As strict anti-abortion laws come into effect in Alabama and remain in place in Northern Ireland, it’s essential that we talk about reproductive rights.
It’s easy to talk about abortion as a hypothetical thing, debating the circumstances under which we would do it.
But abortion rights are not a faceless issue. That’s what photographer Tara Todris-Whitehill wants to show in her series, #YouKnowMe, which captures the faces of women who have had abortions.
The idea is that by chatting about their abortions, these women can help to break down the notion that abortion is a taboo subject. The only way we can change attitudes is through open discussion – and it’s vital that people with actual experience of requiring an abortion lead the charge.
Jennifer and Gillian
Jennifer (left) is a journalist and activist who has written about abortion for more than a decade.
She was frustrated that all the reporting on the issue, including her own, devolved into a ‘debate’ between pro-life and pro-choice forces. She felt that what was being lost were the voices and faces of people that had abortions.
In 2003 she started making T-shirts, resource cards, and working on a film that put the spotlight back on the women.
Gillian and Jennifer have been close friends since they lived together in 1992.
Gillian, 36, had an abortion in 2000 with the man who was to later become her husband and with whom she now has a daughter. She is also a film maker, and Jennifer asked her to direct a film on women’s abortions stories from the campaign. They collaborated, and the result is the film ‘Speak out: I had an abortion’.
Rosalyn Baxandall had an abortion in the 1960s and then again when she thought she was in menopause. She was the first speaker at the famed Redstockings abortion speakout in 1969.
Holly Fritz got pregnant living at home as a high school student in Buffalo, New York.
She just assumed that she should get married to her boyfriend and embark on a life not unlike her mother, who also fell pregnant by her high school sweetheart, got married, and had Holly.
When Holly turned to her mother for advice, she was surprised that her mother urged her to have an abortion, rather than a shotgun wedding.
Holly is now a teacher, married, and is the mother of a toddler, Zoe, pictured in the photograph with her.
Gloria Steinem entered the feminist movement the day she covered Red Stockings abortion speak-out for New York magazine, and finally owned the abortion she had had several years earlier.
She describes her abortion as the first time she acted in her own life, rather than let things happen to her. She had her abortion when she was 22.
Gloria went on to found several pro-choice organizations, including Voters for Choice and Ms. Magazine, and considers reproductive freedom to be the most significant contribution of the second wave.
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