Instead Of Fighting About Abortion, How About We Listen?

Originally published by Refinery29:

Last week, the group behind several secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal-tissue donation released a new one, this time including a technician for a laboratory that processes and provides fetal tissue to scientists. Pro-life people erupted in anger, vowing to defund the group once and for all, while pro-choice groups rallied to defend against the coordinated attack.

The long-standing battle has flared up again, and it’s not the first — or the last — time abortion will be the center of controversy. But what about the stories beyond the headlines — the millions of women and men who experience abortion personally, as a real-life event rather than an abstract debate? All too often, their voices are drowned out by the heated rhetoric that dominates the abortion conversation.

The Guttmacher Institute estimates that one in three U.S. women will have an abortion in her life, and roughly 50% of pregnancies are unplanned. Women aren’t having abortions to express their ideology — they have them because they need them. And while it might sound like heresy to some, some women — even those who consider themselves pro-choice — can have feelings of regret after their abortions, while some vehemently pro-life women have abortions, too. 

Rather than pick one side or the other, I urge you to try something different: listening. Talk about your own reproductive experiences, from infertility to miscarriage to pregnancy to abortion — and listen to the people in your life talking about theirs. Here are some ideas on how.