A new movement at the University of Cincinnati is aiming to end the stigma surrounding abortion, one story at a time.
Kimberley Mason, a women’s gender and sexuality studies graduate student, founded the 1 In 3 Campaign’s UC chapter in June after receiving an internship opportunity out of the UC Women’s Center, which provided Mason with resources for the chapter.
“One in three women have an abortion. Everybody knows three women so you’re bound to know somebody,” said Mason.
“A lot of studies show that people don’t know anyone who’s had an abortion, which doesn’t mean that they don’t know someone who’s had an abortion, it just means that no one’s come up to them, no one’s informed them of their story.”
Mason hopes the 1 In 3 chapter will allow students, faculty and staff to share their stories; in being open about her own story, Mason hopes it will encourage others to be so as well.
Approximately 60 percent of abortions are obtained by women in their twenties, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Mason had her abortion when she was 21, the summer before her senior year of college, and believes that she would not have graduated college if she had continued with the pregnancy — one of several reasons why she chose to have the procedure.
“I’d like it to start a new conversation about abortion, I’d like it to get people to talk about abortion in general and not in a stigmatized way,” said Mason. “People are more willing to share their story once they find that other people have that experience too.”
Gauging whether abortion is stigmatized on UC’s campus is difficult because of how new their chapter is, according to Mason.
Additionally, some pregnancy centers that come to campus to advertise and offer pregnancy testing to women are often what Mason calls “abortion stigma hotspots,” and may attempt to steer women away from pursuing an abortion.
Resources for individuals in Cincinnati looking to get an abortion are limited, according to Mason, citing the Planned Parenthood on Auburn Avenue as the only facility she’s aware of that performs the procedure.
“Since that’s the case, it’s pretty scary really because even though that’s a pretty centralized location, it’s not easy for women on the outskirts of the city to get to,” said Mason.
A long-term goal for 1 In 3 UC will be to create an educational environment for members of campus.
“One of the things that we also want to create in our meeting space is for people to come and ask questions about abortion to tell them it’s safe, that it’s safer than childbirth, that it’s safer than most other procedures,” said Mason. “People don’t know that.”
Currently, 1 In 3 UC is focusing on their play, “Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 In 3 Campaign” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28 in Zimmer Auditorium.
“I think often what gets lost in the media and in political debates and just in general because people don’t talk about it, is the experiences that women have and the decisions, what goes into making those decisions, so I think this play will be really good,” said Mason.