Parents are their children’s greatest teachers and advocates. Of the many formative conversations parents have with their children as they grow, conversations about sexual and reproductive health are among the most impactful.
It’s important for parents to remember that sexual and reproductive health encompass more than just sex and contraception, and conversations with children should reflect that. Including abortion as part of the dialogue helps to demystify and destigmatize one of safest and most common experiences in health care.
In today’s blog post, we share a brief guide for parents looking to talk openly and honestly with their children about abortion.
1. Abortion is healthcare
Abortion is highly politicized. If your child has already begun learning about abortion, chances are they’ve approached it through a political lens. Start by grounding abortion in healthcare: use factual, neutral language to explain what abortion is rather than how abortion is represented or valued. You can say things like, “abortion is a way to end a pregnancy” or “abortion stops a pregnancy from continuing.”
2. Abortion is common
One of the most effective ways of destigmatizing abortion is to underscore its ubiquity. Approximately 73 million abortions occur worldwide each year.1 Abortions are not unique to any one particular demographic: people from all nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures end pregnancies. Shout Your Abortion and Abortion Out Loud are both great resources to explore the breadth and diversity of abortion experiences.
Abortion is safe
Regardless of where a conversation about abortion takes you and your child, it’s important that they leave the discussion with the understanding that abortion is safe. In fact, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures available when equipped with the appropriate information and resources.2 Without this understanding, unsafe methods of abortion can become as equally normalized as safe methods of abortion. It’s critical that children understand the difference, and know how to seek out the right resources for abortion care if needed.
To all the parents out there discussing abortion as a part of sexual and reproductive healthcare with their children: we salute you! The conversations you have today lay the groundwork for a safer and healthier future for all.
Claire is a teacher, reproductive rights advocate, and the manager of https://www.howtouseabortionpill.org/.