Where We Stand
Introduction to Where We Stand
As an organization that promotes inclusivity and respect, Options for Sexual Health (Options) is mindful of the language used in all of our communications. As such, the reviewing and updating of our position statements is an ongoing process.
Where we Stand: Gender Diversity and Medical Language
We recognize that women and gender diverse people with uteruses can become pregnant, and need to access reproductive health care practices like birth control, pregnancy testing, and abortion services. We strive to be inclusive in our position statements. To maintain clarity within medical context, we will use “women and gender diverse people with uteruses”, and “men and gender diverse people with penises” to differentiate between the types of services folks may need to access. References to “women” or “men” will be inclusive of those who identify with those terms. Anatomy may still be defined as “female” or “male” if relevant to describe external genitalia, but we will aspire to use inclusive and scientific language where possible. Please note we are still in process of updating all of our resources to be consistent with this commitment.
Where we Stand: Pronouns
Inclusion of gender diversity is something we stand for. As an organization we have made a commitment to using our pronouns in our email signatures and on our business cards. To learn more about this commitment, visit our pronouns resource.
Where we Stand: Truth and Reconciliation
We acknowledge Indigenous territories in our email signatures as part of our commitment to reconciliation. This is ‘Inspired by the 94 recommended calls to action contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (now known as the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, or NCTR), land acknowledgements are a necessary first step toward honouring the original occupants of a place. They also help Canadians recognize and respect Indigenous peoples’ inherent kinship beliefs when it comes to the land, especially since those beliefs were restricted for so long.‘ Thank you to Selena Mills for sharing the importance of land acknowledgements.
Below you will find our organizational position statements. If you have questions about any of our position statements, please contact our Executive Director.
Click on a heading below for more information.
Options for Sexual Health is a pro-choice organization. We believe that:
- All people in British Columbia have the right to access core components of the health care system including reproductive health screening, contraception, and abortion services.
- Providers of these services have the right to work with dignity in a safe, respectful, and supportive environment.
- All women, trans, and gender-diverse people experiencing pregnancy have the right to choose among the options of parenting, adoption, and abortion, both medical and surgical.
Options recognizes that an individual’s situation can be complex,and we trust women and trans and gender-diverse people to becapable of making the best decision for themselves when they needto make it.
- Abortion services should be readily accessible without delay and without limitations or restrictions. Options recognizes that currently in British Columbia, this is not the case.
- Provide its clients with clear and accurate information related to abortion in an affirming, non-judgmental, non-directive manner.
- Support and respect the individual choice of all women, trans, and gender-diverse people. This support includes providing information about where to access an abortion upon request. (A referral is not required in BC).
- Advocate for readily accessible, readily available, unrestricted and unlimited access to abortion for all people throughout British Columbia including the following:
- Better access to both medical and surgical abortion.
- Access to mifepristone (Mifegymiso TM).
- Access to reciprocal billing in the Canada Health Act, including but not limited to both physician and facility fees.
- Classification of abortion as an “essential service”.
- Increased abortion provider availability.
- Community education to increase knowledge and understanding of reproductive choice.
- Cessation of the use of public and United Way funds for so-called “crisis pregnancy centres”.
- Cessation of the designation of charitable status for so-called “crisis pregnancy centres”.
- Better access to pro-choice pre- and post-abortion counselling.
- Better access to non-judgmental and affirming pre- and post-abortion medical care (including ultrasound and medical follow-up).
- Protection of Access to Abortion Services legislation.
- Collaboration with other like-minded agencies.
Our commitment to the above is consistent with the mission of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), which seeks to ensure reproductive freedoms by protecting and advancing access to abortion and quality reproductive health care. Options also shares the goal with Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, formerly Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (CFSH), to support an individual’s right to choose and obtain an abortion. Action Canada works to ensure the elimination of unsafe abortions and to increase the right of access to safe, legal abortions for all women, trans, and gender-diverse people.
Whereas the definition of abstinence depends on individual, cultural, and family values, Options programs do not promote any specific expression of intimacy, but rather provide the information and communication, negotiation and decision-making skills necessary for individuals to understand the implications of their actions. Information disseminated in the clinical setting does include abstinence among the other sexual choices.
Options for Sexual Health considers the presence of a chaperone whenever possible to be the optimum practice for a physical examination, including breast, pelvic, and genital examinations, in every clinic affiliated with Options. It is recognized, however, that some practical considerations may influence its universal application. These include limitations on the availability of staff, volunteers, or a trusted companion of the client.
