SAN FRANCISCO – A nonprofit that runs a national post-abortion telephone talk line has unveiled a series of electronic greeting cards that concerned friends and family can send to a woman after she chooses to terminate a pregnancy.
"Women having abortions are calling our line because often they don't have someone to talk to — it's a stigmatized issue," said Aspen Baker, founder and executive director of Oakland-based Exhale. "So the chance to honor and acknowledge someone's experience by calling upon something that is within our social practices and social mores seemed important and could go a long way toward supporting people."
Like Exhale's confidential talk line, the six e-cards available on the group's Web site were designed to be nonpartisan and encompass the range of someone's potential responses to going through an abortion.
One expresses sympathy, offering the gentle reminder that, "As you grieve, remember that you are loved." Another provides encouragement for someone who "did the right thing." Yet another strikes a religious tone with the thought that "God will never leave you or forsake you."
Although greeting card offerings have expanded in recent years to include such milestones as divorce, potty-training and half-birthdays, Baker said she was unaware of anyone else providing after-abortion cards online. The inspiration for the project came in part from a veteran abortion provider who frequently observed there were no Hallmark cards for abortion, she said.
The cards are part of a broader effort by Baker, who launched Exhale in January 2002, to bring the agency's work into a broader arena. In two weeks, the agency plans to publish a magazine featuring stories, poems, letters and rituals by and for women who have had abortions.
Baker said she hoped popular e-card sites might start offering links to Exhale's line, which is offered in English and Spanish. In the meantime, she plans to spread the word to boyfriends, parents and siblings through doctors' offices and the post-procedure information packages women usually receive after abortions.
"We designed them to deal with different peoples' response to abortion. Not everyone is grieving their loss. Not everyone has a relationship with God. Not everyone thinks it is the best thing," she said. "We hope the people who send them take the time to think not only about the message they want to send, but about what is best for the person receiving it and what they need to hear."