A couple of years ago I was walking with an acquaintance and she mentioned a speaker she was hoping to see later that day at a pro-life rally.
“Wouldn’t you be thrilled to see her?” she asked me.
“No,” I said. “I’m pro-choice so even though I value the right of people to disagree with me, I wouldn’t be comfortable at an anti-choice rally.”
My friend said she was surprised to hear this since I’m an adoptive parent. Then she said, “So you wouldn’t be able to counsel a woman who wanted to keep her baby just like I couldn’t work with a woman who wanted to have an abortion.” I explained that pro-choice means exactly the opposite. Pro-choice means what it says: Pro-CHOICE. Of course I commend any woman who chooses to continue a pregnancy because I recognize the validity of her choice. I celebrate when any woman freely makes the decision that is right for her; that’s what reproductive justice is all about.
Being a pro-choice therapist is at the core of my counseling philosophy. Without this central tenet I wouldn’t be able to work with my clients whose thoughts, feelings, spiritual beliefs, cultural backgrounds and experiences vary so widely. I don’t want my clients to live out my ideas about what a good life looks like; I want them to live the lives that theyare meant to live and this means empowering them, helping them get solid information about their options, and trusting their decisions.
This is especially important when we’re discussing counseling about family building. Issues of choice go beyond helping a woman consider her options during a crisis pregnancy. Choice is part of decision-making in fertility treatments, family planning, and birth options. Choice is about honoring every woman’s ability to know herself best and to make her own good decisions. Choice is about offering her loving, respectful support whether or not her decision looks like anyone else’s.
Choice also speaks to my commitment to hear individual women’s experiences and to give space for joy and grief and for ambivalence. Family planning, pregnancy, fertility — these are complex, deeply personal issues and our feelings reflect that complexity. Our feelings may change over time. We need space to grow and to bring that growth to our understanding of the paths we’ve taken over the course of our lives.
I support you. I support your right to decide. I am invested in protecting your right to accept or reject any option. I honor your decision-making. I trust you. I am pro-choice.
I’ve written this post in honor of NARAL’s Blog for Choice Day 2013.