Campaign Analysis: Shout your Abortion
The Shout your Abortion campaign
The procurement of abortion has been a very controversial issue over the years due to the sensitivity of the matter. The opponents of this practice believe that it is ending life and that no human has the right to terminate another person’s life regardless of the circumstances surrounding it (Baird, 2006). The proponents of the matter argue that abortion is a choice that should be exercised by the parties involved. Furthermore, they argue that it is necessary for instances where the health or life of the mother is at risk. A variety of campaigns have been started to support and oppose the practice of abortion. The Shout your abortion is one such campaign where women tell their stories on social media to reduce the stigmatization associated with it. This essay will analyze this social media campaign and assess its effectiveness.
Bennett & Segerberg (2012) assert that digital media in the 21st century has been more useful than in the past since it does more than pass information. Various individuals and organizations use the mass media to foster various political and social agendas (Seaton, 1988). The Arab Spring is an example of a campaign where social media was useful in marshaling people and passing information to the authorities (Bennett & Segerberg, 2012). These individuals use connective action to influence the choices and perceptions that people have about controversial issues. Ludden (2014) argues that abortion activists, over the past few years, have taken their campaign online, in open forums such as campuses and also written books to this effect. It is unclear which side gains from the public discussions of this controversial issue since both sides claim that they receive a considerable advantage (Ludden, 2014).
The proponents of abortion, including the shout your abortion campaign, argue that it helps to normalize and destigmatize the issue. The opponents are also encouraging the women who have procured an abortion and regret it to tell their stories out publicly. These women who wished they had kept the child are revealing another side of abortion that is not told. There is little to no literature that examines the shout your abortion campaign since it is a recent campaign. However, there is a multitude of research regarding the use of social media and other forms of press.
Online sources of information such as websites and journals provided the majority of information in the analysis. These sites look at the role of the campaign in fostering the agenda of abortion proponents across the whole world. The campaign in itself has a website where they give the mission and objectives of the campaign. They also post videos on the website which tell the experiences that a variety of women and their significant others have had in procuring abortions. The campaign has also employed the use of social media forums such as Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion. Social media has been extremely useful for the campaign since it has popularized it to various age groups that are mostly affected by the issue. Bennett and Segerberg (2012) elucidate that the sharing of personal calls of action and social technologies are some of the ways to communicate events to external audiences. The campaign also uses YouTube to post the videos of women sharing their experiences.
The campaign was started in the United States after the US House of Representatives made efforts to defund Planned Parenthood after some controversy evoked (Bonow, 2016). It was founded by Amelia Bonow, Lindy West, and Kimberly Morrison. Bonow shared her abortion experience on social media while stating how she does not regret her decisions and thus supports planned parenthood. Lindy West created and publicized the hashtag to her followers on Twitter who are more than 60, 000. This hashtag went viral and was trending in some countries including the US, UK, Australia and Ireland (West, 2015). These are mostly liberal societies which embrace an open view towards issues that are faced in society.
The Shout your Abortion campaign had two main objectives. One of the primary goals of the campaign was to eliminate the stigmatization behind abortion. There is a lot of stigmatization concerning the practice, and a lot of people believe that it is not something that can be shared out loud (Bonow, 2016). This high level of stigmatization has made it impossible for women to share their stories on abortion (Dovitch, 1997). The campaign was thus a platform to remove this stigmatization. Another key goal of the campaign was to eliminate any form of shame that the opponents of abortion created amidst those who were known to procure an abortion (Pearson, 2015). Opponents of abortion often make arguments such as abortion is the killing of children or that it is not a way of solving one’s mistakes (Kelley, Evans & Headey, 1993). These remarks put to shame in individuals that procure abortion; the campaign was meant to emphasize that there is no shame or regret in obtaining an abortion (West, 2015).
