Exhale is the nation’s premiere organization addressing the emotional health and wellbeing of women and men after abortion. Founded in 2000 by and for women who have had abortions, we provide and promote emotional support across a dynamic landscape of private and public spaces, online and offline.
Now a growing community of women and men with personal abortion experiences, Exhale’s trend-setting pro-voice strategies provide support, facilitate connections, and develop forums where our members feel heard, supported and respected. We stand with one another as we shape what’s next in our own lives and as we shape new conversations with our friends, families, and communities about our emotional wellbeing after abortion.
A community-led organization, Exhale is at the forefront of creating the cultural change our members want and need. We partner with the media to shift public dialogue; we advise advocates on communications strategies; we back efforts for new emotional health research; and we educate health providers in order to increase the quality and availability of post-abortion counseling. The impact of our work is felt by each person who feels loved and supported after an abortion, and who hears messages of support and respect from the media, political advocates, academic researchers, and health providers.
History and Accomplishments
We grow and expand our programs to directly address the real, lived experiences women and men have with abortion.
- We created the after-abortion talkline in 2002 because we needed a safe place, free of judgment and politics, to get emotional support.
- We expanded our local Bay Area talkline into a daily, national, multilingual service in 2005 to meet growing demand.
- We developed post-abortion e-cards in 2007 because loved ones who called our talkline often shared that they didn’t know the best way to convey their care to a woman in their life who has had an abortion.
- We ventured online with a private community in 2009 to respond to women callers from across the nation who wanted to talk with each other in groups.
For more than a decade, Exhale has listened to and supported thousands of women and men who have reached out to share their stories privately, and we have created a host of public forums where they can express themselves without fear of judgment. In our ten years of operation:
- Our talkline has received over 30,000 calls.
- We have conducted 14 trainings to prepare 125 women and men to serve as volunteer counselors.
- Over 250,000 talkline brochures have been placed in clinics nationwide.
- Over 2,500 health care staff have received Exhale trainings or training materials on emotional health care after abortion.
- We were awarded for “Excellence in Nonprofit Volunteer Management” by the Volunteer Center of the Bay Area in 2009.
- And we continue to support the leadership of volunteers and pro-voice ambassadors as listeners, storysharers and peacemakers for the Pro-Voice Movement in a variety of forums, from local high schools to national conferences.
These experiences informed our 2010 partnership with MTV on their groundbreaking abortion special, No Easy Decision. Our expertise shaped a show that was watched, discussed, and respected by leaders across the political spectrum. After discussing the special on his own show, Fox television host Bill O’Reilly commented that he “might be wrong” about the way he thinks abortion should be presented in the media, and feminist Jessica Valenti acknowledged that the special was “a pleasant surprise.” Never one to represent the mushy-middle of American politics, each of these cultural trend-setters responded in a way that points toward new possibilities for a pro-voice public discourse.
Our members’ extensive experience with sharing personal abortion stories in public informed Exhale’s wildly successful social media campaign, “16 & Loved,” launched in conjunction with the MTV special. Designed to generate cultural love and support for the three young women who appeared on the special, “16 & Loved” drove public discussion away from judgment and politics and towards support and respect for all young women who have had abortions. Our role in these events was featured in the New York Times.
What’s Next for Exhale
Exhale is responding to the needs of women and men who have shared—or are considering sharing—their personal abortion stories publicly. Our new ethical storysharing initiative, launched in 2012, has given women and men the tools, information, and resources they need to share their own stories, in their own words, and be heard with dignity and respect.
As a community of women and men with personal abortion experiences, we stand with each other as we shape what’s next after a personal experience with abortion. Together, we strengthen our emotional wellbeing; engage friends and family in conversation; and lead new community dialogues with our shared stories. We are creating a social climate where each person’s unique experience with abortion is supported and respected.
Join us and let’s grow the Pro-Voice Movement!