As the #youknowme movement takes off, I'm reminded of my project that I created with Jennifer Baumgardner more than ten years ago, about women activists who had abortions. This photo series is still relevant today as many find abortion a taboo subject, and won't talk about their experiences.

I wanted the series to be straightforward so that the simplicity of the women's portraits would standout. This is not a faceless issue. I wanted the viewer to see these women's incredible stories behind the t-shirt. Among the portraits is one of my own mother. The goal is to spark discussion and debate, and not just between people that already hold similar views. This is an issue that is a part of us all. And by speaking up, and telling our stories, we make abortion a less confrontational topic in American society.

Please share your stories and let's start talking.

More info: vignette.global

#1

Florence Rice

Florence Rice

Florence Rice, 86 (at the time the photo was taken), was raised in the foster care system in NYC. She saw her mother only a handful of times throughout her childhood. When she got pregnant as a young single woman in the 1930’s she decided to have the baby. A few years later as a working single mother, she found herself pregnant again and knew that she didn’t want to be like her mother, unable to take care of the child, so she had an abortion. She got a serious infection afterwards from her illegal, unclean abortion. In 1969 when feminists began speaking out about their abortions, Florence was one of the first to do so. Her story underscored a class divide: richer women got safer abortions, poorer women were more likely to end up at a butcher.

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

Lotte 4 months ago

I have so much respect for these women

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#2

Liberty Aldrich And Joe Saunders

Liberty Aldrich And Joe Saunders

Liberty Aldrich and Joe Saunders with their sons. Liberty and Joe had an abortion together early in their relationship, stayed together and eventually had two sons when their lives were better equipped to have children.

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

Mewton’s Third Paw 4 months ago

Makes perfect sense. Not every abortion is a scary story about an abusive relationship or strict family or medical emergency. Sometimes you’re just not ready, and will get to it later.

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#3

Jenny Egan

Jenny Egan

Jenny Egan, 25 (at the time the photo was taken), was raised in a rural Oregan town in a Morman family. When she was 16 she got pregnant by her boyfriend from sex that was not totally consensual. After the abortion, which she had without telling her family, her parents received a letter from a group called the Brotherhood informing them of her procedure. Her mother was horrified and ordered her to leave the house.

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

Sarcastic Cow 4 months ago

I hope the ´Brotherhood´ rot in hell they have invented.

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#4

Sebastiana Correa

Sebastiana Correa

Sebastiana Correa, 28 (at the time the photo was taken), got pregnant as a foreign exchange grad student in Connecticut. Signficantly Sebasitan’s mother is an ardent pro-life activist who runs an orphanage for the children of unwed mothers in Brazil. As scared as Sebastiana was, her first thought when she found out she was pregnant, was “thank God I’m in America where I can have a legal abortion”.

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

Mewton’s Third Paw 4 months ago

I like how they don’t give an excuse or reason. She just wanted one so she got one. Even this highly educated woman who is clearly smart still wanted an abortion.

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#5

Holly Fritz

Holly Fritz

Holly Fritz, 35 (at the time the photo was taken), got pregnant living at home as a high school student in Buffalo, NY. She just assumed that she should get married to her boyfriend and embark on a life not unlike her mother’s who also had gotten pregnant by her high school sweetheart, got married, and had Holly. When Holly turned to her mother for advice, she was surprised that her mother urged her to have an abortion, rather than a shotgun wedding. Holly is now a high school teacher in NYC, married, and is the mother of a toddler, Zoe, pictured in the photograph with her.

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

Jaime 4 months ago

Kudos to Holly's mother.

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#6

Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara, 64 (at the time the photo was taken), has had two abortions and two children. She is a grandmother, best selling author and columinist. Her column “Owning Up To Abortion”, published last summer in the NY Times op-ed section was part of the idea that sparked my project. In the article, she writes: “Honesty begins at home, so I should acknowledge that I had two abortions during my all-too-fertile years…Choice can be easy, as it was in my case, or truly agonizing…But assuming the fetal position is not an appropriate response. Sartre called this “bad faith,” meaning something worse than duplicity: a fundamental denial of freedom and the responsibility that it entails. Time to take your thumbs out of your mouths, ladies, and speak up for your rights. The freedoms that we exercise but do not acknowledge are easily taken away.”

