Monday, January 29, 2007

"Mom, Dad - I'm Pregnant"

Those two words - I'm pregnant - uttered by young women around the country millions of times over; the amount of teen terror as they try and muster up the courage to tell their parents, ocean-sized. And even if a young woman gets up the guts to talk to her parents; even if a young woman feels that her parents would understand, there are still mountains yet to climb. What are the options? How does one access those options? What if the young woman is pregnant as a result of a rape? What are the laws in her state around abortion? Adoption? What if she wants to keep the baby? Are the resources out there to help a teen care for her child?

The Abortion Conversation Project (ACP) has answers. In their new web site, , teens and their parents will find "communication advice for family crisis" in the form of resources, referrals, guidance, help and mostly information presented in a loving and compassionate manner, devoid of the political statements or angry judgements that seem to permeate other resources for pregnant teens and parents.

ACP has created a place where teens can access help to communicate with their parents about their pregnancy and where parents can feel gently guided if they are at a loss for what to say or how to support their pregnant teens. As the press release announcing the advent of the new project puts it,

Yesterday, your mother was nagging you about cleaning your room. Today, how do you tell her you’re pregnant? Your daughter has seemed remote but you never suspected she might be pregnant: how do you respond? The “Mom, Dad, I’m Pregnant” Project of the Abortion Conversation Project, Inc. addresses these questions and more on its new website and in companion handouts, “How Can I Tell my Parents?” and “How Do I Respond?” The website, offers specific suggestions for both young men and women and for their mothers and fathers who are dealing with a pregnancy crisis.

And this:

The site includes advice for teens on telling parents about a pregnancy, considering options, information in case of a rape, and special advice for young male partners. Advice for parents highlights how to respond and improve relationships with daughters and sons, as well as special advice for moms and dads. There are sections on Minor’s Rights, and what to do if parents may be abusive, as well as spiritual, legal, and additional resources.

Of course, since the Abortion Conversation Project was initially launched as a project to assist in reducing the stigma around abortion by talking truthfully and honestly about abortion, there will be the usual kicking and screaming from the anti-choice activists. But that's a shame. Because ACP has been the harbinger of positive and radical change in the pro-choice movement since its beginnings in 2004.

ACP has ushered in a new discourse around abortion and reproductive rights. ACP offered the initial support and guidance for publications like Our Truths, Nuestras Verdades (for which I was on the first Board of Directors) - a magazine that seeks to give voice to women's and men's abortion experiences through creative nonfiction, commentary, poetry and visual art. ACP offers resources for how to have an open, honest one-to-one conversation about one's abortion experience or the abortion experience of someone close; they also offer information on how to have community conversations about abortion.

The authenticity of the Abortion Conversation Project for me (a former abortion clinic staffer for 6 1/2 years), is that it was started and it continues to be lead by independent abortion providers. The sincerity with which the ACP desires to open the conversation around abortion and allow women's voices to rise to the top of that conversation changes the discourse around abortion dramatically.

While the anti-choicers are now ready to lead with their "new" strategy that focuses on highlighting women who say they have been hurt by their abortions and the tagline that's resulted ("abortion hurts women"), ACP focuses on how to help women who have had an abortion or women who choose to access abortion deal with their abortions without the stigma and silence that surrounds most women's experience pre- and post-abortion.

I'm very excited for this new resource and I hope Planned Parenthood doesn't let their super-powered, corporatist mindset stand in the way of steering young people and parents towards Can you sense my hostility towards PP? They seem to lead the conversation, with NARAL ProChoice America, around abortion even though the majority of abortions are performed by independent abortion providers thus making organizations like ACP - led by independent abortion providers - more "expert" than PP or NARAL.

ACP represents "the little guys" and they are nimble and authentic enough to know what women, families and communities need to move past abortion as a loaded topic into the real world.

Re-posted on Reproductive Health Reality Check.

Feminist Peace Network