We make choices all the time, every day. From the mundane to the profound, our choices help us control the direction our lives take. With the recent overturning of Roe V Wade, however, many people’s choices when it comes to their bodies, wellbeing, and health have been limited. In the wake of that news, we asked readers, “What does choice mean to you?” Their responses show us just how expansive the definition of choice and autonomy can be, and how it varies from person to person. Understanding the broad concept of “choice” can help us see why knowledge and access to meaningful options is so very important.
Editor’s note: For the sake of maintaining readers’ privacy, we use first names only.
- “Choice means that if I am making a decision that I am making that decision with knowledge and power. [It does not mean] that knowledge is withheld from me or that someone has power over me.” - Sarah, 28
- “Access — to information, to financial assistance, to logistical assistance, [and] safety.” - Nikki, 25
- “Choice to me means having the privilege and right to full freedom. It means as a woman, and at the core, as a human being, to have the full right to do what is best and right for me, for my life currently and for my future. Choice means that no matter what others believe is right for themselves, I myself have the ability to make decisions that are best for me!” - Violet Ostuni, 34
- “Being aware of the fact that because I’m a cis, straight, white male, I’ve never had to really think about ‘choice’ much at all.” - Dan, 27
- Choice means listening to and honoring my body, my health, and my mind on my own terms — because I know myself better than anyone else and should make decisions accordingly. - Luisa, 25
- “It’s the freedom to use and choose contraceptives, to stay pregnant if you want to stay pregnant, to get the help you need if you don’t want to stay pregnant, and to use and choose fertility treatments. It’s having knowledge and access to the many options we can make when it comes to our reproductive health and our sexual health, wellbeing, and pleasure. It’s having access to education that shows us sex isn’t just about penetration between a cishet couple that can lead to pregnancy. ” - Sarah, 34
- “Choice is, quite simply, freedom. When one does not have the ability to make choices about their own body, one is not free.” - H.R. Bellicosa, 44
- “Having more than one viable option.” - Aubri, 41
- “[Choice means] truth and transparency…When people lie, it robs others of their choice to make the next best decision for themselves.” - Pedro, 30
- “Choice means being able to weigh pros/cons of different options and selecting one that makes the most sense to me.” - Sophie, 36
- “The freedom to make any decisions I want about me, myself, and I.” - Lisa, 43
- “True access to abortion. Period. Safe, legal, abortion. On demand. For everyone.” - Sam, 26
- “Having access to all of my options and the autonomy to make decisions.” - Nadine, 46
- “[Choice means] getting my tubes tied in September so that no one can ever force me to give birth.” - Zoe, 22
- “[Choice] means you do you and I do me, as long as your choice doesn’t impact me/others. For example, abortions don’t affect my life, but you robbing my house or coming to work sick does. It’s me being able to say no without consequences.” - Hunnah, 22
- “Reproductive choices means I know what my body and my life can bear at any given time - and I trust myself to respond accordingly. All natural systems regulate in response to environmental conditions. I am part of that wisdom. I trust in the inherent sovereignty of all bodies that gestate new life.” - Vanessa Osage, 44
- “Choice is freedom, self-determination, and accessibility.” - Kira, 34
- “Choice means options. It means freedom…I think that choice(s) can also lead to an opportunity for growth. For example, you make a choice, maybe it’s the wrong one. Or maybe it didn’t go the way you planned. Maybe you even hurt someone unintentionally. But from there, you learn something about yourself. About others, about life! And when we learn, we grow. And hopefully we become a better person today than we were yesterday” - Dwain, 38
- “Having the power to control my own destiny.” - Sara, 25
- “Choice makes me think of autonomy and empowerment and freedom? Like an open-ended feeling.” Jordyn, 26
- “Choice is having the ability to do the right thing for you in that moment.” - Kyle, 31
- “I am a white woman, but I greatly admire the Reproductive Justice movement led by Black women who believe people should have:
1. the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy
2. the right to have children
3. the right to not have children
4. the right to nurture the children we have in a safe and healthy environment.
As a mother to three girls, these are the options I want to have available to them.” - Jeni Putalavage-Ross, 46
- “Choice requires that there be real choices, not survival responses. When in survival mode, exploitation happens.” - Yael Rosenstock Gonzalez, 31
The bottom line
From choosing what to wear in the morning to what job you take to how you enjoy sex, choice means different things to different people. For many, it’s the ability to decide what they want to do with their body and their life. For others, it’s having access to honest, accurate information so they can make informed decisions. And for some people, choice is being able to get a safe, legal abortion, if they want it. If you need help, check out resources for abortion care and support.