Think of the conversations you have with close girlfriends. There aren’t many topics you don’t talk about, right?
Except maybe abortion. That’s a conversation most women still aren’t having with each other and we need to start asking ourselves why.
Why, when most women are pro-choice and one-in-three women have had abortions in Australia according to Children By Choice, are we still reluctant to discuss them?
It’s a glaring omission and one that author, speaker and activist Lindy West plans to correct.
West has spoken candidly about her own abortion experience and is also behind a brilliant movement called #ShoutYour Abortion.
And women be shouting.
Lindy West talks to Mia Freedman about #ShoutYourAbortion on Mamamia podcast No Filter!
“I’d never really written much about abortion. I’m not sure why,’ West told Mia Freedman during a recent episode of No Filter.
“So that was part of how it came about, that I was talking to a friend of mine named Amelia Bono whose wonderful – sort of a brilliant fire cracker sort of person – and we realised we had both had abortions and had never talked about it.”
The author explained that at the time she and Bono were living in Seattle which is progressive and liberal, the perfect location for a conversation about abortion to happen between friends.
And yet it took them years.
She said they realised that while they didn’t believe in the anti-abortion stigma, they were caving to it by not talking about it.
‘We were living as though we did believe in it.’
And so #ShoutYourAbortion began, first as a social media hashtag, then a website and now a powerful social justice movement.
The legalities of abortion in Australia…it’s complicated. Article continues after this video.
West explained it’s important for women to talk about their abortions because otherwise the only people talking about them are the anti-abortion activists.
“People who are not just living with stigma but danger and are getting…all of us when we are afraid to talk about our experiences or when we’re caving to the stigma are leaving the issue of abortion entirely in the hands of anti-abortion activists.
“Those are the only people who really talk about it openly and so they get to define it however they want and they way they define it is…”irresponsible sluts”, “murdering babies”.
“And the rest of us because there’s this issue of propriety, we just don’t talk about it. That enables oppression very quickly and very directly.’
West was 25 years old when she had her abortion, and said she was young, not ready to be a mum and in a relationship with someone she didn’t want to be in her life forever.
“And so I went and had an abortion and it was very simple and it was not painful and it was not traumatic and I was relieved and it was done. I mean, you don’t hear those sorts of narratives.’