Three Texas women recently launched a website that aims to take abortion conversations in a new direction by focusing on women's lived experiences.
Not Alone (notalone.us) was founded to help share the stories of women who have had abortions, “an experience shared by millions of American women is still too often surrounded by secrecy and shame,” the website says.
The site hosts videos and written testimonies by women who decided to terminate pregnancies, as well as resources for individuals who need healthcare support or want to become involved in the reproductive justice movement.
The goal of Not Alone is to destigmatize abortion by encouraging women to speak openly about their experiences, to “make it clear that abortion is neither shameful nor uncommon.”
Read more about Not Alone after the jump.Sherry Matusoff Merfish and her daughters Beth and Brett Matusoff Merfish founded Not Alone last summer after Beth wrote a New York Times op-ed titled “My Mother's Abortion.” The op-ed told the story of Sherry's illegal abortion in the 1970s and her decision to share the experience with her daughters. The three women joined the thousands of activists who protested at the Capitol during Wendy Davis' filibuster.
The women described the response to “My Mother's Abortion” as “overwhelming,” which prompted them to create an outlet for women to share their personal stories of obtaining abortions.
Emily Letts, who posted her own video documenting her abortion earlier this year, joined Not Alone in the spring to support the organization's abortion storytelling efforts. Letts wrote about the response to her video in an essay for Cosmopolitan.com:
I was expecting this tsunami of hateful, scary things, but everyone was so breathtakingly supportive. People who I have never talked to started writing their own abortion stories.
I had one woman who messaged me saying she'd had an abortion that week and she was plagued with guilt. Her boyfriend called her a killer, but she said she was recovering well and appreciated the video. Another woman told me she'd had a miscarriage and that because of my video she felt like she could talk to me about it. Just all of these things started pouring out of women.
There were hateful responses, of course, which was the hardest part of this whole thing. When I put it up on YouTube, pro-lifers put it on their newscasts. And so I got, “You're a Nazi,” “You deserve to die,” “You killed your baby.” Just so much blind hatred without knowing who I am or what I'm about.
Still, every time I watch the video, I love it. I love how positive it is. I think that there are just no positive abortion stories on video for everyone to see. But mine is.
The stories on the site are similarly inspiring. Women describe the fear, joy, and frustration that they experienced—but most commonly, they write about their relief. For many storytellers, Not Alone offers them an outlet to tell their story publicly for the first time.
“You are not weak or shameful,” one woman writes. “You haven't been defined by this one decision, rather this has allowed you a chance at a life of your choosing. A chance to become the person you were meant to be. You will find that sunshine and love and laughter still exist after an abortion and you are deserving of it. We all are. You are not the first to have these feelings and thoughts. You are not alone. And most of all, you are loved.”
Anyone can share their abortion experience with the Not Alone community, either in video or written format, by submitting it here.
Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.