I Had an Abortion Shirt at UNCW Creates Controversy

Gloria Steinem Wearing "I Had an Abortion" Shirt Designed by Jennifer Baumgardner (Photo: WFAE)

While the right to privacy may have been the key to securing abortion rights in Roe v. Wade, some advocates of the controversial procedure today want to walk around with a sign, t-shirt to be exact, broadcasting their reproductive decisions.

In 2004, abortion advocate and author Jennifer Baumgardner  launched the “I Had an Abortion” project to encourage women and men to “come out” about their procedures. The campaign featured shirts that read “I Had an Abortion,” a book, photo exhibit, and documentary film featuring 10 women – including feminist Gloria Steinem –  describe their abortion experiences spanning seven decades.

In preparation of an upcoming panel discussion and book signing featuring Baumgardner at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, controversy ensued when “I Had an Abortion” shirts began to pop up around campus. WWAY reports that the panel was held Monday by the Women’s Studies Department and LGBTQIA Resource Office, where the controversial shirts were sold for $15 each at the event.

WECT reports that the shirts caused a protest and other students rallied with their own shirts, saying things like “I haven’t killed a baby.”

I Had an Abortion Shirt at UNCW Creates Controversy

“It’s still a very controversial issue,” Jimmy Eastman, a spokesman for several students that held a silent protest outside the panel room, told WWAY. ”It’s not about the abortion or pro-choice. It’s about ending a human life and that’s the real issue here. That’s what we’re trying to get at.”

Supporters of the shirts told WWAY that they are simply trying to de-stigmatize the word abortion. Critics said the abortion shirts are out of line and embarrassing to the UNCW student body.

Proceeds from t-shirt sales went to Soapbox Inc., the feminist non-profit group formed by Baumgardner and fellow author activist Amy Richards.