This question was posed to us at a really wonderful “Words of Choice” workshop, which I had the opportunity to attend at this weekend’s conference. The workshop was facilitated by Joan; a well spoken, spunky, experienced, and passionate activist who shared insightful wisdom. With her blessing, I’d like to pass on a brief cliff-notes version of some of the thoughts and practical ideas that were presented. Please note that my writing cannot actually give this workshop justice.
The follow-up to the above question: It is pretty difficult to determine rational reasons to have babies. So, why do we expect such reasons from those choosing to not be pregnant?
General advice we were given about responding to anti-abortion rhetoric:
-Take a deep breath and then speak on the out-breath; this will lower your voice, giving you more authority. It will also help to keep you calm.
-Give a fact and move on
-Briefly state personal opinion
-Offer a generalized statement to recognize the complex philosophy
-Agree to disagree
Drum roll for my favorite piece of advice….
–Instead of holding tension in your back, shoulders & neck during these interactions, do kegels! Improving your sex life totally beats a life of stressed induced back pain.
Specific ideas that were suggested to respond to rhetoric with:
-“Women regret abortions” --> “Any major life decision has the possibility of regret -why should this one be different?”
-“You’re going to hell” --> “I’ll see you there”
-Someone making a threat on you/your family -->“What I am doing is legal, threatening me is not”
-“What if your mother had aborted you?” --> “Then I wouldn’t be standing here dealing with you”
-“Baby killer” --> “I’m proud to offer this service, babies are too important to be an accident”
-“Why is the mother more important?” --> “The mother already exists, and a child needs a strong & ready mother.”
Some other comments:
-"My concern is for the living children in this world who aren't getting their needs met. That’s where I would rather focus my energy.”
-“I didn’t go into this [providing abortions] to become a judge, therefore woman’s well thought out choices are all valid to me”
-“If one believes that the soul is immortal...then for the soul, having an abortion is like missing the bus - the soul will wait around for the right woman to carry it when the time is right.”
-“Human life is too important for there to not be choice present.”
One of the best parts of this workshop, which I can’t sum up here, was the opportunity to think/talk through my own ideology in a safe space. I recognize that my opinions, experiences, and beliefs will develop as I continue on this path to becoming a provider. (They already have shifted a bit over my past year and a half in medical school.) I recognize that in order to allow for this growth and ensure that I don’t burnout, having these safe spaces are so important. Besides being grateful for the overall session, I’m super excited about all the kegels in my future!