After the VP Debate, #LetsTalkAboutAbortion with people who’ve actually had abortions

Press Contact: Renee Bracey Sherman, Senior Public Affairs Manager for the National Network of Abortion Funds media@wetestify.org

Last night’s vice presidential debate conversation about abortion reminded us one thing: People who have abortions are watching, and so are the people who love us.

Abortion policies do not exist in a vacuum. Anti-choice policies not only deny people seeking abortions from accessing services, but they also create the stigma that permeates our social climate, which leads to the harassment and bullying of people who’ve had abortions. When we continue to leave policies like the Hyde Amendment in place, it tells Medicaid recipients that their rights aren’t as important as the rights of others who can afford abortions, especially when it comes to healthcare and creating families. Everyone should be able to make their own decisions about if, when, and how to create their families, and be able to raise their families free from harm—no matter how much they earn.

People who have abortions are diverse. Data shows that the majority of people who have abortions are people of color, they’re religious, they’re already parents, and they’re trying to make ends meet with limited financial resources. The conversation about abortion should be as wide as the spectrum of abortion experiences.

Shortly after the candidates discussed their views on abortion, the conversation continued on Twitter under the hashtag #LetsTalkAboutAbortion, where users not only shared their own abortion stories, but also why they love someone who has had an abortion.

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That’s what the abortion conversation should really be about: centering the people who have them.

We Testify Abortion Storytellers shared what the debate conversation meant to them:

Renee Bracey Sherman, Senior Public Affairs Manager and founder of We Testify:

I had an abortion when I was 19 and it was one of the best decisions of my life. It allowed me to forge the path best for my future. I am thankful that I have a family that loves me and supports my decision to have an abortion, and I hope politicians will do the same. They cannot continue to deny human rights, including abortion access, to people in this country. It’s simply unjust and lacks basic compassion. We no longer want to hear politicians argue about the legality—that’s settled law. We want to hear plans to expand access to abortion care, and ideas on how to change the culture to normalize abortion, just like every other healthcare procedure. Everyone loves someone who has had an abortion, and they hear loud and clear what each candidate thinks of their loved ones.

Samantha Romero, We Testify Abortion Storyteller and board chair of the West Fund:

The election isn’t only about trusting people to make their own decisions about abortion, it’s also about trusting people to know their own gender identities, it’s about trusting people to work hard and contribute to our society, no matter their nationality. This election is about trust in government to fulfill its obligations. We have to make it to the polls this November, and to every local election that follows, to be sure that the public servants we are voting for are people who can reciprocate that trust.

Rana Barar, We Testify Abortion Storyteller:

It was refreshing to see the VP candidates take on abortion – a fundamental topic that has often gotten left out of these debates. It is important not only because it is one of the areas where the candidates differ wildly, but also because millions of the people watching tonight, like me, have had, will have, or love someone who has had an abortion. I made the decision to have an abortion with the support of my husband, my kids, and my friends. It was not ‘heartbreaking,’ as one candidate suggested. What is heartbreaking are policies that not only force women to have babies when they are not prepared to do so, but also limit their access to the health care women need to avoid getting pregnant and to the support they need to care for the children they have.

Mallory McMaster, We Testify Abortion Storyteller and board member at Women Have Options Ohio:

As a person who has had an abortion, I was relieved to hear the candidates discussing abortion during last night’s debate. The decision to have an abortion was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made, and I’m not alone. The candidates seemed proud to share their thoughts on how religion would impact their work as a public servant. Recent anti-abortion laws have been branded as health precautions for pregnant people, but we know that’s not the case. They aren’t designed to protect maternal or public health, they’re rooted in politicians’ personal religious beliefs. As a non-religious person who has had an abortion, that scares me.

There are millions of people in the United States who are just as deeply committed to a religion that isn’t the same as those writing abortion restrictions. Faith communities have been at the forefront of the battle for abortion access since before Roe v Wade, and it’s unfair to erase their voices. Abortion access isn’t a fringe issue or a distraction, it’s something that affects everyone, and it should be on the list of topics for every debate.

and Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds:

I’m a Black mother who has had an abortion and leads a national abortion access organization. I’ve seen how political rhetoric damages actual lives and I’m tired of it. Everyone should have the right and access to determine when and whether they reproduce.  Politicians have no right to prevent or punish people for the care they need. ALL pregnancy options need to be covered by insurance no matter how much money people make or where they live. What we need is compassion and support not shame. When abortion isn’t covered by insurance, it makes abortion inaccessible which is punishment in itself. This punishment doesn’t just affect the person having an abortion—there are ripple effects throughout families and communities. We need to talk about abortion now more than ever because it is a part of life that is as old as time yet far too many politicians would like to fundamentally deny our say over our bodies, families and lives.

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We Testify, a program of the National Network of Abortion Funds, is 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.