The Freedom of Choice
All women deserve options and access to full reproductive health care services.
I am a women’s reproductive health care provider who has spent the last twenty years extending psychological and emotional care to thousands and thousands of women. While my practice covers all areas of reproductive psychology, loss and trauma, and general women’s mental health needs, my main focus is pregnancy.
I provide counseling to women who have intended and medically uncomplicated pregnancies, helping them navigate all the new roles and responsibilities as they adjust to the postpartum period and the challenges of parenthood. I provide counseling to women who intend to conceive, but due to infertility or other maternal health issues, that path is not straightforward. I often counsel women who unexpectedly experience the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy or the death of a baby. And, I also provide counseling to women who have unintended or medically complicated pregnancies and are considering termination.
Over the last two decades, I have worked with women of all ethnicities, racial, socioeconomic, and demographic backgrounds when pregnancy is exciting and joyful…and when it creates a crisis. These women have come from all faiths, including countless Catholics and those who identify as pro-life - both when their presence or involvement was enlisted to support one of my patients in crisis, and in situations when they themselves have become my patients. I’m reminded with great regularity that crises are not discretionary - anyone can be caught unexpectedly, unprepared, and in need of immediate medical and psychological help.
The excruciatingly difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy is made even more difficult under the weight of stigma and shame. Even when women have strong and long-standing religious, political, ethical, and moral convictions, what I hear over and over again is, “I never thought I would be in this position or situation, but it’s different now because it’s something that is happening to ME.”
Through circumstances entirely outside of their control, many of these women feel as if they don’t have much of a “choice” at all. They didn’t choose to be in crisis; they didn’t choose to be assaulted; they didn’t choose to become pregnant; or they did not choose a prenatal diagnosis or condition that affected their fetus. For them, their “choice” becomes a decision between horrible versus terrible.
ALL women - independent of age, socioeconomic status, route to conception, circumstance, political or religious affiliation - deserve and desperately need access to the entire continuum of reproductive health care services, especially at a time that care is needed the most. As providers, as a society, we are the ones with the real choice - to protect these women and offer education about options, access to medical care, and then the agency to make individual, personal, and private decisions.
I’ve worked with thousands of women who have made their “choice” and a very painful one at that. They’re a group of women who I respect and support and will fight for because, in many ways, they had no choice. Today, my choice is to ensure women are not left alone or made to feel alone when a pregnancy is in crisis or the result of a crisis. My choice is to make the experience a little less traumatizing by working to make their “choice” an option, and one that is safe.