Sexplanations with Stacey: Defining pro-choice

Stacey Jacobs
Community Sexual Health Educator at Planned Parenthood Waterloo Region,, and has taught sexuality classes at the University of Waterloo.

Last week I was accused of being pro-abortion. This has happened before because I work at Planned Parenthood, and educate the community about abortion and the choices available to women. People have even gone as far as to accuse me of working on commission, suggesting I receive money for every person I refer for an abortion. I, however, am not pro-abortion. I am pro-choice, and there is a big difference.

I equate calling someone pro-abortion to calling someone pro-root canal. A root canal is not something people dream of having, or expect to have. It is not something people wish upon other people. It is a medical procedure that we are lucky to have access to in Waterloo Region, just like an abortion. I am going to suggest that no one is pro-abortion, as I would hope that no one would want a woman to be in a position where she has to make the decision to terminate her pregnancy.

What most people also do not realize is that legally, it is the person who is pregnant who must make the decision of whether to parent, place for adoption or have an abortion. It is not the decision of the partner, the parents or a health care professional.

I wish people were never in the position to have to make this decision, however, I am grateful it is a decision they can legally make in Canada.

Being pro-choice, I trust women to make the right decision for themselves, and working at Planned Parenthood I try to support women in any way I can. I do this by giving them accurate, up-to-date information and resources, and connecting them with the agencies and services they need.

I would never be so arrogant as to think I know better than the woman herself what is right for her and her family. Pro-choice is also pro-family.

I am a sexual health educator who focuses on prevention. I think it is important to find ways to prevent abortions – not make them less accessible, inaccessible or illegal. I think the two most practical ways to prevent abortions are providing education and making contraception easily available. Comprehensive sexuality and sexual health education, including information about relationships and positive self-worth, as well as contraception, safer sex, anatomy, pregnancy and skill building techniques could prevent many unintended pregnancies. Many young people I talk to do not know how their bodies function and as a result do not know how to prevent a pregnancy.

As well, contraception, including emergency contraception such as the morning after pill, must be accessible for everyone, even people who do not have a family physician.

Cost should not be a barrier to using contraception. If someone cannot afford birth control, how can they afford a child?

Condoms can often be found free of charge – however, people may not know where to find them (Planned Parenthood has free condoms).

With all that said, the political climate of today is often hostile towards those of us who believe in choice. Politicians are working hard to take away our choices. We must stand up for what we believe in by voting, supporting political parties that believe in choice, writing letters to our government, writing articles, blogging, tweeting and telling people we are pro-choice. Fighting for our right to choose what happens to our own bodies is an important fight.