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The Harvard College Reproductive Justice Action & Dialogue Collective staged on Thursday evening its third annual reading of “Out of Silence,” a collection of scenes that tackle individuals’ experiences with abortion.
RAD members and non-members—including current Harvard students and one College alumnus—performed in the show, which stretched for roughly an hour and a half. Afterwards, producers and performers hosted a question-and-answer session.
“We are interested in sharing real abortion narratives just to destigmatize abortion, to bring humanity, compassion, and empathy to this topic,” producer and RAD co-President Caroline N. Goldfarb ’18 said of the event.
“Out of Silence” is sponsored by the “1 in 3 campaign,” a grassroots movement that works to empower women to share stories about abortion and to eliminate societal stigma and shame associated with the procedure.
This year’s showing marks the third year RAD has hosted the reading at Harvard, according to Goldfarb. The campaign worked with ten female playwrights in 2015 to craft 13 abortion vignettes—inspired by real stories—and compiled them into the script for "Out of Silence."
“With abortion the narratives that we hear are sometimes driven by anti-choice rhetoric or have very specific stories,” said Solange N. Azor ’18, who acted in this year’s production. “People don’t realize one in three women have an abortion and the reasons for that experience are really varied.”
Azor performed in a vignette called “Charlie,” which depicts a lesbian couple who decide to have an abortion for medical reasons. Azor said she thinks the vignette helps show that anyone, regardless of gender, can have an abortion at some point in their lives.
Constance M. Bourguignon ’20, who also acted in the reading, said she thinks public discourse about abortion is often limited to the same stories “over and over again”—like rape scenarios.
“I think that this [performance] does a good job of showing stories of abortion that are outside of these tropes,” Bourguignon said.
Susan Fendell, a Somerville resident who acted in the performance, said she first became involved in RAD’s production three years ago because she found the vignettes moving.
“I think it’s really important that we get people talking about their experiences with abortion,” Fendell said. “I’m glad there is a younger generation carrying on this work, but I am sad that the fight for abortion rights is still a fight.”
—Staff writer Anna M. Kuritzkes can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @AnnaKuritzkes.
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