News Abortion

‘One in Three’ Campaign Seeks to End Stigma of Abortion by Sharing Women’s Experiences

Teddy Wilson

A campaign launched by Advocates for Youth seeks to end the stigma surrounding abortion by organizing student activists around the country to speak out about abortion experiences.

One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute. However, abortion is still stigmatized, and it is rare for women to speak publicly about the procedure. A campaign launched by Advocates for Youth (AFY) seeks to end the stigma surrounding abortion by organizing student activists around the country to speak out about abortion experiences. The 1 in 3 Campaign is a “grassroots movement to start a new conversation about abortion” and seeks to “end the stigma and shame women are made to feel about abortion.”

AFY Executive Director Debra Hauser told Rewire that the campaign was created to change the conversation about abortion. “It is a mechanism to shift the cultural dialogue around abortion,” said Hauser. “There is a polarizing debate and a lot of fear mongering fueling anti-abortion legislation around the country. We wanted to shift the focus from the politicized debate to one that puts women at the center of the discussion.”

Hauser said that there are more than 130 events planned around the country, with about 100 planned on college campuses. She believes that these events are essential to building empathy and breaking through the stigma and through the silence. “We know that abortion is in women’s history throughout the generations,” said Hauser. “The real question is whether or not it will remain safe and legal.”

Melodi Stone, director of Women’s Rights Coalition (WRC) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), told Rewire about advocating for reproductive rights on a campus in the South. “Talking about abortion in the South is different,” said Stone. “We don’t want our members to face the stigma themselves so we are careful how we present ourselves.” Stone says that the WRC spends a significant amount of time making its members available to the UAB student body by setting up informational tables in high-traffic areas around campus.

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Stone says that students have had a mixed reaction to her group on campus. One of the most common reactions is to question if they are from Alabama. “People ask if you’re from here or ‘Are you from New York’,” said Stone. “When I tell people that I’m from here and not from California [it] forces [them] to consider the issue differently. We try to speak to people’s values and not about issues.”

Thursday night, as part of the 1 in 3 Campaign, the WRC will host a conversation about abortion. Stone says the purpose of the event is to “get students talking and to get rid of misinformation.” The event is one of five that the WRC has planned to have over the course of the year.

WRC hopes to use activism on campus to effect the public policy debate in Alabama. “1 in 3 is changing perspectives,” said Stone. “We also take the policy route, because we need both. But you have to change minds on campus and in the legislature. It’s very hard to get students involved because of the power politics of Alabama, but a campaign like 1 in 3 helps to get students empowered and ready to work.”

Stone thinks that information is the key to empowerment. “If they are informed, then they are powerful, and powerful women impact their community.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Ted Cruz Promises to ‘Sign Any Legislation’ That Opposes Abortion

Ally Boguhn

This week on the campaign trail, Ted Cruz released a five-minute-long ad trying to convince voters he is the Republican presidential candidate most opposed to abortion, Ben Carson found a way to fit crisis pregnancy centers into his poverty platform, and John Kasich spoke out against campus sexual assault.

This week on the campaign trail, Ted Cruz released a five-minute-long ad trying to convince voters he is the Republican presidential candidate most opposed to abortion, Ben Carson found a way to fit crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) into his poverty platform, and John Kasich spoke out against campus sexual assault.

Ted Cruz Vows to “Sign Any Legislation” Opposing Abortion, Regardless of Exceptions for Rape and Incest

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) released a video on Tuesday embracing extreme “personhood” legislation in South Carolina and vowing to “sign any” anti-abortion legislation that comes across his desk should he be elected—even if it does not contain exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

“I enthusiastically support that resolution,” Cruz said of the South Carolina bill, which proposes giving fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses full constitutional rights and, among other possible implications, could ban abortion as well as birth control pills, IUDs, and emergency contraception.

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“And as president of the United States, I pledge to you that I will do everything within my power to end the scourge of abortion once and for all. That I will use the full constitutional power and the bully pulpit of the presidency to promote a culture of life. That I will sign any legislation put on my desk to defend the least of these, including legislation that defends the right of all persons, without exception other than the life of the mother from conception to natural death,” Cruz continued before vowing to defund Planned Parenthood.

