Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Let's talk about abortion

As most of you probably already know, the US House of Representatives recently voted to defund Planned Parenthood in an outrageous act of irresponsibility. As Ruth Marcus from the Washington post put it in her column about this legislation,
"House Republicans voted to increase the number of abortions, raise federal health-care costs and swell the welfare rolls."
Planned Parenthood provides vital health services to countless women across the US, including contraception, STD testing, cancer screenings, and abortions. The anti-choicers in Congress are desperate to do all they can to eliminate access to abortion just short of actually criminalizing it (for now at least) and in the process they're willing to sacrifice the health of millions of women.

In a powerful moment on the House floor, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) bravely and eloquently spoke out about her own late-term abortion in her defense of Planned Parenthood. (Check out the video below)

It takes a strong women to speak out about such a personal issue that receives so much negativity. But it is so important to hear from women who are willing and able to speak about their experiences with abortion. Silence only helps empower the anti-choice movements and allows them to frame the conversation in any way they choose.

Of course I'm not saying that every woman who's had an abortion needs to jump up on a soapbox; there are probably as many reasons to keep quiet about an abortion as there are to speak out about it. What I am saying, is that women need to feel that talking about abortion is okay.

The organization Exhale, a non-profit after-abortion counseling service, is working on doing just that. They've spearheaded a wonderful "pro-voice" movement, which they refer to in their mission statement:
"Our mission is to create a social climate where each person’s unique experience with abortion is supported, respected and free from stigma. We call this mission pro-voice."
They also recently partnered with MTV to open up the conversation about abortion and created a special in the vein of "16 and Pregnant" called "No Easy Decision" (which you can watch here). In this show, three young women discuss their individual decisions to have an abortion along with their feelings and experiences afterward. This special was done alongside Exhale's 16 and Loved campaign which very simply seeks to show support and respect for young women who've had abortions and open up the conversation in a wholly positive way. The site even has a page for submitting a message of love to show your solidarity.

If you want to show your support for these women who've chosen to create a positive dialogue about their experience of having an abortion, for those equally as strong women who've had abortions but haven't chosen to speak out about them, for women everywhere who rely on Planned Parenthood as their main source for reproductive healthcare, and for those women who will never need to have an abortion simply because they have access to birth control through Planned Parenthood, here are a few actions you can take:

Click here to find out how your representative voted on this harmful bill and either thank them for being responsible or give them a piece of your mind.

If you haven't already, sign this open letter to congress to let them know that defunding Planned Parenthood is irresponsible and dangerous for women.

This Saturday Pro-Choicers are mobilizing across the country in support of reproductive justice. Join us in Detroit for this historic march, check out the event's facebook, the location of the march will be posted on Friday.

-Kate, NOW Oakland County intern

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