By Willow Goode
The Thanksgiving season is upon us. For me, that means watching the National Dog Show. It means helping my mom make the tofu turkey that never seems to come out the right way. It means eating as much pumpkin pie as humanly possible. Aside from eating and watching the dog show, Thanksgiving is also a time for conversation whether that be catching up with relatives or talking about politics. Recently, I got a little help on how to navigate the conversations around the dinner table.
This past week, Caitlin Blunnie of Reproaction came to the NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland office and gave a presentation, Talking About Abortion in Challenging Spaces. With the holiday season just around the corner it is a time when conversations with family members are inevitable. This may lead to discussions of polarizing topics including that of abortion. Some family members share my same views, however, that isn’t the case for everyone. These discussions may be uncomfortable, especially if talking with someone who is anti-choice. In Caitlin’s presentation, she gave us some tips on how to best approach these kinds of conversations with people who have opposing or varying opinions.
- Before starting the conversation, it is important to mentally prepare yourself. Make sure you have your own value statement. Having a clear vision of what you stand for can help to better explain your view. Once you have your value statement, make sure you know your content. Obviously, you don’t need to know every fact and statistic about abortion, but you should have a good understanding and knowledge about the subject matter. It is also important not to make things up, and stick to the facts. Most information can be accessed quickly via smartphone.
- When you start the conversation, establish some clear ground rules. Make sure that family members are in agreement that no one is going to shout, walk away, or get physical. This will help to make sure that people are respecting each other’s opinions and that they are willing to listen to each other.
- Talk about abortion as a part of reproductive health care — which it is. Normalizing abortion like any other health care service helps people understand that it isn’t taboo.
- At the end of the conversation make sure that family members know that you are available to talk anytime if they have any other questions. While you don’t want to remain open to harassment or bullying, being clear that you’re not ashamed to talk about the subject beyond the dinner table can allow them to ruminate on any questions they may have.
Even if the conversation does not go the way you planned, that is okay. Not every conversation you have is going to be transformational, but having a conversation can expose others to different ideas and opinions that they may not have thought about before. There is already a stigma surrounding abortion, so — if you’re safe to do so — having conversation around the topic is one step toward trying to end it.
After the presentation, I felt more confident when speaking with family members and friends about abortion. I learned new tips about how to approach the conversation the best way and how to have a productive conversation rather than it just devolving into an argument. If you’re based in Maryland and interested in hosting your own forum about how to approach this challenging subject, contact us at email@example.com. Good luck and happy holidays!