Sharing my story has been a freeing and empowering experience that I wouldn’t change for a minute. But being a biracial black woman who tells the world about her abortion brings on a litany of racist and sexist epithets that take their toll on my emotional and mental well-being. Aside from dealing with the online hate spewed at me, I’ve also had real-world consequences including anti-abortion activists shouting in my face and a lost relationship with a family member. It’s the same reason we don’t ask LGBT folks or sexual assault survivors to share their stories until they feel safe enough. Thankfully, I have so many loved ones and online supporters who stand beside me when I share, but that’s not always the case for everyone.
Last summer, I surveyed 39 public abortion storytellers about their experiences and what support they want. While almost 92 percent said they would do it again because of the positive support they received from loved ones and Internet commenters, 40 percent said they received no support from pro-choice organizations and felt isolated when dealing with the backlash. One woman explained that she shared her story while testifying at a hearing in a conservative state to fight an anti-abortion measure and received threats for months at the local store she owned, which impacted her financially. In her piece, Pollitt asks why we don’t hear the stories of a “grad student who didn’t want to be tied for life to an ex-boyfriend” or “the woman barely getting by on a fast-food job.” But when you look at the demographics of who has abortions, the answer is very apparent; a majority are women of color who are making ends around the federal poverty level and can’t afford to exchange the job they’re hanging on to for the opportunity to talk about their abortion, especially if they live in a conservative community.