I’ve written about Exhale before, but I want to mention them again. Exhale is a hotline for women who are considering or have had an abortion and their partners. Almost all of the resources and support around abortion come from anti-abortion groups and they tend to use incredibly judgmental and shaming language, provide inaccurate information, and generally project their political agenda onto the people calling them for help.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many pro-choice groups that are willing to acknowledge the emotional challenges associated with abortion. My belief is that most pro-choice folk often don’t want to recognize that abortion can bring up a lot of challenging emotions since that can easily fuel the anti-abortion rhetoric.
Fortunately, Exhale offers a “pro-voice” space where women and their partners (about 10% of their callers are men) can get support, information and resources. Unlike the vast majority of abortion “support agencies,” they focus on the well-being of the caller rather than a specific political agenda. Their mission statement says it better than I can:
Exhale creates a social climate where each person’s unique experience with abortion is supported, respected and free from stigma. Exhale provides services, training and education to empower individuals, families and communities to achieve post-abortion health and well-being.
According to the organization:
The Number One thing women ask for on our nonjudgmental post-abortion talkline is a chance to connect with other women like themselves, to share their stories and form community in a safe, nonjudgmental space. Most have already faced the results of searching online for “women’s abortion stories” to find judgment and political opinions disguised as caring advice. They have not been able to find what they need online because it doesn’t exist – yet.
Exhale is working on creating a private, online community for women who have had abortions and this service will be an amazing resource. If you can donate anything to help make this happen, please go to their site and do what you can. If you have suggestions for this project or want to get involved with this amazing organization, contact them at email@example.com.
<Disclosure: I train the Exhale volunteers on working with male callers.>