What is it like to have an abortion? The Internet can be a crapshoot for honest narratives about the experience. You remember, the Internet, land of grotesque photos of bloody fetuses and rumors that breast cancer is caused by abortion?
A new Tumblr project called I Had An Abortion (not affiliated with the documentary of the same name), organized by reproductive health advocate Steph Herold, seeks to collect stories about abortion experiences which have been published around the web.
Stories include the pics and narrative by a woman who secretly photographed her abortion for a web site, This Is My Abortion, essays from The New York Times Magazine, Thought Catalog, Kveller, and Jezebel.
In a piece that Herold wrote for Reproductive Health Reality Check, she explains that there is no way of knowing why so many women have come forward with their abortion stories right now. It may have something to do with the “War On Women” raging in the halls of Congress; it may simply be that controversial subjects get pageviews and the people who run news websites aren’t idiots.
But Herold is more interested in what these stories say about the women who have them. Her I Had An Abortion Tumblr maps the patterns in their tales and analyzes those patterns, specifically noting that it’s “middle class, young white women” who seem to be most willing to share their abortion stories online. True, non-Hispanic white women encapsulate the highest percentage of abortions by race. But Herold’s point is that women of color and low-income women are not sharing their stories online and there must be a reason why:
Sharing an abortion story, whether with one person or with an online community, always comes with risks. For some folks, especially those who do not inhabit privileged identities, that risk might be greater. Looking at these abortion stories all in one place makes it obvious that certain voices, among others, are missing from the archive of public abortion stories: the experiences of low-income folks, people of color, people who experience emotional difficulty with their abortions, abortion stories from queer, gender non-conforming, and trans* folks, people who wanted an abortion but weren’t able to get one, and people who had elective second trimester (and later) abortions.
Acknowledging the “dominant narrative” of who gets abortions will hopefully challenge us — including those of us who support legal abortion — to examine how our beliefs are influenced by the stories we hear.
One in three women will have an abortion before age 45. Who are they?