Abortion is seldom a topic that we speak about in casual conversation. More often we hear abortion talked about by news media, politicians or, more rarely, depicted in books, television shows or movies. In pretty much any situation, abortion elicits an intense emotional response. In the U.S. the conversation on abortion generally centers on whether you are “for” or “against” it and very rarely explores personal narratives, what we believe about abortion as a decision, what the procedure entails, or how abortion affects an individual’s reproductive and mental health. Engaging in an honest and vulnerable conversation on abortion provides an opportunity to explore the depths of our beliefs about sex, life, death, agency and parenting. It gets at the very root of what we care deeply for in life and opens the door to finding potential common ground.
Background Information:Interested in having further conversations? You may be interested in our Talking Politics guide, which explores how we talk about politics and our hopes for improving how we do that. Explore all opinions, perspectives, stances, and arguments for and against abortion rights with AllStances™ by AllSides.
Let's Get Started!
Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
Abortion (~40 min)
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows..
- Share something from your life experience that informs your response to or position on abortion.
- Why can it be so difficult to talk about abortion? What is really at the heart of the debate?
- Have you or someone close to you ever had to make a decision about abortion? Who made the ultimate decision? How do you (or the person you know) feel about it now?
- Labels like ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life’ often oversimplify positions and pit us against one another. Which, if any, gray areas have you identified within your own position?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
- What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
- How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?