Aspen Baker- Pro-Voice, How to Keep Listening When the World Wants a Fight


When Aspen Baker had an abortion at the age of twenty-four, she felt caught between the warring pro-life and pro-choice factions, with no safe space to share her conflicted feelings. In this hopeful and moving book, Baker describes how she and Exhale, the organization she cofounded, developed their “pro-voice” philosophy and a set of tools that enable anyone to have respectful, compassionate exchanges about even the most contentious topics. Initially distrusted by both sides, Exhale now receives postabortion referrals from pro-life and pro-choice organizations.

Baker examines the history of the abortion debate, identifying the mistakes and misunderstandings that have led us to the current painful divide. She shares how Exhale discovered creative ways to help women and men share their feelings about abortion, such as starting a postabortion telephone service and piloting a nationwide story-sharing tour led by women who’d had abortions. Thanks to Aspen Baker’s innovative ideas and the trendsetting work of Exhale, the culture around abortion is changing.

Pro-voice can be adopted by anyone interested in dialogue rather than dogma. Peace, in this perspective, isn’t a world without fighting or conflict but one where conflict can be engaged in—fiercely and directly—without dehumanizing ourselves or our opponents. Our world is full of gray areas. It’s vital we learn practices like pro-voice to help us move from paralysis to progress.

Aspen Baker is the leading voice in the nation on how to transform the abortion conflict. She was a finalist for the 2014 American Express NGen Leadership Awards; was called a “fun, fearless female” by Cosmopolitan in 2013; was awarded the Gerbode Professional Development Fellowship in 2012; was named a “Women’s History Hero” in 2009 by San Francisco’s KQED during Women’s History Month; and was named “Young Executive Director of the Year” in 2005 by the Bay Area’s Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. Aspen served on the City of Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission 2011–2014. As a spokesperson for Exhale, she has been featured by media outlets across the country, among them CNN Headline News, Fox National News, Ladies’ Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, the New York Times, National Public Radio, Newsweek, the New Republic, Alternet, and Bust. Her essay “My Abortion Brought Us Together” was included in the anthology Nothing but the Truth So Help Me God: 51 Women Reveal the Power of Positive Female Connection. She often writes for sites like the Stanford Social Innovation Review and Huffington Post. Aspen is a graduate of UC Berkeley, and she lives in Oakland, California, with her family.

Event date: 
Thursday, August 13, 2015 - 6:30pm
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