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Talking about Abortion

Talking about abortion should not be controversial or taboo. We know that the majority of Americans want abortion to remain safe and legal, so why does it feel so hard to talk about?

Stigma.

Abortion stigma is the idea or belief that abortion is morally wrong and/or socially unacceptable.

To break down stigma, it’s important we learn how to have open, effective conversations about abortion with the people in our lives. Here are some tips to help you navigate these conversations:

  • It’s important to meet people where they are. Listen without judgment. Don’t make assumptions about someone’s beliefs. Try to assess what big picture values inform their beliefs. Are there values that you both share? Name these shared values and come back to them throughout the conversation. 

For example, many people - regardless of their views on abortion - value autonomy and the right to make decisions that are best for ourselves and our own families. This could be a starting point for a conversation about how access to safe, legal abortion upholds that shared value.

  • Remember: the goal isn't necessarily to change someone's beliefs about abortion or start a debate. Encouraging compassion and understanding around the real life experiences of people who have abortions is the perfect place to start. Ask open-ended questions about their values and personal experiences with abortion. Remember you can listen freely without compromising your position, and you can acknowledge their views without agreeing with them. 

A few examples of conversation-opening questions are: 

  • Do you know anyone who has had an abortion? If so, what was that experience like for them? 

  • If not, if someone you love did have an abortion, what would you want that experience to be like for them?

  • If you don’t know someone who has had an abortion, take some time to read through some of our abortion stories on the Tennessee Abortion Stories section of our website. 

  • Acknowledge the point that abortion is a deeply personal, often complex individual experience. While we can decide our own feelings about abortion, we cannot presume to know every person’s individual needs, beliefs, or circumstances. This is why the decision to have an abortion should be left up to the pregnant person, their family, and their doctor. Not politicians.

  • Share your story! Our stories are the most powerful tool we have. Through our vulnerability, we work to humanize abortion, encourage empathy, and garner compassion. If you’ve never personally had an abortion, you can always share what life experiences have brought you to the beliefs you hold. 

  • Use gender neutral and inclusive language because trans and non-binary people also experience pregnancy and need abortion care. Try replacing “women/she/her” with "people,” “pregnant person,” or "they/them/their/theirs".

  • Be prepared. Think about what you want to say or how you might answer difficult questions beforehand. Most importantly, think about what you would want someone to say to you. 

We know conversations about abortion can bring up a lot of difficult and complex questions, myths, or misinformation about abortion services or Planned Parenthood. We want to help you feel prepared to navigate these if they come up:  

Abortion and Planned Parenthood Myths, Misinformation, and FAQs

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