What we couldn't do 12 years ago

posted May 15, 2014
I'm Inspired. Awed. Motivated. Moved. Hopeful.
 
Twelve years ago when we launched Exhale, I could only dream we'd see such a seismic shift in the way people talk about abortion. But that's exactly what you and I are witnessing right this very moment.
 
Apart from the divisive and shaming rhetoric that's characterized this conversation for too long, a supportive, compassionate, nuanced pro-voice movement is emerging in a very public way. It's happening in everyday conversations. In magazines, like Cosmopolitan. On network TV. On YouTube.
 
As a nation, one person and one voice at a time, we're embracing real emotional experiences with abortion. 
 
Nicole Stewart's powerful piece, "The 5 Most Surprising Things About My Abortionreflects on her own personal experience, and was featured by Upworthy. The response was incredible. The thousands who shared and posted supportive comments show that Exhale's pro-voice approach—what Upworthy praised as "revolutionary"—is gaining more and more traction. 
 
We're also proud of our very own Pro-Voice Fellow, Natalia Koss Vallejo, who wrote about her experience in "Modeling Storytelling That's Raw, Loving, Compassionate, and Honest.
 
Natalia predicted we'd be seeing even more storytellers coming forward and sharing their personal experiences of abortion, recognizing they'll be met with greater support as the culture shifts. One of them is Emily Letts, an abortion counselor whose personal abortion video went viral last week
 
Jessica Valenti wrote about how Emily's abortion video gives a voice to women in the shadows, and how it has sparked a range of reactions online. Emily's experience lines up with Natalia's—and Exhale's—belief that support and empathy and change aren't automatic. They take effort and heart.
 
And while more and more people feel they can come out with their story and be heard without judgment, there are, of course, risks to sharing. That's a topic I explored in "Challenging Stigma Online: The Impact of Being Forever Known by Your Private Tale.Storytellers are vulnerable to exploitation, and it is each ally's job to make sure they're seen as equal partners, not one-dimensional caricatures.
 
Our mission at Exhale is to foster the emotional health and wellbeing of women and men with personal abortion experiences. And now, thanks to you, and your voice and your courage, our national conversation is shifting to one that's more layered and nuanced, and that mission is becoming more and more a lived reality.
 
YOU are the true revolutionary. You're helping create a social climate in which each person's unique experience with abortion is respected, supported, and free from stigma. Thank you.

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