The Abortion Conversation Project was founded in 2000 to create strategies to challenge the stigma surrounding abortion. ACP was originally conceived as the 501(c)(3) sister to the National Coalition for Abortion Providers, a lobbying and trade organization for independent abortion providers. In July of 2008, both organizations joined forces to form the Abortion Care Network, a 501(c)(3) not for profit that expanded the abortion care community around independent providers and harnessed the energy generated by our "open and honest" conversations.
In the first 8 years of its existence, Abortion Conversation Project engaged in defining post abortion emotional health, de-stigmatizing abortion through handouts for parents, partners, and patients themselves, and staging community conversations to have deeper conversations among diverse prochoice audiences. With the co-sponsorship of Exhale, we brought together researchers, mental health professionals, clergy, and providers to create an agenda to promote post abortion emotional health, a term that we coined. From this came greater attention to the real needs of women post abortion and to assessing risk factors women may have for poor outcomes. Independent providers were eager to incorporate assessment tools and intervention strategies into their practice and the handout Healthy Coping After an Abortion has become an essential resource for clinic staff and patients.
ACP collaborated with the Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice to develop a curriculum on reproductive loss for their clergy training program. ACP also distributed the workbook, A Guide to Emotional and Spiritual Resolution After an Abortion for the Pregnancy Options Workbooks.
Another initiative was the Mom, Dad I'm Pregnant project which resulted in a website www.momdadimpregnant.org and two handouts, one for parents and one for the young people involved in an unintended pregnancy. To our knowledge, it is the only resource for this particular crisis in family communication. Similarly, we worked with the creators of www.menandabortion.com to create a handout called Especially for Men. All three handouts in English and Spanish are being offered to patients in member clinics of the Abortion Care Network and via the internet.
The Abortion Conversation Project sponsored Abortion Conversations in Texas, Florida, and the Northwest (2005-2007) in an effort to create a space where providers and prochoice allies, including clergy, activists, academics, students, and health professionals, could come together to talk openly and honestly about abortion. We have found that people need to understand each other's work and perspectives in a tolerant atmosphere where people can ask questions without risk.
The Abortion and Spirituality Working Group brought together clergy and abortion counselors to explore training aids, handouts, and strategies to assist women with spiritual concerns about an abortion experience. We offered several workshops on this topic. We are delighted to report that this initiative has largely been continued by Faith Aloud, a national "religious and ethical voice for reproductive justice."
In merging most of our activities and products into the Abortion Care Network, our early efforts in training abortion providers and distributing our materials continue to be available for abortion care workers and the public.
Starting in 2007, we sponsored lectures at the Abortion Care Network conferences. Krista Jacob, editor of the anthologies, Abortion Without Apology and Abortion Under Attack was the first of these. We endowed a lecture by Kate Cosby Cockrill on stigma at the Abortion Care Network conference in 2010. Ms. Cockrill is a researcher at ANSIRH (Advancing New Standards In Reproductive Health) at UC-Berkeley. More recently we have sponsored: Heather Ault whose analysis of pro life and pro choice messaging is ground breaking, as is her history themed artwork 4,000 Years for Choice; Karl Hagstrom-Miller, PhD on abortion in pop music in "Tickets to Blur"; 2012 Tracy Weitz, PhD, ANSIRH-- Is Abortion Too Much for the Big Screen?
Now we are re-visioning ACP's work in challenging cultural stigma about abortion. We are engaging grass roots groups to explore new ways of creating cultural change by offering small grants. To keep in touch with our plans, please sign up for our mailing list here.