Twitter hashtag brings first person abortion narratives to light

We’ve mentioned the #ihadanabortion hashtag that has been gaining popularity on twitter before. The Nation has an interview with the person who started the trend, Steph Herold (aka IAmDrTiller on twitter) and Aspen Baker, the founder of Exhale. For those who don’t know twitter, a hashtag is a word that people include in their tweets, so as to be in conversation with others using it as well.

A few highlights:

Steph, on why she started the hashtag:

My immediate motivation for this project was a blog post that compared the modern prochoice movement to the gay rights movement in the 1970s. What strengthened the gay rights movement then, according to the author, was individual people coming out, and the general public realizing that homosexuality is more common (and normal!) than they ever imagined. The author of the post posed an interesting question: why don’t we do that for abortion rights? In reality, abortion is a regular part of women’s lives. Why not use Twitter to demonstrate that?

Aspen responds:

One of the major misconceptions that exist about women who have abortions—and there are many—is that we don’t tell our abortion stories. We do. It’s just that other people have ideas about what kinds of stories we should be sharing and how we should be sharing them. When our stories don’t look and sound like what they want to hear, or if we don’t talk about our abortions regularly and publicly, online, for example, then people say we’re silent.

On why the hashtag has become another battleground for the abortion flame wars:

Aspen:

Of course #ihadanabortion became a flame war. Given how polarized abortion is in this country, women’s experiences with abortion become just another tool to make a political point. Unfortunately, this may actually make women less likely to share their personal abortion stories in such a public manner in the future because they don’t want their stories to be manipulated or misunderstood.

Steph:

What has been fascinating for me to watch, after weeding through the flame war aspects of the hashtag, is women who’ve had abortions interacting with each other, claiming shared experiences and finding support just in each others existence. Some of these women have said that seeing so many others come out, and then seeing the hate that ensued from the antichoice side, has politicized them. I love that, but it’s not the point. Solidarity, removing of stigma, is the point, and if I’ve done that for one woman, it’s a success. If a woman feels comfortable talking publically about her abortion, I think that is at least part of the key to dismantling the stigma associated with this common procedure.

Read the full interview here.

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