The stories are powerful evidence of why women need abortion rights.
Abortion can still be seen by some as a taboo subject, one people are afraid to speak about because of the judgements that will be laid upon them if they do.
But the power of talking about abortion was seen during the run-up to the 2018 referendum in Ireland on the eighth amendment, which gave equal right to life to a pregnant mother and her unborn foetus.
It’s undeniable that the women who shared their stories had an impact on getting Ireland to vote to overturn the eighth amendment.
Now, as American states start bringing in draconian abortion laws, women are again sharing their stories.
Alabama’s Republican governor Kay Ivey has just signed into law a bill designed to ban abortion in almost all circumstances, including rape and incest. Earlier in May, Georgia made law a bill that made abortion illegal after a fatal heartbeat can be detected - this is at roughly six weeks after conception, a time when many women don’t know they’re pregnant.
In light of these laws, many women have chosen to speak about their abortions, including actress Busy Philipps who, after the news about Georgia, revealed on her show Busy Tonight that she had an abortion at the age of 15. Speaking then she said: “Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t know a woman who would have an abortion’. Well, you know me.”
Following Alabama’s decision this week, Phillips has launched a Twitter campaign called #youknowme, encouraging women to share if they’ve had an abortion.
She wrote: “1 in 4 women have had an abortion. Many people think they don’t know someone who has, but #youknowme. So let’s do this: if you are also the 1 in 4, let’s share it and start to end the shame. Use #youknowme and share your truth.”
Women have been sharing their stories on the hashtag, outlining why they had abortions.
Twitter user Rehnae Xanti wrote: “#youknowme I had an abortion when I was in my 30s. My only regret is letting others make me feel ashamed of my choice. So today, I stand by other woman and girls who have that choice to make and say: Stay strong! You are not alone!”
GypsyNomad wrote: “I was 18 & had just begun treatment for a bone tumor & I found out I was a few weeks pregnant. I’d already been given radiation treatment despite early pregnancy tests being negative prior to surgery 1. they were were wrong. Had an abortion, continue’d my tumor tx #youknowme”
KatBrezler said: “I was 19 years old and in my second year of college. I knew I had degrees to finish. I had an abortion. #YouKnowMe I am a public school teacher in the Bronx. My life of service and activism might not have been. I’m grateful to have lived in New York and had access.”
The hashtag— which began after Phillips’ executive producer Tina Fey reached out to her and said her comment on Busy Tonight would be a powerful hashtag - is full of women speaking about the many and varied reasons they have had abortions. None of those women took the decision lightly, and all had good reasons for choosing abortion.
We, like Phillips, hope their powerful stories diminish the shame any woman who chooses to have an abortion feels, and increases the shame those legislators who look to control women’s bodies feel.