Megan Smith, a long-time abortion fund volunteer, activist, and friend of mine, is starting an awesome new community art project. I tracked her down and asked her about it.
Your most recent art project focuses on spreading awareness about the Hyde amendment. Tell me about that amendment. How does it impact women’s everyday lives?
The Hyde Amendment is a violation of human rights. It denies low-income people and others under federally-sponsored insurance plans the right to bodily autonomy and creates extreme barriers to healthcare access. When a woman cannot afford an abortion, it can impact every aspect of her day-to-day life. She is constantly thinking of what she can do to raise the money: can she skip this meal, what belongings can she sell, can she afford to put of her electricity bill another month? One woman I spoke with, after trying unsuccessfully to borrow money from friends and family, had to sell back her son’s school uniform to pay for her abortion.
Abortions range in cost from several hundred to several thousand dollars – which can be an inconceivable amount to low-income people living in poverty.
Of course, constantly worrying about coming up with money is an unfortunate reality for all people living in poverty. The concern is just magnified when an already struggling woman is faced with an unwanted pregnancy.
How do you think this art installation can help raise awareness of the Hyde amendment?
My voice is small, but our collective voices are strong. I wanted to show that we, together, have the ability to mobilize and inspire change.
Another goal that I have for the project is to involve reproductive justice advocates, activists, and communities across the country. I want it to be OUR project, not MY project. And in doing so, I wanted people to spread the word to their friends and family so that more and more people realize what the Hyde Amendment is and that we need to stop it.
What was your inspiration for this art project? Why birds? Why a hanging installation?
I wanted to create something beautiful and hopeful from something ugly. I liked the imagery of our messages travelling. A flock of birds seems untouchable, almost invincible. I also love that the individual birds will represent each contributor’s story while the flock will inspire collective mobilization.
What are your goals for this project? What would you consider a success?
If it’s gotten people thinking, it’s already a success.
Any other social justice abortion art projects down the line? Any that you’ve done before?
I working on my play The Waiting Room, which will have its third performance in Reading, PA this February, and which has been performed twice in the Philadelphia area. I’m also working with an amazing group of radical feminist artists in the Boston area to shake some shit up – more from us to come.