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#shoutyourabortion sweeps Twitter Decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood sparks online hashtag movement

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By: Jennifer La Grassa

In response to a vote passed by the U.S. Senate to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, America’s largest provider of women’s reproductive health services, legions of women have taken to social media to display their outrage and share their profoundly intimate and personal stories of abortion.

Amelia Bonow, an American activist and the co-creator of the hashtag, took to Twitter to share her personal story; she had an abortion at a Seattle Planned Parenthood in 2014, and the idea of her hashtag was to destabilize the stigma that surrounds women who have terminated pregnancies. Bonow called the senate’s vote to cut funding for Planned Parenthood an “attack on women’s physical autonomy,” and urged women to shout and share their stories despite the tremendous societal pressure to stay silent.

The hashtag was used more than 100,000 times in the 24 hours following its inception, and women from all over the globe shared their stories. Many of the tweets displayed the emotion surrounding an unwanted pregnancy and around the often difficult decision to have an abortion.

Some women spoke of being young and terrified, as well as unable to afford raising a child or about being in dangerous and abusive relationships that would be unfit for a baby. Bonow’s co-founder and fellow activist Lydia West stated that by cutting funding, the Senate is implying that “abortion is something to be whispered about.” Instead, they decided to shout.

Despite the four decades since abortion was legalized in the U.S., the topic is still extremely sensitive and Bonow has stated that she has received countless hate-fuelled tweets, as well as several death threats. The onslaught of hate, courtesy of pro-lifers, has produced #shoutyourabortion’s counterpart, #shoutyouradoption.

The majority of tweets containing #shoutyouradoption blatantly criticize the concept of abortion, and some specifically target women who have received an abortion, and in their eyes, committed murder.

The movement has swept social media, and Bonow hopes it will reach Senate, where the vote to cut funding can be reviewed. She refers to the defunding plan as a “misogynist crusade,” seeing as it will only truly and directly affect women and their own reproductive health. If Planned Parenthood is defunded, it’s absolutely terrifying to think of what might be next.

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