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What You Need to Know

The following list includes some of the questions you may want to ask when you call for an appointment.

Medical Issues

  • What abortion methods are available to me? What are the differences in terms of numbers of visits, costs, and restrictions?
  • Is there anything about my physical condition or in my medical history that could interfere with my getting an abortion at your facility? Is there an upper weight limit for your abortion care? Will you perform an abortion if I’m HIV positive?

  • What pain relief and other medications are available? What is the difference in cost?

  • Will the clinic be responsible for routine follow-up care? For treating complications? What type of backup services are available in case of emergency?

  • I need a Pap test or chlamydia testing. Can I get these done when I come in for the abortion?

  • Will birth control be available if I want it?

Financial Issues

  • How much does the abortion cost? Must the fee be paid all at once? Is everything included, or will there be additional charges? At what point in the pregnancy will the fees increase?
  • Will Medicaid or health care insurance cover any of the cost? Does your clinic have funds to pay for my abortion?
  • Do you know of any other resources that may help with funding?
  • If calling Planned Parenthood: Do I qualify for any financial support for the abortion?

  • Can you bill my insurance company directly?

State Laws

  • Are there age requirements? Do I have to tell my parents, get their consent, and/or bring proof of age? Will my parent or guardian need to visit the clinic? (For more information, see “Parental Consent and Notification Laws Affecting Teens,” p. 325.)

  • Is there a mandatory waiting period between the counseling and when I can have my abortion? Can I have the counseling over the phone, or do I have to come to the clinic?

Clinical Procedures

  • How long should I expect to be at the clinic? Will everything be done in one visit?

  • Can I bring someone else with me? Can she or he stay with me throughout the counseling and the procedure? If not, why?
  • Will there be a counselor or nurse with me before, during, and after the abortion?

  • How will my privacy be protected before, during, and after the procedure? Will my medical records be protected?
  • Will there be someone in training performing my abortion?

  • Will there be staff people who speak my native language? If not, will an interpreter be provided?
  • Can you accommodate any special needs I have (for example, wheelchair accessibility)?
  • Will there be protestors? If so, does your clinic have escorts who will accompany me into the clinic? How will I recognize them?
  • Do you have counselors who can provide follow-up counseling after the abortion? Do you have names of private therapists you can give me who work with women before and after abortions?

The National Abortion Federation offers free brochures you can download, including “Unsure About Your Pregnancy? A Guide to Making the Right Decision for You” and “Making Your Choice: A Woman’s Guide to Medical Abortion.” The brochures are available in multiple languages.

Excerpted from the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. © 2011, Boston Women's Health Book Collective.


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