Friday, November 25, 2011

Planned Parenthood of NYC and Bring the Abortion Debate to Thanksgiving Day Dinner

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

{updated 6:00 PM}

I read with some amusement the article in entitled "Planned Parenthood Gives Tips to Promote Abortion at Thanksgiving". The article was linked to Planned Parenthood of New York City and was intended to vilify those who have a pro choice position on abortion. The gist of the article was to claim Planned Parenthood of New York City was coaching supporters "how they can push abortion on their guests at the Thanksgiving dinner table." Which is why I found the article amusing as well as intellectually dishonest.

Coming from a family with a wide range of views on most issues, likely true for most families across America as well, I really cannot remember having the debate over pro-choice versus pro-life at Thanksgiving dinner. Ever.

Admittedly the timing of the Planned Parenthood of New York City's "Talking Turkey: 8 Easy Steps for Discussing Reproductive Health and Justice at the Holiday Table" was extremely ill conceived.'s response was equally as ill conceived. Thanksgiving, or any family holiday for that matter, is not the time to publicly revisit and point the difference we know exists with respect to the issue of pro-choice versus pro-life.

As I read the article I could not help but recognize the attempt to further anger the pro-life base and in the process essentially engage in the same activities that they accuse PPNYC of.

So, being a pro-choice individual I decided to break it down and add some of my own commentary.

(From the PPNYC "tip sheet.")

The holidays are upon us! Going home or getting together with relatives for the holidays is always a stressful time, but if your family members are the type who regularly protest outside the local Planned Parenthood, you know that this holiday is going to be a doozy.

Luckily, we have some tips for surviving those awkward conversations. So read on, and bring some diplomacy and understanding to the table along with that pumpkin pie.

The lead is referring to those family members who may actively protest Planned Parenthood. So, the intent is obviously to help pro-choice individual if faced with a family member who is virulently anti-choice handle the scenario diplomatically and with reason.

Avoid bumper speak talk. A slogan might work for a poster or a button, but in a conversation it just leads to a heated back and forth. Try to steer clear of catchall phrases—they very rarely lead to common ground or change anyone’s mind.

This is just sound advice. Boilerplate stuff from either side of the issue serves only to shut down meaningful discussion. It is never wise to counter a boilerplate statement with another boilerplate statement of your own.

Remember the big picture. Debating when life begins or whether or not abortion is federally funded may get you nowhere. Instead focus on your shared values and the big picture... how the decision about when and whether to become a parent is a personal one. You never know, you just may find yourself actually agreeing with your relatives.

Well, the decision about whether a person should become a parent and when that time might best be is an individual decision. One bes made by the prospective parents. Everyone should find agreement on this point methinks.

Create a space for the listener. Ambivalence is normal. Reproductive health is not a black and white issue, and there is no one right or wrong way to feel. Be open and accepting of other people’s personal views, and instead focus on the distinction between your personal beliefs, and what should or shouldn’t be imposed on others. For example, “I might not personally choose to get an abortion, but I could never decide for another woman whether or not she was ready to become a parent.”

Reproductive rights and health are not black and white issues. Only to a completely closed mind reactionary are these issues black and white. When diplomatically and rationally handled most people can walk away from the conversation feeling comfortable. The issue really is freedom of choice and the right to exercise free will in making ones choice, within legal boundaries of course.

Learn to diffuse. There are some debates you’re just never going to win, and not all questions are created equal—in fact many are designed to start a fight. Instead of getting caught in the weeds, try to recognize when a question isn’t a real question, and transition back to what you feel is the bigger picture:

Question: “I don’t want my tax dollars going toward abortions.”

Response: “Actually, because of the Hyde Amendment, tax dollars can’t go toward supporting abortion. But I do believe that everyone deserves access to basic, preventive reproductive care, and that it’s important we support those services. No one should ever have to choose between paying rent and buying birth control.”

Just plain good common sense when faced with these sort of situations.

It’s all in how you frame it. In so many of these political disagreements, when things get heated we revert back to bumper sticker slogans instead of really talking about an issue. Instead, take a few deep breaths and try personalizing the issue, or evoking empathy.

Oftentimes it’s easier to dismiss abortion or other health care procedures as “bad” when it’s framed as a political issue. But when you’re talking about an individual woman making a personal decision, it’s harder to just write off. Also keep in mind that everyone doesn’t have to feel the same way about an issue to find something to agree on. For example:

  • I can accept someone’s decision to end a pregnancy, even if I wouldn’t make the same decision myself.

