serving as a megaphone for women to open up about a rarely-discussed, legal decision: abortion.

The hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion follows a highly debated Republican-led House of Representatives vote last Friday on two abortion-related bills. One bill would pull federal funding—$528 million that is largely from Medicaid reimbursements and grants, and then Title X—from Planned Parenthood for a year. The other would criminally punish doctors if there is a failure to provide medical care to infants born alive during abortions; Democrats attest that this bill is unnecessary and superfluous.

These votes on women’s healthcare inspired activists Amelia Bonow, Lindy West, and Kimberly Morrison to start the viral hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion.

It began when West shared her friend Bonow’s Facebook post on Twitter. And in a piece she wrote for the Guardian, West said the hashtag seemingly wrote itself.

"I never, ever talk about my abortion," West wrote. "I live in a progressive city, I have a fiercely pro-choice social circle and family, I write confessionally about myself for a living – so why is it that I never speak about abortion in anything beyond an abstract way, even with my closest friends?"

"Not talking about our personal experiences with abortion wasn’t conscious—it felt like a habit, a flimsy ouroboros of obfuscation," West continued. "We don’t talk about it because we don’t talk about it because we don’t talk about it. So, on Saturday, when my friend Amelia Bonow posted this plainspoken, unapologetic announcement on her Facebook page, it felt simultaneously so obvious, so simple and so revolutionary."

The intention behind the hashtag was to call on women everywhere to share their stories of abortion and remove the stigma surrounding the topic. The hashtag, since it began on Friday, has seen more than 94,000 tweets.

Advocates believe that these stories serve as important proof that abortion is a procedure that should continue to be accessible, safe, and legal. The birth of a baby changes everything for the mother, which is why pro-choice advocates believe that abortion is a mother’s choice, no matter the reason. For some women, the choice to terminate a pregnancy can come with a variety of personal reasons: it might not be the right time, financial situation, or the right partner. The pregnancy could also be the result of a rape, a threat of abuse, or an endangerment to the mother’s life.

#ShoutYourAbortion demands a breakdown in the taboo surrounding abortion, which stems from viewpoints that are both innately deeply emotional, religious, and moral. As the viral hashtag has gained traction, the opposing view has also actively used the hashtag to denouce abortion.

Often when women have abortions, a societal taboo lingers, forcing women to feel shushed or shamed about their choice. However, abortions are happening. In fact, one of the most common surgeries for U.S. women is abortion, with approximately more than one in five U.S. pregnancies ends in abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are approximately 1.06 million abortions per year in the U.S. This procedure impacts both men and women across the country and as of 2008, this number was down 13 percent and the lowest rate since 1973.

One out of 10 women will have an abortion before age 20; one in four women will by age 30, and three out of 10 by age 45. Half of American women, at least, will have an unintended pregnancy before age 45.

In regards to Planned Parenthood, abortion-related services account for only three percent of the total services rendered.