In this charged political climate, chances are you'll end up in an argument with somebody about a) Trump versus Clinton, b) racially insensitive Halloween costumes, or c) the issues debated during this election, including abortion. I can't help you right now with the first two, but I've got your back on the last one. It can be difficult to remember statistics while balancing a beer and a gloved hand with claws stuck on it, but this will help you argue effectively with some of the most common ways in which people try to deny the importance of abortion access.
Some of the arguments against abortion you might encounter are pretty easy to rebut. (To some dude in a Ryan Lochte costume saying that his ex-girlfriend had an abortion and was really upset about it afterwards: That isn't a valid argument, dude.) Others may be more nuanced. (Anybody who says that abortion is dangerous to the mother can just be directed to Marie Stopes' informative website, where the extremely low risks of surgical and nonsurgical abortions are laid out in great detail for their perusal.) Some, though, may be more difficult to combat off the top of your head, which is where this guide comes in.
This handy-dandy guide for arguing pro-choice is also useful for other situations, like dates, family reunions, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and after-work drinks. Have it saved on your phone for easy access to statistics! Think up witty ways to make the points your own! And don't be upset if you don't change anybody's mind. Sometimes, you can only add your voice to the conversation.
Argument: "It Creates An Easy Way Out"
How The Argument Works: It's a point of particular shame to me that my own prime minister, the Australian Tony Abbott, said in 2004 that "Abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations.” That's the prevailing thinking behind this argument: that abortion creates a way to escape responsibility for one's actions, and converts the serious matter of pregnancy into a disposable problem with no repercussions.
Argument: "It Makes Teenagers More Promiscuous"
How The Argument Works: The basic structure of this argument is that access to abortion makes girls and women more sexually active, which is a bad thing, and therefore abortion access is itself a bad thing.
A pretty heinous letter from a doctor published in the British Medical Journal in 1975 sums up this attitude. It argued against abortion for teenagers because "the knowledge that they can attain an abortion on demand and be issued with contraceptives is a great comfort to these promiscuous girls, who are grateful they will not have to interrupt their sexual activities for long... A pregnancy, though undesirable, at least keeps these girls away from their sexual activities for 30-40 weeks, perhaps longer. To put it crudely, they have had their belly full of sex and steer clear of it."
Argument: "It's Used As A Contraceptive Alternative"
How The Argument Works: This is one of the arguments which paint women who get abortions as selfish and uncaring -- that instead of using contraceptive methods to prevent conception, like condoms, the pill, or IUDs, they'd prefer to have unprotected sex and then use abortion to "deal with it" as an alternative.
Argument: "Every Baby Can Be A Blessing For Somebody's Family"
How The Argument Works: The thought that adoption is always preferable to abortion seems reasonable on its face. If there are many people in a country who desperately want a baby, isn't it a better idea to carry a child to term and then give it up to those who want it, rather than aborting it?
Argument: "It Allows Men To Exploit Women"
How The Argument Works: The BBC points out that this argument actually originated with some feminist thinkers, who claimed that abortion is actually constructed to maintain male access to women in a sexual context. "Abortion on demand is vital if men are to be able to have women on demand, and thus men are arguing for abortion so that they can continue to exploit women." In other words, pregnancy prevents heterosexual dudes from getting their rocks off, so abortion is a method of control.
How To Dispute It: The biggest response to this is that women are indisputably in charge of the decision to have an abortion the vast majority of the time. The Guttmacher Institute surveyed 1,209 patients at American abortion providers, with in-depth interviews with 38 women, to provide a comprehensive overview of the reasons women sought abortions. "The reasons most frequently cited," the study noted, "were that having a child would interfere with a woman's education, work or ability to care for dependents (74 percent); that she could not afford a baby now (73 percent); and that she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems (48 percent)." Fewer than one percent of the respondents said they were doing it because their partner or their parents wanted them to.
Jessica Valenti also points out that there's an insidious aspect of male control that this argument doesn't consider: forced pregnancy, or "reproductive coercion" when focused toward starting or maintaining a pregnancy. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence explains that "women experiencing reproductive coercion by their intimate partners have an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy as a result of pregnancy pressure and birth control sabotage." If it's male control we're worried about, female access to abortion and contraception should be made easier, not harder.
Images: Bustle; Giphy