Aspen Baker: A better way to talk about abortion

Aspen Baker: A better way to talk about abortion


It was the middle of summer
and well past closing time in the downtown Berkeley bar
where my friend Polly and I worked together as bartenders. Usually at the end of our shift
we had a drink — but not that night. “I’m pregnant. Not sure what I’m going
to do yet,” I told Polly. Without hesitation, she replied,
“I’ve had an abortion.” Before Polly, no one had ever told me
that she’d had an abortion. I’d graduated from college
just a few months earlier and I was in a new relationship
when I found out that I was pregnant. When I thought about my choices,
I honestly did not know how to decide, what criteria I should use. How would I know what
the right decision was? I worried that I would regret
an abortion later. Coming of age on the beaches
of Southern California, I grew up in the middle of
our nation’s abortion wars. I was born in a trailer on the third
anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Our community was surfing Christians. We cared about God, the less fortunate,
and the ocean. Everyone was pro-life. As a kid, the idea of abortion made me so
sad that I knew if I ever got pregnant I could never have one. And then I did. It was a step towards the unknown. But Polly had given me
a very special gift: the knowledge that I wasn’t alone and the realization that abortion
was something that we can talk about. Abortion is common. According to the Guttmacher Institute,
one in three women in America will have an abortion in their lifetime. But for the last few decades, the dialogue
around abortion in the United States has left little room for anything beyond
pro-life and pro-choice. It’s political and polarizing. But as much as abortion is hotly debated,
it’s still rare for us, whether as fellow women
or even just as fellow people, to talk with one another
about the abortions that we have. There is a gap. Between what happens in politics
and what happens in real life, and in that gap, a battlefield mentality. An “are you with us
or against us?” stance takes root. This isn’t just about abortion. There are so many important issues
that we can’t talk about. And so finding ways to shift the conflict
to a place of conversation is the work of my life. There are two main ways to get started. One way is to listen closely. And the other way is to share stories. So, 15 years ago, I cofounded
an organization called Exhale to start listening to people
who have had abortions. The first thing we did was create
a talk-line, where women and men could call to get emotional support. Free of judgment and politics,
believe it or not, nothing like our sevice had ever existed. We needed a new framework that could
hold all the experiences that we were hearing on our talk-line. The feminist who regrets her abortion. The Catholic who is grateful for hers. The personal experiences that weren’t
fitting neatly into one box or the other. We didn’t think it was right
to ask women to pick a side. We wanted to show them that
the whole world was on their side, as they were going through this deeply
personal experience. So we invented “pro-voice.” Beyond abortion, pro-voice works on hard
issues that we’ve struggled with globally for years, issues like immigration, religious
tolerance, violence against women. It also works on deeply personal topics
that might only matter to you and your immediate family and friends. They have a terminal illness,
their mother just died, they have a child with special needs
and they can’t talk about it. Listening and storytelling are
the hallmarks of pro-voice practice. Listening and storytelling. That sounds pretty nice. Sounds maybe, easy?
We could all do that. It’s not easy.
It’s very hard. Pro-voice is hard because we are talking
about things everyone’s fighting about or the things that no one
wants to talk about. I wish I could tell you that when you
decide to be pro-voice, that you’ll find beautiful moments of breakthrough
and gardens full of flowers, where listening and storytelling
creates wonderful “a-ha” moments. I wish I could tell you that there would
be a feminist welcoming party for you, or that there’s a long-lost sisterhood
of people who are just ready to have your back when you get slammed. But it can be vulnerable and exhausting
to tell our own stories when it feels like nobody cares. And if we truly listen to one another, we will hear things that demand
that we shift our own perceptions. There is no perfect time
and there is no perfect place to start a difficult conversation. There’s never a time when everyone will be
on the same page, share the same lens, or know the same history. So, let’s talk about listening
and how to be a good listener. There’s lots of ways to be a good listener
and I’m going to give you just a couple. One is to ask open-ended questions. You can ask yourself or someone
that you know, “How are you feeling?” “What was that like?” “What do you hope for, now?” Another way to be a good listener
is to use reflective language. If someone is talking about
their own personal experience, use the words that they use. If someone is talking about an abortion
and they say the word “baby,” you can say “baby.” If they say “fetus,”
you can say “fetus.” If someone describes themselves
as gender queer to you, you can say “gender queer.” If someone kind of looks like a he,
but they say they’re a she — it’s cool. Call that person a she. When we reflect the language of the person
who is sharing their own story, we are conveying that we are interested
in understanding who they are and what they’re going through. The same way that we hope people are
interested in knowing us. So, I’ll never forget being in one
of the Exhale counselor meetings, listening to a volunteer talk about how
she was getting a lot of calls from Christian women who
were talking about God. Now, some of our volunteers are religious,
but this particular one was not. At first, it felt a little weird for her
to talk to callers about God. So, she decided to get comfortable. And she stood in front of her mirror
at home, and she said the word “God.” “God.” “God.” “God.” “God.” “God.” “God.” Over and over and over again
until the word no longer felt strange coming out her mouth. Saying the word God did not turn this
volunteer into a Christian, but it did make her a much
better listener of Christian women. So, another way to be pro-voice
is to share stories, and one risk that you take on, when you
share your story with someone else, is that given the same
set of circumstances as you they might actually
make a different decision. For example, if you’re telling a story
about your abortion, realize that she might have had the baby. She might have placed for adoption. She might have told her parents
and her partner — or not. She might have felt relief and confidence,
even though you felt sad and lost. This is okay. Empathy gets created the moment we
imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes. It doesn’t mean we all have
to end up in the same place. It’s not agreement, it’s not sameness
that pro-voice is after. It creates a culture and a society that
values what make us special and unique. It values what makes us human,
our flaws and our imperfections. And this way of thinking allows us to see
our differences with respect, instead of fear. And it generates the empathy that we need to overcome all the ways
that we try to hurt one another. Stigma, shame, prejudice,
discrimination, oppression. Pro-voice is contagious,
and the more it’s practiced the more it spreads. So, last year I was pregnant again. This time I was looking forward
to the birth of my son. And while pregnant, I had never been asked
how I was feeling so much in all my life. (Laughter) And however I replied, whether I was
feeling wonderful and excited or scared and totally freaked out, there was always someone there
giving me a “been there” response. It was awesome. It was a welcome, yet dramatic
departure from what I experience when I talk about
my mixed feelings of my abortion. Pro-voice is about the real stories
of real people making an impact on the way abortion and so many other politicized
and stigmatized issues are understood and discussed. From sexuality and mental health
to poverty and incarceration. Far beyond definition
as single right or wrong decisions, our experiences can exist on a spectrum. Pro-voice focuses that conversation
on human experience and it makes support and respect
possible for all. Thank you. (Applause)

