Grizzlies for Choice presents ‘How to Talk About Abortion’


Photo courtesy of @ppgaou on Instagram

Grizzlies for Choice is a student-led organization that is a chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA). The group focuses on educating students about reproductive autonomy and sexual health while advocating for change within the community.

The Grizzlies for Choice (GFC) student organization hosted its “How to Talk About Abortion” event in the Lake Michigan Room of the Oakland Center (OC) on Oct. 13. The informative meeting focused on teaching students how to talk about abortion in an inclusive way without perpetuating harmful stigma.

Attendees were welcomed to the event and encouraged to take coloring pages and Planned Parenthood-provided free condoms and educational materials. Grizzlies for Choice President Mags Rose began the event by setting boundaries to create a safe, welcoming environment for all students to freely learn and engage.

“This is a safe space,” Rose said. “We welcome individuals of all identities and beliefs, but if they become distrustful, we will ask them to leave.”

Rose also pointed out the importance of GFC’s limited supply of condoms, which they are able to supply to students for free. She urged everyone to be respectful of the resource, as many individuals are uncomfortable or unable to buy condoms themselves.

After the ground rules were established, Hannah Brendle — the GFC’s social media coordinator — began the presentation by providing general advice. She explained that it is imperative to be inclusive and mindful when discussing abortion.

“Don’t be afraid to talk about the topic of abortion, but pay attention to the words you use,” Brendle said. “For example — as an alternative to ‘pro-life,’ we like to use ‘anti-abortion,’ which is more clear and accurate phrasing.”

It was also recommended that individuals avoid qualifying pregnancy with the word “unintended,” as this word choice can be perceived as invasive by many. The simple term “pregnancy” is sufficient. 

Presenters explained that when talking about abortion to someone who may have gone through the experience themselves, it can be harmful to use the phrase “I support abortion, but I would never…” This can make the person feel extremely uncomfortable and judged for their actions.

“Explaining your ideology on abortion to someone who has experienced one makes it seem like you are not a safe person to talk to,” GFC Vice President Katie Kramer said. “Be an ally.”

One commonly overlooked aspect of conversations surrounding abortions is a gendered language. Women-focused language can leave other identities underrepresented and excluded from these discussions.

“It is important to refrain from using gendered terms, because more people have the ability to carry a pregnancy than just women,” Kramer said. “Through gender swaps — such as using the phrase ‘reproductive rights’ instead of ‘women’s rights’ — we can correct this issue.”

Many common symbols used by advocates for reproductive rights with good intentions can be severely harmful to the community. For example, the use of a coat hanger to represent unsafe abortion access can be triggering and make individuals fearful of abortions.

“Confronting stigma can be uncomfortable — it should be,” Rose said. “There is not one kind of person that gets abortions. Everyone deserves access to safe and legal abortions.”

At the end of the presentation, GFC urged attendees to vote yes on Michigan’s Proposal 3 and attend future educational events hosted by the organization. To conclude, students were given the chance to win candy by hitting a handmade piñata shaped like a uterus.

“This was my first GFC event that I was able to attend this year, and I was pleasantly surprised,” Oakland University sophomore Ethan Lehman-Pace said. “The topics covered in the presentation were extremely interesting and useful.”

GFC will be hosting their next event, a Sexual Wellness Carnival, on Oct. 27 from 3-5 p.m. in the Gold Ambassador Rooms of the OC. Students will be able to learn more about sexual wellness resources offered on campus and have the chance to win several sex-positive prizes.