Author Archives: Sharon

LET’S NOT LIMIT ACCESS TO THE CHOICES

Sound like the words of the largest abortion provider in our country? Does this echo the sentiments of the pro-choice movement?   I urge you to read this entire post with an open mind and heart; then you decide.

I have worked with women receiving counseling and services at crisis pregnancy centers now, for over two years. The last eight months have been for BirthChoice Pregnancy Centers for Women, in Dallas. As a peer counselor and a nurse sonographer, during an intake and assessment a question asked all clients is whether they have had previous abortions and if yes, would they make that choice again. A small percentage have had previous abortions and say it wasn’t a problem but they would never consider it again. They feel desperate because they have been convinced they are not strong enough or have enough resources to manage a child or be a good parent. Some women had abortions under duress, believing it would solve their problem and life would go back to normal and found that far from true. Some women report a previous abortion and still see it as their only choice with this pregnancy because of external pressures ie: from parents or friends, embarrassment, financial stressors, boyfriend threatening to leave. Many women when relating their abortion experiences tell of treatment ranging from insensitive to gruesome to possibly illegal. But the main themes I keep hearing are “I didn’t think I had any other options,” “I felt trapped in my situation,” “I didn’t have insurance and didn’t know there was help for me,” and many similar stories with the same theme – “I didn’t know all the choices I had.”

Why  these other choices were not presented would be a good topic for another post.

Instead of abortion, what positive choices do we provide at BirthChoice? After we complete an intake and assessment to evaluate the woman’s situation and needs, the following are possible.

  • Sonograms for women considering abortion. Many women truly believe “the products of conception” they are told an abortion removes is a blob of tissue and are shocked to see the heartbeat of a 6 week baby and how active a 10 week or older baby is, kicking, punching, sucking it’s thumb. They will comment that because they don’t feel it yet they didn’t expect it to be moving. A baby’s movement is not usually felt until after 20 weeks. Abortion in Texas is legal until 24 weeks.
  • Sonograms for women not wanting abortion but are being pressured by boyfriends/parents/friends/spouses. We strongly encourage those significant others to view the sonogram.
  • Review of the booklet by the state “A Woman’s Right To Choose” which shows fetal development and factual information about the various types of abortion procedures and their possible risks and side effects – both short and long and short term,  and they are given a copy.
  • For the woman who still plans to seek an abortion, given a copy of questions for her to ask her abortionist. *Will the procedure hurt?  *In your practice, have you ever punctured a uterus?  *If there is a problem do you have emergency blood on hand? *If there is a problem which hospital will the ambulance take me to? *If I am admitted, who will pay my hospital bill? *Will I have problems getting pregnant when I want to? * Can you assure me this procedure is completely safe and that I will not have any problems now or later? * Can I change my mind at any time and have my money returned?
  • If undecided shown a video Honest Answers or Choices which present real women talking about the choices they made and how it worked out for them.
  • Given options for prenatal care if they don’t have health insurance. Lately we have seen more women who are pregnant and have recently lost their jobs or their husband or boyfriend has become unemployed and they have lost their health insurance and or income.  We don’t want a woman to be pressured to have an abortion with long term and possible detrimental consequences because of a temporary situation.
  • Given a referral list for various programs for financial support.
  • Given adoption information – we have an adoption specialist who can meet with the client and educate them about adoption and adoption agencies.
  • Information and referrals for emotional support or spiritual counseling including but not limited to: Rachel’s Vineyard for post abortive women suffering emotionally and spiritually from effects of their abortions, Project Gabriel and their GEMS program, Nurse Family Partnership Program, spiritual counseling at our center.
  • Connect to many other appropriate resources.

We do many other things at BirthChoice but the purpose of this article is to show how by providing education about all the choices a woman has in an unplanned pregnancy, she can make an informed choice, hopefully the one that will impact her life in a positive way.

More often than not when I introduce myself to a client, the expression she has is sad, flat, angry or scared.  She believes her choices are very limited or she has been lead to believe she doesn’t really have one. I want her to leave with hope for different possibilities. My greatest reward is a huge sigh of relief and a smile.

I Dreamed a Dream….. Choice

Ned and I went to see Les Miserables at the movies 2 weeks ago. He had read the book decades ago but I did not even know the story, just the music. I have wanted to see it forever, it seems.

I think I felt every emotion I have in those 3 hours. We both left profoundly effected and moved. I have listened to Anne Hathaway sing the title song a dozen times on u-tube trying to realize what I connect to so strongly. It finally occurred to me the verse “he took my childhood in his stride” is what I am thinking when I am seeing a client at BirthChoice who is very young and in an unintended pregnancy.

I have asked many of these 15 or 16 year olds “Was it worth it?” and EVERYONE I have asked has said “NO!” emphatically. They did it seeking love or to keep from losing their boyfriend, hoping for that dream. Suddenly, they are expecting and poof – their childhood is over and the dream is shattered unless he will be there for them. Now, some people believe that by getting rid of the “problem” pregnancy that these girls can go back to the dream and all is well. I learned of a manual used in a sex and health ed program for young girls that states “abortion can be a positive experience.” In my 3 years working with women who are post abortive I have never heard this claim. What I have heard is quite different. In the movie, Fantine has her child and although her life ends tragically, she saw her child as the good part worth huge sacrifices. The impact of that child Cossette’s life, no one could have imagined. Three days before I saw the movie I read a column in the newspaper by a female journalist who stated she felt guilty admitting it but she still loved the movie, even though she was hoping that in the movie version it would be modernized because of how the original story portrays women. She also stated we are lucky we are living in different times where woman don’t have to sacrifice for their children and aren’t expected to. Not knowing the story, my curiosity was piqued. After seeing the movie I was annoyed that I could not remember her name to quote her unbelievably ridiculous, selfish statements. That absurd thinking, that history needs to be told with a politically correct slant doesn’t make it historical anymore. How does someone develop such a mindset? She may dream a dream that things were different but wishing does not make it true. Nothing takes a childhood or part of a woman’s soul away more than abortion except a pregnancy from rape followed by an abortion – where there are two victims and two crimes. I have heard this direct from my clients: “I didn’t know… They didn’t tell me… I can’t sleep without nightmares anymore… I can’t have children now… they treated me like garbage… I would never do it again… The staff wouldn’t look me in the eyes…” We wouldn’t need post abortion retreats like Rachel’s Vineyard if abortion returned them to the dream and made things right.

So, I dream a dream where women are given all the facts and complete choices and understand the consequences from whoever they go to seeking support and information about what they can do about their situation. We try to do that at BirthChoice so the decision the woman makes will be positive and enhance her life, not make it worse or destroy it, or even possibly endanger it.

BirthChoice is there for support after the choice too – whatever it may be. And I have seen women who chose life bring their babies for us to see after they are born, proud and happy, and yes maybe tired. But they have another chance to dream the dream.

Sharon