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

Grumble O'Pug 4 months ago

This woman is a badass. Read her books and essays

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#7

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem, 71 (at the time the photo was taken), entered the feminist movement the day she covered Red Stockings abortion speak-out for New York magazine, and finally owned the abortion she had had several years earlier. She describes her abortion as the first time she acted in her own life, rather than let things happen to her. She had her abortion when she was 22. Gloria went on to found several pro-choice organizations, including Voters for Choice and Ms. Magazine and considers reproductive freedom to be the most significant contribution of the 2nd wave

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

Hege Sivertsen 4 months ago

That's a gorgeous looking 71!!

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#8

A’yen Tran

A’yen Tran

A’yen Tran, 25 (at the time the photo was taken), was raised by a single mother in a progressive NYC household. During her teenage years she had a “radical” boyfriend who was emotionally and sexually abusive, and isolated A’yen from her community. She got pregnant, and began waking up to how bad her relationship was. She had a methotrexate abortion and a few days later spoke publicly about it at a Judson Church event emulating the 1969 speak-outs. Even though she is a self-identified abortion activist, she was surprised by how hard it was to talk in personal terms about abortion.

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

ispeak catanese 4 months ago

I've found it easier to speak about mental illness than about abortion.

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#9

Jennifer And Gillian

Jennifer And Gillian

Jennifer and Gillian –Jennifer, 35 (at the time the photo was taken), left, journalist and activist, has written about abortion for more than a decade. She was frustrated that all the reporting on the issue, including her own, devovled into a “debate” between pro-life and pro-choice forces. She felt that what was being lost were the voices and faces of people that had abortions. In 2003 she started making t-shirts, resource cards, and working on a film that put the spotlight back on the women. Gillian and Jennifer have been close friends since they lived together in Boluder, CO in 1992. Gillian, 36, had an abortion in 2000 with the man who was to later become her husband and with whom she now has a daughter. She is also a film maker, and Jennifer asked her to direct a film on women’s abortions stories from the campagin. They collaborated, and the result is “Speak out: I had an abortion” film.

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

D-m Keilman 4 months ago

Dana that is an InfoWars video. And it was filmed in Austin. That's about as close to being an Onion video without being an actual Onion video.

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#10

Rosalyn Baxandall

Rosalyn Baxandall

Rosalyn Baxandall, 65 (at the time the photo was taken), had an abortion in the 1960s and then again when she thought she was in menopause. She was the first speaker at the famed Redstockings abortion speakout in 1969.

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

D-m Keilman 4 months ago

Depending on what you consider abstinent, one can still get pregnant if ejaculation occurs even without penetration. Nothing is 100%.

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#11

Henrietta Levner

Henrietta Levner

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Sarcastic Cow 4 months ago

Love that brooch.

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#12

Loretta Ross

Loretta Ross

Loretta Ross, 51 (at the time the photo was taken), is a major figure in the reproductive justice movement. She is the co-author of Undivided Rights and organized women of color for the 2004 March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C., an event that brought unprecedented support from communities of color. She got pregnant in high school and had the son, losing a scholarship to Radcliffe in the process. At a student at Howard University in 1970 she found herself pregnant again. In D.C., abortion was legal, but Loretta needed her mother’s signature in order to have the procedure. Her mother refused and Loretta ended up forging her signature and having a very late term abortion.

Tara Todras-Whitehill Report

Christine Meadows 4 months ago

Why add negative comments. If you dont like this story, move on. This is an awareness piece not something everyone can be judgemental on.

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#13

Marion Bazahf

Marion Bazahf

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ispeak catanese 4 months ago

I like her shirt a lot

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#14

Ani Difranco

Ani Difranco

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Bethanie Marshall 4 months ago

She's my hero

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#15

Dawn Martin

Dawn Martin

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Donna Ostrowski DeSabato 4 months ago

Andrea Sheffield, you do understand that not everyone had a choice to have sex right.

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#16

Roberta Todras

Roberta Todras

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Beverly Ferrel 4 months ago

So glad Colin is here to mansplain everything to us women who don't know anything...

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#17

Amy Richards

Amy Richards

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Brandy Flanagan 4 months ago

It’s real easy to sit back and judge others. Just throw “Cause God said so” in there and somehow that just makes your point of view valid. That’s weak sauce.

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