Abortion Dialogues, 1998-2005
Black and white photographs printed on linen, projected text and audio
© Colette Copeland

A day in history...January 22, 1973; the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional right to privacy encompassed a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy. The landmark case Roe vs. Wade resulted in legal abortion for American women.

Twenty-three years after the Roe vs. Wade case, I began this project. The ruling has continued to cause controversy. In extreme cases, doctors have been murdered and clinics have been bombed. In the politicalization of the issue, I felt that no one was speaking about the women or allowing their stories to be told. Over the next two years, I interviewed and photographed women and their experiences with abortion. My goal was not to further a particular political viewpoint, but rather focus on the complexity of the issue. I wanted to challenge stereotypes surrounding abortion, as well as humanize the political nature of the subject. The project is not about PRO or CON, but real life experiences and the aftermath.

In collaborating first within my community and branching out into other communities nationwide, I found that through the sharing of stories, a commonality existed amongst the women, despite their religious or cultural beliefs. Since the subject of abortion is so taboo, many women have kept their stories secret. For some of the women, I was the first one to hear their story. Healing and growth occurred both within myself and the women collaborators. Change occurs when women are allowed to break the silence.