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Navigate Texas’ Harsh Abortion Restrictions in New Video Game

Navigate Texas’ Harsh Abortion Restrictions in New Video Game

Written by Tara Culp-Ressler

Now that Texas has approved a sweeping package of abortion restrictions that threatens to close the vast majority of the clinics in the state, what will it be like to try to get an abortion in the Lone Star State?

That’s what the new video game “Choice: Texas” wants to explore. The “educational interactive fiction game” is still in production, trying to crowdfund the money needed for the project through IndieGoGo. The three women behind it say they hope the game could help illustrate just how difficult it can be to navigate reproductive health care in deeply red states like Texas, where anti-choice lawmakers have enacted so many barriers to it.

They first got the idea last year, but after Texas lawmakers began forcing through an omnibus anti-abortion bill this summer, the project took on a new sense of urgency.

“The game is making a point about how there’s this rhetoric of choice, but it’s really contingent on a lot of factors,” one of the co-developers, Carly Kocurek, explained in an interview with Polygon. “If you live in West Texas do you go to New Mexico to get an abortion there, or do you end up stumbling into a pregnancy crisis center that tries to terrorize you? I really want people to realize how difficult the situations facing a lot of women are. These are horrifying stories, often of middle class women with fairly good access — but it gets much worse at the margins.”

The game allows users to choose one of five different female avatars. Characters include a 35-year-old woman who never planned on having children of her own with her boyfriend, a 19-year-old woman who’s working as a bartender to save up money for her future, a high school student who isn’t ready to be a mother, and a woman who was excited about having a baby but ends up needing to terminate the pregnancy because of a life-threatening medical condition.

The designers say they wanted to create a range of characters to communicate that the ability to have an abortion is largely dependent on each individual woman’s circumstances. They point out that access to reproductive health care is often “shaped by factors of identity, where people live, how much money they make.”

After the news of the project broke, right-wing outlets jumped to criticize the effort. Headlines deride the effort as “Fun with Infanticide!” and teaching women to “find the path to abortion.” But the game isn’t intended to make light of a very real situation — in fact, its tagline points out that it’s “a very serious game” — and Kocurek says it isn’t about promoting abortion as the right choice for every women.

“We’re really working to show why and how people make the choices they do, and what makes those choices especially difficult. Abortion is one of several possible paths the characters might consider or ultimately choose,” she explained. “The problems with reproductive healthcare in Texas go far beyond abortion, although that’s the most visible issue. Many women can’t afford birth control or adequate prenatal care or the hospital bills associated with giving birth.”

Kocurek and her partners, Allyson Whipple and Grace Jennings, hope to launch Choice: Texas early next year as a free browser game. They are accepting donations on their IndieGoGo site through next month.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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11:28AM PDT on Sep 5, 2013

This is a sick idea. To make entertainment out of what it takes to kill your own children. It's like creating a video game for how to bypass animal cruelty laws to be able to kill pets in barbaric ways.

Whether Care2 wishes to believe it or not. Abortion clinics kill children, often in cruel, even barbaric ways. Researchers have proved these children in utero can learn, what more can you ask to prove that a fetus is a living being. Meanwhile, abortion clinics are currently facing scrutiny on their hygenic practices after discover of Gosnell's "house of horrors" clinic in Philadelphia. And, many women suffer complications from abortions-- serious ones that send them to hospitals-- but the abortion doctors don't usually have hospital rights which further complicates matters.

8:16PM PDT on Sep 4, 2013

well, finally some intelligent way to get a message across.the sad part is , that very few christains and republicans will ever play it , because intelligence seems to be lacking on that side of the room.all ready they jump all over the concept because it doesn't denagrade women and it doesn't trump up there god. they would rather see an unwanted child brought into this world , to be used and abusedthan be saved the horrors of that kind of exsistance. you know I know a lot of red necks in my country but they respect and cherish women , mostly !not denegrade and control there lives. hopefully ladies it all goes big for you.many then some of the (men?) in texas might just be?

8:54AM PDT on Sep 4, 2013

These people would kill a defenseless animal in a heartbeat but they would make women go through crap like this? I think these white trash people are ignorant people and they think of women as animals.

SHAME ON YOU TEXAS!!

5:34AM PDT on Sep 4, 2013

thank you

12:14AM PDT on Sep 4, 2013

Oh, come now, people! Leave poor John M. alone! He obviously drank the kool-aid from Nancy Reagan's failed "Just Say No" campaign, and now it's the only complete sentence he can remember. Besides, you should never have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

11:37PM PDT on Sep 3, 2013

interesting. thanks. hopefully it does raise awareness. Currently a lot of people are under the impression that in the US for an unwanted pregnancy all you have to do is go to planned parenthood and that's pretty much all there is to it.

10:19PM PDT on Sep 3, 2013

excellent video game idea! pertinent!!

10:08PM PDT on Sep 3, 2013

They should have an avatar who's been raped or the victim of incest.
John M, you just keep advocating abstinence. Nice for a young married couple who want to share their love with sex but don’t want to have children just yet. “Sorry, honey, not tonight; we don’t want to make a baby.” And your comments about a penny between the knees is so overtly sexist. Maybe we should make zippers in men’s pants that don’t open. That would solve a multitude of problems.
Holly M, the game is to show how Texas is making ALL healthcare for women nearly impossible to obtain. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you judge so harshly.

6:05PM PDT on Sep 3, 2013

Great idea!

5:11PM PDT on Sep 3, 2013

interesting, thank you

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