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Artist at Work: Melissa Madera, Historian and Creator of the Abortion Diary Podcast


For the last three years, Melissa Madera has traveled to 18 states and eight countries recording more than 200 abortion stories in four languages. Her motivation? The 13 years she spent silent about her own abortion experience. Three years after she first told her story, she started the podcast with the hopes of connecting with other people who shared her experience.

Certainly, abortion storytelling isn’t anything new. Reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates have told stories, employing various forms of storytelling, for decades to normalize abortion as a social good. Madera’s podcast, however, offers an intimacy and authenticity not often found in public conversations around abortion.

As Madera explains it, she created the podcast because when she wanted to hear the voices of other folks like her who had an abortion, she couldn’t find what she needed online. Sure, there were videos of people sharing their abortion story at a speakout or for an organization’s online campaign, and articles by people sharing their experiences accessing this basic health-care service. But Madera was searching for an audio recording of someone telling their story in a way that clearly wasn’t rehearsed, and one in which the storyteller didn’t seem to have an agenda or a script to follow; she was looking for a podcast that was not about changing other people so much as helping the person speaking or listening who had an abortion. Her search for such a podcast came up empty, so she created one.

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