We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.

Kathi Valeii

Many parents feel hesitant to bring up the topic of abortion with their kids.

But considering that abortion isn't covered in school sex-ed classes, avoiding it leaves kids to the task of learning on their own from the internet, TV, or billboards — all littered with anti-choice propaganda and misinformation.

Talking to kids about abortion can be hard. Most of us have our own personal feelings about abortion, and many of us have our own experiences with the procedure.

But untangling abortion facts from abortion politics is important in order to help de-stigmatize a necessary medical procedure. And shattering stigma can have a profound effect on our children's future health and their ability to access certain forms of medical care.

Some parents shared how they discuss abortion with their kids. Here is what they had to say:

1. Talk about abortion as one possible outcome of pregnancy.

Sarah Tarver-Wahlquist is a member of the Tucson Abortion Support Collective in Tucson, Arizona. Sarah's oldest child was 8 when she started discussing abortion with him. When he responded, aghast, and asked if abortion was “killing babies,” she regretting having waited so long to start the conversation.

“We now talk about abortion as one possible outcome of a pregnancy,” says Sarah, “And we talk about some of the statistics — that one in three women will have an abortion in her reproductive life, and that the majority of people who have abortions are already parents — to emphasize that abortion is a normal part of life and a decision that many people will choose to make.”

Sarah explains the different ways that people can feel about their pregnancies, and she tells her kids that it's okay if it feels weird for them to think about abortion.

She tells them, "I know you remember when I was pregnant and how happy we were, and how we talked about our fetus as our baby. That was our experience, but it isn't everyone's experience, and it's our job to support people to make their own decisions about what is best for their lives."

2. Talk about the reasons people might terminate their pregnancies.

Rachel C. from Denver says, “Basically, I explained it as a woman could be pregnant and for whatever reason need not to be. Maybe she's sick. Maybe she isn't ready to be a mother. Maybe the fetus is very sick. So she can have an abortion.”

Nekole S. from Seattle reminds her girls (8 and 12 years old) that it takes a lot to raise a baby. “They also know my dad didn’t really stick around and they know some of the implications of that.”

Nekole says that personalizing it can help kids understand and relate to reasons a person might have an abortion.

Rachel adds that she reminds her kids that it's important to let pregnant people choose what they need to do to keep mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy — and that not everyone wants to do that, which is why it's so important.

“We talked about how some people don't want [abortion] to be an option,” says Rachel.

3. Talk about why the choice is important.

“My discussions with my kids haven't been because I needed an abortion myself, but because in this age they have been exposed to the idea pretty young,” says Grace A.

When Grace began to consider talking about abortion with her kids, she remembered a story from her childhood, Watership Down, that helped her understand the concept of abortion when she was a child.

“In the book, the rabbits explain re-absorption of litters into the doe's body as a gift from "Lord Frith," fulfillment of a promise made to Elahrairah the rabbit prince that no rabbit would ever be born into conditions that were not good for it (lack of food for the warren, overcrowding, sick mother, hunters close by).”

Grace used that story to explain to her kids how pregnant anythings could choose not to bring little ones into a bad situation and that we should trust that the pregnant person knows best.

4. Nerd out on the science of it.

Nekole loves to talk about the science of reproduction whenever she talks to her girls about pregnancy and birth control. She talks about the cells and how they multiply and divide, the sperm and where it comes from, and the egg and where it comes from.

When she talks about fetal development, that's when she brings up abortion. Nekole had an abortion at five weeks, and she's openly discussed it with her girls, explaining exactly what was taken out of her uterus at that stage of her pregnancy.

“I think what’s helpful is I know how I think/feel about it, so the narrative is always the same whenever we visit it,” Nekole says.

Since her abortion was the result of an unplanned pregnancy, she also uses that story to illustrate the importance of always using protection.

“My story is that I got pregnant having unprotected sex when I was still bleeding, so it's a nice segway into condoms no matter what,” she says.

5. Talk about what happens during an abortion.

When Samantha D.'s daughter was six, Samantha's friend stayed with them at their Pittsburgh home when her friend was having an abortion.

Her daughter asked lots of questions, like why their friend wasn't feeling well. Samantha's friend said that it was okay to discuss what was happening and so she was able to tell her daughter about what happens during an abortion while she observed someone experiencing one.

Sam let her daughter lead with questions, and she answered accordingly. “She asked if there was a baby in her right now, and I told her that the sperm and egg had combined, but it was not growing into a baby anymore because my friend had taken medicine to stop that process,” says Sam.

Sam's daughter seemed to understand, and Sam says she was very considerate of her friend’s comfort. “She even acted as a mini doula by serving things to her, asking her about how she was doing, keeping quiet and generally calm in her presence, and relaxing with her to keep her company as she rested.”

