Amy Hagstrom Miller: Abortion advocates should think big

In honor of the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Woman’s Health spoke to UCSF Bixby Center members and friends last week. Ms. Miller was the lead plaintiff in last year’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt Supreme Court case, which struck down groundless abortion restrictions.

Amy Hagstrom Miller with Carole Joffe

Amy Hagstrom Miller with Carole Joffe of the Bixby Center.

She began by urging advocates for abortion access to think and act more proactively. Ms. Miller also called on advocates to develop a new abortion narrative—one that dignifies the providers who offer abortions and humanizes the women who seek them. A more positive narrative could in turn create a more supportive climate for advocates to introduce proactive measures, such as increasing funding for abortion clinics or rolling back restrictions that harm women.

There are a growing number of groups working to change the conversation around abortion:

  • ANSIRH’s Abortion Onscreen project tracking how abortion is portrayed in popular culture
  • Shift, which operates the Real Talk Hotline in Texas to offer nonjudgmental and evidence-based abortion advice, among other projects
  • The Sea Change Program, which uses storytelling, training and research to shift abortion stigma
  • INROADS, a network focused on reducing abortion stigma internationally

In closing, Ms. Miller implored the audience to hold onto hope—no matter how difficult the road to progress in reproductive health care appears. She ended with a quote from author Rebecca Solnit: “To hope is to gamble. It's to bet on your futures, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.”