Do we want to be a nation that supports a woman’s right to choose? Then that must include a woman’s right to make the choice not to have an abortion, argues Rebecca Peters of Pregnancy Care Canada.
“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” - Anonymous
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? The idea that we are the authors of our lives. We want to think that’s possible. However, most of us have experienced the reality of unscripted life circumstances – an unexpected illness or accident, or for some – an unplanned pregnancy.
It’s interesting to look at unplanned pregnancy through the lens of the above quote. One would think that in that circumstance, this quote would align with those choosing to have an abortion. “Your body, your choice” – don’t let anyone tell you what to do with your future, you write the script.
But shouldn’t that viewpoint and those statements also apply to women with an unexpected pregnancy who do not want to have an abortion?
It’s an uncomfortable truth, but not choosing to have an abortion when facing an unplanned pregnancy has become an unpopular choice. There is often a predetermined script and story, and women are expected to conform to it: “If you have an unplanned pregnancy, abortion is a relief.”
But what if it’s not? What if that story is false for some women? Shouldn’t those women also be able to write their story, even if it has a different outcome than one where getting an abortion is a relief?
Unsubstantiated statements are made, and outdated examples are given. An old script was written about pregnancy care centres, and the same lines are used over and over again. But what if that script is not accurate?
Abortion is a choice that Canadian women have. But it’s not the only choice for an unplanned pregnancy. And yet it is the choice that is often suggested first, expected first, and sometimes pressured into.
Do we want to be a nation that supports a woman’s right to choose? Then that must include a woman’s right to make the choice not to have an abortion, even when pressured by circumstances or people to do so.
There is actually limited access to support for women who are either (1) unsure what they want to do about their unplanned pregnancy or (2) know they don’t want an abortion but don’t know how to make their other options work.
“It's unbelievable what can happen in a year when you're surrounded by people who want to help you and help you make the best decisions for yourself and for the life that you want, not necessarily the life that you have or that you think you might be stuck with.” - Cassidy
Most would agree that limiting access to support for women with unplanned pregnancies is wrong. And yet that is what some people are trying to do – restrict access to pregnancy care centres that provide women with accurate information on all three options when facing an unplanned pregnancy. This is done by creating a false narrative about what pregnancy care centres do.
Unsubstantiated statements are made, and outdated examples are given. An old script was written about centres, and the same lines are used over and over again. But what if that script is not accurate?
Pregnancy Care Canada has been working diligently to rewrite that script, to ensure the story being told is accurate, to hold the pen and write the truth about its affiliated pregnancy care centres and the support they provide.
The truth is that pregnancy care centres affiliated with Pregnancy Care Canada empower women struggling with an unexpected pregnancy. They ensure that individuals have access to practical support, compassionate care, accurate information on all pregnancy options and a safe place to make an informed pregnancy decision.
Pregnancy Care Canada-affiliated centres do not provide or assist in arranging for abortions – that is not their role. Instead these centres play a valuable part in Canada’s continuum of health care for pregnant women by providing practical support for women needing help with information, pregnancy support, parenting, or adoption.
Pregnancy care centres fill that gap in support for women who don’t know what they want to do about their unplanned pregnancy or those who don’t want an abortion but don’t know what else they can do or how they will do it.
We must ensure those women have access to support as well. Let’s place the pen back in their hands and let them write their own story, even if it’s messy and unplanned and a little different than what has become the popular choice. Because shouldn’t every woman have the right to a choice other than abortion?
Rebecca Peters is the director of communications with Pregnancy Care Canada, a national best practice association with over 80 affiliated pregnancy care centres. Dr. Laura Lewis serves as the executive director.