The Story Behind 2+ Abortions @AboboBravado — Abortion Conversation Projects

This is a picture of me the moment I realized that my friend Martha had orchestrated a surprise birthday party when I turned 36. The feeling of electric delight from the surprise was unbearable.

I’m still amazed that everyone involved managed to keep the party a secret.

But here’s the thing. I have my own secret, and it’s not a pleasant one. Soon, my constant companion named Shame leaned over and whispered in my ear:

You had two miscarriages. If only they had known, they wouldn’t have come to the party. They don’t even want to be near you.”

Shame has haunted me since the age of 13, when I became pregnant through loveless sex that I barely understood. My parents had an abortion and told me I shouldn’t talk about it with anyone. In recent years, I’ve noticed that the only people who talk about abortion are people who say it’s murder, which really hurts me.

At 19, I needed another abortion during an emotionally abusive relationship with a man who didn’t want to be a father. I was horrified and disgusted with myself. An abortion is bad enoughShame said. What kind of monster is there? two?

I’m sure no one else has experienced two miscarriages. Why do I think differently? You are such a bad personShame said. No one else in the world is as bad as you.

I recently found that out 45 percent of abortion patients in the US have had one or more previous abortions. Many of them here and abroad live in silence and isolation, feeling an added level of shame.

I started a Twitter account called 2+ Abortion @AboboBravado in hopes of helping them understand that they are not alone and that they are not bad. This is the story of the long road to this project of love.

Not being forced to give birth has allowed me to live a wonderful life with a great education, a fulfilling career, a wonderful wife, two amazing sons, and two precious grandchildren.

But in all those years, I’ve never heard anyone say anything compassionate about people who end up pregnant. In the silence, shame grew in my mind and carved into my bones.

I broke my silence at 40 when I confided in a friend, who set me on the ‘coming out’ path that still continues.

In 2013, at the age of 54, I had the courage to tell my children about my two abortions. All my life I was afraid that they wouldn’t love me if they knew. But they are very unspeakably compassionate.

A few weeks later, I had a pleasant surprise. I was scrolling through the news I saw an article that led me to the home page of ANSIRH. To my amazement, I saw pictures of researchers who hard at work to end abortion stigma. What a revelation!

I set out to find small ways to contribute and I was thrilled to find The Abortion Conversation Project and the Sea Change Program, organizations that help people talk about abortion so that we can change our culture of shame to a culture of respect. These organizations helped me share my story publicly. I also began escorting clinic patients to protesters, and providing emotional and practical support to people through the abortion fund. Access Reproductive Care-Southeast.

Another surprise hit me in 2014 when I discovered The Abortion Diary Podcast. Hearing the unfiltered abortion stories of people around the world made me feel less alone. I heard episodes of people sharing about having more than one abortion and I realized I’m not the only one who miscarried twice!

One day in 2017, I came across a Facebook post featuring a word I had never seen before — stupid It’s a made-up word, a term of endearment for abortion used by a champion of reproductive justice. I was delighted to see a fresh green word emerge through a crack in our serious reproductive lexicon.

It is very important for all of us say abortion out loud. There is no other way to remove the stigmatized word and method. However, anti-abortion people have long owned the word, using it as a weapon against us. It’s hard to say hurtful words.

Creative words like stupid bring hope that one day we will have a verdant language that will help us talk about our abortion experiences with the nuance and poetry they deserve.

Here is a confession. When I started telling the truth about my two abortions, I was so naive. I firmly believe that if people would just listen to us and realize how their shame causes suffering, they would stop.

But the sad truth crystallized one day when I escorted the Feminist Women’s Health Centerwhere protesters brandished megaphones to amplify their threats of eternal doom.

A man brings his wife to the clinic to terminate a planned medically non-viable pregnancy. He approached the protesters to explain his illness. I could not hear him, but his carriage was agitated and his hands were pleading. He returned to the clinic shaking, tears streaming down his face, as the protesters continued to jeer him.

That day, I decided not to focus on shamers. Other advocates are better equipped — and in some parts of the world they’ve succeeded in convincing lawmakers to create effective clinics buffer zones to avoid the bullies.

Instead, I want to focus on the people who are targeted by shame. I am trying to connect with people in my local community who have experienced abortion. The statistics tell me they are here, but how to find them?

Last week, feeling strangely brave, I posted this New York Times article about the criminalization of pregnancy in a closed Facebook group of local Democrats, with a comment about being thankful I wasn’t forced to become a mother at 13.

I hope that someone who has experienced an abortion will contact me with a private message. But there was silence. . . and Shame began to speak. . . and I sank into the blues.

Then I thought of all the people in the world who are suffering because of abortion shame and access restrictions. Many experience an extra level of shame if they terminate the next pregnancy or have many abortions.

How can I help? Where is my niche in this movement?

That’s when I decided to create a Twitter account to send love and encouragement to people who have had more than one abortion. I decided to find and post stories of people who have bravely spoken the truth about the need for abortion care more than once in their lives. I have clarified three goals:

1. To create a global space to help people who have had two or more abortions to ‘find their people’ and understand that they are not alone.

2. To help raise the global consciousness of many abortion storytelling platforms and organizations in the world.
3. To help amplify research articles from around the world that reveal and explain the common need for people to have abortions more than once in their lives.

I thought about what to call the account, I’m afraid of trolls. At first I wanted to center the word love to convey what drives me. But I decided to advertise the truth with honesty and creativity — using the word abortion as well as the stupid, the word which gave me a pleasant surprise.

I added courage salute to people who share publicly about having more than one abortion. It is a noun whose synonyms include courage, bravery, derring-do, heroic deed, bravery, sass and rebelliousness.

I hope the truth that tweeted 2+ Abortions @AboboBravado drowns out the voices of shame in the world and in our heads.


Karen Thurston is an abortion historian, an activist, and an advocate. He is a former board member of ACP.

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