Family

3 awkward questions about reproductive freedom — and how to answer them.

Talking about abortion and birth control with your not-so-feminist relatives can be awkward. These facts help.

3 awkward questions about reproductive freedom — and how to answer them.

If your family is like mine, political disagreements are as much a part of the Thanksgiving tradition as pumpkin pie.

Charged discussions are basically inevitable. And you can't always use Adele to deflect the conversation.

After years of practice, I've developed a pretty good plan for fielding questions about birth control, abortion, and reproductive freedom in general. Here's what I've got.


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Image from "SpongeBob SquarePants."

1. Aunt Margaret says: “I'm OK with people using birth control, but the government shouldn't be paying for it, and employers shouldn't have to cover it if they don't want to."

Here are the facts you need to know:

Obamacare requires insurance plans provided by employers to cover contraception and other preventive health services like annual well-woman visits.

This plan has been hugely successful.

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According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of people with a $0 copay on their birth control has more than tripled for pill and ring users since 2012, and it has doubled for those who use injectable contraception. Graphic from the Guttmacher Institute, used with permission.

Since cost can be a huge barrier to contraception access, birth control coverage means fewer unplanned pregnancies, fewer teenage births, and healthier families.

The zinger:

Making birth control more accessible has enabled more Americans to make reproductive decisions for themselves. Also, contraception does count as basic health care, so there's no reason a health insurance plan should be excluding it.

2. Uncle Randall says: “Planned Parenthood should be defunded. Have you seen those sting videos?"

Uncle Randall is probably talking about those misleading videos — you know, the ones released by a group that's trying to exclude Planned Parenthood from any federal funding. The videos that claimed that health care providers are selling fetal tissue.

Here are the facts you need to know:

It's true. Some Planned Parenthood clinics DO donate fetal tissue from abortions. They do this with patients' full consent, and the tissue is used for life-saving medical research.

While Planned Parenthood once accepted reimbursements for storing and transporting that tissue (which is completely legal, by the way), they have stopped doing so in order to “reveal the true political purpose behind these attacks," according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards.

It's also worth mentioning that the controversial donated tissue has helped researchers develop the polio vaccine and better treatments for Alzheimer's disease. And so far, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing in any of the investigations into Planned Parenthood.

The zinger:

Planned Parenthood provides important reproductive health care, including abortions. And because Planned Parenthood serves many uninsured patients, they provide care to people who otherwise may not be able to access health care at all. That's really important.

YASSS. You deserve another slice of pie for that one.

3. Cousin Elliott explains: “I'm pro-choice, but I think too many women use abortion as birth control."

Here are the facts you need to know:

1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime.

Image from this awesome Mic video.

That's a lot of women, which means that there are many different reasons behind the decision to get an abortion. Maybe the woman wasn't ready to parent, she couldn't afford a child, or something went wrong with the pregnancy. Or maybe that person doesn't want to explain their decision because they don't owe anyone an explanation.

Here's the thing that many people don't know, though: Most women who have an abortion were using contraception when they became pregnant, according to these stats from the Guttmacher Institute. Therefore, it's statistically unlikely that "many people" are using abortion as their "only form of birth control."

The zinger:

Regardless of the above stats, any reason for an abortion is a sufficient reason. The decision to have or not have a child is a personal, intimate one — and no one should feel shame for making the choice that is right for them.

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Image from "Glee."

Bam. If you've gotten through these three questions, it's probably already time for dessert (#teampie).

Reproductive freedom can be a contentious topic, and chances are good that you'll disagree with someone sitting across the table this week. It happens to me a lot.

What I've found personally, though, is that feelings about abortion, or reproductive freedom in general, aren't as black and white as politicians can make them seem. In fact, lots of people consider themselves to be both pro-life and pro-choice. There aren't just two sides to the story.

Images from "Real Time With Bill Maher." <3 Sarah Silverman.

And if there aren't simply two sides to these issues, that means there's a lot of middle ground in the reproductive freedom conversation.

That's space for all of us to talk about birth control, abortion, and women's bodies in a way that's respectful, informed, and productive — a middle ground that you can hopefully find at your Thanksgiving table.

Go get 'em, friends.

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It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

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Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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