Options Counseling for Pregnancy

When Birth Control Has Failed

What Is Pregnancy Options Counseling?

Pregnancy options counseling is a form of counseling that is intended to help a pregnant woman come to a decision regarding a troubling pregnancy. A pregnant woman's choices are terminating the pregnancy (abortion) or completing the pregnancy (giving birth). If she completes the pregnancy, she may choose parenting (single parenting or with a partner) or adoption (open adoption or closed).

With so many choices, where is the best place to go for pregnancy options counseling? Contraceptive Information Resource recommends that any woman who is undecided about an unplanned pregnancy explore all options. Consult with several knowledgeable counselors. Don't rush. Don't keep secrets. And don't seek a counselor that will profit from your choice.

Pregnancy options counseling should be non-directive, neither encouraging nor discouraging any particular final choice. Competent counselors present information about the options non-judgmentally and help the woman come to the decision that is best for her. It is important that counselors are well-equipped with up-to-date knowledge of supportive services that are available to a woman in each scenario. A good counselor will help a woman explore her feelings about pregnancy, her values, resources, and plans for the future. The counselor helps a woman prepare for how her choice may affect her relationships, goals, and sense of well-being. Counselors may be trained lay-persons, volunteers, or professional therapists.

Planned Parenthood

One popular source of pregnancy options counseling in the United States is the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Planned Parenthood's counselors typically have a good awareness of local and national laws governing abortion, especially concerning minors and their rights. However, it is important to understand that Planned Parenthood may not be an unbiased source of information because their organization generates revenue when clients choose to have abortions.

Is Planned Parenthood Unbiased? The Official Numbers.

According to its own Annual Report, during its 2007-2008 fiscal year, PPFA performed over 305,000 abortions. The typical early abortion costs $413, which means that PPFA made about $126 million dollars from providing abortions to women and teens. (This estimate could be higher if they perform later term abortions because those are more expensive.) In contrast, PPFA provided very little prenatal care (less than 11,000 women) and adoption referrals were offered to less than 0.15% of their total clientele (approximately 4,900 referrals). This means there were over 27 abortions done for every 1 delivery, and 62 abortions for every 1 adoption referral. These facts seem to indicate that PPFA may have a bias toward performing abortion over supporting a continued pregnancy.

Recently, a Santa Monica Planned Parenthood counselor was caught on videotape trying to persuade a client to have an abortion; this unfortunate act of unprofessionalism can be viewed at You Tube. Furthermore, there is evidence that Planned Parenthood counselors ignore statutory rape reporting laws when working with pregnant minors. Women should be wary of any establishment that makes a profit off a client's decision to abort, and this is of particular concern when seeking information from an abortion clinic.

Pregnancy Resource Centers and Clinics

Pregnancy resource centers, also called crisis pregnancy centers, are organizations that offer pregnancy counseling and resources for women facing unplanned pregnancy. Currently, there are over 2,200 pregnancy centers in the United States, and a quarter of these are medical clinics. These centers typically offer options counseling, resources for pregnancy, pregnancy testing, fetal development education, parenting information, discussion of abortion procedures, and adoption referrals. Many offer prenatal ultrasound, and some offer STD testing and prenatal care. Centers are non-profit and offer all services are free of charge, thus they do not profit off of a woman's pregnancy decision.

Pregnancy centers purport to provide unbiased information about all pregnancy options, although their main goal is to provide alternatives to abortion. Counselors do not encourage abortion as they believe abortion is harmful due to personal religious beliefs (usually Christian) or prior negative abortion experiences. These centers have have come under criticism from pro-choice groups for not providing abortion referrals. Although most pregnancy centers are faith-based organizations, they serve all women without regard to religious persuasion, race, nationality, or political affiliation. Most women visiting pregnancy centers are satisfied with their experience.

The largest networks of pregnancy centers are affiliated with Birthright International, CareNet, or Heartbeat International. Bethany Christian Services adoption agency and Catholic Charities may also offer similar counseling, although they are not pregnancy resource centers.

Professional Counseling

Another choice for pregnancy options counseling is to discuss an unplanned pregnancy situation with professional therapist. Professional therapists such as licensed psychologists or licensed clinical social workers are trained to provide an unbiased atmosphere for clients to explore their feelings. They can also help families share their feelings about the situation with each other in a safe and productive manner. In many cases this may the best choice, as counselors staffing pro-choice or pro-life organizations cannot be expected to be completely unbiased due to potentially strong feelings about the abortion issue. However, professional counselors usually charge an hourly fee for services.

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