Choosing an Abortion Provider
Things to Consider
As is the case with any medical procedure, the best decision is an informed one. Each of us is responsible for making these decisions based upon the information at hand-but in the emotional stress, which can accompany an unplanned pregnancy, how can you be sure you are getting all the information you need about every option available to you? How do you find the right services provider–one who will address your specific individual needs and concerns?
How far along am I in my pregnancy? What does my embryo or fetus look like at this point? Do you have any photos?
Maybe you have heard conflicting information about fetal development-some people tell you that you have a “child” or “baby,” others tell you that you have a “product of conception” or “mass of tissue.” Who is right? You’re perfectly capable of deciding for yourself. Beware of any clinic worker who withholds information from you about your pregnancy. If you wish, ask to see your ultrasound picture verifying how far along you are in your pregnancy. You may also ask questions about the development of your fetus.
What are the advantages and disadvantages to keeping my baby? What about adoption?
These questions will help you screen for any bias in the counseling. Some clinic workers may list abortion alternatives by simply mentioning them by name but then not give any helpful information about how to access such services. This could indicate that the clinic is not keeping your best interests in mind. Also, beware of anyone that might try to paint pregnancy as scary and horrific. An ethical counselor will give fair treatment to all of your options.
What are the physical health risks of abortion?
The abortion facility worker should mention the health risks, such as the possibility of experiencing pain during the abortion, infections afterwards, and possible complications arising from the anesthesia. You should also be informed about the mental health risks that are associated with abortion. Clinics may ask you to sign a statement promising not to hold the doctor responsible. Refuse to sign this. No attorney would ever advise you to sign such a statement. Although this form is almost never legally binding, it is best to be on the safe side and not sign it.
Are there any psychological or emotional risks associated with abortion?
Research has shown that many women who have undergone an abortion may suffer some psychological stress.
Beware of clinic workers who try to downplay the emotions that follow an abortion. Be wary of anybody who makes the condescending comment that any post-abortion sadness you may experience is “all in your head” or “just hormones.” An abortion is a big decision and the abortion facility workers should acknowledge your feelings and take them seriously. Remember that it is you-not the abortion provider or facility staff-who will undergo the procedure.
Is the clinic following the State health Code of Regulations?
Each State has a set of regulations that health clinics must follow. In California, for example, primary care clinics providing abortion services must provide:
Preabortion and postabortion information and education sessions.
These sessions shall include but not be limited to:
- How the abortion procedure is performed.
- Possible risks and complications.
- Options or alternatives to abortion.
- Post-procedure medical services.
- Family planning information and education.
If the clinic you visit does not provide any of the above, please notify the health department and do not allow them to perform the procedure.
Who will perform my abortion? Is she or he board-certified?
Do not settle for anything less than a physician who has completed her/his residency in obstetrics and gynecology. You have the right to insist that your abortion is performed only by a licensed physician. You also have the right to know if this physician’s license has ever been suspended or revoked or if there is a history of or a pending medical malpractice.
If I experience any complications, should I contact my regular physician?
Typically, 1 in 100 women experience severe complications from abortion. (Tupin, Suzonne. “Induced Abortion” Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology. Philadelphia: Lippencott, Williams & Wilkins, 1999, 575). Beware of abortion facility workers who tell you not to seek medical care with another physician.
Do you have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital?
Make sure that the clinic is prepared to send you to a hospital in case of an emergency. Surgical abortion comes with potential risk, as do all surgeries. You have the legal right to be assured that if you are injured during your abortion you will be immediately transferred by ambulance to the nearest emergency hospital or trauma center.
How many abortions do you typically perform in one day?
Some abortion facilities “process” a lot of women quickly, meaning that they may rush you through your abortion and not give you the individual attention that you deserve. Refuse to be treated like a commodity.
Are there any lawsuits pending against your clinic or staff members? Have there ever been? Have you ever lost your license?
Obviously, it would not be wise to entrust your body to a clinic or staff that has had or is having legal trouble.
If I change my mind, will you refund my money?
No matter how desperate and scared you feel right now, don’t sell yourself short! When considering abortion, don’t just make any choice. Make an educated choice. You deserve nothing less.
Once you have begun dilation by inserting the laminaria, will I have the option to change my mind? Would you remove the laminaria if I did?
This question is specifically for those considering a Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) procedure. This is a surgical abortion performed in the second trimester of pregnancy.
Laminaria (a type of seaweed) are inserted usually for 24-48 hours in order to dilate the cervix and facilitate the abortion. Insertion of the laminaria is reversible. If you wish to have laminaria removed and the abortionist will not do it, go immediately to the nearest emergency room.
Choosing abortion is a big decision. I want to make sure that I won’t regret it. How much time will you give me to decide?
Beware of clinic workers who try to rush you into making a decision. This is a major choice you are making, and a “pro-choice”clinic worker should respect you for making an educated one. You are a consumer considering elective surgery. You deserve time to think it over. A few days of reflection will not restrict your choices.
Regardless of your age, marital status or any other factor, no one has the legal right to make you have an abortion. If someone is trying to force you into this decision against your will, call 1-800-401-6494 for legal assistance.
If you are considering abortion and want to discuss your options, please contact us anytime.