“Whatever you choose is the right choice for you.”

Have you been on the receiving end of a statement like this?

You’ve just bared your soul, sharing a tender and vulnerable predicament, voicing the cacophonous thoughts clattering and clashing around in your head, and have humbly asked for advice. You’re emotionally frayed. You don’t know what to do. And the counsel proffered is:

“Whatever you choose is the right choice for you.”

Is that even true? It certainly rings true of the culture we live in, one that shies away from black-and-white truths for fear of those noxious labels of offence, discrimination and judgment.

But is it helpful?

If a friend came to us tied up in knots over a sudden compulsion they have to lash out in violence at their wife during arguments, would we respond the same?

“Whatever you choose is the right choice for you.”

I think not. Most of us, I hope, would express strong opposition to domestic violence. We might commend them on their honesty in acknowledging their own weakness, but we couldn’t remain neutral and let them work out whether it’s ok to continue in the same trajectory. Many would go much further by offering real support, or helping them locate the right kind of help. We would stand with them.

When a woman is faced with pregnancy, in circumstances not of her choosing, she will likely hear that line over and over.

“Whatever you choose is the right choice for you.”

But when women experience deep feelings of regret after abortion, was it the right choice?

When their decision is actually via a coercive partner, family member or medical practitioner, was it the right choice?

When she goes on to suffer post abortion depression, with symptoms that present like post traumatic stress disorder, was it the right choice?

When she cannot conceive down the track, was it the right choice?

When she can’t help but think of the baby she lost when she sees children in the supermarket, on the street, playing on the playground, was it the right choice?

When she pulls out the ultrasound image and remembers the movements on the screen and the sound of the beating heart, was it the right choice?

When a friend has a miscarriage at the same gestation and she grieves like it was her own, was it the right choice?

When a baby full of potential is killed behind the wall of the womb, was it the right choice?

It may be the catchcry of our era, but let’s call it out for what it is: unhelpful (at best). Not only that, but it removes us from responsibility and the unmeasured benefits of generosity.

Ninety-six per cent of all abortions are for psychosocial reasons. That is, women are choosing abortion because they are afraid of the impact on their finances, career, relationships and their own stress levels. When you pair this figure with the fact that 70 per cent of women felt they had no alternative to abortion, there is an alarming correlation.

Abortion is not being chosen freely, but based on temporary circumstances. Moreover, practical support in those psychosocial areas would give women the freedom to make a truly free and informed choice.

When you hear the popular vernacular of the day, “Whatever you choose is the right choice for you,” may it sound alarm bells. If it sprung from your own mouth, question whether you’re offering anything but a fence-sitting tune. If it’s been offered as advice to you, run.

The truth is the best kind of advice you will ever receive.

Have you watched Nikki’s story?


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Nikki's Story

Nikki was 17 and hadn't been living in Australia for long when she discovered she was pregnant. She chose Nahla.

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