A college student in New York dreaming of a public health career, Shore’s life came to a halt when she found out she had become pregnant as a result of an assault in 2014.
“My pregnancy could not have been unplanned or unwanted – it resulted from an encounter I didn’t want to have and asked to stop,” Shore told CNN.
She felt that an abortion was her only option. But Shore grew up in a conservative Catholic family, and was terrified of what that meant.
“I was afraid to rely solely on Planned Parenthood information—because I had been told my whole life how biased they were, how they provided abortion services solely for profit,” Shore said, referring to the lies that have been pushed against sexual nonprofits and a reproductive health care provider. who provides abortion services.
“I was free to make my decision without hesitation or hindrance just because I was fortunate enough to live in the New York City metro area,” said Shore, who is now an administrative assistant for the Guttmacher Institute for Reproductive Rights Research.
The freedom to make that choice is something not many Americans have; One person like Shore would fight for it.
“Abortion is a human right,” Schur said. “Political assaults on our fundamental right to abortion – the right to bodily autonomy, the right to chart the course of our lives, the right to protect our health and well-being – are blatantly unconstitutional, immoral, shameful, and pathetic.”
While protests for abortion rights often come in the form of rallies, donations and political action, there is another weapon some use: their stories.
Activists say ‘Cry out for your abortion’
Her Facebook post was shared by fellow feminist and social justice activist Lindy West, who added the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion. Within days, the hashtag went viral, with thousands of women nationwide adding their own stories.
Bono told CNN that the goal of the social media campaign is to “create ways for people to share their abortion stories and normalize abortion in culture in general.”
Now, Shout Your Abortion (SYA), a nonprofit abortion rights organization co-founded by Bonow and West, shares thousands of stories from people of all ages, races, and gender identities.
But because abortion is considered taboo, most people don’t share their experiences, says SYA, leading to feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation. Avoiding the topic also creates an environment full of misinformation and ultimately harmful legislation.
That’s why SYA believes that sharing stories, as well as supporting and funding clinics, is essential to protecting abortion rights.
“We believe that doing all of these things openly, and no matter how comfortable a person is doing it, is how we are going to build a broad and relentless base of support for abortion access,” Bono said. “We need to start thinking about abortion access as a societal responsibility.”
To some, the discussion may seem too public and too open. But women like Ariel Cohen disagree.
In 2012, Cohen was an undergraduate at SUNY Procurement – a campus leader who dreams of becoming a writer.
When she became pregnant in the middle of the semester, with only $1,000 left to finish, she felt an abortion was her only option.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I couldn’t raise money for these two tweaks,” Cohen told CNN.
Sharing her experience hasn’t been easy, Cohen says, noting the difficulty of obtaining abortions, the difficulty of paying for them and the difficulty of talking about them.
“The stigma and isolation I faced made me deeply depressed,” she said. “I was embarrassed because I was depressed and I felt ashamed because I didn’t know how to talk about it.”
“I remain deeply troubled by the overwhelming stigma that I faced, which many in my place still face,” Cohen said.
Joining the #ShoutYourAbortion movement allowed Cohen to see the impact of sharing her story on others.
“Today, I am really proud to say I had an abortion,” Cohen said. “I am proud to know that when I first spoke about it publicly, it created a domino effect as others told me their stories for the first time. I am honored to bring these stories to others.”
We have a long way ahead of us
Heather Young remembers being 17 and facing the crowd outside a clinic in Middletown, Ohio, where she had a surgical abortion.
“The procedure wasn’t bad, the clinic was very quiet and clean,” Young, 23, told CNN. “I will never forget the protesters outside screaming about Jesus… all the looks and looks I got when I walked in.”
She remembers lying on the table while the nurse held her hand, Young spoke at every step of the process and never let go of her once.
“Although it was a difficult period in my life, I will never forget the wonderful people who helped me get the care I needed and deserved,” she said.
Young also feels that the men and women screaming outside the clinic don’t know enough about her situation to make a judgment.
As a high school student, Young says she was already struggling with mental health and financial problems when she became pregnant.
“The man who carried me instantly switched from seemingly loving and kind to mean,” she said.
“I never wanted to bring a child into the world when he was so young and certainly not with the person I grew up with,” she said.
Young says she is grateful for the kindness of the clinic staff, as well as all the women who inspired her to share the story of her miscarriage. And she says just by doing this, the topic will become easier to tackle.
“We need to quit the limb-gait around the word abortion,” Young said. “People need to know that people have had abortions for all reasons, not just life or death situations. I was 17, scared. I probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my mother and the doctors who helped me.”
The campaign started by Bonow and West has made great strides since 2015.
“I’m not ashamed that it took me years to say that,” Cohen said. “I am not ashamed that it was difficult. I am not ashamed that I still think about all its aspects. I am not ashamed that it was painful. And I will not be silent about it.”