Abortion is a common experience that the majority of Americans want to remain safe, legal, and accessible. Given this tumultuous year of unjust bans, it’s more critical now than ever to talk about abortion. But why is it so hard?
Some people have a strong opinion about abortion care. Some hold the belief that abortion is somehow morally wrong or should be restricted, and that their belief should dictate how other people live their lives. That leads to stigma, which impacts people who have had and/or are seeking abortion care, as well as abortion providers, advocates, and entire communities. Stigma is deeply ingrained in our culture and that’s why Whole Woman’s Health Alliance wants to help you shift the narrative to one that embodies empathy and compassion. The most important way to achieve that is through open and honest conversations with our family and friends (and encouraging them to do the same with others!). Stigma thrives in silence and shame, so openly supporting abortion, people who have abortions, and those who provide abortions can go a long way in changing how our culture feels and talks about it.
As you come together with loved ones this holiday season, here are a few tips on how to navigate these conversations.
Meet people where they’re at.
The goal here is to not start an argument or spark a debate, but to evoke compassion and understanding around the real-life experiences of those who have abortions and provide them. Don’t make assumptions about others’ beliefs or values. Instead, try to gain an understanding of what big picture values you have in common and circle back to them. If you’re struggling to find shared values, staying centered in your values of compassion and trust can be a powerful way to destigmatize abortion and promote a culture in which people are trusted to make the reproductive decisions that are best for them.
Ask open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions allow people to give as much detail as they want and allow you to better understand how the other person feels. A few examples are:
- Do you know anyone who has had an abortion? If so, what was the experience like for them?
- If someone you love were to decide to have an abortion today, what would you like that experience to be like for them?
- If you’ve had an abortion, how would it feel if you could openly talk about your experience and all the feelings that came with it?
State the fact that having an abortion is a deeply personal decision.
Everyone should have the right to make the decision to have an abortion in order to build a future that allows them to thrive. We can never know everything that someone is going through or the circumstances they’re up against. The decision should be up to the pregnant person and their healthcare provider.
Share your story!
Sharing stories is one of the most powerful tools we can use to shift people’s hearts and minds around abortion care. If you’ve had an abortion and haven’t shared your story before, you can practice ahead of time. If you haven’t personally had an abortion, share the experiences that have led to the beliefs you hold to help others understand your point of view.
Use pro-abortion, not pro-choice.
‘Abortion is a human right’, ‘abortions help people thrive’, and ‘abortion is healthcare’ are a few examples of phrases you can use instead of ‘pro-choice’. Find additional resources about why we should all be pro-abortion here.
Use gender inclusive language.
Trans and non-binary people also experience pregnancy and need abortion care. We encourage you to use ‘people’ or ‘they/them/theirs’ pronouns while navigating your conversations. If you’re new to using gender-inclusive language, here’s an all-encompassing guide to gender-neutral pronouns.
Starting conversations about abortion can seem daunting, but the more we talk about it, the easier it will become. Be prepared and think about questions others may ask and the best way to address them. Whatever comes your way, remember that people who have abortions deserve support, compassion, and love.
If you’re a Black Friday shopper, did you know you could shop on Amazon Smile and they’ll make a donation to WWHA at no cost to you? Just search for us and designate us as your charity!