One Kind Word: Women Share Their Abortion Stories
We’d like to take a moment to recap the book launch for One Kind Word: Women Share Their Abortion Stories that took place a few weeks ago at Toronto’s Another Story Bookshop. The editors behind the collection, Kathryn Palmateer and Martha Solomon, discussed their inspiration for the project and it’s evolution since they started working together 7 years ago. The show of community support was incredibly heart warming, and we were happy to see so many women get up to share their own personal experiences in support of this collection’s mission to help end abortion stigma.
“You can’t talk about the history of abortion rights in Toronto without talking about all the hard work done by Judy Rebick.”
Writer, activist, and co-founder of Rabble.com, Judy Rebick, was in attendance to discuss how important One Kind Word work is for reproductive justice. Rebick talked about her history with the women’s rights movement and her friendship with Dr. Morgentaler.
Dr. Morgentaler’s Clinic in New Brunswick, the only private abortion clinic in the Maritimes, is being forced to close its doors this Friday July 18th due to lack of governmental funding. A committee called Reproductive Justice New Brunswick is trying to purchase the clinic by raising money through FundRazr to ensure women in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are not left without choice. If the clinic closes, it means abortion access in New Brunswick will be restricted by 60%.
One Kind Word includes women from the Maritimes who share first hand accounts of their experiences with abortion in the restricted region. You can help push for equal access to reproductive health care in Canada by supporting the campaign and if you live in New Brunswick, you can also attend the Save the Clinic Rally taking place on July 18th.
Jillian Bardsley of Medical Students for Choice also spoke at the launch about the organization’s efforts to make reproductive health care, including abortion, a standard part of medical education. In her forward to One Kind Word, Bardsley writes:
“As a future physician I place particular value on science and facts. It concerns me that first trimester surgical abortion techniques are discussed in only half of Canada’s medical schools. This is a serious issue, as the main barrier to choice in Canada is the absence of trained providers and fifty percent of Canadian abortion providers are over the age of fifty. We must make an effort to train new providers and expand the practice of nurse practitioners and midwives. Unfortunately there are many bogus ‘health information sites’ and so-called ‘pregnancy crisis centres’ that intentionally misinform women as to the complications of abortion. If medical trainees aren’t taught that abortion does not cause breast cancer, infertility, or depression and that the procedure is quick and relatively painless, women will be forced to make decisions without being fully and truthfully informed.”
Unfortunately not many schools have access to abortion information which is why this work is so important. MSFC has fought to include lectures on pregnancy termination with the help of student activists and leaders on medical campuses, and continues to educate students on abortion care and family planning through conferences and events.
The release of One Kind Word comes at a time when the fight for access to safe and legal abortion care is more important than ever. So far 2014 has seen the bodily autonomy of women jeopardized by political interference. The Hobby Lobby case is a glaring example of the disturbing developments in the U.S. as the ruling allows for-profit corporations to bypass the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers cover contraception in employee health insurance plans. Corporations argued that paying for contraceptives such as an IUD — a safe, highly effective form of birth control that is the number one choice for women in Europe —infringes on their right to religious freedom.
The anti-contraception movement relates directly to the anti-abortion movement as both compromise women’s rights to have a say over their own bodies. Contraception is part of reproductive health care and is essential to the well-being and health of women. An employer’s extremist opinion (9 out of 10 Americans believe birth control is acceptable) should not impact women’s access to life-saving services.
“It is brave. The more we talk about it, the less brave women have to be.” – Judy Rebick.
The need for women to come forward and talk about their abortion experiences with one another is more important than ever. Recently, the Democratic nominee for Nevada lieutenant governor, Lucy Flores, spoke publicly about having an abortion during a floor speech while serving as a state legislator. Flores said she had an abortion because she wasn’t ready, and doesn’t regret it. Flores’ story is a departure from the way the majority of abortion stories are framed — as last option procedures steeped in stigma and fear. As Jezebel notes, most abortions do not occur late in pregnancy and are not the result of tragedy or medical issues.
Like the women in One Kind Word, Flores’ bravery in sharing her story will help end the distressing cycle of silence and uncertainty around a medical procedure that women deserve safe and reliable access to regardless of where they live. Women’s choices must be honoured. No one’s beliefs, especially not those of a corporation, should ever trump another persons’ right to bodily autonomy.
The artwork featured is from 4000 Years for Choice.