Malia Carson – [email protected]

The culture wars and confusion surrounding abortion shames and marginalizes individuals and couples. Mainstream abortion rhetoric is largely political, polarized and hateful, yet the message painfully ignores the individuals who face and live with making an extremely personal, and often difficult decision to end a pregnancy.

Abortion is not just a policy to be debated but a daily experience of real men and women, an experience individuals or couples face alone, often without guidance or without any sense of communal support.

Those of us carrying abortion stories, or stories of any other highly stigmatized experience, are lost in a void of misunderstanding. We are left invisible without a place to safely process and share our stories amidst divisive rhetoric fixated on religious and political rights and wrongs. Those brave enough to share their experience become the subject for idealized feminist celebration or the object of persecution and hatred from the religious right. Yet, women and men’s own experiences of abortion are much more personal and varied and do not neatly divide between these two extremes.

It is these women, possibly your neighbor, close friends or even your mom, who deserve a platform to have their stories openly received. Would you know how to respond if your close friend disclosed their abortion story? With 19 percent of all 2014 U.S. pregnancies ending in abortion (2017 Guttmacher data), the likelihood that this will happen to you is more than just theoretical.

CSB/SJU’s profound community impact stems from its embodiment of the Benedictine values. Values that ask us to listen reverently with the ear of our heart respecting each person in the hospitality of warmth, acceptance and joy. Values looking beyond controversial politics to see a fellow human being needing loving care, rooted counsel and stable relationships.

I invite you to move beyond divisive political ideologies and join me in a new conversation about abortion care. Step out of pro-choice vs. pro-life and into the stories about abortion experiences of real men and women in the monologues, Out of Silence.

Next week in St. Joseph, there will be a evening, invite only performance of this play from the 1 in 3 Campaign, an organization named for the percentage of American women that will have an abortion in their lifetime.

The event details will be shared confidentially to ensure an inclusive and safe environment for all.

This is the opinion of Malia Carson, CSB senior