How to effectively discuss abortion rights with people who just don’t understand
In the days following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a half-century-old precedent, abortion rights protesters made their voices heard at marches and rallies across the country.
But the fair fight will be long and exhausting, and it often won’t take the form of large-scale organized events – but intimate one-on-one conversations, either around the holiday table, a text string or on a social network. media thread. While these types of dialogues often implode in energy-consuming, equally demoralizing and futile vortexes, it doesn’t have to be that way. These expert rhetorical tips can help you stay on message without losing your temper or your cool.
State the message simply, clearly and unemotionally.
According to investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Civia Tamarkin, successful arguments about abortion rights begin with a simple, irrefutable, and emotionless framing. “Know how to frame the message as reproductive oppression and a violation of fundamental rights to privacy, bodily autonomy and personal medical decision-making,” she says.
Stay focused on the fundamentally American right. Try this, she suggests: “It’s about an extremist minority imposing their faith and personal views on the majority.”
Don’t assume the absolute worst.
In high-stakes conversations on well-known topics, it’s easy to assume that you know exactly what’s driving everyone. It’s even easier to assume that their motives are stupid.
“If your goal is to influence the person, you can’t assume the worst of them,” says Sarah Stewart Holland, co-host of the Pantsuit Politics podcast and co-author of Now what? How to Move Forward When We’re Divided (About Virtually Everything) with Beth Silvers. “You might feel better and fair, but they’ll feel defensive and end the conversation.”
Sivers adds, “Life and death are absolutely at stake in this debate, which is why our ability to persuade and influence ourselves is so important.” That said, “shame has never changed a single mind.”
Try saying, “I know you want fairness too, just like me. (And try to believe that too.)
Use specific language with intent.
Many who oppose abortion access understand a narrow definition of the procedure and its real-world applications. “Abortion is not one thing, and the need for abortions arises in a wide variety of circumstances,” explains Stewart Holland. “We need to broaden the context of people for abortion.”
She suggests that using language like “abortion care” and “abortion services” can “subtly, but over time powerfully expand our thinking about abortion as health care.”
Separate law from ethics.
Even those with strong anti-abortion views sometimes admit that there are certain limited circumstances in which abortion care is both necessary and ethical. “It’s really hard to draw a line between what’s ethical and what’s legal, but when you do, doors open,” says Stewart Holland. “I have been talking with a dear friend for years about abortion. We have a deep disagreement on ethics, but we have reached agreement on what the law should be.
Silvers adds, “When we talk about the ethics of abortion, we can get into these very specific circumstances. The more you talk, the clearer it becomes that it is almost impossible to write a law to enforce your personal morality.