Erin Stoyell-Mulholland, Staff Writer
As we remember the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the topic of abortion is as prevalent as ever on college campuses. One courageous young woman’s efforts demonstrate this fact. Tianna Spears, a 20-year-old college student at North Carolina State, recently launched a campaign called the Beautiful Pain Movement, a movement that seeks to bring healing to those suffering from the wounds of abortion.
Spears says that she was inspired to do something after watching a friend’s pain after having an abortion. Spears wrote “I saw her pain, heard it in her voice, saw it accumulate and drip from her eyes.” She realized there was a great need on college campuses and recognized the current lack of resources available to her peers.
In February 2012, Spears started an on-campus support group to provide a non-judgmental place for women and men to come together and discuss their experiences with abortion. The group claims no religious or political affiliations and does not take a pro-life or pro-choice stance.
Their gatherings serve as a place where anyone can come to heal from the pain that accompanies an abortion experience. The main purpose of the movement is for people to be able to share their stories. There is no sort of professional counseling, nor does Spears possess any qualifications other than personal experience.
One of the main goals of the Beautiful Pain Movement is to end the silence surrounding the topic of abortion. Abortion is a subject that is very polarizing in America, and as a result many people become silent in order to avoid conflict. Spears hopes that this campaign will bring more awareness to the needs of post-abortive women, specifically the desire to talk about the experience of abortion.
Spears hopes that the program will continue to grow and is currently in the process of pursuing nonprofit status for the organization so as to spread the word to other colleges. She said:
“I would say the biggest success of the movement so far has been all the strong and courageous people I’ve met and the amazing stories I’ve heard. This past year has been the best year of my life. I’ve met so many inspiring people with stories that you could not even imagine and watched them become stronger and wiser people with an amazing journey and story.”
Similarly, this year, Notre Dame’s Right to Life Club has been focusing more of its efforts on providing help for post-abortive women and men.
During the fall semester, posters were placed in all the men and women’s dorms with tear-slips for a phone number to call. These posters said “I [She] had an abortion and now I feel…ambivalent, confused, relieved, nothing, scared, angry, unsure, numb, sad. No matter what you are feeling, you are not alone.”
Some Resident Assistants in female dorms were surprised to see how many of the tear-slips had been taken off the posters. One RA said “I knew people were having sex, but I didn’t realize that so many women in just one hall (and possibly a few visitors) would be faced with either the decision to have an abortion or needing post-abortive help. It shocked and saddened me, and I hope that those girls got the help they needed. I wish the issue was discussed more around campus so that it wouldn’t seem so taboo.”
The posters hanging around the dorms also have helped spark conversations among the residents. With the posters as a prompt, it seemed easier for women to be able to have conversations about abortion and their views and experiences. This type of conversation should be encouraged so that more women are able to express their feelings on the issue without judgment or stigma.
Student Kellie Raddell, the Notre Dame Right to Life commissioner who works with post-abortive programs, said: “On campus, it is important that we offer real and effective programs for healing and forgiveness after abortions. Some students have had abortions themselves, and statistically, most know someone who has had an abortion.”
College-aged women are the largest group of women choosing abortions, yet silence often engulfs the subject, especially on a Catholic campus such as Notre Dame. In the spirit of Spears’ movement, Notre Dame’s Right to Club is trying to improve efforts to provide help to those in need of healing and hopes to continue improving these efforts in the upcoming years.
Erin Stoyell-Mulholland is a sophomore business major who lives in fear of her loft. When she is not sleeping on the couch, she can be found organizing dance parties throughout her dorm. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.