The video goes on to attack Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, claiming he is “playing games with the sanctity of life.” Pointing to Trump’s shift from pro-choice to anti-choice, Cruz criticized his rival by falsely claiming he would not pledge to defund Planned Parenthood should he be elected. However, Trump asserted in November that he is “very strongly in favor” of doing just that.

Cruz’s allegations that Trump leans to the left when it comes to abortion are just the latest moves in an ongoing feud between the two on the topic. As Trump and Cruz lead in the polls heading into the influential South Carolina primary on Saturday, the candidates have competed to capture the votes of evangelicals in the state by highlighting their conservative stances on abortion and other issues.

John Kasich Discusses Campus Sexual Assault During GOP Town Hall

Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich spoke out against campus sexual assault during Thursday night’s Republican town hall.

During the event, hosted by CNN in South Carolina ahead of the state’s primary, an audience member asked Kasich, “What steps will you take to address the high rates of violence against women in this country.”

Kasich replied by naming both sexual violence on college campuses and human trafficking as major issues he would address should he become president, pointing to his own record tackling the topics during his tenure in Ohio.

“We put a lot of time into those kinds of issues in our state,” Kasich said. “I’ll tell you another thing we worry about, sexual violence on a campus—and I’ve noticed that time ago—and I said, there has got to be a place for young students, young women to be able to go where they can do things in confidentiality, where there can be a rape kit that can last because sometimes women don’t want to move right away, but after a month or two they might want to move forward with some type of a prosecution.”

Suggesting that violence against women would be primarily addressed “at the state level,” Kasich claimed that as president he would “use a bully pulpit” to “speak out” on the topic and push “legislatures to begin to pay attention to these issues.”

Thursday’s statements were not the first time the governor has addressed the issue of sexual violence on campus. Kasich’s proposed Ohio state budget for fiscal year 2016 included $2 million to prevent and respond to campus sexual assault.

Other Republican presidential candidates have largely failed to engage voters on the issue of campus sexual assault while on the campaign trail. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), however, co-sponsored the Campus Accountability and Safety Act in 2015 to “secure landmark reforms for how colleges and universities address and report incidents of sexual assault that occur on their campuses.”

“Combating sexual assaults on college campuses is fundamental to the goal of ensuring that all Americans have access to higher education in the 21st century,” Rubio said in a statement about the legislation.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) used the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum, hosted by Fusion in January, to address campus sexual assault, calling for a “serious national discussion” on the topic. Hillary Clinton has also released her own platform on the issue, calling for increased prevention efforts and resources for survivors.

Ben Carson Plugs Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Anti-Poverty Pitch

During CNN’s series of Republican town halls this week, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Wednesday included crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) as part of his platform for addressing poverty.

When asked by an audience member about how he reconciled “the differences between traditional Christian values, specifically caring the least of these and current GOP stances on social issues such as welfare and subsidies for the poor,” Carson pointed to CPCs during part of his pitch for expanding government support for parents after the birth of a child.

“Look at all of the out-of-wedlock births that are going on, particularly in our inner cities,” Carson said. “I have been speaking at a lot of the nonprofit organizations that support organizations that support these women so that they don’t have an abortion, so that they have the baby,” he continued, seemingly pointing to the organizations that regularly misinform and lie to patients in order to persuade them not to obtain an abortion.

The presidential candidate went on to note that these organizations discontinue helping people who seek their services after they give birth, suggesting that adding additional support after birth could help “break the cycle of the dependency.”

Carson is not the first Republican vying for the White House in 2016 to signal their support for CPCs. Last week, Jeb Bush suggested that Congress fund these organizations instead of Planned Parenthood, and he has previously called for the expansion of both state and federal dollars to CPCs.

Prior to dropping out of the race, Carly Fiorina also championed CPCs, going as far as to campaign at one in September.

Commentary Human Rights

What Conservatives Really Think of Women: ‘Female Animals’ Without Rights

Jodi Jacobson

According to Erick Erickson, a regular Fox News contributor, editor of, and guest host for Rush Limbaugh, women who seek reproductive health care are "pregnant female animals" with no ability for autonomous thinking.

It’s been a doozy of a week, with edited videos and false charges against Planned Parenthood, combined with rampant misinformation about the use of fetal tissue for research, ricocheting through the media at warp speed.

