In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, we thought that it was essential to give Mammoth team members a forum where they could safely and comfortably discuss the decision. To achieve this goal, the Womxn and Allies at Mammoth committee developed a series of activities that together formed our Reproductive Rights Awareness Event.
This event had a variety of parts including:
- An abortion messaging and stigma training session hosted by Planned Parenthood
- A fundraiser for organizations that support abortion and reproductive rights
- An awareness hour where Mammoth team members enjoyed food from local businesses and where they could discuss their thoughts on the recent Supreme Court rulings as well as what they learned from the Planned Parenthood training session
We recap each of the events below and hope you can use this event as a template to discuss similarly sensitive topics at your own organization.
Abortion messaging and stigma training hosted by Planned Parenthood
This virtual training seminar from Planned Parenthood focused on the importance and impact of effective storytelling, especially as it pertains to socially stigmatized topics like reproduction and abortion.
The speakers gave a visual representation of the birth of stigma around a topic. Speakers emphasized that skating over uncomfortable issues or using euphemisms is detrimental because it can give rise to social stigma. Specifically for the topic of abortion, they gave examples of constructing an impactful, clear story with facts that would prove helpful when addressing reproductive rights. Especially in this environment with Roe v. Wade overturned, the lesson of constructing a factual, personal, clear story was immensely useful.
Another topic in the seminar was the importance of telling and re-telling these stories, not just to erase stigma, but to help develop a sense of camaraderie – the more stories are shared, the more awareness is spread about important issues such as reproductive rights for women. The seminar also had short exercises for the participants to share their individual motivations and stories with the rest of the group.
Below we’ve constructed a fictional story that shows how to make use of “I” and “we” pronouns to personalize a story. In this case, our story demonstrates how the unfortunate stigma around birth control can lead to unexpected problems:
“As a twelve-year-old adolescent I suffered terribly from acne and was prescribed birth control pills as a treatment. My parents feared that taking birth control pills would induce me to begin having sex and would not allow me to take the treatment. I suffered terribly, so much so that they let me try the treatment at age fifteen. It helped immensely, but they could not overcome their fear of my engaging in sexual activity. I was not allowed to continue. At the age of 18, I left for college and immediately sought out the treatment for my acne, which cleared up as it had done at the age of fifteen. Years later when my own daughter presented with acne and was prescribed birth control pills as a treatment, I did not deny her the opportunity to heal her disease and to avoid the emotional damage of having to live with a visible ailment during a sensitive time of life. Together we hope that changing the identification of this treatment from ‘birth control pill’ to a more generic treatment can help others have access to treatment without enduring the social stigma of taking a ‘birth control pill’ at a very young age.”
You can find more resources focused on constructing and sharing stories on the Planned Parenthood website.
Fundraising for organizations that support abortion and reproductive rights
Throughout the event, we provided Mammoth employees with an opportunity to donate to one of three organizations striving to help women in need of reproductive health measures and access to safe abortions. The organizations were:
- Planned Parenthood
“[Planned Parenthood’s] mission is to ensure all people have access to the care and resources they need to make informed decisions about their bodies, their lives, and their futures. Founded in 1916, Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider, educator, and passionate advocate here in the U.S. as well as a strong partner to health and rights organizations around the world. Each year, Planned Parenthood delivers vital sexual and reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people.”
- National Network of Abortion Funds
“The National Network of Abortion Funds builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice.”
- Yellowhammer Fund
“Yellowhammer seeks to meet the needs of those living in or traveling to Alabama for reproductive healthcare needs, providing financial and practical support for those who are pregnant and require assistance. We offer funding for abortion services, travel needs, food and lodging and other expenses that often hinder a person’s ability to easily access their right to an abortion. The Yellowhammer Fund believes that people who are pregnant are the best positioned to know how they prefer to be supported and endorse the belief that meeting pregnant people where they are in their lives and putting them directly in control of their decisions empowers them, their families and their communities.”
Reproductive rights awareness hour
Following the Planned Parenthood training session, Mammoth team members had an internal discussion on the seminar, what they learned from it, and how they could use storytelling to spread awareness. To ensure that participants felt safe discussing their own stories, we made it clear that people’s experiences would not be questioned, but that we would support and be grateful to anyone who shared. We additionally emphasized that everyone has some aspect of their life that has been affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling and the discussion touched upon how the ruling affects members of the Mammoth team and those closest to them.
The attendees of the awareness hour enjoyed small bites from local businesses as they shared stories and discussed the importance of reproductive freedoms.
Given how many people will be impacted both directly and indirectly by the Supreme Court’s decision, we thought it was incredibly important to provide Mammoth team members with a place to discuss the ruling if they wished to. Rather than ignore issues of the day, we recognize that they affect our employees greatly and hope to continue to provide a supportive community for everyone at Mammoth.