The campaign involved not only women but also men who had supported their wives or girlfriends in procuring an abortion. The men gave reasons why they supported the procuring of abortion, the aftermath of the abortion and the advantages that they saw after they were done with the process. The campaigns also had a lot of targets. The primary targets were the politicians who intended to defund the Planned Parenthood program. After the issue had gone viral, various media houses such as CNN, The Guardian, and The Irish Independent made different arguments about the campaign with many people supporting it. The founders of this campaign were also able to give their views and pleas to the politicians using these reputable media houses. The campaign also targeted the opponents of abortion, urging them to stop the stigmatization that they were propagating. This was done through the videos of women sharing their abortion experiences with the world.
There was a little bias in the campaign as it did not espouse all the abortion stories but only the positive ones. It is highly unlikely that every woman who has procured abortion had a positive experience. The campaign only looked at the positive experiences and tweets but did not bother to address some of the negative implications that may arise from abortion. However, the campaign mostly had a positive reception due to the high number of people who came out to share their experiences and support the movement publicly. Despite this positive response, there were some critiques in the campaign and how it was carried out. Pearson (2015) posits that anti-abortionists also started to use the hashtag stating their negative experiences and their beliefs about the issue. In response to the plea to stop the House of Representatives from defunding the Planned Parenthood program, a critique was made that it is not reasonable to demand payment for one’s mistakes. McBeth, Nolan & Rice (2011) argue that abortion is a critical and arduous decision for anyone who undergoes the process thus explaining the silence on the matter. This was in line with the idea that regardless of one’s instance on abortion, it is agreeable that it is not anything to brag.
One of the primary objectives of the campaign was to normalize adoption and to increase the number of people that supported the stance. It also designed to increase public discussion on abortion, this was achieved since there were more than 250, 000 tweets created with the hashtag of the campaign. Media outlets also publicized the campaign through writing articles and interviewing some of the abortion activists. The campaign has been largely successful judging by the reception that it got from the relevant stakeholders. The campaign also noted by some politicians who made reference to the campaign; the issue may also be highlighted in the oncoming political elections. It also led to a movement that seeks to normalize abortion in the country.
In summary, the essay analyzes the shout your abortion campaign in the United States and its effectiveness in achieving the objectives it set. Various pieces of literature have shown the usefulness of the media in fostering the agenda of political and social activist campaigns. Social media and other forms of the press have been useful in providing information, whether biased or not, to the target population. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are some of the social media platforms that were useful in popularizing this campaign. The media also fosters the objectives of these organizations by highlighting their stories and interviewing these activists. The analysis of this activist campaign shows how various political and social movements can amass a large number of followers through different techniques and mediums such as the media.
Baird, B. (2006). Maternity, Whiteness, and National Identity: The Case of Abortion*. Australian Feminist Studies, 21(50), 197-221.
Bennett, W & Segerberg, A. (2012). The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 739-768.
Bonow, A. (2016). Shout your abortion. TheHill. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/civil-rights/266925-shout-your-abortion
Dovitch, D. (1997). The healing choice: Your guide to emotional recovery after an abortion. Simon and Schuster.
Kelley, J, Evans, M & Headey, B. (1993). Moral reasoning and political conflict: The abortion controversy. British Journal of Sociology, 589-612.
Ludden, J. (2014). As More Women Tell Abortion Stories, Both Sides Claim Advantage. NPR.org. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/12/29/373786770/as-more-women-tell-abortion-stories-both-sides-claim-advantage
McBeth, A, Nolan, J, & Rice, S. (2011). The International Law of Human Rights. Oxford University Press.
Pearson, M. (2015). Women embrace, criticize #ShoutYourAbortion. CNN. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/22/living/shout-your-abortion-feat/
Seaton, J. (1988) “The Sociology of the Mass Media”, in J. Curran & J. Seaton, Power without Responsibility. The Press and Broadcasting in Britain, London: Routledge.
West, L. (2015). I set up #ShoutYourAbortion because I am not sorry, and I will not whisper | Lindy West. the Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/22/i-set-up-shoutyourabortion-because-i-am-not-sorry-and-i-will-not-whisper