Power, Vulnerability, and Leadership: The Pro-Voice Way

posted December 27, 2017

One of the gifts of the Pro-Voice Tour was that it gave pastors the opportunity to say the word "abortion" from the pulpit, which created new conversations within their congregations. I invited these clergy to say the word with me, and together we grew in our leadership within faith communities where silence is often the standard.

This has always been the power of Exhale. In the very beginning we said the word “abortion” over and over again until we, ourselves, were comfortable saying it. A critical component of our talkline counselor training is about validating the callers’ abortion experiences. Counselors are trained to mirror the language that callers use. If a caller uses the word “baby,” the counselor uses the word “baby.” If they use the word “fetus,” the counselor uses the word “fetus.”

The power of this reflective listening is incredible.

It can be difficult to listen to people who have complicated feelings about their abortion experience. Sometimes we don’t want to listen because it scares us. Our communities don’t teach us how to make room for nuanced conversations about a wide range of topics -- including abortion. We’re often hurt or dismissed for being vulnerable, so we give up.

Exhale has not given up. As you read over the last couple of weeks from our Board Chair, Genevieve Brennan, and our talkline counselor, Jenna Sprague, Exhale’s mission is thriving and full of growth and learning. We’re embracing shared leadership through this transition because it’s integral to the pro-voice muscle we’ve learned to flex. We remain committed to elevating the voices of those with abortion experiences because it teaches us all something about ourselves.

Thank you for walking with us through this transition. Thank you for supporting the pro-voice mission of Exhale. Thank you for speaking your truth, saying the unsayable, and inviting those around you to join in. When we are brave in the face of our fears, we model a new path of leadership for others -- one that is honest, vulnerable, and deeply human.

During this last week of 2017, I’m inviting you to give to Exhale. Your support matters to our entire Exhale community, including the countless individuals who call our talkline, attend pro-voice storytelling events, or visit our website for resources and support. We all need a place to speak our truths and feel cared for, and Exhale is committed to making that possible.

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Exhale is a 501(c)3 organization (EIN/tax ID: 94-3393719)