35 thoughts on “Aspen Baker: A better way to talk about abortion

  1. A child murder was "a step towards the unknown". Brilliant… I don't think of you as of a human being therefore ending your life is ok by my standards.

  2. Not all women can become moms. Being pregnant does not make one a mom either. That's why there are failures like this speaker. Just so that she can talk about abortion one day and get applauded. She killed her fetus, and therefore, she should be ashamed of herself, but instead she seems proud of the "lesson" she learned. Not too many people are ready to become parents. That's why there are contraceptives, morning after pill, adoption, and abstenence to list a few. Neglecting to take care of their own bodies, pro-choice women resort to killing innocent babies. Now if that's not selfish I don't know what selfish is. There is nothing good about abortion. It not only kills innocent lives, but also it damages women's bodies and negatively affect their minds. I hope, one day, abortion becomes prohibited nationwide.

  3. From the same people who want you to feel sorry for pedophiles! F*ck you TED. Insane leftists cult propaganda.

  4. Since roe vs wade irresponsible Women have become prolific murderous genocidal leftist maniacs.”Dont judge me for killing my baby! “
    lady just because you throw on a dowdy dress and try to appear “ conservative” but we all know you are nothing but a puppet for the genocidal left.
    We see through your manipulative game.this entire speech talks to the audience as they are children.. insulting.

  5. Ridiculous. You’re either for the killing of babies or against it. There’s no middle ground and no other way of talking about it.

  6. Of course women should be careful and take care of their own bodies and reduce the chances of being in a situation where they have a unwanted child. However there are loads of situations that can be found like rape and forcing a women to have the child which they can't look after (remember that people have abortion because either they can't look after the child or they are too young) It can cause the child to have a terrible life they may not even survive if for example the mother's parents disown her and she gets forced to fend for herself. It happened often and we can't take away someone's right to a life. I'm going to say it now that I'm a young woman (Age is classified) and if I was too find out that I'm pregnant it would ruin my life and I would be devastated. I would follow the abortion rules for example I think it's above 5 weeks u cannot abort but I'm afraid I think abortion would be my only option. To understand there point of view u must imagine a situation where I wouldn't and couldn't keep the child. It is a very difficult decision but I'm sure that alot of women will be able to make that choice and I want that choice to be available. Forcing a women to have a child is not morally right either so if ur using the moral argument then it doesn't work.

