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The Annual Abortion Rights Poetry Contest

Each year, the Abortion Care Network (ACN), a national organization of independent abortion providers and prochoice supporters, and Split This Rock host an Abortion Rights Poetry Contest. The contest is free to enter and open to poets from any part of the U.S.

The Sixth Annual Abortion Rights Poetry Contest is now OPEN for submissions. Deadline to submit has been EXTENDED to March 1, 2017. The contest is judged by representatives of the Abortion Care Network and Split This Rock, and this year's special guest judge Jan Beatty

Black and white photo of Jan Beatty wearing rectangular light colored glasses. Her hair is cropped short. She is smiling pleasantly and wears small silver earrings, a chain necklace, and a black v-neck shirt.ABOUT THE GUEST JUDGE: JAN BEATTY
Jan Beatty’s fourth book, The Switching/Yard, was named by Library Journal as one of 30 New Books That Will Help You Rediscover Poetry. The Huffington Post called her one of ten “advanced women poets for required reading.” Other books include Red Sugar (2008, Finalist, Paterson Prize), Boneshaker (2002), and Mad River (1994 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize), all from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her limited edition chapbooks include Ravage, published by Lefty Blondie Press in 2012, and Ravenous, winner of the 1995 State Street Prize. Beatty hosts and produces Prosody, a public radio show on NPR affiliate WESA-FM featuring national writers. Awards include publication in Best American Poetry 2013, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, two PCA fellowships, and the $15,000 Creative Achievement Award from the Heinz Foundation. In addition to her extensive work as a poet, Jan Beatty has worked as an abortion counselor, a welfare caseworker, a social worker, a teacher in maximum-security prisons, and for fifteen years as a waitress. She directs the creative writing program at Carlow University and the Madwomen in the Attic Workshops, where she teaches in the MFA program. Learn more at Jan Beatty’s website.

Themes: The contest welcomes the submission of poems about the various experiences of people who seek abortion and other reproductive services. For some, there is safety, relief, and good medical care. For others, there is doubt, harassment, and stigma. For all, health care takes place in a politicized context in which even the most basic choices about our bodies, sexuality, and childbearing can be scrutinized. Reproductive rights are also linked to a whole host of other social issues, such as economic status and the accessibility of safe, affordable health care.

Prizes: The contest awards the following prizes: First ($100), Second ($75) and Third Place ($50), and Honorable Mention Additionally, winning poems will be published  in The Quarry, Split This Rock’s online social justice poetry database, transformed into handcrafted artistic booklets distributed to all attendees at ACN's annual meeting, and published in ACN's quarterly newsletter, The Provider.

Read the winning poems from previous years in The Quarry.

Submission Guidelines:

  • All styles and approaches accepted.
  • Submit up to 3 poems (6 pages maximum) as one document by midnight (EST), February 28, 2016 via Submittable. If Submittable is not accessible to you, please contact us at and we'll send instructions on how to submit your poems.
  • One entry per poet, please.
  • We read blind. Please do not put your name or contact information on the document you upload to Submittable or within its title or your poems will be in jeopardy of being disqualified.
  • Previously published in print is acceptable, but, please, not on the web.
  • Simultaneous submissions accepted. Please inform us immediately through Submittable if the poem has been accepted for publication elsewhere. If Submittable is not accessible, let us know by emailing us at
  • Close friends, relatives, students, and former students of the judge are excluded from the contest. Likewise, the current Board of Directors, staff, teaching artists, and DC Slam Team of Split This Rock are excluded, as are members of their immediate families. (For more detail: visit the code of ethics on our website.)
  • Except for special circumstances we are aware of in advance, we do not accept mailed or emailed submissions.

We encourage you to submit before the February 28 deadline so that if you encounter problems we can assist you.

Late entries will not be accepted.

Once decisions have been made, you will receive an email notifying you of the status of your submission. We do not send hard copy notifications or accept self addressed stamped envelopes. Please monitor Split This Rock’s website and Facebook page for updates on the contest if for some reason you have trouble receiving emails.

Split This Rock subscribes to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics. Read it online at our website.

ACCESSIBILITY: If Submittable is not accessible to you, please contact us at for alternate methods of submitting to the contest.

For more information on the Abortion Care Network, visit their website.

Questions? Contact us at