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Share your abortion story and help with busting the stigma

Those of you who follow our project closer may know that we are shooting interviews in Virtual Reality - interviews with people who had abortion, as they share their reasons, describe the experience, and emotions surrounding making decision about terminating pregnancy, and sometimes - taking time to heal, as for some of them this decision is not easy. We are also sharing some of the stories on our website - as it would be hard for us to record them all in VR. Mainly because you reach out to us from many different places and we cannot travel that far, but still want to give you the place to share them.

But this is why even more: do not hesitate to reach out, if you have a story you would like to share. We are open for all the stories, and we are looking to show various aspects. For example, many Canadians (we are based in Canada) say that project like ours is not really needed here, as the issue is solved here. But is it? Read Sarah’s story here on our website and you will see reserved community and few hours travel time to the nearest clinic. We spoked to more people outside of big cities and we heard more stories like that, and not only. What with Indigenous people, their access, their non easy history with Canadian government and doctors? This puts a shadow on today’s abortion access, as well as some attitudes. You can read recent article about it here: Rural Albertans still have 'no choices' when it comes to abortions.

In following weeks we will be publishing another story, that shook us a lot. Megan reached out to me (JP), we had a phone call, and this phone call was one of the hardest in my life - I had no idea how to help her. It is a story about rape, that also happened to be a story about abortion - and being alone in situation like this, while still not being an adult… You can watch me talking about it on this video.

We also have stories that make us believe that change is possible, that “normal” can exist, and in the country and society where there is support and access - it can change humans lives. You can see Elisabeth everywhere on our website, as this was the first interview we shot for the VR part of the project. Elisabeth is writing her story now, so you will also be able to read it here, even without access to the VR experience. When we met, she was homeless, still a teenager really. Despite not easy life situation, she was able to go to one of the clinics in Toronto, and with health care coverage - all she had to do was to make an appointment. When we talked recently, she was living in apartment and going to school. And when I asked the question that I do ask many people: was this decision hard? She said: no, we talked about it at school. So yes, this is possible. Still kind of surrealistic for me - I was born in Poland, and the school talks there? Well, lots of Catholic priests, and this sums it up…

As you see, there is a big variety of stories end experiences, reasons and sometimes challenges. And of course, there is much more than what we mention above.

If you have a story to share - similar or different - please reach out to us.

Both if you want to just write the website testimony, and if you would want to become a part of the VR experience.

What’s more, we recently shot an interview with a man. We will publish his written testimony here as well - next to testimony of his wife (you can read about our shoot with her here: Filming with Leigh). They went through making decision together, and while both strongly expressed how her opinion, will and feelings were fundamental for them both, they also believe that being a couple - they needed to go through it all as partners. Before shooting interview with Dan I asked some of you on our social media, what question you would want to ask him, and someone said: what if he wanted to keep it, what they would do? So I asked Dan. He said they were in it together, but it was Leigh’s body. So whatever she decided, would be valid for them both, and if his thinking was different - maybe they would have to rethink what’s next for them as a couple, but he would honour what she wanted.

Why talk to a man, some may ask, if we are doing so much work so women can finally decide for themselves? Not only about abortion, but in so many other fields of our lives? I believe it’s important to give voice to those who are involved - and here Leigh wanted Dan to be involved. And they shared not completely easy, but beautiful description of them being there for each other, when they both needed themselves the most. I think these stories also should be known - to show that this is possible: wise and strong relationships like theirs.

And one last aspect, also not talked about often enough. Me myself had to realize the assumptions I was making (and still I often do it): that women are the ones who have abortions. Yes, they are, but not only them. We do not talk really about transgender and non-binary people, and they very much should be a part of this debate. I talked privately to some transgender people about their experiences, but not all of them are ready yet to share publicly, especially that for our project it involves showing face. I understand it, I understand every person who talks to me because they need someone to talk, but without sharing publicly. And if you would want to just talk, email, skype - I am here, always!

And if you are ready to also share publicly - please do it.

It will help the others, who are maybe not ready to share themselves, but they are looking for the stories, to see that they are not alone, even if in their community they think they are. Let’s bust the stigma and break the stereotypes, every story helps, every action brings us closer to the societies where we will not have to make projects like this one.


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