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New study shows that sharing abortion stories changes people’s minds

A new study shows that when anti-choice people hear in person accounts from women who have had abortions, they are more likely to start supporting reproductive freedom. 

A public opinion research team led by UCLA doctoral candidate Michael LaCour has already demonstrated how door-to-door canvassing can change people’s opinions on LGBT issues. A study from earlier this month, for instance, determined that when conservatives talked to an LGBT canvasser for 20 minutes, they became more supportive of LGBT rights and remained supportive even nine months later.

Now, the same research team has started working with Planned Parenthood and is looking at the effect of talking to canvassers who have had abortions and those who haven’t. The preliminary results show that in-person conversations with both groups of volunteers lead to increased support of legalizing abortion. In initial surveys, 39 percent of voters said they supported legal abortion access but after talking with the volunteers support reached almost 50 percent.

Ant the effect of speaking with the volunteers who had had abortions was even stronger. For instance, people who spoke to that group were more likely to tell other members of their households about their conversations. In addition, after the Supreme Court struck down Massachusetts’ buffer zone around abortion clinics, anti-abortion attitudes were strengthened among most participants except for those who had spoken to a volunteer who had discussed her own abortion. As LaCour explains, “This finding suggests that discussion at the doorstep affected the way in which people subsequently received and interpreted the news.”

Just a reminder that the personal is very much political, and telling abortion stories can be powerful.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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