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De-stigmatizing abortion after September's heated debates

Pro-choice activists shout slogans before the annual March for Life passes by the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Pro-choice activists shout slogans before the annual March for Life passes by the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

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Following last week's heated discussion over the potential defunding of Planned Parenthood back in October, and news that a Seattle woman behind the #ShoutYourAbortion campaign had gone into hiding after receiving death threats, AirTalk asked its audience how we might de-escalate the conversation. 

The idea behind #ShoutYourAbortion  had been to de-stigmatize the issue by convincing more women to disclose their abortions. But social media may not be the best place to express nuanced and sometimes complex feelings about ending a pregnancy.

For abortion rights supporters, the question was whether you can de-stigmatize the concept without oversimplifying what's a complex and emotional process for some women.

We asked listeners who've had an abortion how they decided whether to share that information - did they feel obligated to speak out? Or was it something they felt pressured to keep silent about? The responses we received overwhelmed us with their compassion, clarity, and openness.

Have a story to share? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page

Layla in Temecula

Layla had an abortion when she was younger and is now married with three children. She says she doesn’t feel ashamed about her decision, but is afraid to talk about her experience because of how she may be judged by people in her conservative community.

“[My Husband] told me, ‘You know, I accept you. I love you. At the time, you needed to do it. But that guilt, it needs to go away...” That’s what we feel sometimes. Women, we’re judged so harshly. At the time, [it wasn't] just my fault. What about the person who didn’t want to take care of that child with me?”

Carmen in Sherman Oaks

Carmen tried to get pregnant for years. When she finally did, she was expecting twins, but got some devastating news. The twins would be born with a rare chromosomal abnormality and it was likely that they would spend their lives in and out of hospital care. Carmen says her decision to have an abortion was made out of love.

"It was all very traumatic … I wish that, people get abortions for all kinds of reasons, not just because they don’t wanna to have a child and I don’t talk about this normally because of that, because I’m afraid to be judged and all of the things that go with that. But for me, I feel like I had the abortion because I love my children so much that I didn’t want to give them that life.”

Bella in Glendale

Bella had an abortion when she was 22 years old. She says she felt rushed into the procedure and didn’t have enough information before making her decision. She says she would have given birth if she had asked for help and talked about her options.

“I was shocked. If I had opened up and talked to somebody I’m sure—I just needed some time and space and I did not have that. It’s the only thing I’ve done in my life that I regret.”

Sally in Sherman Oaks

Sally became pregnant in the 1970’s, before abortion was legalized, so she put her baby up for adoption. She describes her experience as “the worst thing that can happen to a woman.”

“It’s so important for every woman to know what she can about access to an abortion because I believe that it’s more painful to give birth and lose your child, than to have a simple medical procedure.” 


Maria La Ganga, Seattle bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times; she’s been reporting on the #shoutyourabortion campaign