Today’s post is written by one of our fabulous interns.
As a long-time ally and volunteer for Planned Parenthood I have often been engaged in discussions with family members or friends who do not necessarily agree with my beliefs about abortion, or who are interested to hear my thoughts on this issue. And I have often been tempted to jump into discussions on social media sites when friends post their personal convictions about abortion or links to articles discussing the topic. These conversations can be very tricky to navigate because I want to be honest and candid about my views without inflaming an argument.
Luckily, I was recently able to participate in a workshop on just this subject. The tips I learned have really helped me frame my approach to talking about abortion.
“I am not in her shoes.” As a Planned Parenthood supporter, this is the overarching message I should send out.
Instead of listing examples of hypothetical situations when a woman might need or want an abortion (ex. the fetus has a severe abnormality; or the pregnancy is a result of rape) emphasize that it would not be right for decisions to be imposed upon a woman; especially if you have not walked in her shoes. By offering justifications to choose abortion, I not only invalidate the rights of women who chose abortion for a different reason, but I also risk hitting gridlock in conversation with someone who does not agree that abortion would be an acceptable choice in my example. Instead I would recommend expressing that we do not know every woman’s situation, and we have to trust that women can make the best decisions for themselves.
Additionally, it is important to avoid falling into the trap of labeling others as “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” Abortion is a multifaceted and personal issue, and discussing it in a binary fashion is simply not productive in many cases. The categories of pro-life and pro-choice do not reflect the nuance and complexity with which many Americans understand and engage with this issue. In fact, 40% of recent voters say that their views on abortion “depend on the situation,” and nearly one-quarter of recent voters said that either both or neither of the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice” describe their viewpoint. Instead of approaching this topic as a dichotomy with a “you are with me or against me” attitude, it is important to enter these discussions with sensitivity and openness. The emphasis should be that abortion should remain safe and legal (a statement most voters agree with), and “We have not walked in her shoes.”
For more information on this topic check out this excellent source of information.