  • Each circumstance is different, so we should respect and support women and families who must make life-altering decisions about whether or not to have a child.

  • Ultimately, we all want healthy, thriving families and that is why we need policies that respect our ability to make thoughtful decisions and support us in our roles as caregivers and breadwinners.

Again, good common sense advice. Something both theadvocates of pro-choice and pro-life need to diligently observe. On a daily basis.

Know where you stand. It’s easier to talk about what you believe in if you know what you believe in and why beforehand. Ask yourself why you believe that reproductive rights, or sex education, or health care, are important, and you might be surprised at how universal your reasons are. For example, you may believe that sex education is important because you feel it’s the best way to protect young people. Or you might believe abortion should be legal because you could never make the decision about when someone else was ready to become a parent.

Isn't this one a given? I mean if you don't know where you stand and why by the time you would read material such as this it is likely toy never will know the where and why of it.

Below are some sample questions and responses:

Q) How can you support abortion?

R) The decision about when and whether to become a parent is an intensely personal one. I believe each woman has to make that decision for herself—and that no one can make it for her.

Q) Isn’t emergency contraception just another form of abortion?

R) I’m glad you asked me that question—a lot of people have that misconception. Emergency contraception pills actually prevent pregnancy before it begins. On the other hand, the abortion pill ends a pregnancy. I think emergency contraception is a great thing, because it gives people a second chance to prevent pregnancy—and I think everyone should be ready before they become a parent.

Q) Why are you anti-family and anti-baby?

R) I am very pro-family and pro-baby! I love my daughter, and she’s the best thing that ever happened to me. That’s why I truly believe that the decision about whether and when to become a parent is a sacred one, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Q) I don’t want my tax dollars to be spent paying for abortions.

R) [Note: you may be tempted to respond with “Well, I don’t want my tax dollars being spent on _________ (the war, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, etc.).” We recommend fighting that urge—you want to have a conversation, not just a comeback.] I think we can all agree that our tax dollars should be spent making sure that everyone has medical care. In my ideal world, no one would have to put off going to the doctor because they can’t afford it, and every child would have access to a pediatrician. I also believe that our medical care shouldn’t be based on how much money we make. Women who are poor should have the same ability to decide whether and when to become parents as women who have more money.

Q) I think sex ed should be left to the parents.

R) I totally agree that parents should be the main educators of their children when it comes to sex. Kids need to hear our values and our sense of what is appropriate for kids their age. But I also know that those conversations are hard to have—I remember my father stumbling over some of the very same questions my kids ask me now. And I think lots of parents put off the conversation or avoid it entirely. Honestly, all kids need information about protecting themselves from disease and unintended pregnancy—probably not for now, but for the future—and we need to make sure all kids get this information that could save their lives.

The potential questions, and possible responses are both reasonable and valid. Only through open and frank dialogue that is driven by reason rather than emotion can any sense be made of the debate.

It is clear that pro-choice is not pro-abortion. It should be that pro-life is not anti-choice as well. If you really stop and think in philosophical and ethical terms, given a understanding of science the answer to the questions that have driven a wedge for over thirty years really become clearer.

That’s it! Good luck, and remember, if things get really bad, you can always bring up something everyone can agree on, like how much we all love pumpkin pie.

Perhaps the pro-choice pro-life discussions are much better left at the doorstep before going in for that wonderful family dinner. Whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. Some things really are best left off the holiday dinning table.

Then of course we get, Planned Parenthood Gives Tips To Promote Abortion During Thanksgiving Dinner… and Planned Parenthood Site Urged Readers to Push Abortion at Thanksgiving Dinner Table.

Via: Memeorandum

Related Update:

(New York Times)

In August, Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, announced new rules that included contraceptives for women in the package of preventive health care services that all insurers must cover without a deductible or co-payment beginning next year.

The policy follows the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. It will help drive down the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion by making birth control more accessible.

It was distressing but came as no surprise that the new rules prompted protests from Roman Catholic bishops and other church leaders. What is surprising, and even more distressing, is that the White House is considering caving to their call for an expansive exemption that would cover employees of hospitals, universities, charitable organizations and other entities that are associated with religious organizations but serve the general public and benefit from public money.

