Three US activists launched a campaign to denounce the stigma surrounding abortion. It has gone viral as women have shared their experiences, though pro-life campaigners have hit back.
The hashtag "#ShoutYourAbortion" was started on Twitter over the weekend after the US House of Representatives voted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest women's health care services provider, as Republicans pushed for a probe of the organization.
Lindy West, Amelia Bonow and Kimberly Morrison said they began the campaign in a bid to encourage women to reclaim the conversation about abortion. Bonow shared her own story on Facebook along with the hashtag and since then thousands of women across the globe have shared their experience.
"I set up #ShoutYourAbortion because I am not sorry and I will not whisper," West wrote on Twitter.
"Almost exactly five years ago, in September 2010, I took one pill, and then another, and lay in my bed for a night and a day, and then I wasn't pregnant any more. It's not a secret, it's just something we don't talk about," she wrote, saying she realized that fact last week in the midst of the anti-Planned Parenthood push.
Tens of thousands of women were thought to have shared similar stories with the hashtag, based on web analytics sites. But some, who believe abortion is tantamount to murder, have lashed out at the women on social media.
"I'm sure the babies would love to participate in the #ShoutYourAbortion campaign, but they've been murdered and sold for parts," wrote blogger Matt Walsh on Twitter.
Abortion is a hot-button issue in the United States and the latest debate comes as Pope Francis begins a historic visit to the US, during which he will address Congress. The pontiff tackled the prickly issue ahead of his visit telling priests that they could forgive women the "sin of abortion" if they express remorse.