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The Buttons Project

Buttons Project press release.

An Auckland woman has started to receive the first of what she hopes will be thousands of buttons in the mail—all of them from people who have been through the experience of abortion.

Marina Young, who had an abortion herself when she was 20, launched the Buttons Project this week after wondering for many years how to give both women and men a way of commemorating the babies they never met.

“Abortion can be a difficult thing to process as there is no grave to visit and nothing tangible you can do to help you work through what happened.”

The inspiration for the Buttons Project came from the similarly named Paperclips Project, which commemorated Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust. Started by a classroom of children in Tennessee, USA, the project saw people from around the world send in more than 20 million paperclips to form a striking memorial.

Marina hopes to recieve hundreds of thousands of buttons from across New Zealand—all of which will be catalogued by date and eventually sewn onto giant wall hangings to create a memorial.

She says sending in a button or visiting the memorial will allow women “to do something when there is nothing you can do.”

“Abortion is different for everyone, and everyone’s story is different. This is simply a non-judgmental way of remembering. And it’s not just for women—fathers and grandparents and other family members will also send in buttons of remembrance.”

The website for the Buttons Project went online several weeks ago, and buttons have started arriving in Marina’s Kumeu mail box despite the fact there had been very little publicity. Some come with hand-written letters, some arrive anonymously in unmarked envelopes.

One woman sent in two buttons and wrote, “I want to thank you for this opportunity to publicly mark the lives of my babies. You are doing a good thing.” Others talked about how they spent quite a lot of time looking for just the right button.

“A button is the perfect symbol for this because it can be unique,” says Marina. “Also, buttons bring things together and can signify some closure. Of course at the end of the day it is just a button, and I don’t have any grand illusions, but hopefully it will be a step on a journey for many people.”

Marina is also looking for women who can help with the project, for example by sewing the buttons on to sheets of calico.

The website for the project, includes more of Marina’s personal story, as well as details for those wanting to contribute a button.


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