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Tweet trend: Women declare 'I had an abortion'


Women are taking to Twitter with a blunt statement of fact: "I had an abortion." In fact, so many are tweeting about their experience that on Wednesday, the hashtag "#ihadanabortion" began trending on the site.

It all started with a tweet from @IAmDrTiller: "Time for us to come out. Who's had an abortion- Show antis we're not intimidated by scare tactics. Use: #ihadanabortion."

The responses came streaming in:

"I've had an abortion. It was not an easy decision, but it was the best one for me. #ihadanabortion"

"Almost half my life ago, #ihadan abortion. I'm not sorry. I've never been sorry. I will never be sorry. Just very, very grateful."

"1992, 1998. #ihadanabortion"

"Yep, #IHADANABORTION.. more than one, now that I am ready I am now 7 months pregnant w/ my 2nd child . . . my body, my decision!"

"Those who are ANTI-choice shd B glad #ihadanabortion. I went on to finish college, support myself, marry . . . have 2 honor students. Nice, huh- "

"#IHadAnAbortion @ 17 . . . no one helped much; every1 tried to protect the dude's reputation. Yuk. Grateful I had the option. I vote #prochoice."

Others tweeted their support or said things along the lines of "I haven't had an abortion, but I would if I got pregnant."

There are surprisingly few anti-choice tweets and, for the most part, the thread feels like a small, intimate conversation -- so much so that I feel trepidation writing about it. That's the whole point, though -- to take this private conversation public, to scrub the "a-word" of stigma and shame. This is part of a long tradition of feminist consciousness-raising, it's just that the medium has changed.

In the documentary "I Had an Abortion," third-wave feminist Jennifer Baumgardner interviewed 20 women, including Gloria Steinem, about their decision to terminate their pregnancies. She also made T-shirts bearing the film's title and, as I wrote about with mixed feelings a few years back, she later started selling "I was raped" tees.

Just as always, not all feminists or pro-choicers agree with the concept.

"Not sure what the #ihadanabortion hashtag is meant to accomplish," one woman tweeted. "Pro-choice is one thing but this just seems needlessly provocative."

In response, someone wrote: "Why is saying #ihadanabortion 'provocative- ' I had my wisdom teeth out. Is that needlessly provocative- Or 'i had a baby at 15- ' No- "

It seems silly to argue over whether tweeting about your abortion is provocative; of course it is, and the point is to make it less so. The real question is whether or not the #ihadanabortion thread is an effective step in that direction. There is part of me that bristles at the idea of abortion or rape being reduced to an edgy T-shirt slogan or a trending Twitter hashtag -- because the complexity of women's varying experiences is lost.

But, you know what- Political slogans are not about nuance, and after Tuesday's election, we're especially in need of some bold rhetoric.

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon, where this essay was first posted.

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