You only need to listen to the silence about abortion to know that, even though it’s a legal health procedure and accessible in Tasmania, it’s still a major taboo to talk about it openly.
Taboos exist for many reasons, but they can be harmful when they leave you silenced. There is still a stigma surrounding abortion for both those undergoing abortions and those giving them.
In Women’s Health Tasmania’s research involving people who’ve had abortions in Tasmania, they told us that the silence and stigma make it harder to reach out to friends and family for support.
For people living in more rural and remote areas of the country, the silence and stigma can make getting an abortion especially challenging and costly.
Shout Your Abortion is a USA website aimed at normalising this health procedure and elevating safe paths to abortion access. Not only does this site provide helpful resources, but crucially it provides a space where people can anonymously share their abortion stories.
Sharing stories in this way helps reduce the feelings of isolation for those going through, or who have gone through the experience. It also helps increase empathy and create a greater feeling of humanity.
While Shout Your Abortion originated in a country where abortion is no longer a constitutional right and is becoming increasingly challenging to access, the concept of sharing our abortion stories is not only relevant but important for the abortion conversation globally.
The World Health Organisation reports that almost 50% of annual pregnancies are unintended and 29% of all pregnancies end in induced abortions. In Australia, one in four women and people who menstruate have an abortion in their lifetime. It is an incredibly common experience and yet it’s also very common to feel isolated and alone while going through it.
Storytelling for change: Stories as medicine
Abortion storytelling aids in destigmatising this health procedure, and is a powerful advocacy tool.
This ‘story medicine’ is important for those going through the process, allowing them to hear stories of other people’s experiences. It can also be a valuable and empowering opportunity for people to share their abortion stories, either anonymously or with authorship.
The Australian Abortion Stories Podcast began in 2021 and provides a space where a diverse range of people share their abortion stories. Additionally, there are a range of places where abortion information is easily accessible across Australia, including on the Pregnancy Choices Tasmania website (managed by Women’s Health Tasmania).
The introduction of an accessible, text-based, online site, like Shout Your Abortion would be highly beneficial to Australians. But for now, we can continue to share our stories with friends, family, on social media and beyond, fostering an environment of inclusive discussion surrounding abortion and in doing so, destigmatising the choices menstruators make.
You can read more than 100 abortion stories on the Shout Your Abortion website:
Search for the Australian Abortion Stories Podcast on any of your podcast platforms.