Sharing Our Stories: Exhale Tour to Build a Pro-Voice Movement

Posted Friday March 15th 2013 by Isaac Lev

This February, Exhale, an Oakland-based nonprofit organization craeted by and for women who have had abortions, hit the road to build a Pro-Voice Movement with students around the country on their Sharing Our Stories Tour. The tour visited 13 schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Chicaco and Milwaukee, connecting to over 400 students.

Most known for their national, multilingual after-abortion talk line (the #1 referral of Planned Parentood), Exhale has a decade of experience generating conversations about abortion that are based in real, lived experiences. Pro-Voice Movement is essentially about creating space for intentional listening and sharing stories about abortion without a political agenda. Rooted in nonviolence, it aims to ransform the culture around abortion from one of stigma and shame to one of support and respect. As Exhale fellow Ronak Dav writes, "Being Pro-Voice is about storytelling and listening, and it is also about recognizing strengths. Yours and others."

All in all, the tour was a huge success, and a transformative experience for both the audiences and the speakers. As Natalia Koss Vallejo, one of the Exhale fellows on tour writes, Going on tour has defied all of my expectations. I really didn't expect that sharing my story this much would actually change the way I feel about it. Nine years after my abortion I thought that I had already processed everything there was to process. I was wrong. Between crafting my story, writing draft after draft, rehearsing it, and finally telling it out loud, I have had to rehash this narrative dozens of times over. This has brought new insights and unexpected emotions. I thought that those old feelings had crystallized with time, cemented in my psyche, unchanging and permanent. I'm trying to take this surprising rush of new thoughts and feelings and use it as creative fuel through this amazing process.”

You can learn more about the tour here.