Options for Sexual Health supports a person’s right to access emergency contraception (EC), including emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) and copper IUDs. EC has proven to be a simple, safe, and effective option to prevent pregnancy.
- universal, timely, and affordable access without barriers or intervention.
- obtaining EC in advance of need. Therefore,
- the change of status of emergency contraceptive pills to ‘Off-schedule’, available at any retail outlet, in order to improve accessibility.
- increased public awareness and education of emergency contraception, including ECP and copper IUDs, in the discussion of the full ranges of contraceptives available.
Female Genital Mutilation is the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons (adapted from UNICEF/WHO definition). Options for Sexual Health recognizes that this practice may occur to anyone who has a vulva, cervix or uterus, including women, trans, and gender-diverse people.
Options for Sexual Health supports a person’s right to have control over their body, including reproductive choice, based on accurate, evidence-based, and comprehensive information. Options for Sexual Health endorses the Canadian legislation outlawing the practice of FGM in Canada and identifying the practice of FGM as a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Options for Sexual Health recognizes that despite the condemnation of FGM practice by the World Health Organization, the UN, and various international treaties, the procedure continues to be carried out throughout the world. In this regard, we believe that:
- People who have had this procedure performed in the past must be treated with sensitivity, compassion, and without judgement;
- People in British Columbia who present requesting this procedure must not be referred elsewhere and will be given clear and evidence-based information about the legal prohibition and personal risks associated with FGM;
- Appropriate counselling should be made available to people and their loved ones affected by FGM.
Options for Sexual Health endorses the use of an HPV vaccine as a public health measure to reduce the risks associated with the Human Papilloma Virus.
In this regard, Options for Sexual Health concurs with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s statement on HPV vaccination and the Canadian Consensus guidelines on HPV.
We strongly urge educators, public health organizations, and other health care providers to link the HPV vaccination program to age-appropriate, comprehensive sexual health education and to other prevention programs (including currently-recommended screening programs such as Pap screening).
Options for Sexual Health supports the need for further research regarding the HPV vaccine in areas including, but not limited to:
- the long-term benefits and effects of the vaccination program
- a tracking program for those children who are eligible to receive the vaccine but who are not immunized
- the use of the vaccine for hard to reach populations, including those who would not receive the vaccine through the school system.
Options for Sexual Health is committed to providing a work environment that promotes respect for the human rights and personal dignity of all clients, staff, employees, physicians, volunteers, and board members.
The policy of Options for Sexual Health is that all physicians working in Options for Sexual Health clinics must uphold the standards of practice and billing as set by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in BC and the Medical Services Commission. Residents, interns, and medical students must be under the direct supervision of a physician licensed to practice medicine in British Columbia.
Options for Sexual Health is committed to a philosophy of quality improvement throughout our organization, where broad consultation and involvement of key stakeholders helps to continually improve all of our processes.
Options for Sexual Health supports reproductive choice for all people in BC, including abstinence, pregnancy, abortion, and the prevention of disease and unwanted pregnancy.
HIV status disclosure is a public health issue, not a criminal law issue. Any individual who is HIV positive has the right to disclose their HIV status in an environment that is both safe and supportive.
As a sex-positive organization, Options for Sexual Health supports healthy sexual exploration by people throughout their lifespan. We also recognize that, in recent years, technology (specifically the sending of sexually explicit messages and photos on social media, online or by phone, also known as “sexting”) has changed what this exploration looks like. While the consensual sharing of sexually explicit images can be a way for people to explore their relationships and sexual selves, sexting may occasionally have serious social, legal and emotional consequences both for the sender and the receiver, even with consent.
At Options for Sexual Health, part of our mission is to educate youth about sexual exploration that is healthy, respectful to everyone involved, safe, legal, and age appropriate. Given that youth may occasionally explore sexuality through the sending or receiving of sexually explicit images, we seek to inform them of the legal and emotional considerations. Options for Sexual Health believes that comprehensive sexual health education leads to healthier decision-making. Options for Sexual Health supports the concept of legal mechanisms to protect people from exploitation, and from the non-consensual distribution of sexual images.
All studies in collaboration with Options for Sexual Health involving human subjects shall be approved by a Clinical Research Ethics Committee of an accredited university or affiliated facility in Canada.