BANGOR — Shame is a powerful weapon. As the best-selling researcher Brené Brown writes, a shameful story loves secrecy but cannot survive being spoken aloud or treated with empathy.

The anti-abortion movement primarily trades and profits in the currency and language of shame. They’ve crafted a masterful web of lies and deceit that have led to closures of hundreds of clinics, cutting off access to care for women across the country and creating stigma around abortion, an experience nearly one in three women in the U.S. will have in her lifetime.

This stigma has become deeply entrenched in American culture, making a personal decision become one of the most politicized topics in society.

The only way to overcome the dangerous assault on abortion rights is to tell our stories to push back against their shaming. For far too long, much of the abortion rights movement has been too apologetic and refused to acknowledge what we all know to be true: Safe and legal abortion has enabled an entire generation of women to grow up with economic security, empowering us to pursue our professional and personal dreams.

Fortunately, that culture of fear and stigma is finally changing, and I’m so proud to be part of a movement that is speaking our truth aloud. I decided to share my abortion story alongside more than 100 other lawyers in a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in this column today, for those who cannot. One of just 45 amicus briefs filed in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the case challenging Texas’ onerous TRAP (“Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers”) law, the lawyers’ brief has gotten tremendous response.

From stories of illegal pre-Roe abortion, to women escaping abuse, to those choosing abortion to preserve their own health, the brief shows how each woman’s abortion shaped her professional path to a career in law and other endeavors. As one woman wrote: “To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion.”

As much as our 113 individual stories may differ, a unifying theme is abundantly clear: Without access to safe and legal abortion, none of us would be pursuing the personal and professional lives we are now.

Equally important, the reasons we sought abortion care are as varied as each of us. The reasons don’t matter. What matters is that without access to abortion care, women do not have full autonomy and will never full reach true gender equality. The only way for women to achieve full participation in our society is to have control over our reproductive lives.

For many women, unfortunately, the stigma and associated shame are so strong that they cannot even tell their partner or closest friend or family member about their abortion experience.

When we shine a light on the real stories of individuals whose lives have been helped by access to abortion care, however, we reduce the stigma that harms all of us. Each story contributes to shattering the decades-old mythology that has been built up to shame us into silence. One by one, we can shatter that mythology, tearing it down imaginary brick by imaginary brick.

But time is not on our side. The frightening reports we hear out of Texas, both anecdotally from those who work on the front lines, and the aggregate data from researchers who study the impact of the TRAP law on Texas women, are strikingly similar to those we heard pre-Roe, when women regularly sought illegal, unsafe abortions.

It’s hard to imagine a world in which women were forced to endure such oppression, and yet, the latest news out of Texas, Florida and Mississippi feels eerily reminiscent of such desperate times. Last year, even the Maine Legislature came dangerously close to passing a harmful TRAP bill much like the one in Texas.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Wednesday in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. While the court’s decision in the case will have momentous consequences for our country, and especially the women of Texas, this is surely not the last time that our government will consider its role in regulating women’s bodies.

But as more women share their stories, whether it be with family or friends, or in more public venues like a speakout or online, together we will shatter stigma and shine a light for future generations of women to access abortion care if and when they need it, free from shame and other barriers.