Thursday, April 17, 2008

This is only the beginning...

I’ve had a lot of opportunities since joining the Chicago Abortion Fund. Various conferences have taken me to states I’ve never been and allowed for otherwise impossible visits for a few hours with friends new and old at those events. I’ve attended workshops on menstrual extraction, open adoption, climate justice and how it is intertwined with reproductive rights, along with many other varied topics. I’ve hung out with doulas in who were also fighting for prison abolition and mothers’ rights while imprisoned; talked with women who have disabilities fighting for inclusion in feminist events and for bodily integrity; listened to teenage mothers describing their forced abortion experiences while calming down the baby on their hip.

Sometimes the facts can be hard to stomach. Workshops, conference calls and new reports on the neglect and abuse of women, women’s bodies/health and their children can lead to bouts of sadness and even despair. Occasionally, a woman will break down crying on the phone and I’ll have to try to console her. Other times, it’s their pure will and even leveled voice while describing their situations- situations I wouldn’t wish on anybody- that hit me.

Because of these moments- moments of despair, inspiration and hope- I know how important our My Voice, My Choice project is. Too often, women of color, young women, poor women, differently bodied women, are not seen. Our voices are ignored. Both by the people who condemn us for our situation and those who claim to want to help us. We get boiled down to statistics, trends, populations. We become an “other”. And we know we are more than that.

Worldwide, 1 in 5 pregnancies end in an induced abortion. In the United States, that number is 1 in 3. Even in spaces that acknowledge these facts, we are often marginalized. But we are beginning to change that- through groups like My Voice, My Choice, we can come together, discuss our lives and educate ourselves. We need to make our voices heard, not wait for others to create a space for us to speak out. Chicago Abortion Fund’s My Voice, My Choice is using every avenue it can to make our voices heard- public access television, you tube, myspace, our website, postcard campaigns, getting us to conferences, presenting workshops, this blog… The roar gets louder with every event, every connection, every woman who agrees to join. Here’s your opportunity to be at the start to something very, very important.

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