I’m originally from a small town. It’s most known for high school football, corn fields, and cow tipping, so my holiday back home is always filled with childhood friends, plenty of casserole dishes with gobs of butter, and me — the uber-liberal feminist bringing up abortion.
My parents are both from the same small town and gave birth to me at the ripe old age of sixteen. In the Midwest, we often put our head down, work extremely hard, and avoid talking about politics, religion, or anything controversial (aside from sports) for the sake of preserving relationships.
Fortunately for my family, I’ve been out of the Midwest for long enough to feel comfortable pushing the envelope a bit when we all gather around the dinner table and bring up hot topics like abortion. It goes without saying; I’m a true gem in the family.
That’s me and my parents way back when!
If you feel like letting your abortion rights flag fly during the holidays but are worried about what to say, here are the top four things to keep in mind.
1) The Election Brought a Huge Threat to Abortion Access
The election was bad news for abortion access. President-Elect Donald Trump promised to appoint anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court and said that electing him president is the “biggest way” to overturn Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, Vice President-Elect Mike Pence is about the worst of any governor when it comes to restricting access to safe, legal abortion. He signed a whopping eight anti-abortion bills into law in his less than four years as governor of Indiana — that’s every anti-abortion bill that crossed his desk. #Rude
As part of his agenda to outlaw abortion, Mike Pence has also been on a years-long crusade to shut down Planned Parenthood health centers. He’s trying to prevent the 60% of Planned Parenthood patients who rely on Medicaid and other public health programs from getting their preventive care — care like birth control, family planning, STD tests, and lifesaving cancer screenings. And if he succeeds, he could shut down Planned Parenthood completely and take away health care access for all of Planned Parenthood’s 2.5 million patients. It’s infuriating, and it’s a whole other topic. Learn how to talk to your family about Planned Parenthood this holiday. (And, while you’re at it, here’s how to talk to your fam about Obamacare!)
2) Everyone Should Have Access to Safe and Legal Abortion
There’s a lot we can and will disagree upon, but we all should respect the real-life decisions that pregnant people and their families face every day. People don’t turn to politicians for advice about birth control or mammograms — and politicians should not be involved in decisions about pregnancy. It's a personal medical decision.
My family isn’t super religious, but we totally share the core values of love, fairness, and compassion. It’s because I care so much about others that I believe decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to each individual, in consultation with their family, their faith, and their doctor — not to politicians who have no idea about anyone’s specific situation.
3) Safe, Legal Abortion is Still the Law of the Land
So, that’s what I often can’t help myself from sharing with my parents! But a few people in my family might need access to abortion themselves. For them, I will stress that the election didn’t shatter abortion access overnight. No abortion providers have closed because Trump and Pence won the election.
What’s more, Trump and Pence are not in office yet. President Obama is still our president, and Roe v. Wade still protects the right to safe, legal abortion. Everyone has the exact same access to abortion today as they did on Election Day. What’s more, the election didn’t change the fact that the majority of all Americans — including many Trump voters — want abortion to stay legal and safe.
4) We Need to Take Action
All that brings me to abortion access come the inauguration. Bottom line: There will be a lot to fight for. Everyone who cares about abortion access should get ready to fight like hell with me to safeguard that access, and make sure everyone in this country still has access to the full range of reproductive health care.
If you have family members who are up for the fight, tell them to try one of these actions to support Planned Parenthood and access to safe, legal abortion:
Donate to support Planned Parenthood health centers: Planned Parenthood health centers are open, and they are continuing to deliver vital reproductive health care — like birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment.
Donate to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund to help fight political attacks and strengthen advocacy for reproductive health and rights — like access to sex education; safe, legal abortion; and health care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
Volunteer to support Planned Parenthood health centers if you’re interested in opportunities like being a clinic escort.
Volunteer with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund if you’re interested in political activism.
I have to admit: I am feeling angry and scared about the future of abortion access in this country. But I’m also determined to fight for it. I won’t let my fear get in the way of important conversations with the people I love and care about. And I hope you won’t either!
Kersha Deibel is a queer, biracial activist and native of New Philadelphia, Ohio. She has over eight years of experience working with Planned Parenthood, where she currently serves as Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Director of Generation Z.