The Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade abolishes women’s constitutional right to choose to have an abortion without the undue influence of government. This decision will trigger some state regulations, which will make abortions outright illegal and/or limiting accessibility. Various jurisdictions have proposed laws and regulations that require clinicians report clients who have sought or are seeking an abortion, as it may be considered “aiding and abetting.”
We recognize that the loss of access to safe, legal abortion may hinder the ability of women to participate within the workplace and society effectively and successfully. Unwanted pregnancies may affect women’s education, employment, earning prospects, and health. These effects would disproportionately fall on those who are already marginalized, those living in poverty, people of color, nonbinary, and transgender people, as well as those who live in medically underserved areas (e.g., few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty).
Overturning Roe v. Wade means we can expect an increase in economic hardship and insecurity that may lead to increased stress, lower life satisfaction, decreased work productivity, increased turnover, and decreased mental well-being. Professional counselors assist clients and students facing life’s challenges such as the deeply personal decision to have an abortion, and how to access such services.
The American Counseling Association (ACA) stands with every person, counselor, and client in pursuit of mental health care and wellness. Professional counselors are being placed in an unethical position. In counseling, clients are entitled to self-determination and to make decisions in the best interest of their health and well-being. Clients should have access to high-quality professional counseling without the fear of having their confidentiality unjustly waived. This requires safeguarding the integrity and trust built in the counselor-client relationship.
Professional counselors need to continue to practice ethically and obtain a legal consultation to determine their duty to confidentiality and privacy versus the conflict either in Roe v. Wade or the restrictions their state has put in place. Professional counselors may request an opinion from their State Attorney General who can give an official interpretation of the law.