My Options: Abortion
For some women, deciding whether or not to have an abortion is a relatively straightforward decision. But for others, this option can be confusing and difficult. If you are considering this medical procedure, it is important to be sure you get all the information you need to make an informed choice.
I’m not sure where to start. What do I do first?
After you have determined that you are pregnant, you need to explore you options, parenting, adoption, and abortion. An essential resource is the Pregnancy Options Workbook, also available in Spanish. Once you have explored all your options you need to make the decision that is right for you. If you have decided on abortion you can contact your doctor, a local independent clinic or planned parenthood to help you.
Is abortion safe?
It is the most common outpatient surgical procedure in the country and, when performed by an experienced physician, it is extremely safe. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading public health research organization, abortion is 11 times safer than carrying a pregnancy to term.
Will having an abortion prevent me from having children in the future?
There is no evidence of a link between an uneventful procedure and infertility. Of course, as with any surgery, infection, though rare, is a risk. Taking all your medications, following instructions, and returning for your follow-up examination will reduce your chance of any post abortion problems. If you are concerned about this risk, do not hesitate to ask your provider about it and they will be able to answer your questions more specifically.
How do I choose a clinic?
The quality of care can vary widely among all medical facilities here are some general guidelines:
Make sure you call a legitimate clinic under the category “Abortion Services.” Across the country there are thousands of “crisis pregnancy centers” that list their services under “Abortion Alternatives.” They are actually “anit-abortion” centers. So, when you make your call, the first thing to ask the receptionist is if they perform or refer for abortion services.
If you feel comfortable, ask a friend or family member if they know a good clinic in your area. Call a family planning office, local hospital referral service or your doctor’s office. Choose a clinic that makes you feel comfortable. Keep these things in mind: How does the staff sound over the phone? Are they friendly? Do they appear knowledgeable? Did they listen to you and answer all your questions?
Do the fees sound too good to be true? Be very careful – the lowest fee does not mean you will get the best care. Ask if the fee includes all services (e.g., medications, lab work, ultrasound, follow-up exams). If for some reason they cannot provide the procedure, how much will you be charged? Does the clinic accept your insurance? Do they offer a discount if you have Medicaid?
If possible, visit the clinic. Is the clinic clean? Do you feel comfortable in the clinic? Does the staff dress and act professionally and appropriately? Do they treat you as an individual and with respect and understanding?
Can I get financial help to pay for my abortion?
Most clinics will not perform an abortion for free, except in very unique and compelling circumstances. You might ask if they have a local fund to refer you to. Also, there are some national funding networks that might be able to help you with the cost of your abortion. Go to the following websites for more information: National Network of Abortion Funds
I’m on Medicaid. Will that program pay for my abortion?
Medicaid should pay for your abortion if your pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or if your life would be endangered if you did not have an abortion. There are currently 19 states that allow Medicaid to pay for abortions in other circumstances. Check with your clinic to see if they accept Medicaid or if they offer a discount to Medicaid patients in states where the program will not pay for an abortion.
Are there different types of abortions?
Women have their choice of type of abortion only before nine weeks. They can choose either the abortion pill or the vacuum type of procedure. After nine weeks, the type of procedure is determined by the doctor for optimal safety. A good source of information is www.pregnancyoptions.info. Individual websites from the clinic themselves can provide you with more information about their offerings.
Is abortion painful?
Most women do have cramps during the procedure, and sometimes they can get bad, but most abortions take only five minutes and the cramps do begin to go away shortly afterwards. Many clinics offer a variety of pain control, from just a local anesthetic that would numb the cervix alone, to IV sedation in which she is in a twilight sleep, to full general anesthesia. Each method of pain control has advantages and disadvantages. Ask your provider which methods of pain control they offer.
When can I resume having sex after an abortion?
Most clinics tell patients to refrain from sex for two weeks. You should also should have looked into a method of birth control to prevent another unplanned pregnancy. The use of condoms may be necessary until the chosen method of birth control is fully functioning, which could mean a bit more than two weeks.
What if I change my mind?
You can change your mind anytime before the procedure. You can even change your mind while you are at the clinic for the procedure but the procedure hasn’t started. Once the procedure starts its too late to change your decision so it is important to weigh all your options ahead of time.
I have religious and spiritual concerns about abortion. Where can I turn?
Most religions, even those who explicitly say they are against abortion, teach compassion and forgiveness. Many religions believe that God gave us all the ability to make decisions for ourselves and to exercise our own conscience in deciding what is right for us and our families. It is important to remember that the clergy were instrumental in helping women access abortion services and in the struggle to legalize abortion before 1973.
The following websites provide information and counseling from many different faith points of view:
Faith Aloud is an organization that offers help to those deciding about a pregnancy or those who have already had an abortion and want to talk about their spiritual feelings. They have several videos to watch and a talkline. Their website is now in Spanish as well.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is the religious voice for reproductive choice through the moral power of religious communities.