Let’s talk about having the talk about abortion

Welcome to week two of the Let’s Talk About Abortion Learning Series!

In this session, we’re covering how to have “the talk” about abortion.  

The way we talk about abortion, and any other issue that matters to us, can make a big difference.  

A lot of barriers prevent people from talking about abortion in North Dakota. It’s impolite or too political, too full of partisan talking points, too divisive. But the truth is, talking about abortion is one of the best ways to change things.  

The goal with any conversation should be to build rapport, share connections, and walk in another person’s shoes together. This method of deeper, nonjudgmental conversations geared toward sharing values-based, tailored stories with people of various viewpoints has been referred to as “deep canvassing” and has been shown to be effective in moving the needle even for people who start out totally opposed.  

It isn’t magic, and it doesn’t work every time (or even immediately), but these conversations can change the way we think and talk about abortion.  

Here are five key elements to an impactful conversation:  

  1. Ask their opinion about abortion and listen nonjudgmentally.  
  2. Find the common ground in their views and values. 
  3. Share a story that addresses their values. 
  4. Engage with their initial concerns and get them thinking. 
  5. Connect back to reproductive freedom and abortion access.  

We know certain points make sense to frame our conversations. Here are a few:  

  • “People should have the freedom to decide if and when to have children” is a way to frame the ability to access abortion as well as all other forms of reproductive health care.  
  • Whether we personally agree with abortion or not, these deeply personal decisions should be made in consultation with doctors and families.” We should all be able to make decisions for ourselves, and the government should not be involved in our family-planning decisions.  
  • “When someone decides to have an abortion, it should be safe. Abortion care should be regulated by medical experts, not by politicians.” Keeping politics out of doctors’ offices and out of personal medical decisions is something many North Dakotans agree with. 
  • "Government regulations don’t keep abortions from happening, they just make them harder to get for people whose lives are already hard.” This is not just about having a theoretical choice; we need to ensure real access to reproductive health care.