Planned Parenthood just issued a primer to memorize in case you’re forced to spend Thanksgiving with one of those evil and ignorant pro-life types. I know, just what we’re all thankful for: shallow talking points on abortion from New York City’s Planned Parenthood.
They called it “Talking Turkey: 8 Easy Steps for Discussing Reproductive Health and Justice at the Holiday Table.” Seriously, that’s what they called it. They even spell out some answers to memorize for some frequently asked questions.
Sheesh, these free-thinking types sure need a lot of talking points, rote memorizations, and coaching on what to say, huh?
The holidays are upon us! Going home or getting together with relatives for the holidays is always a stressful time, but if your family members are the type who regularly protest outside the local Planned Parenthood, you know that this holiday is going to be a doozy.
Luckily, we have some tips for surviving those awkward conversations. So read on, and bring some diplomacy and understanding to the table along with that pumpkin pie.
1. Avoid bumper speak talk. A slogan might work for a poster or a button, but in a conversation it just leads to a heated back and forth. Try to steer clear of catchall phrases—they very rarely lead to common ground or change anyone’s mind.
2. Remember the big picture. Debating when life begins or whether or not abortion is federally funded may get you nowhere. Instead focus on your shared values and the big picture—for instance, talk about how you believe everyone should be able to afford to go to the doctor, or how the decision about when and whether to become a parent is a personal one. You never know, you just may find yourself actually agreeing with your relatives.
3. Know your facts, but keep the conversation more global. It’s good to clarify misinformation—for example, the misconception that emergency contraception ends a pregnancy—but staying there can cause a fight. Instead, try to clarify, and then transition back to the underlying value of why you believe what you do.
4. Create a space for the listener. Ambivalence is normal. Reproductive health is not a black and white issue, and there is no one right or wrong way to feel. Be open and accepting of other people’s personal views, and instead focus on the distinction between your personal beliefs, and what should or shouldn’t be imposed on others. For example, “I might not personally choose to get an abortion, but I could never decide for another woman whether or not she was ready to become a parent.”
5. Learn to diffuse. There are some debates you’re just never going to win, and not all questions are created equal—in fact many are designed to start a fight. Instead of getting caught in the weeds, try to recognize when a question isn’t a real question, and transition back to what you feel is the bigger picture:
Question: “I don’t want my tax dollars going toward abortions.”
Response: “Actually, because of the Hyde Amendment, tax dollars can’t go toward supporting abortion. But I do believe that everyone deserves access to basic, preventive reproductive care, and that it’s important we support those services. No one should ever have to choose between paying rent and buying birth control.”
6. It’s all in how you frame it. In so many of these political disagreements, when things get heated we revert back to bumper sticker slogans instead of really talking about an issue. Instead, take a few deep breaths and try personalizing the issue, or evoking empathy.
Oftentimes it’s easier to dismiss abortion or other health care procedures as “bad” when it’s framed as a political issue. But when you’re talking about an individual woman making a personal decision, it’s harder to just write off. Also keep in mind that everyone doesn’t have to feel the same way about an issue to find something to agree on. For example:
A woman may have an abortion for any number of reasons. Some of these reasons may not seem right to us, but even if we disagree, it is better that each person be able to make her own decision.
I can accept someone’s decision to end a pregnancy, even if I wouldn’t make the same decision myself.
There’s just something about pregnancy—everybody has feelings about it. Each circumstance is different, so we should respect and support women and families who must make life-altering decisions about whether or not to have a child.
We can try to imagine the heartbreak of a family when they get the news that a test has shown there is something wrong with their baby.
Ultimately, we all want healthy, thriving families and that is why we need policies that respect our ability to make thoughtful decisions and support us in our roles as caregivers and breadwinners.
Wow. Hilariously, they were just warning against bumper sticker argumentation and then they drop things like that on us.
This one definitely deserves not just one angry baby photo but this one gets two.