Of all issues discussed in the public sphere, the subject of abortion tends to be among the most divisive, bringing out the best and worst in all. On the front lines of the conversation is Giuliana Serena, who is set to host the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah's 43rd anniversary celebration of Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22 at Publik Coffee Roasters (975 S. West Temple, 7-10 p.m.). Serena is a ceremonialist and co-founder of The Bee, a monthly gathering at which strangers and friends come together and share stories. Space for Friday's celebration is limited and pre-registration is required. For tickets, visit Bit.do/RoevWade16.
You're hosting a "Roe v. Wade Party" to celebrate the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision on a woman's right to have an abortion. Why a celebration?
The right to an abortion is a crucial one in terms of women's reproductive rights. And the rights that we do have are worth celebrating—the fact that I have the right to choose, and that my sisters and friends and that every woman does, regardless of race or class or social status—is important to me. This is as contentious an issue as it ever was, and it's vital to keep it top of mind for people. We cannot be complacent. Our rights are constantly at risk as lawmakers (mostly on the far right) do their utmost to take them away.
It's been a while since Gloria Steinem boldly wore a T-shirt with the words "I had an abortion." Why's it important for people to share abortion stories?
Abortion is a relatively common experience among women in the United States, and one in three will undergo a medical or surgical abortion in her lifetime. Yet, the majority of those women choose not to talk about it—even with close friends and family. Too many women feel completely alone when contemplating abortion, or going through it. Whether their experience is one which was overall positive, traumatic, both or somewhere in between, there simply aren't enough spaces in which people feel safe to share these stories.
What's at stake as far as reprodutive rights in Utah are concerned?
The most basic challenge is that the vast majority of Utahns don't realize access to abortion care is a fundamental human right. There are policy makers who simply do not believe women should be allowed to control their own bodies and if and when to have children. The conversation needs to start there.
Could an anti-abortion campaign supporter learn something by attending?
Of course! Everyone is welcome. Abortion tends to be a divisive issue, and we intend for this gathering to be one in which people have the opportunity to come together and recognize what we have in common. Everyone, no matter what their views coming in, is sure to have their convictions expanded and enriched, even challenged, by the experience of hearing the true stories of people who have lived through abortion first hand. In between storytellers, I'll be reading excerpts of stories from our audience as well as those which have been submitted to us online. Anyone with a story to share can write to event organizer Kate Kelly by Jan. 21 at firstname.lastname@example.org to have their story considered for inclusion.