Nonprofits should train educators to facilitate conversations about abortions

A difficult conversation being had.
A difficult conversation being had.

Nonprofits should train educators to facilitate conversations about abortions

The more people talk about abortions, the less stigmatized they can become.
September 19, 2021

The recent Texas abortion ban, a bill that prohibits abortion at the six-week pregnancy mark, when many people are not yet aware that they are pregnant, has many New Yorkers thinking: “Thank God I live in New York.” 

The state passed the Reproductive Health Act in 2019, which codifies Roe Vs. Wade. Some feel a sense of relief knowing they can easily access abortion here in New York but that does not mean the fight for reproductive rights is over. As an escort at a Bronx abortion clinic, where I witnessedprotestors pray with their rosary beads andfollow people into the clinic, I have come to the realization that more empathetic conversations need to be had regarding what abortions entail and how they impact those who get them.The experience of those who have had an abortion are varied and no abortion is ever a one size fits all-experience. Reproductive rights nonprofits training educators to go into the community and facilitate conversations surrounding abortion would benefit the community because these conversations, when done right, can eventually lead to more empathy and understanding.

As a clinic escort, I saw firsthand how divided people can be when it comes to abortion. One time, as I was escorting people into the clinic, I saw a group of protestors follow and then surround a man and woman walking into the clinic, yelling, “Don’t go into that slaughterhouse!” I, along with other escorts, had to shield the couple with our bodies, putting ourselves between them and the protestors. Things became so intense that the woman broke down crying. Eventually we were able to get the couple inside of the clinic but the police had to be called due to the aggressive nature of the protestors. This is a typical day in the life of a clinic escort. Some days are better than others but then there are those days when things get especially heated. 

We still have a long way to go if we want to propel the reproductive justice movement forward here in New York. While abortion services are covered by medcaid, not all insurance companies are required to cover abortion services. There is Senate Bill S7002 that is sponsored by state Sen. Samra Brouk and Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas that would require insurers to cover abortion services but it has yet to pass in the state Legislature. Senate Bill S758, sponsored by state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assembly Member Karines Reyes, would create a state run abortion fund, funded by New Yorkers themselves. This bill has not been passed either.

Hosting conversations on abortion is no easy or cheap task but it is a task that must be done. Having reproductive health nonprofits train experienced sexual health educators, who go out into the community regularly, to facilitate conversations about abortions may not necessarily widen the support for abortion but it may deepen people’s understanding of the procedure and foster empathy for those who have had an abortion. Some organizations, such as Whole Woman's Health Alliance, already do this but more nonprofits should join this initiative so more conversations can be had in the community to raise awareness. And hopefully, the more we get people to talk about abortion, the less stigmatized it will become. 

Training educators to facilitate these conversations would mean investing time and resources into their professional development. Educators would need to take a few “facilitating difficult conversations” workshops to prepare to hold such discussions and may even need to develop conflict mediation skills. There would also need to be a survey created to see what effect these conversations have on workshop participants. 

The goal of having these conversations is not necessarily to make everyone a pro-choicer but the goal is to raise more awareness, understanding and empathy. Nearly one in four women will have an abortion, it’s much more common than many people believe and with abortion being so common, the conversations about abortion should be just as common. 

Angelique Molina-Mangaroo
previously founded and was executive director of The Wealthy Youth Project, a financial literacy organization interested in addressing issues faced by women and girls of color. She also was a reporter for the Hunts Point Express in the Bronx, served as a Young Women’s Advisory Council Member on the New York City Council, and has worked with several nonprofit organizations, among them Planned Parenthood of New York City and the Legal Aid Society.