At the TEDWomen conference in California this morning, a quiet bit of history is being made: the organization will host its first talk about abortion, by Aspen Baker of the organization Exhale Pro-Voice. Just in case we’re getting too excited though, the same conference reportedly turned away the Kiva co-founder and her nursing infant. From a conference on women and girls.
In a piece in the Nation last year, Jessica Valenti questioned why there’d never been a TED talk on abortion, with a TED organizer telling her plainly that was because it was “more of a topical issue” that they wouldn’t taken a stance on, “any more than we’d take a position on a state tax bill.” (The next day, TED backpedaled wildly, saying Valenti had “misrepresented” their very plain quote — something she disproved with a screenshot of an email exchange between her and TED Content Director Kelly Stoetzel.)
At that point, TED claimed that it did indeed want to feature talks about abortion, and now, at long last, here we are: Baker will speak for Exhale, a 15-year-old organization that promotes respectful dialogue around abortion, but doesn’t call itself pro-choice (From their FAQ: “We don’t choose sides. Pro-voice is an alternative to divisive political rhetoric, and its home is in the grey area between pro-life and pro-choice.”)
So, that’s cool. However, Jessica Jackley, the co-founder of Kiva, tweeted that she’d been turned away from TEDWomen for having her infant son with her; there’s evidently a no-kids rule. However, it sounds like one of the organizers quickly set up a “lounge” for people with babies (something that you’d think a conference about women would’ve set up ahead of time.)
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Baker rehearsing her talk at Exhale’s offices. Image via Facebook