Women’s Health Clinic takes on the Pro-Voice movement

Brittany Hobson, Arts & Culture Editor
The Women’s Health Clinic is putting on their first Pro-Voice for Choice event Sept. 22, 2015 at The Good Will. The Projector/Brittany Hobson

The Women’s Health Clinic is putting on their first Pro-Voice for Choice event Sept. 22, 2015 at The Good Will. THE PROJECTOR/Brittany Hobson

Tannis Kelm was 22 when she had an abortion. At the time, she kept the abortion to herself until she couldn’t handle lying to her parents. Now at 37-years-old, Kelm said her experience made her understand the importance of empathy when it comes to abortion storytelling.

“I don’t think that abortion should be an issue at all. If you can place yourself as a fetus, you should be able to place yourself as human,” said Kelm. “All the shaming associated with the choice has got to stop and instead let women love themselves and one another.”

Women’s Health Clinic (WHC) has picked up on opinions like Kelm’s and will be hosting Pro-Voice for Choice: Sharing Abortion Experiences Through Spoken Word on Sept. 22 at The Good Will.

“The topic of abortion often forces people to ‘choose a side’ – anti-choice or pro-choice,” said Kate McIntyre, a co-coordinator of the event and part of the Health Promotion Team at WHC. “Adopting a pro-voice approach means that we begin to put the person and their story ahead of anything else.”

The movement has caught on within the past few years. In 2014, Jenny Slate’s stand-up comic character in the romantic comedy Obvious Child tells her audience she’s getting an abortion. Just recently, Nylon magazine published a listicle of celebrities who have shared their abortion stories.

Pro-Voice has become a recently new social development, but organizations like Exhale have been advocating it for 15 years. Founding member Aspen Baker gave a TED Talk in May this year on the importance of the movement. According to Baker, this movement requires a person to be empathetic toward others’ experiences.

“Empathy gets created the moment we imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes,” she said during her speech. “It doesn’t mean that we all have to end up in the same place.”

Kelm said she recognizes the need for sharing these hard stories and will be joining five other performers at the event for a night of storytelling, music and dancing. For Kelm, the decision to tell her story was an easy one.

“I just want other women to know that they aren’t alone,” she said. “Abortion is such an individual choice and extremely easy to internalize. Talking and writing about this experience is something that needs to happen, so everyone can make informed decisions and provide the proper support.”

This event is the first of its kind for WHC, and co-coordinator, volunteer and performer Chrissy McVety hopes people will walk away with a better understanding of the Pro-Voice movement.

“I hope this event encourages people to be more open minded,” said McVety. “It’s a lot more common than we think, but it’s still such a polarizing topic.”