Choice: Texas is an interactive, educational game depicting the healthcare system in Texas, specifically in terms of reproductive health. The game outlines five possible real-life scenarios all describing women who experience either unwanted or high-risk pregnancies. For example, Latrice is a lawyer in a stable relationship who does not feel the timing is right to have a child. Leah is a survivor of sexual assault, who become pregnant as a result of the attack. Jess is a married woman who’s child would suffer serious birth defects, if not delivered stillborn. Even in the best case scenario, the delivery may cause harm to Jess. Alex is a high school student who struggles to choose between adoption and abortion, but does not receive any support from her family or boyfriend in any case. Maria has a husband and two kids already, but cannot afford another child. In each case, the game’s narrative outlines the obstacles women face in the state of Texas in finding reproductive healthcare. Past the legal barriers, the narratives also show the social stigma the women must combat in exercising their reproductive rights.
The format of the game allows the player to make their own choices, like choosing a character and making decisions out of the provided options. For example, the player must make decisions such as telling the parents about the pregnancy, missing school or work for doctor’s appointments, proceeding with the abortion, or exploring the option of adoption. These choices allow the player to be an active participant in an educational gaming experience, and also may reflect the player’s personal biases. People who are pro-choice may be more inclined to choose the “proceed with abortion” option more readily than someone who is pro-life. Therefore the outcomes of the game may differ regionally in terms of political climate or prevailing ideas about gender and reproductive rights. The game also offers narrative options that are ethically challenging. For example, Jess’s child would undoubtedly be born with birth defects, if the child survives at all. Leah became pregnant as a result of a sexual assault. These situations illustrate how complex the issue or abortion actually is, and what hoops women are forced to jump through in exploring their options in the face of an unwanted or complicated pregnancy.
Many states require multiple a consultation before the actual abortion appointment, meaning women would have to miss multiple days of work or school. In order to keep their medical situation private and avoid social pressure from the people around them, they would have to come up with a false reason for being absent. As mentioned in the game, the state requires a woman to undergo and ultrasound—effectively forcing her to see her baby—before undergoing the procedure. The ultrasound is only possible after a certain number of weeks, and abortions can only be performed a particular number of weeks into a pregnancy. This leaves a small window in which a woman can have the procedure done without resorting to an abortion that is not done through legal channels and possibly unsafe. She must also undergo a lecture about her “options”, even if she knows with certainty that the procedure is what she wants.
The game not only depicts the difficulties a woman faces in getting an abortion, but it also outlines the options a woman has in the case that she experiences an unwanted pregnancy. The game mentions hotlines women can call for support, planned parenthood, medical vs. surgical abortions, judicial bypass (for minors who do not wish to obtain parental permission to have the procedure done), and the Lilith fund (for women who cannot afford the monetary cost of the procedure). The “resources” provides hyperlinks to relevant resources for women. Also, the game focuses on a state with a notoriously conservative political climate. While many more liberal states have less restrictive policies on abortion, much of the U.S. still has incredible stringent restrictions on the procedure. Overall, the game serves as an educational tool for both women who face challenges in exercising their reproductive rights, and people who can control the restrictions on those rights—the voters.
Choice: Texas aims to educate players about the realities of the Texas reproductive healthcare system. The game works to spread information about women’s reproductive healthcare options, and also allows people to confront their personal biases—for example, if they repeatedly choose adoption over abortion or not go through with the procedure. Factors such as geography, socioeconomic demographic, or religious affiliation could sway the ways people react to the hypothetical scenarios presented by the game. Through the narrative structure and variety in the women’s situation, the game effectively illustrates the complicated and deeply personal nature of the issue itself. It also serves to educate people—those who vote on the issues of women’s reproductive rights—about the array of circumstances surrounding abortions and the adversity women face in obtaining them. In spreading awareness, Choice: Texas has the capability to push along a necessary change in the reproductive healthcare system many women are subjected to.