For women who are in the midst of a pregnancy decision, abortion can often feel like a “taboo” topic. Recently, there has been a lot of talk surrounding abortion as it applies to legislation on both a national and state level. With so much discussion, it would seem like abortion as a personal topic would become less and less taboo to discuss. Why does it still feel like discussing abortion is breaking a social norm?
Avenue Women’s Center is a safe place to discuss any option, including abortion. We have provided women with free and confidential services throughout Chicagoland since 1981. Our pregnancy consultants are available to listen, support, and offer accurate information on each of your options with care and lack of judgment. Contact us today to begin your next steps in making a pregnancy decision.
Social Norms and Taboos
The Oxford Reference defines social norms as, “Common standards within a social group regarding socially acceptable or appropriate behaviour in particular social situations, the breach of which has social consequences.” They are, in essence, the often unspoken rules we live by as a society that guide our actions. Social norms are often seen as “seen as central to the production of social order or social coordination.”* This doesn’t mean that the norms are entirely good or beneficial to our society. In fact, many social norms are viewed as “inefficient or even widely unpopular.”*
I remember taking a sociology class in college where we discussed social norms at great length. After the lecture, we were assigned a project with the goal of breaking at least one social norm in the next week and writing a reflection on the experience. Although I don’t recall the exact topic I chose to break at the time, I remember feeling quite apprehensive about the assignment. The thought of breaking a social norm can seem liberating in one sense, but also debilitating or embarrassing in the other.
Breaking the Taboo
How will this go? What will people think? Will my life be adversely impacted? These are just a few of the questions we may have when breaking a social norm or taboo. Our hope “not to rock the boat” can outweigh our desire for societal change at times. Thinking about bringing up a taboo topic such as abortion can be daunting. Instead of thinking about the big picture in a situation like this, how can you take the next single step when talking about abortion?
- Start with someone you trust. Discussing a taboo topic is easier when it’s with someone you can open up to comfortably. Are there safe people in your life that you can broach the topic of abortion with? During times where abortion as a law or legislation is a big topic of debate, you can often get the sense of how certain people feel about the subject. Talking to someone who has been posting angry tweets or blasting insensitive statements on social media is probably not the wisest idea. Start by seeking out those who you know will see you as a person with a unique situation and individual needs.
- Push through your fear. Fear often serves a great purpose in our lives, letting us know there is potential danger or risk ahead. Now that you’ve identified your safe person, it’s time to face your fear and take the plunge. Arrange a time to get together to talk in person or on the phone. (Texting is great for many things, but approaching a topic as potentially sensitive as abortion via text would not be the best method of communication.) Open up about your thoughts regarding abortion and your pregnancy situation. Share your feelings and see where the conversation leads.
Abortion is a touchy topic for many due to both its political and personal nature. If you’re facing an unexpected pregnancy, it’s important to be able to discuss your situation with someone you can trust. Let Avenue Women’s Center be there for you. We understand each woman’s situation is unique and will meet you with care and compassion. Contact us today for a free pregnancy consultation to address any questions and concerns you may have regarding your pregnancy options, including abortion. Receive the information and support you need to take your next steps in your pregnancy decision. We look forward to hearing from you!
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2018, September). Social Norms. Retrieved from: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/social-norms/.
- Oxford Reference. (2019.) Social Norms. Retrieved from: https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100515327.
The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.