Lindsey Mauldin, Vice President of Policy and Planning, Planned Parenthood speaking with the press in Philadelphia, Dec. 9, 2021. (Photo: Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania) Lindsey Mauldin
Lindsey Mauldin, Vice President of Policy and Planning, Planned Parenthood speaking with the press in Philadelphia, Dec. 9, 2021. (Photo: Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania)

In this op-ed, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania’s Lindsey Mauldin has some suggestions on how we should be talking about abortion.

It seems like everyone is talking about abortion this year—and they should be. Our right to access the care that we need is under attack after the Dobbs decision that erased federal protections for abortion. 

Some states have put outright bans into place, while Kansas and Pennsylvania have seen anti-abortion extremists attempt to use state constitutions to restrict our rights. Here are some helpful tips for talking about abortion with your friends, family, and neighbors: 

Say the Word ‘Abortion’ 

Not using the word “abortion” only adds to the stigma, and when we are ashamed of the care we need, it becomes harder for us to fight for it. Abortion is essential health care, and there is no reason to talk around it, use euphemisms, or obscure what we mean. Avoid phrases that can be polarizing or isolating for people who have had abortions, like “no one wants abortion to happen” or “we need more birth control so that abortion is less common.”

Abortion is a Single Choice 

It does not have to define someone’s life or story. It’s a decision that they should be permitted to lawfully and safely make with their health care provider. 

Repeat That Abortion is a Medical Choice That Should be Made With Medical Professionals—Not Politicians

Abortion bans take health care out of the hands of doctors and patients and put it into the hands of political ideologues. That is not safe and it’s not ok. 

Additionally, there are myths and misinformation out there about abortion and we have a few recommendations on how to respond. 

Common Anti Phrase #1: “Abortion until birth.”

You say: “Anti-organizations and anti-legislators opposed to safe, legal abortion will say and do anything to perpetuate abortion stigma so they can pass laws designed to make abortion impossible to access.” 

There is no such thing as abortion until birth. Providers are required to follow the law regarding abortion care, and often there are limits on the gestational age at which abortions can be completed. Statements like these completely contradict how medical care works. 

Common Anti Phrase #2: “Abortion is dangerous.”

You say: “Abortion is safer than pregnancy and childbirth. Abortion is 14 times safer than childbirth.” 

Complications in abortion care are rare—only about 0.5% of abortions result in complications, and these are generally minor and treatable, such as infection.

There is no medically accepted evidence that shows any link between abortion and any type of illness or disease. 

Abortion is safe and common; 1 in 4 people will have an abortion by the age of 45.

Common Anti Phrase #3: “There is no need for abortion when contraceptives are easily accessible.”

You say: “Contraceptives are not always easily accessible, nor are they always affordable.”

Contraceptives, even when properly and consistently used, occasionally fail.

There is no state mandate in Pennsylvania to require that medically accurate and inclusive sexual health education be taught in schools.

Contraceptives do reduce unintended pregnancies, but contraceptives don’t stop abortions from happening. Abortion care is needed even when contraception care is available. 

Lindsey Mauldin is vice president, public policy and advocacy for Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania