When women have the right to choose, all of society benefits
HowToUse believes that all of society benefits when women have the freedom to make their own reproductive health decisions. And research backs this belief up.
Studies have found that restrictive abortion laws are associated with worse health outcomes for women and that access to safe abortion positively increases women’s health. Healthy women are the backbone of strong families, and strong families make strong communities.
While increasing access to abortion is a critically important step in keeping women healthy, women also need supportive communities who know the facts about abortion and are committed to reducing its stigma.
The need for abortion support
To put it bluntly- women need abortion allies. Allies can include both women and men, as well as those who are opposed to abortion personally but still support women’s right to choose.
That’s why HowToUse launched its most recent social media campaign, #AbortionAlly. Exclusively through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest profiles HowToUse has reached more than 1 million people in over 20 different countries.
The campaign’s purpose was to disseminate practical tools and information that anyone can use to help support women as they make their own decisions about their reproductive health.
Creating networks of abortion allies involves making sure people know the facts about abortion, especially with all of the misinformation and myths out there. Information liberates and empowers, and busting myths is an essential component of the strategy to make abortion safer.
That’s why HowToUse featured important, but little known facts about abortion, like what side effects to actually expect while having a medical abortion. Far from being a scary, painful ordeal, most women feel like themselves within 24 hours of the abortion.
The stigmatization of abortion presents huge barriers to women’s reproductive freedom, even in countries where abortion is legal. The stigma effectively forces women to obtain abortions through unsafe means and can also discourage them from seeking medical attention if they experience complications.
Allies are essential to fighting the shaming of abortion, and spotlighting facts are key. That’s why the HowToUse campaign emphasized the fact that, contrary to popular belief, abortion is a common medical procedure. In fact, 25% of all pregnancies around the world will be terminated in induced abortion.
The World Health Organization estimates 56 million abortions occur around the world every year. But because abortion is so highly stigmatized, many women don’t discuss their experiences. This leads to the perception that abortion is rare,when in fact it’s not.
HowToUse believes it’s important to highlight the truth that abortion is a common, even routine medical procedure that millions of women have used successfully to control their reproductive health.
Many people may think that abortion is a terrible, often desperate measure that leaves women bereft, depressed, and devastated. These negative characterizations of abortion undoubtedly contribute to its stigma, but women who have had abortions often do not feel this way at all (include link to the previous blog post when published).
The HowToUse campaign featured research that found many women report feeling relieved, determined, and confident about their decisions. The negative connotations commonly associated with abortions are not necessarily accurate, and fail to capture the range of emotions women experience when they terminate an unplanned pregnancy.
We need abortion allies to bust this myth and help frame abortion not as a desperate measure, but as a choice many women make confidently.
HowToUse is proud of the #AbortionAlly campaign, which mirrors other efforts to equip people with unbiased, direct information about reproductive health. We invite you to check out the IPAS campaign to combat abortion stigma, the study conducted by Ibis Reproductive Health and Center for Reproductive Rights about the impact of abortion restrictions over women’s wellbeing, and worldwide facts on induced abortion produced by the Guttmacher Institute.
We hope this campaign will be helpful not only to women who are considering abortions, but to everyone interested in supporting women’s bodily autonomy and improving their health outcomes. Keeping women healthy is essential to building strong communities and strong countries. The responsibility falls on us all.