Ultimately, Sarah Tarver-Wahlquist says, talking to kids early and often about abortion is much bigger than a conversation about a medical procedure.

She says it's part of a bigger narrative of talking to them about the importance of autonomy, consent, and choice. And the earlier it's discussed, the healthier kids' attitudes and understanding of abortion will be.

This story originally appeared on Ravishly and is reprinted with permission. More from Ravishly:

Nathan Dannison received his first firearm — a Browning bolt action .22 rifle — as a Christmas gift when he was 11 years old.

Now 34, he's owned guns consistently since and enjoys hunting and clay shooting. But he says the line gun owners are expected to toe when it comes to the national gun control debate is troubling.

"We've let the Hollywood cowboy wannabes take over the debate," he says. "We've let the NRA devolve from a conservation and education organization into something unrecognizable."

Dannison is part of a growing number of gun owners breaking from the stereotypical NRA-driven script and advocating for new, stricter, common-sense gun legislation.

Alexander Voorman, 34, believes that gun owners bear the greatest responsibility in this debate.

"I may personally like guns," he says, "but I also believe that everyone has the right to live safely and freely without one, and that those people are in no way culpable for the epidemic of gun violence in this country."

Photo courtesy of Alexander Voorman.

Voorman was raised in a strictly no-gun household, but says he was fascinated early on by guns and currently visits the shooting range as a hobby.  

South Carolinian Bill Ware, 59, owns a slew of firearms as a hobby as well: .20- and .12-gauge shotguns, rifles, several pistols, and an assortment of reproduction black powder guns.

Like Voorman, he's questioned the validity of ownership and his role in the debate while people are dying in mass shooting after mass shooting, especially those involving assault-style weapons. "I was having a crisis of conscience of sorts," Ware notes.

He, Voorman, and Dannison believe that gun owners must overcome the radical voices that have long dominated this conversation.

"The continued silence of much of the gun-owning populace in the face of shooting after shooting casts us in a horrifyingly bad light," Voorman says. "It makes us look callous and uncaring at best; complicit at worst."

It's not easy to advocate for limiting freedoms from within the gun community. Many believe any change would be a slippery slope to sweeping bans on all firearms or even the creation of a database of gun owners.

From Voorman's perspective, though, gun owners' resistance to regulation seems steeped in paranoia. He says they fear that overregulation due to the "ill-defined, just-in-case" scenario in which they might need a gun.

In this way, gun ownership becomes a comfort.

Katie Kirchner, 39, has been a gun owner since 2001, after someone knocked on the window of her rural home in the middle of the night. Though her gun provides her a sense of some security, she doesn't believe that makes gun reform a threat.

"The gun is not a need — it is a want," she says. "And at this point I am not even sure I want it any longer so as not to be lumped into the intolerant, gun-owning, chest-pumping, NRA-loving group."

Photo courtesy of Katie Kirchner.

With a third grader who tells her about the lockdown drills they do at school, Kirchner is even more troubled, saying, "I hate that she has to consider this even happening to her and her classmates."

Public safety, especially in schools, is perhaps the greatest motivator for this group pushing for tighter regulation.

There is a growing consensus that the NRA is a toxic, destabilizing force in U.S. politics.

Dannison points to profit's role in the gun reform debate:

"It's critical that people understand that a gun is a product with an indefinite shelf-life. This makes it very, very hard to run a profitable, growth-based industry around manufacturing guns. Imagine if cars never wore out. The car makers would go bust in a few years. This is what is motivating the gun lobby."

When it comes to weapons like AR-15s, the gun of choice in many of our mass shootings, Dannsion says they're kind of like a Lego set because of all of the little pieces, parts, and modifications a person can purchase. "It's a really deadly toy," he says wrly, "but you know how children get when you try to take away their toys."

These gun owners are ready to have real conversations about gun control.

They have progressive ideas about how to make changes that reduce gun violence and shootings and keep everyone — gun owners or not — safe. "The solution, or mere inspiration for actual progress, lies in finding the profit in regulation," Ware explains.

Photo courtesy of Bill Ware.

He believes that registering and insuring guns might be the key to motivating insurance companies to participate in the dialogue, much like the ways we regulate cars.

Kirchner says she would be glad to participate if reforms were to include screening current gun owners.

"I would be the first in line to see if I am capable of owning a gun," she says. "I have nothing to hide and sometimes wonder what the non-gun reform people do have to hide.”

No matter the outcome, Dannison, Kirchner, Voorman, and Ware agree that gun owners need to get involved in regulation advocacy right now.

"We are increasingly painting ourselves as a very dangerous and angry minority in America," Voorman says, "and it is my belief that if we want to continue to enjoy our freedom to bear arms, we must either give a little now — or give a lot later."