Support Exhale and Pro-Voice!

1 in 3 cisgender women in the US will have an abortion at some point in their lifetime. For such a widely-shared experience, the stigma associated with it keeps most people silent about it. Instead, we get polarized political fights that don’t leave much room for individual stories.

That comes from both sides of the arguments. The people who are against abortion don’t want to hear from anyone unless their stories are negative. There isn’t space for feeling relief, gratitude, or knowing that it was the right decision. And many of the pro-choice folks don’t make a lot of room for people who feel grief, sadness, regret, loss, or guilt. There’s a fear that talking about that will be used to justify anti-abortion political and legal action. Each side has become so invested in being “right” that they lose sight of the complexities of how abortion affects people.

So when abortion is part of your personal story, where can you go if you need some support, insight, or perspective? You can contact Exhale, the free, anonymous talkline with trained counselors and a pro-voice stance. Pro-voice means that whatever your personal, political, or religious beliefs, and whatever your experience, there is a place for your voice and your story. As co-founder Aspen Baker says, Exhale is a place for the feminist who regrets her abortion and the Christian fundamentalist who is glad that she had one. (Check out her TED talk below.)

Exhale isn’t just there for people who have had abortions. About 8-10% of the callers are men. They’re partners, friends, family members, and other guys who have questions or concerns. They need space for their questions, emotions, and stories, which helps them be more supportive partners. Callers come from all walks of life, all political and religious backgrounds, and all genders and sexual orientations. Exhale is one place where what matters is creating room for everyone’s voice. (You can also request counselors who speak Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.)

I’m proud to have been affiliated with Exhale ever since the organization launched in 2000. I’ve trained every single talkline counselor on working with male callers, and it’s been an honor to contribute in my small way. In 2015, I joined the Board of Directors because I’m passionate about pro-voice and the organization.

We’re working to change the way that our society thinks and feels about abortion by stepping out of the fight and centering people’s stories. We have big visions and goals, and we need your support to bring them into the world. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and you want to volunteer as a talkline counselor, here’s where to go for more information. We’re also working on creating a nationwide Pro-Voice Community and we’d love to hear from you with your ideas.

You can support Exhale without being a volunteer. Help us transform stigma and conflict into conversation, one listener and one voice at a time. Your gift to Exhale will support people who experience abortion in leading us to a more caring and compassionate culture.

Donate today and your gift will support Exhale’s national after-abortion talkline and our pro-voice programs that connect people through storytelling.