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Abortion Rights Messaging Guidance

We have seen a wave of extreme bans on abortion that is ultimately seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade and criminalize abortion. The New York Times has a great tool tracking states that have passed bans HERE.

LWV has a long history of belief that public policy in a pluralistic society must affirm the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices. With the bans we’ve seen enacted across the country, use the guidance below when messaging on abortion rights. 

General guidelines to keep in mind when talking about the issues

  • Standing up for the rights of citizens means standing up for women’s rights.
  • The League is supporting the majority of Americans in seeing their rights maintained, which includes the right to a safe abortion.
  • Abortion is legal in all 50 states. The bans have not gone into effect in any state.
  • Avoid pushing the narrative that an abortion is a traumatic event. For many, the decision to have an abortion is an easy choice to make; the shame is what often makes it hard.
  • Avoid engaging in a discussion about abortion procedures.
  • Instead of “life of the mother” say “life of the woman”.
  • Instead of the phrase “unwanted pregnancy”, use “unplanned pregnancy”.

A few talking points for Leagues

For states looking to speak out against a ban in their state or make a more proactive statement to support abortion care, consider the following talking points:

  • The League affirms the right of women to make their own reproductive choices.
  • Every U.S. resident should have access to affordable, quality health care, including birth control and the privacy to make reproductive choices. 
  • Abortion should be legal, safe, and the choice of women.
  • The majority of Americans are firmly on the side of reproductive freedom. In fact, 7 in 10 Americans support access to legal abortion.
  • Women should not be criminalized for seeking essential healthcare or jailed for making a decision about their own lives, bodies, and futures.
  • The League stands with pro-choice activists to support healthcare for women. That includes access to safe abortions.

Understanding the general American sentiment behind abortions

  • 72% of Americans believe that the right to an abortion is at risk.
  • The recent Alabama law will ban abortions even in instances of rape and incest. This only creates greater opposition amongst Americans of every political leaning.
    • 76% oppose outlawing abortion in these cases
  • Recent laws passed in Georgia, Missouri, and Ohio ban abortion around 6 Weeks of pregnancy. At 6 weeks many women do not know that they are pregnant.
    • 62% of Americans oppose this
  • The public is more receptive to discussions around women’s freedom. Stay away from aggressive messaging like “attacking women’s rights”.

Contextualizing the abortion debate

  • Often presented as being between two equal and opposing sides, the majority of Americans in fact support abortion rights.
  • Important note: Many Americans support abortion rights but would not consider having an abortion.
  • Top word choices used by Americans to describe abortion bans:
    • “Anti-Women” (35%)
    • “Government Overreach” (34%)
    • “Oppressive” (32%)