A whiteboard inviting oral histories / abortion stories is propped against metal fencing next to the lawn of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. A protest in front of the Capitol is visible in the background.

Oral Histories / Abortion Stories

personal stories about abortion, miscarriage, birth control, and reproductive health

We recognize the power dynamics present when people share their personal stories with media outlets. By basing this project on an oral history model (more about that below), we hope to provide a platform for people to share their stories in their own words, and the option to do so anonymously. We hope to publish stories that reflect the variety and complexities of people’s individual experiences with abortion and reproductive health. Filtering, editing and excluding certain people and experiences from these conversations reinforces abortion stigma. Often, the people excluded are those most impacted by issues of Reproductive Justice and those who have been leading the work to ensure access to these human rights.

As the Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective organization SisterSong notes, although the term “Reproductive Justice” was invented in 1994, “Indigenous women, women of color, and trans* people have always fought for Reproductive Justice.” We stand in solidarity and support for their work, and the work of other queer, immigrant, disabled and poor people who are also leaders in this justice movement.

SisterSong defines Reproductive Justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.

We ask that these stories are not reprinted in other outlets. Consent for sharing stories can be withdrawn by the people sharing at any time and we will remove them from our website. We would like to make sure that people have as much control as possible over where and how their stories are shared. Tone Madison will not use these stories in our own reporting unless explicit consent is given by an individual.

Caption: In a photo taken from the steps of the state Capitol, protestors hold up handwritten signs on cardboard and poster board, with state street visible in the background. Photos by Emily Mills.
Caption: In a photo taken from the steps of the state Capitol, protestors hold up handwritten signs on cardboard and poster board, with state street visible in the background. Photo by Emily Mills.

Sharing your story

Here is some information to consider before sharing your story.

When deciding whether you want to share your abortion story publicly, it’s always a good idea to take a moment and think about why you want to do this. What are your goals? What do you hope to achieve by speaking out? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but you should know what your reasons are. That will help you think about how you want to share, what you want to share, and with whom you want to share it.

Saying Abortion Aloud: Research and Recommendations for Sharing Your Abortion Story Publicly,
from Renee Bracey Sherman (founder of We Testify) and the Sea Change Program
How would you like to share your story? What do you want to share? With whom do you want to share it?

There are many organizations and projects dedicated to supporting people who choose to share their stories about abortion and reproductive healthcare publicly. We particularly recommend We Testify because of the intention, intersectionality, and care and support for storytellers that is built into their approach to abortion storytelling.

If you would like to speak about your experience with abortion but don’t want to share your story publicly, Exhale offers a one-on-one after-abortion textline.

And, of course, you don’t need to work with an organization or publication to share your story. Many people are sharing their stories on social media with hashtags like #ShoutYourAbortion.

Share your story with Tone Madison

We are currently reviewing and upgrading our digital security practices. We will update this page when we are again accepting oral histories /abortion stories with more information about our digital security practices and how to keep your information secure while sharing your experience.

Our commitments

  • We will publish your story unedited, in your words.
  • If you would like your story removed at any point, we will delete it from our website.
  • We will not use your story in any of our reporting without your explicit consent.

Please note that we cannot guarantee that others will not repost, reprint, or share your story.

Tone Madison is publishing oral histories related to abortion, miscarriage, birth control, and reproductive health from people in the Madison area. All stories are welcome. You don’t need a reason to have an abortion. You do not need to justify your choice. Your experience does not need to fit into any familiar or expected narratives. If you have questions about how or where your story is shared, or if you would like your story removed, please let me know at [email protected].

Why Oral Histories?

This project is very different from many other oral history projects. Oral history projects often involve extensive preparation and background research before interviews are conducted and published. Although we have done research about best practices related to sharing abortion stories, we don’t know much about the people who choose to share their stories beyond what is published here. And not all of these stories are actually “oral,” or shared during interviews. Many of these stories were shared anonymously via voicemail and email.

We include “Oral Histories” in the title of this project because although abortion is the focus, we are also intentionally inviting stories that are more broadly related to Reproductive Justice to reflect the ways that abortion care intersects with other experiences of healthcare and bodily autonomy. “Oral Histories” also reflects the living history that each of us carry, and the importance of our personal and collective experiences.

Donations to the Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin

Best practices for oral histories include compensating people who contribute their stories. For various reasons, including keeping stories anonymous, we are not compensating people who share their stories.

Staff at Tone Madison are donating their compensation for time spent working on this project to the Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin, a nonprofit that helps people pay for abortion care. Tone Madison sent a $550 donation to the Women’s Medical Fund on Friday, May 27. We will update this page to reflect any additional donations.

If you appreciate this project, please consider making a donation to the Women’s Medical Fund or another abortion fund.

Messages of support

Share a message of brief message of support for folks who are sharing their stories in this form or by emailing [email protected]. Messages will be published here.

Your stories

Content warnings: The below oral histories are related to abortion, miscarriage, birth control and reproductive health. Content warnings will be included within individual stories for sexual violence, abuse, discrimination (including racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, ableism, fat phobia), dysphoria, eating disorders, and drug or alcohol use.

We will publish stories one at a time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. We will continue to publish stories as we receive them.

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