In August 2016, the National Network of Abortion Funds launched We Testify—a program dedicated to increasing the spectrum of abortion storytellers in the public sphere and shifting the way the media understands the context and complexity of accessing abortion care. We Testify seeks to build the power and leadership of abortion storytellers, particularly those of color, those from rural and conservative communities, those who are queer identified, those with varying abilities and citizenship statuses, and those who needed support when navigating barriers while accessing abortion care.
I am in the first cohort of 18 storytellers, and the program, its staff, and my fellow storytellers have given me the support and confidence to share my story widely.
As someone who does not work professionally within the reproductive justice and rights space, I found it difficult to access avenues through which I could share my story. Though I believed in the stigma-breaking power of storytelling, I felt alone and unsupported. I wanted to talk to others who were sharing their stories and discuss the vulnerability that comes with opening up about an abortion.
In just the first six weeks of the program, We Testify has provided me with incredible opportunities to share my truth and connect with other storytellers: I participated in the We Testify retreat where I found support from those who have also had abortions; wrote an article for Rewire about my abortion and the stigma I experienced, which has already been shared over 5,000 times; with two other We Testify storytellers at the All Access 2016 concert, I shared my abortion story in front of a stadium of 9,000 people plus a livestream; and I spoke at a Lady Parts Justice comedy show in Washington, DC to a sold-out audience of 700 people.
I no longer feel alone in this work. We Testify has given me some of the most amazing experiences of my life to date, and a community I now have after several years of searching. I am so grateful.