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Can spa-like surroundings help reduce the stigma surrounding abortion?

1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime, so why is there still so much stigma attached to it?

It's been more than 40 years since Roe v. Wade. And it seems like the fight over the right to have an abortion is more intense than ever.

Roe v. Wade is the Supreme Court case that cleared up the question of whether someone has the right to an abortion. As time has gone on, however, opponents of abortion rights have managed to carve out more and more loopholes to make abortion almost impossible to actually get.

The fight against abortion rights has heated up in the past few years.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, there have been 231 new state-level restrictions on abortion since 2011, coming in several forms: bans on abortions past a certain number of weeks, harsh new regulations that make it nearly impossible to keep a clinic in operation, waiting periods, and forced ultrasounds, among other tactics.


10 states restrict private insurance, the health care marketplace, and Medicaid from covering abortion (dark orange below). 14 states have limits on Medicaid and the insurance marketplace (lighter orange), and nine states limit Medicaid coverage (yellow).

That leaves just 17 states without state-level insurance restrictions.

In other words, it's becoming significantly more difficult to access insurance coverage that covers certain reproductive health care.

On top of all this, there's a massive amount of stigma that comes with having an abortion.

There seems to be a sliding scale of what people view to be "acceptable" versus "unacceptable" abortions, based on how the pregnancy happened.

Reproductive rights activist Katie Klabusich spoke with me on the stigma of abortion.

First, I wanted to know why it's so important to fight stigma.

In response, she explained that not only is stigma harmful to the rights of someone seeking an abortion, but it's also dehumanizing.

"Once we aren't categorizing abortions into 'good abortions' and 'bad abortions' and recognize pregnant people as fully human rather than public property, we can demand widespread access-increasing laws and policies."
— Katie Klabusich

She added that it's stigma that fuels the legal restrictions. If people who have had abortions are afraid to speak up, only the voices strongly against the procedure are heard.

"We're never going to see an end to the onslaught of anti-choice laws and abortion provider harassment and violence until our culture shifts. Anti-choice groups and legislators rely on stigma and the silence it brings to pass harmful laws and dress harassment up in the First Amendment."
— Katie Klabusich

When it comes to fighting stigma, one innovative method comes from Carafem, an abortion provider opening near Washington, D.C., this year.

The clinic hopes to create a "spa-like" atmosphere for its clients and makes no bones about what it offers. The ads say, simply: "Abortion. Yeah, we do that."


Organizations like Advocates for Youth, with their #1in3 campaign, and the Sea Change program collect stories and raise awareness in their stigma-reducing efforts.

Reducing stigma is largely about reducing the shame and secrecy involved with an abortion. By having real people tell real stories of how and why they decided to undergo the procedure, a human face is put on what's otherwise seen as a somewhat cold, hushed act.

Fighting stigma can be as simple as speaking up.

Again, talking with Katie, I asked what everyday people could do to help reduce stigma. She says there are three distinct things people can do to fight stigma.

Share your experiences.

"If you have had an abortion and it is safe for you to talk to friends and family about your experience, your words humanize what should be seen as a common medical procedure. You don't have to sit everyone down for story time, just refute assumptions by matter-of-factly offering that you have had an abortion and it wasn't at all the way they're describing."
— Katie Klabusich


Create a safe space for people around you.

"Being available to listen is about creating a safe space. One in three people born with a uterus in this country will have an abortion in their lifetime — which means you know people who have had an abortion and people who will have one. When those people in your life hear you call out stigmatizing media and incorrect information being passed around at the office or the Thanksgiving table, you make it clear that you are available to hear and support them."
— Katie Klabusich

Finally, don't forget about reducing sexual stigma. There's nothing wrong with having sex, and there's nothing wrong with choosing to have an abortion.

"Humanizing reproductive health care is doubly challenging because we have to force our rather puritanical culture to recognize that sex is not just for procreation in a marital bed. For some, admitting that the act that got them pregnant was purely for recreation is a bigger hurdle than admitting they terminated the pregnancy. So, if you're not comfortable speaking out directly on abortion misinformation but are comfortable busting some sexual stigma, that helps too!"
— Katie Klabusich

No matter where you fall on the debate over abortion rights, can't we all agree that people shouldn't be shamed about their personal medical decisions?

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Freya from Maya Higa's YouTube video.

Ever wonder what an ideal date for a lemur would be? Or a lizard’s favorite Disney princess?

Thanks to one YouTube poster with a passion for animals and an endearing sense of humor, all questions shall be answered. Well, maybe not all questions. But at the very least, you’ll have eight minutes of insanely cute footage.

In a series titled “Tiny Mic Interviews,” Maya Higa approaches little beasties with a microphone so small she has to hold it with just her thumb and forefinger. And yes, 99% of the animals try to eat it.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Cellist Cremaine Booker's performance of Faure's "Pavane" is as impressive as it is beautiful.

Music might be the closest thing the world has to real magic. Music has the ability to transform any atmosphere in seconds, simply with the sounds of a few notes. It can be simple—one instrument playing single notes like raindrops—or a complex symphony of melodies and harmonies, swirling and crashing like waves from dozens of instruments. Certain rhythms can make us spontaneously dance and certain chord progressions can make us cry.

Music is an art, a science, a language and a decidedly human endeavor. People have made music throughout history, in every culture on every continent. Over time, people have perfected the crafting of instruments and passed along the knowledge of how to play them, so every time we see someone playing music, we're seeing the history of humanity culminated in their craft. It's truly an amazing thing.

The pandemic threw a wrench into seeing live musicians for a good chunk of time, and even now, live performances are limited. Thankfully, we have technology that makes it easier for musicians to collaborate and perform with one another virtually—and also makes it easier for people to create "group" performances all by themselves.

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A round-up of delights from around the internet this week.

Hey all!

Welcome to Upworthy's weekly roundup of delights from around the internet. This week's list features a little of everything—gorgeous music, cute kids, adorable animals, hope for the planet and a brand new video message from the late and great Betty White.

That's right, Betty White left us a message of gratitude shortly before her passing. It's brief, but how lovely to see and hear her speak to her millions of fans one last time. Few celebrities are as universally beloved as Betty White was, and though we knew she couldn't live forever, it would have been fun to see her celebrate her 100th birthday. Now, at least, we get to experience her joy and warmth with a few last words.

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