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Storyteller: Beth Vial
Location: Portland, Oregon
Abortion Fund: Northwest Abortion Access Fund
Why are you excited to participate in Youth Testify?
I am really excited to participate in Youth Testify because I didn’t see a lot of abortion stories that were like mine. I wanted to share my story so that other people didn’t feel the way I did — like something was wrong with me, what I was doing was illegal, or I was the only one having a later abortion. By sharing I hope to shed light on later abortion and break down stigma.
What would you like to share about your abortion story?
I had a later abortion, after 20 weeks. Mostly, when you look up later abortion stories, they are anti-choice propaganda or stories about fetal anomalies, and that’s not my experience. A lot of people ask me, “You were pregnant for so long, how did you not know?” And the reality is that chronic illnesses can mask symptoms. I want to share my story because I want people to know that getting an abortion at 6 weeks and getting an abortion at 28 weeks are equally valid.
How are you excited to organize your community to eradicate abortion stigma?
I have a lot of ideas to organize my community. I love guerrilla sticker art. It makes information more accessible to everyone, especially young people — not just a voter base. Having the information on the back of street signs and bathroom stalls makes it so everyone can engage with policies, politics, and the services the Northwest Abortion Access Fund offers.
What do you wish other young people knew about seeking abortion?
I was so afraid that I would have to live with my abortion the rest of my life and that it would follow me like a shadow. There was so much stigma from everyone around me. I wish that other young people knew that the stigma’s bark is worse than its bite. I wish young people had access to information, in a non-biased way, so that we can make decisions on our own. People are okay on the other side of abortion, and it’s not scary. It’s not all these things people tell you it is. I thought it was going to be a bad experience, but in reality it was a good experience that empowered me. For me, it was worth it.
Why are you sharing your abortion story?
I am sharing my abortion story because I feel visibility is important. My story is just one story, but it’s a story I couldn’t find when I needed it. I know there are people out there with a story like mine. They might feel like I did; like an outlier. So many people feel like they can’t share their feelings. They say everyone loves someone who had an abortion, and it’s true. I didn’t know anyone until I shared my story, and they shared theirs back. I feel confident in my story and I’m going to share it.