A woman struggling over an abortion decision

    This case involves Melinda, a 25-year-old Latina who says she wants to have an abortion. She has been married for three years, already has two children, and says: “We had to get married because I was pregnant. We didn’t have money then. The second kid was not planned either. But now we really can’t afford another child.” Her husband is a policeman going to law school at night. She works as a housekeeper and plans to return to school once her husband finishes his studies and it is “her turn.” He should graduate in another year, at which time she is scheduled to enroll in classes at the community college. Having another baby at this time would seriously hamper those arrangements in addition to imposing the previously mentioned financial burden. But the client reports:

    “I go to call the clinic, and I just can’t seem to talk. I hang up the minute they answer. I just can’t seem to make the appointment for the abortion, let alone have one. I was never much of a Catholic, and I always thought you should be able to get an abortion if you wanted one. What’s wrong with me? And what am I going to do? I don’t exactly have a lot of time.”

    1. With the information given here, what do you see as the major value issues that need to be explored? It seems that there are two major value issues that need to be explored. The first and most important question is what qualifies as a human life and what gives it meaning. Where does life begin? Is it at conception or is it at birth? This is the value issue that Melinda needs to determine in order to make a decision. It seems that most of the disagreement about abortion is not whether it is okay to kill a person, but whether or not that fetus/embryo qualifies as a person (does it have the traits to qualify it as a valued human life?). If Melinda concludes that it is not a human life, then seemingly the question ends there because she believes nothing morally wrong is being done. However, if she decides that the fetus/embryo is a life she must decide whether or not she thinks it is morally wrong to kill someone in order to have an easier life. I would imagine, though I could be wrong, that a majority of people would consider killing someone to have an easier life as a moral wrong. So, it appears that the primary value issue that Melinda must decide is what the value of a fetus/embryo is. Just that question alone is rather difficult because she must determine whether it lines up with her interpretation of religion, if she is religion, or if she is non-religious she must determine her own moral code.
    2. How much emphasis would you place on factors such as what is stopping her from making the call? On her ambivalence between wanting to have the abortion and not wanting it? I would put a significant emphasis on the factors that are affecting her decision making in this situation. I would use the steps in making an ethical decision. I would have sought consultation from one or more sources to obtain various perspectives from different counselors that might have dealt with similar situations and discuss these results with her. I would then Enumerate the consequences of both decisions and reflect on the implication of both decisions. I would also ensure that regardless of the decision being made that follow up counseling was scheduled for her and her husband.
    3. If she asked you for your advice, what do you think you would tell her? If you gave her this advice, what might your advice tell you about yourself? As a male responding to a female client with a very specific feminine issue, I have to be cognizant of the advice I provide. In order to prevent imposing my desires in the given situation, I would ask the client to consult her husband. This is a big decision for any one, and she seems to be having an issue coming to a conclusive decision. She seems to have a decent relationship with her spouse, and she hasn’t expressed thoughts of their relationship crumbling. If she is uncomfortable bringing the topic to her husband, I would suggest creating a list of pros and cons for each option and assigning a point value to each pro and con. She seems to be teetering between the logical and emotional choice. Corey (2016, p. 40) exclaims that ethical dilemmas rarely follow one course of action. This gives the client a couple of options to consider before making her choice. I am firmly in the camp of logic and reason. I do understand that some people are far more emotional, and I respect their prioritization of emotional values.
    4. How would your views on abortion influence the interventions you made with Melinda? A counselor should not allow their personal views to influence their intervention with a client and must remain open minded to all options as it should be Melinda’s decision whether to get an abortion. Personally, I have no objections to abortion, nor do I support abortion which means that I would be able to stay on track with Melinda’s intervention as well as support the decision she makes. I believe that no one really knows what you’re going through and what you can and can’t handle better than yourself therefore as a counselor I would aid Melinda in the decision-making process rather than influence her decision. “The DSM-5 emphasizes the importance of being aware of unintentional bias and keeping an open mind to the presence of distinctive ethnic and cultural patterns that could influence the diagnostic process.”, (Corey, 2017).
    5. How would you deal with this situation if you had already established a therapeutic relationship over many months with Melinda? My strategy to guide Melinda through this situation would be to remind her about her roots, not from her childhood but from the moment she became a mother. By reminding her about these “roots” would lead her to the understanding of her conscience playing a big role in her hesitating. If it was meant for her to have an abortion it would have come with an instinct. Since she is bringing up religion I would suggest she having these thoughts of not being able to come through with making the appointment as a sign from God. Since I have gotten to know Melinda and her drive of being a mother, wife, housekeeper I would give her the ability to hear the other side of what if she didn’t make the decision of not making the appointment for the abortion. Her finances would still be somewhat stable by her husband completing his education and getting a job, these days discrimination is illegal at jobs. Meaning she would still be allowed to keep her housekeeping job while going to school. My ethical decision would come from (Corey, 2017, p.40) “Deciding on what appears to be the best possible course of action. Once the course of action has been implemented, follow up to evaluate the outcomes and to determine whether further action is necessary. Document the reasons for the actions you took as well as your evaluation measures”. I would later ask Melinda how she feels about this other choice and side of reality, most importantly in following what she feels is right.


    Corey, G. (2016). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.


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