In the media, pregnancy centers get a bad rap. Whether it’s late night news shows, magazine articles or news editorials, the prevailing message is that pregnancy centers are somehow against women. Even though it is our primary mission to love and serve women, despite that, we are perceived as manipulating and coercing them to yield our own agenda and taking from them the one thing they hold so dearly—choice. This widely perpetuated perception deeply saddens me, if for nothing else because what I know as absolute fact is that my pregnancy center is actually pro-choice.
The name might be the first thing to give it away. The pregnancy center where I serve is called A Woman’s Choice. It was a name that was chosen for our center because ultimately it represents truth. In an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, women have a choice to make, and it is her choice. Even for the hundreds of other pregnancy centers across the nation who operate like we do, that truth remains the same, even if their name does not specifically reflect it like ours. It is a woman’s choice, and we are not in the business of taking that choice away. In fact, we are in the specific business of helping each woman we serve by equipping them to make their choice.
Like the secular media, in pregnancy centers, we believe in the power of women. We believe that women are beautiful, intelligent, and capable of virtually doing anything they choose. It is not our desire to take that away, but instead, to empower women in it. Choice is a precious thing, a gift even. And I believe every woman (because I happen to be one) wants to make good choices. So to make a good choice, in any situation, she must arm herself with all of the needed facts and information about what is at stake, considering every angle, to come to the best conclusion and decision. This is true of the most simple of choices to the most complex, at least for most women. Whether I am considering what shoes to buy (and I do love to buy shoes!)–I have much to take into account–current style and fashion, comfort, durability, price, practicality and more; or if I am contemplating a new career path or course of study, the list of data is longer and far more significant. The fact of the matter, however, is that I need the data to make a good choice.
So imagine if, as a woman, I find myself in an unplanned pregnancy and faced with a rather significant choice. The stakes are high. It is not just a pair of shoes we are talking about here, or even a new career. This choice is life-impacting, for my life and another. So in this case, even more so, I want to be sure to consider all the facts, all the information, all the options, so I can make a decision that I will have confidence in and peace. That is where the pregnancy center comes in. That is essentially the work of every pregnancy center that exists–equipping women with information about all of her options when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, to empower her to make a choice she can live with.
“But aren’t you pro-life?” I can hear the question already, in response to my pro-choice assertion. And the simple answer is–yes, we are pro-life. Pregnancy centers exist because we believe in the value of every human life, and because of that, we want women to consider carefully the choice they are making when it comes to life. And yet, it still remains her choice. There is not one person or one organization that honestly can take that away from her. It is, and always will be, a woman’s choice. Truly, the answer for this issue will always be pro-choice because we live in a pro-choice world. God created us to have choice.
God created a pro-choice world. He didn’t have to, but that is a choice He made. In the very beginning, all the way back, when God was creating the earth, the seas, and the sky, He also created animals, creatures, and eventually, man and woman. When God created human beings, He had an important choice to make. One of the reasons He created humans was so He could have fellowship with them. So does He create a being that is designed and wired to automatically love Him, commit to Him and obey Him? That would make fellowship easy. There would be a world of men and women devoted to God, following Him with no question. But the other possibility was to create a being that would have what is now known as “free-will,” being able to decide on his and her own whether to love and follow God. This option would of course make fellowship with His creation much more complicated, because these beings He created could choose not to love Him. However, this option would also make fellowship with His creation much more sweet, because it would be genuine; it would be their choice to love Him. And that is what God chose. He created man and woman to have choice…in everything.
But God’s design did not end there. Choice remained a fact, and it still does today, but God also built into the system of this world He created elements to help equip us in making choices. God created an order and structure to the world–of choices and consequences, sowing and reaping. This was critical, so that choice was not a random or self-serving exercise. Imagine a world where the outcomes of choices did not matter, where everyone just did whatever they wanted with no consequence or thought of impact. That would be chaos. No, God created a world with order, a world where every choice does have a consequence.
It started in the Garden of Eden. He told Adam and Eve that they could eat the fruit of any tree in the Garden except one. Notice, however, that He did not make it impossible for them to eat of that tree. He just told them not to, and He also told them the consequences that would follow if they did. So He gave them the choice, but also gave them important factors to consider when making that choice. We all know how that ended, but the point here is that the choice was theirs, and the consequences of which they were warned did follow.
This is true of virtually anything and everything in life. My teenage daughter often quips to me, “You can’t tell me what to do! I can do whatever I want!” Now, of course, I know she is saying this tongue in cheek, lest it would hardly be funny, but the truth of the matter is that she can. I can’t tell her what to do; she can do whatever she wants. But she will also have to always face the consequences of the choices she makes. So as her mother, I will educate her, I will inform her, and I will guide her, but in the end, she will make her own choices, and she will face her own consequences. That is the world of order God gave us.
I hate to admit it, but in my more than thirty years of driving, I have received more than one speeding ticket. Yes, more than one. My husband would say that I have a bit of a lead foot. As much as I hate to agree, I think he is right. I am not proud of that fact, and yet, it is a fact. But you see, that is still a choice that I make. It is not something out of my control, something I could not change. I know the law; there are speed limits. And yet, at times, I make the choice to ignore them. But then you know what can happen, and has happened? I face the consequence of my choice. When I am stopped by an officer and handed a ticket, I have no one to blame but myself. I promise I am working on that!
But imagine if I did not know the law, the speed limits, or the consequences for breaking them! If I was pulled over and given a ticket, I would be indignant and offended. It would feel unfair. How can there be a consequence for something about which I was not even aware? But that’s the thing. There are consequences for everything. That is the world God created. There are choices; but there are also consequences.
So this is where we come back to the pregnancy centers. Maybe it is not so much that we are “pro-choice,” as the term is known in our culture. But the fact is that the world we live in was created to give us choice in all things, so even when it comes to the issues we tackle in our work, we acknowledge there is choice. Every woman has a choice. Every man has a choice. This is an unavoidable truth. So then, it is our desire to make sure that when facing an unplanned pregnancy, those women and men are given an opportunity to make their choice equipped with all the information, support and help that they need.