Members of the #ShoutYourAbortion movement will celebrate Monday’s Supreme Court decision by projecting their images onto the sides of two buildings. “We had to show who we are to show what is at stake,” Nicole Brodeur writes.
No matter what the Supreme Court decided, Amelia Bonow was ready to take a stand — and in a very large way.
It’s just that now her act will be in celebration, rather than anger.
Tonight, hours after the Supreme Court voted 5-3 to strike down a Texas law that would have limited access to abortion clinics in that state, the images of 52 women were projected onto the sides of two Capitol Hill bars, an act organized by Bonow as part of the #ShoutYourAbortion movement she co-founded last year.
The projection installations will also debut at venues in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Austin, Houston and Portland.
The idea is to show that everyone knows someone who has had an abortion, and that health-care decisions made on a national scale come down to a person.
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The Texas law that was defeated on Monday would have required clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and would have forced all clinics in the state to meet the standard for ambulatory surgical centers — including regulations around buildings, equipment and staff.
For those — like me — who believe in a woman’s right to choose, Monday’s decision made us stronger. It made us think that maybe all this writing and shouting and organizing is actually sinking in, and that access to legal abortions may not be as easy to dismantle as we have long feared.
Moreover, the privacy that members of the #ShoutYourAbortion movement sacrificed to show our numbers, and our commonality, was worth it.
We had to show who we are to show what is at stake.
“The only reason the Legislature has been able to legislate abortion is because we are invisible,” Bonow said. “We’re taking to the streets to show that we are everywhere.
“Putting our images on the wall is a different channel than traditional political activism,” Bonow said. “But as more people lose faith in our system, that stuff becomes more valuable.”
And it becomes more effective. Women as tall as buildings. Unafraid. Unapologetic.
Last week, a group — or maybe just a person or two — calling themselves “Some Feminists” took it upon themselves to vandalize the freeway-side smirk known as “The Bettie Page House.” They splattered gray paint on a two-story mural of the 1950s pinup icon that has been on the side of Jessica Baxter and Chris Brugos’ Ravenna home for a decade.
“Stop exploiting women’s bodies,” the vandals wrote.
Baxter, God love her, covered the message up with her own: “Autonomous sexuality is empowerment. Telling a woman to cover up is oppression.”
Boom. That’s the sound of Some Feminists’ intentions blowing up in their faces.
By trying to control the message of the mural — that women can make their own decisions when it comes to their own bodies — that uninvited paint job did nothing but make Bettie even bigger and bolder.
Imagine what Monday’s installation could do for a woman who has had an abortion, and has been struggling with it, or silent about it, Bonow said.
“If I had walked up to this wall of images, how healing that would be,” Bonow said. “Fifty-two strong, powerful women. That in itself is broadening the discourse there has been about abortion before this.
“We’re showing people there is an alternative to self-flagellation.”
The #ShoutYourAbortion display may be across town from the Bettie Page house, but it’s on the same turf: Women doing what they chose to do with their bodies, their futures, their very lives — and for all to see.