Usually, these kinds of situations call for a focus on the very serious moral issues of our day, such as what a group of largely white, largely older, powerful men, who are certainly too important to shop for or change baby diapers, think is OK for women to do with our bodies. You know, like whether we can want to have sex without getting pregnant, consent to sex without consenting to pregnancy, say no and be believed and respected, want to use birth control without our boss’ permission, or want to keep our job even if we are pregnant. Those kinds of things. Based on a fundamental reading of the Bible, of course.

So it is really refreshing when a conservative commentator finally relies on science to explain to women who they are, what happens to them when they are pregnant, and what happens when they terminate a pregnancy.

Enter Erick Erickson, a regular Fox News contributor, editor of, and guest host for Rush Limbaugh, who eschews that old Bible-thumping for real, hard science.

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As Media Matters for America (MMFA) reported in May 2013, for example, Erickson responded to a then newly released Pew Research study showing that women were the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households. Erickson was very dismayed, claiming that “biology” and “the natural world” dictate that men, not women, should play the “dominant role” as breadwinners.” And that those who defend single-parent families are “anti-science.” From MMFA:

When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society, and other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complementary relationships in nuclear families, and it’s tearing us apart. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight5/29/13]

Based on his deep knowledge of science and history, Erickson has also helpfully tried to explain that you really can tell when it’s “legitimate rape” or not, that homosexuality is a sin, and that children of either single or gay parents, (or—ruh roh—children of single, gay parents) are destined for the Big House because they can never beat the regular old heterosexual couple as parents.

Now, Erickson has reaffirmed his roots in science by reminding us that women who seek reproductive health care are “pregnant female animals” with no ability for autonomous thinking.

In discussing the heretofore wholly made-up charges about Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue, MMFA reports that Erickson called on companies to cease donations to Planned Parenthood, accusing donors of having “subsidized the brutal killing of animals.”

In a not even thinly veiled post on RedState, Erickson chided a long list of corporations for donating to Planned Parenthood and claimed that the “companies have contributed to an organization that takes pregnant female animals and pulls their unborn from them and crushes them. In numerous cases, the barbarians who do this procedure then take the organs from the small, crushed animals and give them to others for scientific research.”

Let’s think about this. “Pregnant female animals” would refer to the actual born women seeking abortion care at Planned Parenthood clinics. Said organization “takes pregnant female animals” because, of course, these animals cannot think on their own or act of their own volition. So we must guard them carefully, lest they stray. And, one gets the sense that Erickson thinks of Planned Parenthood as the local dog-catcher, running around and picking up stray women who happen to be pregnant and forcibly taking them in for abortions. Because women have no ability for complex thinking, no sense of rationality, and no idea what they are doing with themselves, they cannot possibly be deciding for themselves that it’s a sane idea to terminate a pregnancy they do not want, they cannot afford, or that is otherwise untenable for whatever reason. Planned Parenthood must be netting and dragging them into clinics. And, following Erickson’s theory, because they do not have the ability for complex thinking, women of course, also do not have rights. According to Erickson, women are just kinda like dogs in heat and we must protect them from both themselves and Planned Parenthood. (See Males: Dominant, above.)

To be sure, Erickson is not alone in this kind of thinking. The idea that women are not actual people with rights, and that any rights they do have are relinquished even before the pee stick turns red, is a pervasive core belief of people in the fundamentalist GOP anti-choice movement. This week, for example, I had several lovely people, including female photo’ed Twitter accounts, helpfully remind me that it is not my body, it’s the baby’s body.

The same sentiment was expressed by a man harassing women outside a reproductive health clinic who, speaking to a reporter from Lady Parts Justice, said that everyone has rights, except women.

Asked why he was protesting outside the clinic, this gentleman, identified by Lady Parts Justice as “The Christian,” stated “we are here to defend life, liberty, and property. The right for every person to have rights, in life. And of any age.”

Speaking of abortion, he continued: People want to say “it’s a woman’s choice. But who gave that choice to a woman? She had a choice to have sex or not, but once she became pregnant, she lost her freedom and her free will.”

I could go on citing others, but will just stop here to let this all sink in. This is one of the core pillars of GOP political theory, the other side of the white, male supremacy coin. Women are not people. Even if our own lives are at risk. We are merely vessels, pods, breeding animals. We are in service to and for the man. To Erick Erickson and his friends across the fundamentalist anti-choice movement, biology is destiny. Especially for us females.