ending abortion stigma through the power of dance: reproductive choice australia
There’s no denying that abortion is a tricky topic to talk about. Whether you’re ‘pro-life’* or ‘pro-choice’, abortion is an emotionally charged issue, and there’s a massive amount of stigma surrounding it.
Have you ever thought, though, that maybe it would be easier to bring into the light if we could all just…dance about it?
Well, Reproductive Choice Australia certainly think so, and that’s why they’ll be hosting their second flashmob in Sydney, to help end the stigma surrounding abortion. If you’re not sure what a flashmob is, it’s basically a group of people busting out a choreographed dance routine in an unsuspecting public place, usually resulting in a lot of fun, laughter and attention.
We caught up with Nicola Moore, a spokesperson for Reproductive Choice, to chat about stigma, abortion, and our reproductive rights here in Australia.
Tell us a bit more about Reproductive Choice Australia.
Reproductive Choice Australia is a representative body for pro-choice groups in Australia. Lead by commentator and activist Leslie Cannold, we aim to improve women’s access to reproductive health services, promote the availability of unbiased pregnancy counselling and challenge the stigma that surrounds abortion. Our current flashmob campaign seeks to put an end to this stigma by urging women and men to let everyone know that they support individuals’ rights to reproductive choice.
A flashmob is an interesting choice of protest medium – why did you start using flashmobs to raise awareness?
Getting a group of people together in public to dance and embrace women’s freedom of choice is the perfect antidote to stigma. We are hoping that the numbers we attract in our Sydney flashmob will draw attention to the fact that support for reproductive choice is no longer taboo – when we bring abortion into the light, the power of shame and silence over women is lost.
You had a flashmob in Melbourne earlier in the year – how did that go? Did you feel that it made an impact?
Our Melbourne flashmob was a great success – we had a great turn-out of men and women from all walks. I think that there are so many of us out there who believe in the importance of women’s ability to make informed and personal choices surrounding reproductive health – but we rarely have occasion to voice our opinions publicly and let the world know where we stand.
Why do you think there is such a stigma around abortion? How is that stigma harmful?
For however many choice supporters are out there, only very few will make their position known to others. Whether voicing your support or sharing your own story, it is so vital that we speak up – silence is the breeding ground of stigma, and when we fail to acknowledge the concerns and experiences of vulnerable women in our society, we create a powerful sense of shame and isolation. To tell the world that you support women’s reproductive choices is to give the power of choice and agency to women everywhere – if enough of us speak up, we can begin to bring abortion out of the darkness.
What are some of the biggest issues facing women and reproductive rights in the current social/political climate?
Even though Australia has made some significant progress in women’s reproductive rights – particularly with the recent approval of RU486 – there is still such a long way to go. Getting RU486 onto the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will be the next challenge for choice supporters across the country, so that it is more affordably and democratically available to all women. 2013’s Federal election will undoubtedly create new challenges and uncertainties for reproductive health, and it will become more important than ever that we defend our rights and speak up about the fundamental necessity of support for women.
What can people expect if they participate in the flashmob?
People should come along expecting to have a great time in the name of a great cause. We’d love to see anyone and everyone there on the day, busting some moves and having their voice heard. Once registered, we’ll show you how to learn the moves and we’ll let you know in advance where to turn up on the day. We fully intend the flashmob to be a positive experience, and we look forward to meeting you there!
* Just so you know, we think ‘pro-life’ is a ridiculous term.
Register to join the Sydney flashmob or make your pledge to speak out against abortion shaming.
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