#ShoutYourAbortion Because I Can't

The trending hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion was started by writer Lindy West in a brave-as-hell pushback against social conservatives' recent round of attacks against women's reproductive rights. House Republicans have voted to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funds, and for women like West, it was the last straw.


Access to abortion is a woman's right and these ladies led by West are here to say they're not going to be shamed into whispering about it anymore. And it's an effort every woman should applaud, whether you've had an abortion or not.

Here's the first #ShoutYourAbortion tweet from West that started it all. She says her own abortion was something she never talked about even though she feels pretty good about the experience. So she decided to shout about it to drown out some of the anti-choice rhetoric that usually dominates the conversation.

Now women are filling up Twitter with their own abortion stories in a defiant stand against those who try to use shame as a tool to force women into forfeiting their rights. But you don't have to be a woman who has had an abortion to stand with them and demand that every woman's right to choose is protected.

I've never had an abortion, but I will always fight for the rights of women to have safe and legal access to abortion. I might not have needed one myself, but I know plenty of women who did. Women I love and admire. Women who are more than capable of being in control of their own reproductive lives. Women who are loving mothers and wives and sisters who accessed a legal medical procedure to control their own destiny. That's not shame, that's empowerment.

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You can't know or understand every reason a woman might need an abortion, and you shouldn't try. Because it's none of your business.

The fact is that one in three women will have an abortion before the age of 45. And this hashtag gave many of them a place to own the experience and say they're glad they did it. 

And the fact that conservatives seem to only have concern for forcing women to have babies -- and forget the financial pressures they're heaping on women who aren't in a financial position to have a baby -- doesn't escape many pro-choice advocates. Lacy Green, the YouTube sex ed star, weighed in to point out the hypocrisy. 

The issue of abortion was supposed to have been settled in 1973, and yet more than 40 years after the Roe v. Wade decision, women are still fighting with everything they have for even the most basic access to women's health care. Our employers, even our pharmacists can deny us access to birth control. And with Planned Parenthood under constant attack, both at the state and federal levels, the last affordable community access to all kinds of basic women's health services is evaporating.

I don't have my own story to weigh in and shout out, but I don't need to have accessed one to understand why the right of every woman to control her own reproductive health is our most fundamental one. Women are more than vessels for babies. That's why I stand with the women of #shoutyourabortion and thank them for being so honest and brave.


Image via Beth Kanter/Flickr

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