Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, shared her personal story of having an abortion on the stage of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Hogue said that when she found out she was pregnant years ago, she "wanted a family, but it was the wrong time."
"I made the decision that was best for me — to have an abortion — and was able to get compassionate care at a clinic in my own community," Hogue said. "Now, years later, my husband and I are parents to two incredible children."
Hogue, who has shared her personal story publicly before, added that her story is not unique. About 30 percent of American women, nearly one in three, will have an abortion by the time they turn 45. And about 59 percent of women who obtain an abortion in the United States are already mothers, and many of the women who have abortions earlier in life go on to become parents, like Hogue did.
What’s remarkable isn’t that the leader of an abortion rights group shared her personal story publicly — it’s remarkable that Hogue shared her story on national television. During the four-day Democratic convention, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was the first DNC speaker — on day two— to utter the word "abortion" at all.
Reproductive rights advocates are very happy about all of this. In recent years especially, advocates have pushed to fight the stigma against abortion in order to protect it as a fundamental right. Abortion should be treated like the normal medical care it is, advocates say, not separated out and turned into a political football.
1 in 3 women in the U.S. have or will have an abortion. Abortion is normal, moral, respectable, and responsible. Abortion is health care!— Lauren Rankin (@laurenarankin) July 27, 2016
It’s very common for Democrats and other pro-choice advocates to use euphemisms like "a woman’s right to choose" instead of actually saying the word "abortion." Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ nominee this year, is famous for once making the case that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare." (Her position has since become stronger in the direction of abortion rights.)
When Republicans are trying to defund Planned Parenthood, for instance, many Democrats defend the organization by almost apologizing for abortion, focusing on its other health services or by emphasizing that federal funds for Planned Parenthood already legally cannot go toward abortion.
Reproductive rights advocates say this kind of timidity isn’t enough if we really want to defend abortion access, which is under attack in America due to hundreds of state-level restrictions. You have to fight the stigma of abortion, they say. And talking about abortion like it’s a normal part of a woman’s life, which for many it is, is one way to do that.
"You see, it’s not as simple as bad girls get abortions and good girls have families," Hogue said. "We are the same women at different times in our lives — each making decisions that are the best for us."