Everyone Loves Someone Who Had an Abortion: The Ms. Q&A with Eveline Shen and Yamani Hernandez [Ms.]
Updated: Jul 8, 2020
The new abortion messages the groups are hoping to push into the mainstream is centered on compassion and love—a radical shift away from both progressives’ laser focus on rights and anti-abortion rhetoric of shame and blame.
Talk to me about the message everyone loves someone who had an abortion. What should we know about the history and relevance of this message?
ES: One in four cisgender women have an abortion by the age of 45. While we don’t have statistics on trans and nonbinary people and abortion, we know that they use abortion services, too. Abortion is happening, and we all deserve abortion care because it is a normal and necessary part of our lives. The message is connected to Forward Together’s value of family and places it within the context of abortion happens to people that we love, whether that’s our biological family or our chosen family. Micah’s art elicits a sense of love for the person who has had an abortion and that includes love for ourselves if we have had an abortion. The message and the art creates a critical reframing of the harmful narratives developed by our opposition that abortion is something selfish or even an act of violence. There’s so much stigma around abortion. This stigma results in people being isolated, fearful, ashamed, disconnected from their families and having to seek abortion care in secret. And so the message that “everyone loves someone who has had an abortion” flips the narrative to abortion happens within the context of our families, and it’s also about love.
YH: It’s a phrase that we started using after Renee Bracey Sherman joined the staff at NNAF. As an expert on abortion storytelling and as a communications strategist, she began to say it in every interview. From my perspective, it’s important to put love in a historic framework that defines it as the lionizing force it is. There’s power in love; there’s power in working to ensure there’s justice for yourself, for people you know and people you don’t. Love is the power source that keeps us moving and making the tangible wins in our communities that get people the abortions they need and want, that keeps us educating our friends and families about just what it takes to get an abortion, and keeps us steadfast in drawing the lines between abortion access and how the fight for bodily autonomy intersects with so many other fights for justice. It’s galvanizing.