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Living in the Both/And

pro-choice pro-education pro-life
pro-choice and pro-life

Knowing and accepting that many things are true at the same time makes living in the mess a lot more peaceful.

If you allow “and” to roll up its sleeve and get to work, this sweet little word will usher in an evolved and expansive perspective of the world.

-- Life's Messy, Live Happy, by Cy Wakeman


I can be both/and. We live in both/and in so many areas of our lives…and we must come together in this realization. Many things can be true at the same time. We know this. 

Sadly, our society, our politics, our yard signs, and our bumper stickers often insist that we narrow our beliefs down to two polarizing concepts and pick a side. You are this or you are that. With 20 years working in education in healthcare, I say enough.

Can we live in a both/and world? Of course – we all do it every day. In my work at Family to Family Support Network, we encourage the both/and concept within our training for healthcare professionals. We tell healthcare workers that it’s okay to have strong beliefs about your patient’s decisions AND provide them respectful, neutral, compassionate care.

 It is okay to not agree with your patients AND supply the care that they request.

As an adoptive mom, can I be thankful for my life as a mom AND feel sorry my children lost their birth parents? Yes.

Can my child be thankful for their life in our family AND wish they were with their first parents? Yes.

Can we be reminded and agree that many things can be true at the same time – that few things are absolute without nuance?

The day the SCOTUS issued the decision regarding Roe v Wade was the day 2,100 nurses arrived in my home state of Colorado to attend the 2022 Association of Women’s Health Obstetrics & Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN) convention. I had the honor of both presenting with Rose L. Horton at the conference, and also listening to her give a keynote presentation on the main stage. Rose is a national nurse leader who is passionate about reproductive justice for all women and birthing people. She is committed to amplifying the voices of the marginalized communities who are impacted the most by maternal morbidity & mortality with her program #notonmywatch. During both presentations, Rose made it clear by putting up her hands, one at a time and side by side. She is 100% pro-life and 100% pro-choice. Many things can be true at the same time. 

Can Rose have her beliefs as a woman, an idea as to what she would do in a situation where she had to consider having an abortion? Yes.


Can she hold space for others in that situation, that they might decide for themselves, and that their choice could be different than what she would choose? Yes.

Can we move into a space of pro-education – can we take back the terms “pro-life and pro-choice” and agree that pro-education is common ground where we all can stand? A person facing the decision of what to do when they find out they’re pregnant deserves all the information to make a decision without shame, judgment, or coercive manipulation.

Can we “roe upstream” and come together for families?

Can we agree that there is work to be done to better serve families upstream to lessen the trauma and the vulnerability for families? It’s no secret that many are waiting to continue to take advantage of the chaotic, partisan fighting in women’s healthcare. Can we agree we need to come together to ensure protection from those that will be preyed upon in these situations? 

It’s more simple than we realize.  

So now what?

When the decision was issued at the end of June, I did not hear from adoption agencies…I heard from those supporting kids in foster care and those that had chosen adoption for their children. I heard from those working and living in the downstream consequences – hoping that we could plan to use what we do at Family to Family Support Network to implement an infrastructure in healthcare that empowers women to access and utilize parenting resources, support services and ethical adoption professionals.

I am all in: for finding common ground and supporting those facing unplanned pregnancy, for helping those affected most by this decision, for “roeing upstream” and meeting them there. 

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