In the early afternoon of a crisp winter day in November, I met Beezus Murphy at a Chinese restaurant in the International District of Seattle. As I stepped into the warm restaurant I found Beezus sitting in the waiting area, her bright red hair and glittering tampon earrings making her the unmistakable teen writer I was excited to talk to.
Currently in her senior year of high school, Beezus describes herself as a dyslexic-asexual-lesbian-feminist teenager. She’s also a passionate activist and writer who recently released her first book, “My Mom Had an Abortion,” in partnership with Shout Your Abortion.
Abortion can be an uncomfortable subject for a lot of people, but not Beezus; at least not any more. Illustrated with beautiful black, white and red drawings by Tatiana Gill, the graphic novel follows Beezus’ journey of learning about menstruation, reproduction and abortion and the many feelings that came with knowing that people close to her had abortions.
“I had all the wrong ideas about abortion because of some stupid show on Netflix, which was the laziest teen drama I’ve ever seen. And man, it is one hell of a dishonor to be the laziest teen drama,” she said.
In her book, Beezus tells the story of her first exposure to media about abortion, an early 2000’s show called “Secret Life of the American Teenager.” After the protagonist gets pregnant and decides to end the pregnancy, a nosy friend talks her out of having an abortion by following her to the appointment.
Beezus explained that narratives in media that frame abortion as something to be ashamed of can shape the way people view abortion from a young age.
Through her hilarious anecdotes and quick-witted coming-of-age stories, Beezus shares her journey of un-learning the many stigmas around abortion and how she came to accept and celebrate abortion as a normal procedure, and something that all people should be able to access without fear or shame.
“I didn’t know it was harmful until after I learned that my mom had an abortion,” she said. “That’s how I realized that other people needed to hear my mom’s story, so that people could have their eyes opened the way mine were.”
Beezus said she chose to write about her relationship with her pro-choice, feminist mom Shawna, the trials and tribulations of growing up with a uterus and becoming a pro-choice advocate to help normalize conversations about traditionally taboo subjects.
“Stories are everything. I feel like they’re one of the building blocks for our society and that’s something we definitely overlook in a lot of ways,” Beezus said.
“Children my age, we’re sponges. We absorb what we are given by the world. That’s why it’s important that we have media that’s mindful and inclusive.”
“My Mom Had an Abortion” enters bookshelves at a uncertain time for legal abortion. January 22, 2022 marked the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that forbade states from banning abortion before 22 weeks, affectively legalizing abortion nationwide.
The nearly half-century anniversary felt more tense, and for good reason.
In December, the Supreme Court heard oral arguements on a Mississippi law that bans abortion at just 15 weeks; with six conservative Justices signalling they may uphold the law, many pro-choice activists fear Roe v. Wade won’t make it to 50. That could mean that abortion become illegal in about half of the states across the U.S.
With the future of legal abortion in the U.S. uncertain, pro-choice organizers like the folks at Shout Your Abortion are taking the reins to ensure people everywhere can have safe abortions. Abortion pills (aka mifepristone and misoprostol) are safe and affective, and thanks to the internet, widely accessible online. Shout Your Abortion has recently launched the Abortion Pills Forever campaign to raise awareness about how you can access abortion pills, no matter the supreme court’s ruling or the legal standing in your state.
Abortion Pills | Part 1 – posted by Shout Your Abortion
Beezus said rather than re-criminalizing abortion and focusing on taking access away from people across the country, she would like to see legislators focus on working toward solutions for issues like access to birth control, the wage gap, police violence and racial injustice.
“People whom abortion doesn’t affect seem to have way more opinions than people who it does affect,” Beezus said.
Organizations like Shout your Abortion work tirelessly to help destigamtize abortion by sharing thousands of abortion stories on their social media, hosting storytelling events and helping to creating and distribute media like “My Mom Had an Abortion.”
“Getting involved with Shout Your Abortion movement is largely why I wrote this book. I couldn’t have done it without their support and without learning from them,” Beezus said. “It was just so great to meet all different people who’ve had abortions and hear their stories.”
Abortion Pills Forever by Shout Your Abortion