Get the Facts and Spread the Word
The graphs below from gallup.com and posted in David Leonhardt's fivethirtyeight blog posting highlight the complexity of this issue. Most Americans who receive a phone call asking their opinion about Roe v. Wade do not know the details of the decision when they answer the question. Roe actually distinguished among the different stages of pregnancy and different developmental stages of fetuses. Most Americans also do not know that 85% of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, nor do they know the circumstances under which many later term abortions are performed. Even foxnews,com is comfortable quoting Planned Parenthood statistics that "only about 100 are performed in the third trimester (more than 24 weeks' gestation), approximately .01 percent of all abortions performed."
HOW TO TALK ABOUT ABORTION
Adapted from NARAL Pro-Choice America
Anti-choice groups use this false statement to scare people away from having abortions or as a pretense that they are concerned about women's health and well-being. Click here for a fact sheet that gathers the scientific studies that refute this false claim. Sound science should guide our public policy, not scare tactics.
- I heard that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, then every state will get to decide if abortion stays legal. What’s wrong with giving people in each state that choice?
Anti-choice people say this to make their position seem less extreme, even though they know that, if this happened, some states would automatically ban abortion. The fact is, basic rights are too important to give to some people and not to others. Basic rights should not be doled out on a state-by-state basis. What if some states did not guarantee the right to vote to everyone? Or guarantee free speech? Or the freedom of religion? Choice is not just about abortion. It is about our freedom and privacy. We should be able to make personal decisions without intrusion from politicians. We believe that every woman in every state should be able to make the decisions that are best for her and her family.
- A friend of mine told me that she thinks abortion is immoral and doesn’t want her tax dollars to pay for abortion. Any suggestions on how to respond?
We respect that many people have different views on abortion, but individuals do not get to decide where exactly their tax dollars get to go. Abortion should not be treated any differently. We believe that all women should have the same health-care options, even if they make less money. As long as government helps people who can't afford health care, politicians shouldn't be able to single out abortion from other medical care.
These issues involve matters of personal, moral, religious, and scientific beliefs. This is a question that each person must decide for her- or himself. This is an area where politicians should have no role.
Sometimes, women experience severe complications late in their pregnancies. In those cases, choosing abortion may be the best way to protect their health. We can never know the circumstances that cause some women to choose abortion. It might be a very wanted pregnancy that went horribly wrong. The bottom line is this: a woman and her doctor know what's best for her – especially when her health may be jeopardized. Politicians should not be allowed to intrude into these personal and complicated decisions, and they definitely should not be able to practice medicine without a license.
We believe that a teenager in trouble should turn to her parents for support. Fortunately, most do. But, some young women live in violent or unsafe situations and are unable to do so. If teens feel they can’t talk to their parents, for whatever reason, we want to be sure that they are safe. Unfortunately, parental-involvement laws put these young women at risk.
We can prevent teen pregnancy in the first place.
- Teens should be taught medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education, including information about abstinence and birth control.
- Accurate sex education also gives teens the facts. This way, they can protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
HOW TO HAVE AN AUTHENTIC CONVERSATION ABOUT THE COMPLEX TOPIC OF ABORTION
Prepared by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Labels are Limiting
Research shows: The number of people who say abortion should remain safe and legal is higher than the number who would identify as pro-choice. These messages directly reach those people while still motivating our supporters:
- "The pro-choice and pro-life labels don't reflect the conversation that's happening in America today."
- "These labels don't reflect the complexity of how most people actually think and feel about abortion."
- "Instead of putting people in one category or another, we should respect the real life decisions women and their families face every day."
Talking about Planned Parenthood
Research shows: Basing the messages on the broad range of services provided by Plannet Parenthood health centers and including information about all services and options reminds
people of Planned Parenthood's mission and impact.
- "Planned Parenthood health centers provide a broad range of services, more than 90% of which are lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STDs, breast health services, Pap tests, sexual health education, information, and health counseling."
- "One in five women has turned to Planned Parenthood at some time in her life for professional, non-judgmental, and confidential care. No one else does more than Planned Parenthood to reduce unintended pregnancies and keep women healthy."
Acknowledge that you don't know a woman's situation and can't walk in her shoes.
Speak about a "woman's pregnancy." You do not need to include the words "unplanned" or unintended."
Emphasize that abortion should remain safe and legal.
Stop after you've made your point. More detail about specific situations may push people away.
Remember that moving away from labels broadens your audience and helps you connect with the public on this issue.
Talking about Reproductive Freedom & Abortion
Research shows: Talking about abortion as part of a full range of options is a strong frame. Painting a picture of personal decision making is powerful.
- "Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a women, and I don't believe you can make that decision for someone else."
- "A woman should have accurate information about all of her options. Information should support a woman, help her make a decision for herself, and enable her to take care of her health and well-being."
- "Information should not be provided with the intent of coercing, shaming, or judging a woman."
Research shows: 79% of likely voters found this statement convincing:
- "It's just not that simple. I don't know a woman's specific situation - I am not in her shoes. Ultimately, decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family, her faith, with the counsel of her doctor or health care provider."
Research shows: Keeping abortion "safe and legal" is one of the most agreed upon statements we tested, even among audiences who are traditionally unfavorable to abortion. When referencing abortion, the terms to use are "ending a pregnancy," "abortion," or "a safe and legal procedure."
- "It is important that abortion remain a safe and legal medical procedure for a woman to consider, if and when she needs it."
Research shows: Government and politicians staying out of these personal decisions is a core anchor for messaging.
- "Women don't turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments. Politicians should not be involved in a woman's personal medical decisions about her pregnancy."
- "The bottom line is that a woman, not politicians, should make the informed decisions when it comes to her own pregnancy."
from the Reproductive Health Technologies Project
It’s About Values
Frame your messaging in terms of the issues that are important to the other person.
- Don’t talk about they/ them, but we/ us.
- Don’t talk plural but singular (e.g., not women/ families/ people; use a woman/ a family/ a person).
- Rather than “choice,” talk about the personal, about decision-making
Themes That Work
- political interference
- personal decision making
- health and safety
- fair treatment/ meeting social needs