President Obama should stand firm against the church’s overreaching. Allowing a broad exemption for health plans sponsored by employers that object to contraceptives coverage would amount to imposing church doctrine on millions of women who may differ with the church’s stand on birth control and who may not be Catholic...

The new rules already contain an exemption for churches and other houses of worship, similar to provisions upheld by the highest courts in California and New York. Moreover, nothing in the rules requires religious objectors to use contraceptives or stands in the way of advocating against their use. {Read Full Article}

Indeed. When religious doctrine defines policy beware. They tyranny of religion is written all over history.

Via: Memeorandum


  1. How is pro-choice not considered pro-abortion? The woman is making a life decision for another life. If that person chooses that life is not worth giving the chance to live and murders an innocent human being who caused no harm how is that not pro-abortion?

    I agree that these types of discussions are best left at the front doorstep.

    The Constitution says we have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and abortion denies all three and violates our Constitution.

  2. Yesterday Sean Hannity was giving tips on how to have effective conservative-vs-liberal arguments at the Thanksgiving table. Sheesh.

  3. Theresa - Does it? Really? A zygote is not a human life, it is a mass of cells. I do agree there should be limits as to when abortion is no longer a choice.

    When the life of the mother (a living breathing cognitive human being whose soul is her mind) is endangered, in the case of rape, or incest we should all be able to agree the option of abortion is without a doubt a proper one.

    As to choice, well, for me it is a case of... When the fetus can live outside the womb with or without life support the option of abortion should be off the table.

    In the case of bringing a child into the world knowing the child will have little to no chance of enjoying a productive and enjoyable life is , at least to me a cruel sentence.

    Given the logic of some extreme pro-life people the use of contraception would be considered murder because it was a conscience decision to prevent the POSSIBLE life of a child from beginning.

    Extreme positions are usually never the best. Preventing families {man and women} from making reproductive decisions under reasonable guidelines and constraints is foolish in my mind.

    Tis better to have reasonable reproductive rights laws on the books than return to the coat hanger days of which I'm sure we are all aware existed.

    How one handles this issue is best left to the individual and or whom she chooses to consult in making the decision. Up to the point in which ending the pregnancy is no longer a choice.

  4. dmarks - I missed that one. What's your verdict on his presentation. My mind, if I allow it to wander can only imagine... From listening to Hannity in the past.

  5. Rational: All human beings are "masses of cells", from the oldest to the youngest. And last time I checked, human beings in the zygote stage were a rather small proportion of those aborted.

    As for Hannity's presentation, it was kind of worthless. The kind of thing that would have made as much sense if he had flipped things around in his 'liberals bad conservatives good' argument. Devoid of content, other than partisanship.

  6. I always thought it was interesting to call it pro-choice. The innocent child has no choice in the matter. The father has no choice in the matter, either. THEN, if the woman chooses to KEEP the child, the man has no choice about supporting it. It's all about the WOMAN'S choice and the hell with everybody else. Let's call it what it REALY is - infanticide.

  7. Gorges - The man should have no choice about supporting the child if the women chooses to keep the child. If he wanted that choice he should have kept it in his pants. Or insured the use of contraceptives. IE: Condom.

    By the way, your position on the update portion of this post is?

  8. I refuse to let the 'other side' set the parameters of the use of words-

    Pro-Life or Pro- DEATH- period..

  9. christian soldier - While I respect your right to your beliefs and your adherence to your rigid religious doctrine I simply must disagree. Your unquestioning faith in the word of men is a march towards religious tyranny.

    History, both ancient as well as present clearly demonstrates this.

    There are a few things the 'other side' gets right. This is amongst the few.

  10. Gorges: Also, choice is not at issue. It is not a controversy. The controversy is about abortion, that is all. That's why charaterizing it as an argument between those who favor abortion and those who oppose it is more accurate than using the pro-life and pro-choice labels.

  11. Les, The woman has just as much responsibility to keep her pants on as the guy does.

    dmark, I'll agree with that.

  12. Gorges - I do not disagree with your last statement.

    It is however society and our laws that has made the determination as to the man ultimately bearing financial responsibility. Perhaps it is because the man "impregnates the women" and not the other way around.

  13. dmarks - I have yet to hear anyone state they "favor abortion."

    That is a superficial and an attempt to evade the real issue. Which is choice or the lack of choice.


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