Nearly 50 years ago in 1974, CHOICES was founded by a group of feminist women in Memphis as an independent, nonprofit abortion clinic. After years providing this critical care to the community, we began to dream of a more comprehensive, holistic model of comprehensive sexual and reproductive care. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things, and expanded our services to better embody that work. Comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care means treating a diverse set of health care needs. Today, we’re going to break down what that looks like for us at CHOICES.
Comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care is offering a pregnant person all their options, in one building. When we opened in 1974, our clinic was the first in Memphis to provide abortion care. We’re proud of that history, and today, we’ve expanded that vision. We now have a state-of-the-art birthing center, administered by Black midwives. Midwifery gives patients autonomy over their pregnancy and birthing experience. If our patients want to give birth, we can do that. If our patients want to end their pregnancy, we can do that too. The best part: it’s all under one roof. CHOICES is first in the nation to have an abortion clinic and birthing center housed in the same building. We built our clinic on Poplar with this mission in mind.
Comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care is providing different services to the same patients. There’s a nasty stereotype that there are people who give birth, and people who have abortions. In people’s minds, it’s a Venn Diagram with two distinct, untouching circles. But that’s not true. The circumstances around each pregnancy are unique. We’ve found that patients who seek midwifery care have often had an abortion before. And, vice-versa: our patients looking for abortion care have often given birth before. We like to say, it’s the same people, different pregnancies. We’re glad that we can join their journey, providing care for whatever choice they make and whatever their current health needs are.
Comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care is providing care for a multitude of reproductive and sexual health concerns. CHOICES doesn’t care for one kind of person, and because of that, we don’t offer one kind of service.
We offer STI education, testing, and treatment, including PEP and PrEP.
Our clinic provides affordable contraceptives, ranging from birth control pills to IUDs and every option in between.
CHOICES is gender-affirming and dedicated to trans-inclusive healthcare. Part of trans-inclusive care includes offering hormone therapy and referrals for other gender-affirming services.
For those entering menopause, we offer counseling and management.
We offer both procedural and medical abortions.
Our midwives provide expert perinatal care at both our birthing center and local hospital.
For those looking to get pregnant, we offer basic fertility counseling.
Preventative screening is essential, and we perform pap smears, colposcopies, and breast exams.
Whew, now that’s a lot! And get this: we’re still looking to expand our services. In the future, we plan to offer additional outpatient reproductive and sexual health services.
Comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care means caring for the whole person. We’re taught as little kids: the hip bone connects to the backbone, the backbone to the shoulder bone, and so on. But, did you know that your mental health connects to your sexual health? Or that access to sex education has real consequences for health outcomes? At CHOICES, we listen to our patients, triage their needs, and work in innovative ways to meet them. We also recognize that different populations have special concerns regarding healthcare. On our team, we have three talented patient services coordinators. Our Latinx coordinator helps Spanish-speaking patients navigate the healthcare space, building understanding and trust. Additionally, we understand that many LGBTQ+ people have unique medical needs. Our LGBTQ+ coordinator ensures patients are comfortable and empowered in the medical space, and connects them to other nonprofits in the community.
Finally, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care means serving everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Our third patient services coordinator is our financial assistance coordinator. Access to quality reproductive healthcare is a human right. Unfortunately, many of our patients face prohibitive healthcare costs. No one should have to decide whether to pay rent or go to the doctor. To ease that burden, our financial assistance coordinator works with patients to ensure they have access to health care they can afford. Sometimes this means helping patients pay part or all of their bills. Sometimes, that means working with them to create a flexible payment schedule. Whatever the circumstance, we work with our patients to make sure they have the care they need.
Comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care is revolutionary. It defies traditional binaries. The world isn’t divided between people who have an abortion and people who give birth, the head and the body, or the deserving and the undeserving. We are convicted to view health in its totality and move past regressive views that limit our access to quality care. CHOICES is here for you, whoever you are, and wherever you are in your reproductive health care journey.