Let’s Talk About Abortion Toolkit

Everyone loves someone who's had an abortion.

Anti-abortion extremists use the word “abortion” 4 times more than pro-choice advocates do, which means that they have been able to stigmatize abortion so deeply that even supporters often feel awkward or ashamed when talking about it. Messaging matters because it can help move people from judgment to empathy. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you navigate conversations about abortion.

Quick Tips

Use the word "abortion"

Antis use the word 4 times more

Lead with values

Follow with facts

Use gender-neutral language

Trans people need care

Talk about a decision

Destigmatize often

Lead with values, follow with facts

  • “Not our place to decide.”
  • “Personal family decisions.”
  • “Once a decision is made, we should be promoting that person’s health, not imposing our own beliefs.”
  • “When deciding to become a parent, it’s vital that a person be able to consider all their options no matter their income or zip code.”
  • “However we feel about abortion, we shouldn’t be denying someone insurance coverage based on where they live or how they’re insured.”
  • “We cannot know all the personal and medical circumstances behind a person’s decision to have
    an abortion; every person’s
    situation is different. We should respect that this decision is an individual person’s to make, with their doctor, family, and faith.”
  • “Our laws should support and safeguard Texans’ health. Once someone has decided to have an abortion, access to safe medical care is vital.”
  • “Everyone loves someone who
    had an abortion.”

Say this, not that

SAY THIS
"Abortion"
NOT THAT
Euphemisms like “women’s healthcare,” “reproductive choice”

"Healthcare" encompasses a range of medical care. Using euphemisms for the word abortion gives the opposition control over the narrative.
SAY THIS
"Texan(s), a person, they"
NOT THAT
"Women, she/her"

People who don’t identify as women get abortions.
SAY THIS
"A person’s (or) Texan’s decision to have an abortion"
NOT THAT
"Person’s choice"

A decision is definite, while choice frames that the person has options and plays into a conservative narrative.
SAY THIS
"Politicians shouldn’t deny a person’s health coverage just because they are on Medicaid."
NOT THAT
"Your tax-payer dollars do not fund abortion."

When Medicaid covers the costs of all pregnancy care, including abortion, it means people can make the decision for themselves.
SAY THIS
"Every pregnancy is different. People seek later abortion care for different reasons: abortion restrictions made accessing care early on difficult, a wanted pregnancy is no longer viable, or a person decided they couldn’t be pregnant – they are all valid reasons."
NOT THAT
"Late-term abortions are rare and people only make the heartwrenching decision to have a late-term abortion when a pregnancy is no longer viable."

Framing later abortion care as something that only people with wanted pregnancies experience disregards those who can’t access care early on in pregnancy because of the changing landscape of abortion restrictions, as well as those who simply no longer want to be pregnant.
SAY THIS
"Legal abortion must be available and affordable."
NOT THAT
"Abortion should be safe, legal and rare."

Suggesting abortion should be rare restricts access and makes it dangerous.
SAY THIS
"Abortion is a safe and common medical procedure that everyone should have access to."
NOT THAT
"Nobody likes abortion."

1 in 4 Americans will have an abortion in their lifetime. We should normalize a common, safe medical procedure, and not make assumptions about how people feel about abortion.
SAY THIS
"We should ensure access to a full range of pregnancy-related care, from contraception to abortion to postpartum care."
NOT THAT
"If we want to reduce abortions, we should fund contraception."

We fall under the trap that access to birth control is somehow an alternative to abortion and perpetuates the stigma around abortion.
SAY THIS
Specify that it is some policymakers or special interest groups who want to impose their values on others.
NOT THAT
Demonizing the role of government.

We want the government to be involved in guaranteeing access to a full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion care.
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What it actually takes to get an abortion in Texas

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Since Roe V. Wade, state lawmakers have stopped at nothing to restrict access to abortion. Between 2011 and 2019 alone, states enacted 483 restrictions on abortion. Texas is one of the worst offenders.

