How to Talk About Reproductive Freedom with Your Anti-Choice Family Members at Thanksgiving

Your cheat sheet for surviving *those* politically-loaded dinner conversations

Going home for the holidays isn’t always just cranberry sauce and gravy. For some of us, it can mean having difficult conversations with family members whose political views and values don’t align with our own. And as the divisive midterms in Georgia, Texas, and Florida showed, we still have so much more work to do in educating our family members on what’s at stake for our essential rights.

While we hope you are recharging and eating too much turkey (or tofurkey) with your loved ones, here’s a cheat sheet you can use to talk with people in your life about the importance of reproductive freedom when politics inevitably comes up.

For when someone says:

Abortion is too controversial!

Remind them that the majority of Americans stand on the side of abortion access. Seven in 10 Americans believe abortion should remain legal and accessible — that’s not just a majority, that’s consensus, and it’s true in red, blue, and purple states. This is even true across geography, age, and ethnicity. A majority of Independents and Republicans also support legal access to abortion, regardless of whether they would choose abortion themselves or identify as pro-life. It’s not about whether or not abortion is the right choice for them personally, it’s about not wanting politicians to decide.

In fact, Roe v. Wade is more popular than ever. That’s because the vast majority of Americans have compassion for a woman’s choices around her reproductive healthcare and respect her right to choose abortion. That doesn’t sound so controversial to me, it sounds like the American people are overwhelmingly on the side of safe and legal abortion access.

Well no one should ever NEED an abortion!

The decision of whether to have an abortion is a deeply personal and often complex issue. As we all know, life is complicated and there are no simple answers. We may never know someone’s circumstances or walk in their shoes, but no matter what, every woman should be allowed to make decisions over her own life, body, and future with the help of her family and her doctor.

Reproductive rights is just a social issue, and we should be focusing on issues that are affecting our family like jobs and the economy!

Anyone interested in supporting working families must understand that you cannot expand economic opportunity without supporting our right to choose if, how, and when to have a family. Women and families know that their ability to get ahead depends on their ability to plan their own families and control their own futures. This isn’t some abstract fight about social issues; these are bread and butter issues that affect our ability to continue our education, rise up in our careers, and plan for our futures.

The majority of women who choose abortion are mothers already who are just trying to take care of the families they already have. Access to contraception and abortion care helps a woman achieve her educational and career goals. The ability to delay having a child if she chooses can lead to a more stable income than that of her peers who were unable to delay a pregnancy until the time was right. This helps build stronger families that can be more resilient in times of economic downturn. Some may not see how abortion access is tied to economic well-being, but when it comes to the lived experience of women and families across the country, there is no debate.

I don’t personally agree with abortion, and I support politicians that actually care about families!

This year, we all watched as the Trump administration ripped children out of their loving parents’ arms at the border while seeking asylum. Thousands of children have been separated from their families, while the administration has no plans for reuniting many of them. Family separation is the latest in a long line of examples of the “pro-life” hypocrisy we’ve seen from the GOP. As we all sit here with our loved ones today, what’s happening to these families feels inhumane, and the opposite of “pro-life” or family values.

This comes after the GOP has tried over and over again to rip healthcare away from millions of Americans, and spent decades laying the groundwork to criminalize abortion and punish women. Anyone who calls themselves “pro-life” and “pro-family” must support women and families in all instances, especially their right to access essential healthcare.

It’s scary for men to even be around women these days with all this talk of “Me Too.” Brett Kavanaugh was treated so unfairly, like so many other men these days. I’m afraid to even shake a woman’s hand!

I know I have learned a lot this past about the millions of sexual assault survivors who have stayed silent for years. Our country has also learned about the long-term damage that sexual violence often does to victims, and the effects on families, workplaces, and communities. So many men and women are rising up and making their voices heard in order to shed a light on injustices that have gone on for years. I admire the people who have bravely come forward with their stories, and hope anyone else who is a survivor knows places like RAINN are ready to help whenever they are ready to talk about it.

Yes, this has led to specific people being held accountable, but I also agree that it’s important to have honest conversations about the right way to treat everyone, including men and women. We must respect everyone’s lived experiences, and the fact that their stories are their own. My life is different than yours, and we can never pretend to know what someone has been through. That’s why it’s important that we believe survivors when they come forward with stories, and have open conversations about how this affects us all.