In 2011, Advocates staff were discussing how to break through political rhetoric around abortion. “No one’s talking about real people,” someone noted. “It’s all just politicians and talking points.” One young staff member then shared that she had had an abortion. Others shared that they had as well. Surprised that they had never shared this with each other before, they wondered what had kept them silent for so long.
Feelings ranged from “It’s just not something you talk about,” to “I’m concerned people will think less of me.” Yet, all agreed that hearing others share their stories had empowered them to do the same – and that this was how we could break through the status quo of silence and shame. Advocates for Youth envisioned a campaign that would provide a platform for folks to share their abortion stories, and work to ensure decision makers center those stories when creating abortion policy.
Subsequent polling undertaken by Advocates revealed a not-so-surprising truth: that hearing abortion stories moves people to support abortion access.
The 1 in 3 Campaign launched in 2012 with just a handful of stories from staff and activists. Over the next 7 years it grew to include 1500 stories, with a reach of thousands of activists on hundreds of college campuses and in communities.
As people came forward to share their stories, society recognized the power of abortion storytelling. Articles about abortion in the media began to include the real voices of abortion storytellers. Activists harnessed the power of storytelling in political debate, reading stories at state houses and in Congress. Advocates for abortion access began to include storytellers in their efforts, and prominent figures came forward, ready to be open about their abortions.
In 2019, with storytelling now entrenched in the movement, and a hostile political climate making threats to abortion access ever more dire, Advocates for Youth understood that mainstream abortion storytelling would continue but recognized youth access to abortion care as disproportionately limited. Staff knew it was time to again shift direction. In 2019 we proudly unveiled Abortion Out Loud, a campaign dedicated to ensuring all young people have access to abortion care and to ending restrictions and stigma against youth who need abortion care. Abortion Out Loud builds on the foundation of the 1 in 3 Campaign by centering young people who have had abortions and by highlighting the work of the youth activists who are leading the movement to protect abortion access for all.
Milestones of the 1 in 3 Campaign:
- In 2014, the campaign held the first ever livestreamed abortion speakout, where over 100 people shared their stories over the course of eight hours. We continued the tradition every year after.
- Created Out of Silence: Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign, the first play inspired by abortion stories and created for use by campus and community groups. Out of Silence has been performed in over 50 communities and is still available for groups to perform. [insert link]. Out of Silence was later followed by Remarkably Normal, a play also inspired by abortion stories that toured nationally.
- Published a book of 40 abortion stories, discussed in book clubs in over 110 communities
- Contributed an amicus brief composed entirely of stories to the Supreme Court in the landmark case Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt
- Held 5 storyteller lobby days, where abortion storytellers shared their stories with Congress and demanded more compassionate abortion policy
- Created the 1 in 3 Photo Project, a traveling photo exhibit of 40 abortion storytellers photographed by 40 talented photographers, available for colleges and communities to host.
- Organized the IllumiNATION tour, comprised of art and activism events in six cities.
- Educated thousands of young people on hundreds of college campuses and communities about the importance of shattering abortion stigma by talking about abortion out loud.