Prepare to discuss specific issues

Crisis pregnancy centers + “alternatives to abortion”

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are nonmedical facilities that exist to prevent people facing unintended pregnancies from accessing abortion services. Many CPCs present themselves as medical clinics even though they provide no health care services and the information they share about abortion and sexual health is largely inaccurate. Texas began funding crisis pregnancy centers, or fake clinics,
through the Alternatives to Abortion
program in 2005.

  • Funding fake clinics that intentionally mislead Texans about their healthcare options is deceptive and unsafe.
  • Pregnancy-related decisions are time sensitive and patients’ needs should always come first.
  • Pregnant Texans need timely and unbiased information about the full range of healthcare available to them, delivered in a professional, nonjudgmental,
    and compassionate manner.

Parental notification + judicial bypass

In 2005, Texas passed a law requiring that a pregnant person under the age of 18 seeking an abortion get written consent from their parents. Anyone under the age of 18 cannot obtain an abortion until 48 hours after a physician tells at least one parent. Judicial bypass was established as a legal exception to parental notification for abortion in cases where it is not in the best interest of the pregnant minor. Jane’s Due Process was founded in 2001 to help minors navigate this process. In 2015, Texas passed a law designed to make minors access to judicial bypass even more
difficult by requiring the minor to file a petition in the county of their residence, requiring the minor to appear in person at court, and issuing an automatic denial of the minor’s application if the judge doesn’t rule within a certain time frame when previously it was auto-approved.

  • We need to trust young people – they deserve the right to consent to their own reproductive
    healthcare needs.
  • Parental involvement laws place access to abortion care in a special category. Minors may independently consent to most other pregnancy-related medical procedures, including pre-natal care, labor and delivery procedures, and can even give the baby up for adoption without parental consent or notification.
  • Do not say that kids are not mature enough, and therefore should have parental consent before getting birth control or an abortion. Perpetuating the belief that young people lack the understanding or maturity to make important decisions for themselves is a contributing factor why Texas
    has parental involvement laws.

Abortion later in pregnancy

Typically, an abortion later in pregnancy refers to having the procedure in the second or third trimester. There are countless reasons that may lead a person to
have an abortion later in pregnancy including: fetal anomalies, parental health endangerment, or perhaps due to restrictive laws that have delayed an earlier
procedure. Everyone’s situation is different, and it is important to be compassionate and recognize that an abortion later in pregnancy is already complicated enough without increased stigma and a disregard for the patient’s experiences that have brought them to this decision.

  • Say “abortion later in pregnancy” instead of “later-term abortion,” which is medically inaccurate.
  • Say: “Every person’s circumstances are different. Our legislators should not deprive us of our ability to make this extremely personal, medical decision.”
  • Do not legitimize their false “scientific” claims. Instead, assert that the medical community opposes any interference in the doctor-patient decision-making process and pivot to values.

Practice talking about abortion

Use the word abortion

Lead with values, follow with facts

Acknowledge and assert: When you’re confronted with views that you do not agree with, this is a way that you can give them a reason to listen to you and help them realize there’s something more important than forcing their beliefs onto others. We know this doesn’t come naturally to many of us. But it’s helpful to name their conflict in a way you can agree with, then model how to resolve it.

  • “Some of those reasons may not seem right to us, but it is better that each person be able to make their own decision.”
  • “Some of us may feel uncomfortable about abortion, and I still feel I can’t make that decision for someone else.”
  • “I can accept someone’s decision to end a pregnancy even if I would not make that same decision for myself.”

Model empathy: This helps the audience tap into their innate empathy, which is crucial to humanizing the people who have abortions, decreasing barriers and moving away from a judgmental place.

  • “It’s not for me to judge.”
  • “I’m not comfortable deciding for someone else whether they should get an abortion or not.”

Use gender-inclusive language

Use “decision” in place of “choice”

Destigmatize whenever possible

Example scenarios

Let's Keep Up the Conversation

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