Anti-choice zealots often win the war of words about abortion. The time for those of us who are pro-choice to be pleasing or to attempt nuance is long past. By allowing the antis to call those of us who support accessible reproductive health care for all women “murderers,” and clumps of cells “innocent babies,” we allow them to decide the terms of the debate and to put us on the defensive. Here are some talking points. It’s time for us to claim the high ground—to talk about how anti-choicers want to kill women (which no access to reproductive health care will do), leave babies in impoverished homes, and increase the suffering of all women across the globe. Remember, WE are pro-life—ALL life. Use the term and make them ask you why. Then tell them.
Abortion Causees Mental Suffering: For many women—the girl raped by a family member, the woman whose baby is not viable, the 17-year-old who wants to go to school, the poor woman or woman of color who has no insurance and does not want to give birth in a maternity care system that is deadly for black women, abortion is a reasonable choice. Research consistently says that women are more likely to report grief, anger and sadness about a pregnancy than an abortion. The emotion women were most likely to feel after an abortion is relief. Abortion does not cause depression or anxiety. And while we know that a small number of women experience emotional issues after abortion, this is common after every major life event.
The “Abortion Industry” is Only In It for the Money: The truth is, doctors and other medical professionals take large pay cuts to perform abortions. The average abortion doctor earns $105,000; the typical OB/GYN earns nearly $250,000. Medical professionals who perform abortions do it because they want to help others. And most clinics charge barely enough to cover their expenses.
The Anti-Choice Movement Wants to Save Women’s Lives: The U.S. is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth and one of the few countries in the world in which maternal mortality has increased over the past 25 years. If we really cared about women, wouldn’t we make giving birth a safe and medically non-dangerous procedure? Research consistently finds that banning abortion kills women. In nations that prohibit abortion, the rate of dangerous secret abortions skyrockets and suicide becomes a leading cause of maternal death. States that attempt to ban all abortions with no exceptions or who make the procedure a felony only succeed in subjecting women to punishment and, sometimes, death, as a penalty for being raped, for example.
Anti-Choice Laws Stop Abortion: This we know is patently untrue. Research confirms that the abortion rate has fallen slightly in recent years because of expanded access to birth control and to abortion under the ACA. Not restrictive abortion policies. In Latin America where abortion is banned, the rate is more than three times the rate in the U. S. And, if women are forced underground, they will die from botch abortion attempts.
Abortion is Bad for Women’s Health: Anti-Choice fanatics have no concern for women’s health. If you oppose affordable health care, want to treat pregnancy as a pre-existing condition and take no steps to reduce maternal mortality, your claim to care about women is specious and nonsensical. Peddling the lie that abortion causes breast cancer is another lie that harms women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a nonpartisan professional organization for OB/GYNS emphasizes that abortion care is critical to women’s health.
Pierce the myths and lies. Re-claim the moral high ground. Speak truth to protect and save women’s lives.