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Happy holidays! As you spend additional time with family and friends this time of year, you may find yourself having conversations about abortion and the current reproductive rights landscape. Read on to learn tips about how to navigate tensions at the dinner table and guide you beyond argument and toward a deep and meaningful conversation. 

You may hear a loved one or peer displaying some abortion stigma as they say, “Abortion shouldn’t be used as birth control,” “I support abortion, but I would never get an abortion myself,” or “I don’t like abortion later in pregnancy.” 

These statements can be upsetting to hear, but we encourage you to pause, take a deep breath, and follow these 5 steps to open the hearts and minds of your loved ones this holiday season. 

Step 1: Embrace Storytelling 

Lean into the discomfort of the conversation by engaging in genuine curiosity. Put your judgement aside and truly get to know someone’s thought processes. 

As somebody reveals their assumptions about abortion, use open-ended questions like, “Could you tell me more about that?” Your questions will prompt someone to share personal stories of real, lived experiences and surface the contradictions between their stigmas and their stories. 

Here are more open-ended questions to ask to further understand someone’s values and perspectives: 

Step 2: Identify Shared Values: 

After someone tells their stories and perspectives, respond with a personal story that “flips” the values that they shared. Here are some common values we find in conversations around abortion: 

Let’s assume your Uncle Jim says, “I support abortion, but I can’t get behind somebody who wakes up and changes their mind at 20 weeks of pregnancy. We really need to think life of the fetus at that point.” Jim values care through caring for the life of the fetus and values fairness through responsible decision making. 

After asking Jim some open-ended questions, you share an anonymous story about somebody you know that had an abortion later in pregnancy. You open up about the barriers that this person experienced to receiving care earlier in their pregnancy, and their life situation that discouraged carrying a pregnancy at that time. You say, “I see strong values of care and fairness in your perspective. I also value care as I care for the life of the pregnant person. I’m so glad my friend was able to get the care they needed at a time when they could not maintain a life with pregnancy. I feel it’s fair to them that they got the abortion they needed in order to live a safe and fulfilling life.” 

Step 3: Change Minds Through Self-Persuasion: 

Allow the person you’re conversing with to take time to reflect. You’ve both just expressed the same values around your views, but in two very different ways. Ask, “What do you think about that?” after you share your story. 

Say, “I’m curious, what do you think the experience should be like for someone who has decided to end a pregnancy. Should they feel supported, safe, comfortable, and dignified? Should they have to walk through protestors? Should it be hard to get an abortion?” When someone verbalizes the contradictions between what they say they believe about abortion versus their actual lived experiences, this causes cognitive dissonance, and they can change their own minds. 

Step 4: Make Your Case & Solidify New Pathways: 

As you near the end of your holiday gathering, take some time to state unequivocally why you support abortion rights. Show the person you’re conversing with that people who strongly support abortion rights are down-to-earth, friendly people, just like them. 

Wrap up by asking, “Has this conversation made you think differently than before?” When someone visualizes and reflects out loud on the change they’ve been through and why, they will further solidify that evolution. 

Step 5: Enjoy the Holidays & Join our Bridging the Gap Community: 

Give yourself praise! Just having a conversation at all can complicate someone’s narratives about abortion and plant a seed of empathy that will grow over time. 

Although we’re cultivating connections, feel grounded in what we don’t want to compromise as abortion activists: 

  • Abortion is common, normal, and practiced by people of all genders.  

  • We give care, compassion, and trust for personal decision making.  

  • Abortion comes with a range of experiences. All experiences are valid.  

  • We fight for abortion to be accessible and affordable for all. 

If you want to learn more about having meaningful conversations about abortion, join us at our three-part Bridging the Gap virtual training series. Click here to learn more and sign up. 



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