Since our founding in 2000, Exhale has offered nonjudgemental, supportive counseling to individuals with abortion experiences and their partners, friends and allies. We created a confidential space for speaking openly about our abortion experiences free from shame and stigma, outside the political and religious fight on our bodies.
Through peer counseling listening approach we listened to thousands of callers over the years. We began to recognize that people who called us did not identify within the binary of pro-life or pro-choice. In fact, it was much more complicated than that. Our lives do not exist in boxes of right and wrong. We began to see what we had created was, in fact, revolutionary/transformative space where there is room for honesty, complexity and the possibility of building networks of strength across difference.
We are, in fact, stronger together.
Rather than fighting over the right or wrong of abortion, what if we were able to have real conversations about life and death? Motherhood and family? our culture and religious heritages?
Our capacity to love and the limitations of care-taking in our lives?
Our ability to make decisions and choices?
The ways our identities give us power or take power away from us?
These are the questions we avoid when we stay in an either/or debate. At the heart of every polarized fight – there is an opportunity for more complexity. And too often, we miss out on moving deeper into the questions and developing communal wisdom that embraces all.
Historically pro-voice has been focused on the debate on abortion and in this new iteration of Exhale, we are looking to expand the conversation to examine an intentionally intersectional approach to pro-voice conversations. How do our multiple identities and experiences shape and inform our understandings of abortion? This is what Exhale is ready to explore.
Pro-voice offers a model of reaching for people and creating authentic, supportive space for intergenerational conversations. It is a powerful tool for individuals, communities and families.
In the coming months we will begin to move boldly into new pro-voice conversations within communities who desire to go deeper with us. By sharing our honest stories, asking new questions about our truth and allowing for our humanity to be fully respected and valued, we will find new ways of developing community, building a movement and staying powerfully together.
Our pro-voice community is filled with people like you: individuals who have had abortions, and people who care about those with personal abortion experiences. We support each other by listening without judgment, by sharing our experiences of healing and wellbeing after abortion, and by finding creative ways to reach out and send the message that our community welcomes new members with love and respect.
The resources you find today are just the beginning. We’re working behind the scenes over the next few months to create new features that will help our community members engage directly with one another. Our hope is that this community grows and adapts in response to what you, and the rest of our members want, need, and create. With the strength of our connections, and the power of our fresh ideas, the pro-voice community can change the culture so that it is more supportive and respectful of our unique experiences with abortion.
Together, we can grow our pro-voice movement beyond the reach of Exhale’s talkline – and this website – so that listening and giving support becomes common practice.
There are lots of ways to participate in the community. Here are few places to start:
- Join the Exhale community. Sign up to receive email updates about new community features and the latest trends and ideas in pro-voice movement-building.
- Improve your listening skills. Read our counseling best practices and try them in conversations with the people in your life. It doesn’t have to be in response to an abortion story. Just listening to what your loved ones care about is great pro-voice practice.
- Learn about pro-voice issues. Pro-voice is a nonviolent practice that is a new way to look at conflict. Further your practice by reading our media archives and contributing to discussions on our pro-voice blog.
- Spread the pro-voice message. Reach beyond politics and the divisiveness of abortion to get our message to the people who need it most: those with personal abortion experiences. Use Facebook and Twitter or your own blog to welcome new members with love and respect.
- Volunteer for Exhale. Effective, compassionate listeners and skilled communicators are needed for our talkline and textline programs. Talented leaders of all backgrounds are regularly recruited for a variety of projects and strategies.
- Donate, and grow the Pro-Voice Movement. Your financial support gives Exhale the freedom to grow and to respond to our community. With your support, we can strengthen our role as a hub for pro-voice innovation and ideas and lead the way to culture change.
We are a pro-voice community of diverse individuals with personal abortion experiences, along with our friends and allies, and we stand with each other as we shape what’s next after a personal experience with abortion. Together, we strengthen our emotional well-being, engage friends and family in conversation, and lead new community dialogues with our shared stories. We are creating a social climate in which each person’s unique experience with abortion is supported and respected.
Exhale Community Values
The Exhale online community is built on the foundation of these values:
- Respect. We know that people who have abortions are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, religious and spiritual beliefs, ability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and in many other ways. We honor each person’s belief system and the range of backgrounds and experiences. Each person’s unique experience with abortion deserves to be heard and valued.
- Well-being. We believe emotional well-being is possible for every woman who has an abortion and their loved ones. Isolation and stigma stifle well-being; support and connection, found here, promote well-being.
- Collaboration. We promote your feedback and participation. Your voice is essential to growing a community that reflects the needs of its members.
- Confidentiality. We uphold each member’s right to share your story in a space where your privacy and confidentiality is respected.
Let’s create the cultural change our pro-voice community wants and needs.