Since our founding in 2003, Exhale has offered nonjudgemental, supportive counseling to individuals with abortion experiences and their partners, friends and allies. We created a confidential space for speaking openly about our abortion experiences free from shame and stigma, outside the political and religious fight on our bodies.
Through peer counseling listening approach we listened to thousands of callers over the years. We began to recognize that people who called us did not identify within the binary of pro-life or pro-choice. In fact, it was much more complicated than that. Our lives do not exist in boxes of right and wrong. We began to see what we had created was, in fact, revolutionary/transformative space where there is room for honesty, complexity and the possibility of building networks of strength across difference.
We are, in fact, stronger together.
Rather than fighting over the right or wrong of abortion, what if we were able to have real conversations about life and death? Motherhood and family? our culture and religious heritages?
Our capacity to love and the limitations of care-taking in our lives?
Our ability to make decisions and choices?
The ways our identities give us power or take power away from us?
These are the questions we avoid when we stay in an either/or debate. At the heart of every polarized fight – there is an opportunity for more complexity. And too often, we miss out on moving deeper into the questions and developing communal wisdom that embraces all.
Historically pro-voice has been focused on the debate on abortion and in this new iteration of Exhale, we are looking to expand the conversation to examine an intentionally intersectional approach to pro-voice conversations. How do our multiple identities and experiences shape and inform our understandings of abortion? This is what Exhale is ready to explore.
Pro-voice offers a model of reaching for people and creating authentic, supportive space for intergenerational conversations. It is a powerful tool for individuals, communities and families.
In the coming months we will begin to move boldly into new pro-voice conversations within communities who desire to go deeper with us. By sharing our honest stories, asking new questions about our truth and allowing for our humanity to be fully respected and valued, we will find new ways of developing community, building a movement and staying powerfully together.