Note from Aspen Baker, chair of Care2 Causes content partner Exhale, which has provided the first and only national, non-judgmental post-abortion talk line. Exhale has partnered with MTV to publicize stories from young women who have had abortions. On December 28, 2010, MTV airs a special episode of the popular “16 & Pregnant” showing three young women and their stories. Exhale, as part of its pro-voice movement, launched the “16 & Loved” campaign last week to make sure the women sharing their stories feel the unconditional love and support they deserve from around the world.
The following is a personal story from Exhale speakers bureau member Mayah Frank on her own experiences with abortion, and what the MTV special means to her.
When I was 18 I found myself broke, in an unstable relationship, about to start college and suddenly pregnant. My partner and I discussed back and forth as to what to do. I either wanted an abortion or adoption and he wanted an abortion or parenthood. I was unsure of what the “right” thing to do was, but I ultimately came to the decision that having a baby was not the path I wanted to take myself down. I made the appointment to have an abortion.
Just after the procedure I felt like a huge weight was taken off my shoulders, as the all the drama of the decision period was finally over. As months went on, I had to grapple with a whole range of emotions. At times I felt grateful and happy that I made the best decision for me, but I also faced the painful loss of a potential child. I found that there was little room for public discussion when it came to my feelings, and that no one in the medical field had really even warned me about the emotional side of choosing abortion. I felt very isolated and weighted with this decision–one that had completely changed my life, and yet I had no one to talk to about it.
I knew that millions of women went through this, but only heard politicians and activists in public debate talking about abortion in the abstract. I never heard real women speaking out from their own experience. In my research to find healing, I basically got the message that I had two categories I should fit in; either feel zero regret, forget about it and move on, or be completely repentant and seek out God’s forgiveness. I didn’t identify with either of these. I felt pain over my decision–but knew if I had to, do it again I would.
After much self reflection, I found a non-biased self-help book on dealing with the psychological upheaval of abortion. Then I was put in touch with Exhale, a non-judgmental talk line and private online community for women who’ve had abortions to connect with each other and share their stories. With this website I was suddenly in touch with all these women who were going through the same thing I was. They were feeling a whole range of emotions and growing from them and supporting each other. My ultimate healing and empowerment came from this ability to support other women, and share my own story in a place where people would actually take the time to listen. I learned that I wasn’t alone and felt the presence of a community backing me up.
I think that MTV’s “No Easy Decision” is so important because it is putting real women’s faces on a topic that is often discussed from an outside perspective–it will give them the microphone. This special is also important in that it may be a platform for talking about abortion in a way that acknowledges the full experience and can bring people together with open minds and hearts instead of dividing them on this challenging topic.
To learn more about Exhale’s “16 & Loved” campaign, please visit http://16andloved.com and join blogging stars Jessica Valenti, Lynn Harris, Care2 blogger Shelby Knox & more in conversation as they live-blog the show.
by Mayah Franck