  7. Where are the proud parents of Fetus's? Have you heard of 1984? The world of double speak. Abortion is not health care. This is genocide. There is a purpose greater than the mother with every unborn child. Rape will never go away, a child doesn't loose it's right to exist because they were a product of an evil act.

  8. PRO-LIFE help & support Canada.
    Abortion is a choice you can never take back. Post-abortion trauma and emotional pain is more common than you know. Support resources do exist to help women deal with unplanned pregnancy. From emotional support, to adoption counselling, to helping you talk through your goals for the future, to helping expectant mothers get into a safe environment, there are pro-life pregnancy centres across Canada that are willing to help you.
    For emergency support phone the crisis pregnancy support line: 1-800-665-0570.
    To locate a pregnancy center or support resource near you, please visit the Choice 42 website

  9. For PRO-LIFE help in the UK contact "Pregnancy Matters"…
    You can either call, text, or send us a message via the website.
    Here's all you need to know:
    Call – 0808 802 5433

  10. Could you use some help to keep your baby?
    Pregnant in difficult circumstances?
    Wherever you are in the USA be sure to try these pregnancy resources:
    PROLIFE Across AMERICA’s Hot line: 1-800-366-7773
    The National Life Center: 1-800-848-LOVE (5683

  11. Abortion kills babies..FACT! But this person doesn't want to face up to the TRUTH…they just smother it in sugar coated rhetoric and euphemisms to try and make it sound palatable…

  12. Every woman who’s ever murdered a child developing/growing inside them: “”murder of the unborn is okay, because otherwise I couldn’t live with myself “”(for doing so)!!!

  13. No one ever “regrets” the difficult & Courageous decision to give/birth life.

    Who knows someone who regrets giving birth – bearing life.
    No one!

  14. What a wonderful message! I as a woman, I don't have any option but to abort, and that's the hope I have, to have no hope

  15. Well,it’s not abortions that we should support we should support the right of doing One. Think a bit about a woman remaining pregnant and The doctors tell her that she can’t deliver the baby as she has a illness and giving birth Could Kill her. Should she keep the baby? I know a case. My mom’s friend had three kids and she was pregnant with the fourth and The doctors told her to abort because there are 90% chances that she’ll die delivering. And she still chose to deliver:both she and the kid died. Was it worth the risk?
    Think about women who are raped. Abortion should never be a choice but should always be an option. A life saving option

  16. I thought this is about abortion 🤔? Is it only me or I am missing something here?
    So she basically created an online platforms for women to vent out about their experiences righ? Again where is your argument about abortion!

  17. How disappointing it is to have Democrats encourage a child be separated from his or her mother permanently through abortion.
    Gun violence is horrible, I agree .But so is being torn apart alive limb from limb, then the babies brains are being crushed and their cells are used as "stem cells " to cure diseases. Also getting a shot in the heart which causes cardiac arrest. The baby dies in the womb from the poison and the mother gives birth to a dead baby. ( If you had an abortion. I feel for you , your not a monster , forgive yourselves and help others not make the same mistakes. You are loved and your life matters )

  18. Abortion is murder. Unless (and this is a relatively rare unless) your life is in danger. I am not the one to make the decision in this situation and it is a extremely sad situation to go through because there will be a definite loss of a human life. Another point is that if you are unable to support the child in which you are birthing, there are many solutions for you that do not include abortion.

  19. You have your Child Alive inside You….
    do not kill your Child…
    5x mortality if you let kill4cash abortionist crush your child's skull…
    Give Life..!!! Your beautiful Child will be a blessing and you can keep her/him or bless a Loving Parent Yearning to Live your Beautiful Child… and You'll live longer & be more healthy for having birthed a beautiful child..!!!

  20. Rachel's vineyard is the answer for post abortive women to heal the wound to the soul that happens to women when they have committed this grave moral evil of killing their own child.

  21. Listening, and storytelling…and justifying killing. What a calm and beautiful time. Anything to keep people's eyes away from reality.

  22. Abortion is not pretty and no attempt to tie it with a ribbon of stories and support will change the fact that this is a holocaust where thousands of innocents are murdered every day. We are repulsed at the news of a mass shooter or bomber killing 50 people yet 3000 die a death every day by abortion and no one wants to notice. If you are ok with abortion then you are ok with Hitler because sometimes innocents just have to die for our well being or comfort.

  23. Well, conversation on topics such as seeking a moral justification for killing people is good. Conversation, commonality, and story telling however does not change the fact that abortion is the extermination of a living human being developing within its mother's womb.

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