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It’s a critical time to talk about abortion with your friends and family. The U.S. Supreme Court took away our constitutional right to abortion and robbed our ability to control our bodies and futures. Discussing it is one way you can fight back. 

Abortion can be an emotional topic, so these conversations may get heated and people might shut down. Here are some tips to help you stay on track and have productive talks on this necessary health care.

Hit them with facts.

Abortion is actually not controversial — at all: The vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal — 80%, in fact. This really shouldn’t be surprising in a country built on promises of freedom. Most people believe everyone should be able to make their own decisions and get the health care they need, without politicians controlling when, how, or why.

Abortion bans are about about control, not helping people. We know this because politicians who ban abortion are typically against things that actually make abortion rates go down, like sex education, birth control, affordable childcare, paid family leave, health care access, and affordable housing. And ironically, states with anti-abortion laws spend way less money per child on services like foster care, education, welfare, and the adoption of children who have physical and mental disabilities. 

Be clear and unemotional about what banning abortion really means. 

Banning abortion has real consequences. Women who live in states with the most dangerous anti-abortion rights laws are more likely to live in poverty, have less education, and earn less than men. And studies have shown that people who are denied abortions face serious harm to their health, safety, and economic well-being

Legal abortion resulted in huge economic and social gains for women and people who can get pregnant. It allowed them to finish school, join the workforce, achieve financial independence, and plan their families. Abortion bans threaten all of that progress — especially for people who face the greatest barriers due to systemic racism and discrimination, like people with low incomes; Black, Latino, and Indigenous people; and people who live in rural areas. Also, many states with strict abortion bans have higher than average maternal mortality rates — and, again, due to systemic racism, Black women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women in this country.

These laws are about more than abortion. They can effect other freedoms we enjoy today, like the right to same-sex marriage and even access to birth control. This is about privacy, who has the authority to make decisions for you, and who can control your future and your body. That power should belong to you, not politicians.

Abortion is health care — so call it that.

The person you’re talking to might have very narrow and stereotypical ideas about why people get abortions, but there are many different reasons someone might need to have an abortion. They may not be able to care for a child. They may need to focus on the kids they already have. Pregnancy may be dangerous to their health or the pregnancy may be unhealthy. They may be unable to take time off work. They may be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.  

Studies show that most people — even those who say they’re anti-abortion — do believe there are situations where abortion is OK. And once they see abortion as health care, it becomes harder to justify banning it. After all, decisions about health care are super personal — who should be making these decisions? You, or politicians?

Avoid shaming or insulting — lean on empathy and common ground instead.

Nobody listens to someone who won’t listen to them, and you can’t be persuasive if the person you’re talking to feels insulted — they’ll shut down or dig into their position even harder. Instead, hear what they have to say, and try to empathize with them. Then talk about the values you both share, like love, fairness, compassion, and justice. 

You can say something like “I know you care about others, and so do I. That’s why I believe decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to each person — not to politicians, who can’t know each person’s situation. I can’t imagine someone else making that decision for me, and I wouldn’t want someone else making that decision for you, either.”

You can also share stories that shaped your belief that abortion access is important. This helps others see us as real people with our own individual experiences, instead of just someone they’re fighting with who “doesn’t get it.”

These are hard, emotional conversations. But with patience and practice, you can make a difference.

Tags: Abortion, Reproductive Rights

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