Sharing is Empowering: The Abortion Diaries Podcast

By: Vanessa Norton, BADP Volunteer

Melissa Madera, Founder and Director of the Abortion Diaries Podcast, has travelled the country recording people’s abortion stories. As she states on the podcast’s website (, “people share stories they haven’t been able to share and listen to stories they haven’t been able to hear. We are interrupting the narrative of abortion storytelling by moving the conversation out of the political realm and into the personal realm in order to decrease isolation and build community for people who have had abortion experiences.”

I think that creating a space to talk about the personal experience of abortion is a revolutionary act. It creates ownership of that experience for the people who experience it. Not the federal government’s or your family’s, or church’s, or either “side” of the movement’s. Melissa travelled to the Bay Area in April to listen to several people talk about having an abortion. I was one of those shared my story, and I have to say, it was awesome. 

Melissa came to my “warehome” in West Oakland, sat on my couch with a cup of tea and listened to my narrative of living on a former comrade’s dirty floor in Detroit in the early 90s, and getting a free abortion from a clinic I’d defended against Operation Rescue. In the beginning, I told my story with a lot of pauses, trying to recall things in a linear fashion. But memory doesn’t so easily give itself over to linear narrative; images and feelings and reflections play on each other, and that’s where things get interesting—at least for me. Melissa Madera’s calm, supportive listening style welcomes this, so I went with it.

I have never been particularly shy about sharing my experience, but I found that talking about it in such an intentional, supported, free-form way allowed me to go beyond the narrative of my experience and get into how I actually think about it. In general, I feel like the public expects a kind of pathology, a need for healing, or that abortion changes peoples’ lives in ways in which we might prefer not to be changed. It was wonderful to say on tape that, twenty years later, my abortion experience has only deepened my happiness that I am a woman; to have the weight of life and death so directly connected to my sexuality. This can suck for sure, and has at many points, but it also connects me to other women in a way that is too powerful for words. 

Thank you, Melissa Madera, for providing a supportive, and publicly-accessible space to share this.

I have listened to several of the abortion diaries and the most powerful stories to me are the pre Roe v. Wade stories. The most recent story, told by a woman named Devra Wilson, is one of these. I think everyone in the country needs to hear it.

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