Non-Political, Non-Religious: Massive “Abortion Changes You” Campaign Greets New York Subway Riders

Peter J. Smith (Mar 16, 2010)

“I was on a train today here in New York City, and as I sat listening to my iPod, I looked up and saw this advertisement. The ad had a guy on it and over his head was written, ‘I wonder if there was more I could have done for her?’ Below was written, Abortion Changes You. As I read these three words I began to cry.”

(New York, NY)—Every day for the next four weeks passengers on New York City’s subway system will be encountering a message that is hard to escape: “abortion changes you.”

Spread throughout the subway trains and stations of the “Big Apple” are 2,000 posters that offer millions of daily riders a “safe place” for them to work out emotional struggles they may have after an abortion.

The campaign has nothing to do with politics: pro-life vs. pro-choice, or where public policy on abortion should be. Instead, the Abortion Changes You outreach deals only with the too-often-ignored reality that many actually do have grief—to one degree or another—after having an abortion.

Abortion Changes You posterMichaelene Fredenburg, 44, the founder of Abortion Changes You, told (LSN) that the outreach is focused on reaching out to individuals struggling after an abortion, and on giving them a non-judgmental environment that can help them achieve healing and peace.

Although Abortion Changes You has been accused by some pro-abortion groups of having an anti-abortion agenda, Fredenburg, said that kind of accusation “makes me sad.” She said the highly-charged politicization around abortion only keeps those struggling with the aftershocks of an abortion “isolated and alone with the troubling emotions or the sadness that they have.” But her outreach “keeps sight of the people involved.”

“Their pain or lack of pain shouldn’t be politicized.”

“We recognize that not everyone after an abortion is going to have difficulty, but we certainly know from experience that many do, and that can range from feelings of sadness…all the way to someone who isn’t functioning well, who has an extreme rage,” she said. “So there is a whole range, but we feel that there needs to be acknowledgment and a place to go to begin that process [of healing].”

The subway campaign is the second time the Abortion Changes You outreach has run ads in the city dubbed by New York Magazine “the Abortion Capital of the United States.”

The posters—there are ten different designs—feature men and women of various ages who have been affected by abortion.

One poster features a close-up of a young woman with a young man in the foreground. The poster says, “We made the decision together, but I never felt so alone.” Another poster features an older man and says, “My wife gets depressed around the anniversary of our daughter’s abortion.” Yet another features a downcast woman and the caption, “My child would have been six this year.”

The caption “Abortion changes you” then follows, and the poster directs readers to the website

A welcome box greets visitors to the site saying, “Abortion can produce troubling emotions. You are not alone. Many are seeking to make sense of their own or their loved one’s abortion experience. This website is a safe place to begin.”

The site offers several resources for individuals struggling with the effects of an abortion.

At the top of the site sits a locator in which individuals can enter their zip code and find local and national resources for professional counseling. A section called “healing pathways” has tools for daily journal entries, identifying potential networks of support, ways for individuals to work out their emotions “in a safe environment,” identifying harmful behaviors, and even submitting stories, artwork, and poetry as part of the healing process. The site allows an individual to save their work to their desktop, and gives them the option of publishing it anonymously.

The “Explore” section of the site invites viewers to read nearly 100 anonymous stories from post-abortive mothers, fathers, family-members, and friends.

One post-abortive young woman shared her story on the site after encountering an Abortion Changes You poster.
She wrote: “I was on a train today here in New York City, and as I sat listening to my iPod, I looked up and saw this advertisement. The ad had a guy on it and over his head was written, ‘I wonder if there was more I could have done for her?’ Below was written, ‘Abortion Changes You.’ As I read these three words I began to cry.”

“At the time I felt it was my only choice. Even now, I feel I couldn’t have given him the amazing life he deserved. But, the thought that he just deserved a life period haunts me everyday… A part of me died in that sterile room the day he was terminated. This part of me will always ache for him, and wish he were here. But, I want to stop hating myself for what I did. How do I do that? Do I even deserve to?”

Fredenburg says she developed the idea for after struggling with post-abortive grief for years after her abortion at the age of 18. Healing only came for her, she says, when she finally sought and received counseling. Working through those emotions finally helped bring her a sense of peace.

“I thought the abortion would erase the pregnancy. I thought I could move on with my life. I was wrong,” Fredenburg explains on the website.

For Fredenburg, all the “many heartrending stories about abortion” she has listened to over the years—each of them completely unique—shared one common thread: “abortion changes you.”


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