Monday, 17 September 2018

#ShoutYourAbortion Movement to Release a Coffee Table Book

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The #ShoutYourAbortion movement will release a coffee table book that features “abortion stories” and “abortion art” in an effort to destigmatize abortions. According to KUOW Public Radio, the book is "not ashamed of its 43 abortion stories."

KUOW reports the #ShoutYourAbortion movement began in 2015 after Seattle bartender Amelia Bonow shared her abortion experience on Facebook in a post in which she described her “near inexpressible level of gratitude.” Bonow’s post was then shared by her friend Lindy West on Twitter with the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion, prompting other women to begin sharing their “abortion stories.”

Since then, Bonow has developed an entire movement and organization based around the notion that women should not be ashamed of their abortions. The movement’s website claims that women have used the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion to “reject the expectation of silence and shame.” The site claims that the goal is to kill anti-choice legislation by making the act of talking about abortion as “normal as the procedure itself.”

Bonow and some of the other leaders of the movement have even taken to creating abortion fashion: clothes that feature phrases such as “Everyone knows I had an abortion,” and “Abortion is normal.”

“I think we should be making and engaging with all sorts of creative work about abortion, and of course fashion is part of that,” she said. “The way I see it, the conversation about abortion is starting to percolate to the surface in all kinds of ways, and stuff like abortion positive t-shirts are a part of the overall change.”

“Normalizing abortion” is exactly the motivation behind the coffee table book, according to Bonow.

“Our culture is all warped about abortion because the anti-choice movement has made abortion seem like a bad thing that bad people do, instead of a normal thing that normal people do,” she told KUOW. “SYA is simply empowering people to tell the truth about their lives." 

Bonow claims the movement has become revitalized by the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court as pro-abortion activists feel a sense of “desperation, fear, indignation, and helplessness.”

The book, entitled Shout Your Abortion, was funded through a Kickstarter campaign and will be available on November 1, though interested buyers can preorder the books now.

According to the website, it will feature a collection of photos, essays, and creative work that were born out of the movement:

Since SYA’s inception, people all over the country [began] sharing stories and organizing in a range of ways: making art, hosting comedy shows, creating abortion-positive clothing, altering billboards, and starting conversations that had never happened before. This book documents some of these projects and individuals who have breathed life into this movement, illustrating the profound liberatory and political power of defying shame and claiming sole authorship of our experiences. 

KUOW even published an essay from the upcoming book in which the author writes that she does not regret her decision to terminate her pregnancy. The essay places the blame for her decision squarely on society:

I do not regret my decision not to carry my pregnancy to term. I wish there had been another way. I wish we didn’t live in a f----d-up capitalist society that makes it difficult to survive if you’re not wealthy. I wish we lived in a world where black lives mattered and that it didn’t feel like a fist was balled around my heart whenever my 13-year-old son is out and doesn’t answer the phone.

I wish we had a health care system that valued black women’s bodies so that I didn’t have to worry about dying during childbirth or after. I could have died during my last pregnancy. 

Bonow told KUOW that she was “proud” of the women who have had abortions and of their willingness to tell their stories.

“We should be proud of surviving all the things we’ve survived, and for choosing to love ourselves,” she insisted.

Bonow encourages women to “send a message to every single person you see that it is possible to have an abortion without hating yourself for it and taking the self-hatred to the grave.”

Predictably, the book has already received praise from the Left and from the pro-abortion movement.

Shout Your Abortion embodies everything that society so desperately craves in this moment: compassion over cruelty, fact over fiction, and storytelling over silence,” states Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “The shared experience of 1 in 4 women powerfully illustrated on these pages is tangible evidence of our collective strength when we join hands and speak our truth together.”

The Washington Post’s Caitlin Gibson claims the book will help to “mark a significant tonal shift in the cultural conversation about abortion.”

“By presenting a collection of nuanced narratives, Shout Your Abortion aims to advance a message of broader acceptance: If your abortion experience was hard and sad, that’s okay,” she contends. “If your abortion experience wasn’t hard or sad, that’s also okay.”

Image: screenshot from shoutyourabortion Twitter page

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