Yesterday, an article by SPL member Sarah Terzo appeared on Live Action News, entitled “Abortion clinic counseling: rhetoric vs. reality.” In it, she describes insider accounts of supposedly “non-directive” counseling at abortion facilities that is anything but. The “counselors” emphasize the negative aspects of parenthood, evade questions about prenatal development, and make their sale.
This comes as no real surprise to pro-lifers, of course. But it got me thinking about the supposed virtue of the “unbiased” approach.
Forget about whether or not non-directive counseling is desirable for a moment. Obviously pro-lifers are all for directing people away from killing human beings. Today I ask you: is the famed “non-directive, unbiased, non-judgmental” counseling on abortion even possible? I posit that it is not. It is a unicorn, long thought to exist somewhere (at Planned Parenthood? dream on), but ultimately a figment of the imagination.
Most people have an opinion one way or the other about the moral acceptability of abortion. Why is it that only those who are pro-life are considered “biased”? Well, a pro-choicer might say, the counselors Sarah Terzo described were really pro-abortion, not pro-choice. A truly pro-choice person could treat all the options equally. That’s right, but treating all the options equally creates a bias of its own. If abortion is the taking of a human life, it should be off the table. Treating it as the equal of parenting or adoption speaks volumes.
Perhaps, you suggest, only those few people who have no opinion one way or the other are qualified to give unbiased counseling. As a practical matter, those individuals are highly unlikely to become pregnancy counselors. But the bigger problem is that they’d be useless. Women who are considering abortion want to talk about the moral dimensions. If all the counselor can offer back is “I don’t know, how do you feel?” it’s hardly counseling at all. It’s a woman talking to herself.
How about a just-the-facts approach? “These are the risks. This is how the procedure will be done. This is what the fetus is like at X weeks. These are the programs offering alternatives.” I’m all for this, but I suspect abortion facility owners are not. It sounds a lot like the informed consent laws championed by pro-lifers, funny enough. (And it suffers from the same weakness mentioned above, stripping counseling of its appropriate moral dimension.)
I put the question to the community of readers, both pro-life and not. What is your abortion counseling ideal? And are these ideals attainable?