Questions to Ask Before an Abortion

By OBOS Abortion Contributors | March 25, 2014

Which abortion method is used will depend on how pregnant you are; your medical history, including any medical conditions or drug allergies; the training of the person performing the abortion; the equipment and supplies available; the approaches favored by the local medical community; and your own preferences.

The list below includes questions you may want to ask when you call for an appointment to help determine your options and to plan for the procedure.

Note: When looking for a clinic or provider to contact, watch out for “crisis pregnancy centers,” often listed as “abortion alternatives.” These centers often draw women in by offering free pregnancy testing or ultrasounds and advertise themselves as counseling and referral agencies. In reality, they are run by groups opposed to abortion. They are not staffed by trained health care providers, and they try to dissuade women from having abortions by giving misleading and inaccurate information. For example, they may tell you that the pregnancy is further along than it really is or that abortions are dangerous and cause breast cancer and/or infertility (they don’t; read the FAQ on abortion). Such centers are often located close to clinics that do provide abortions and have similar names.

Also steer clear of websites that claim to sell pills to induce abortion; only your healthcare provider can administer pills for a medication abortion. Websites will send fake pills or charge your credit card and send nothing.

Use these recommended resources to locate a clinic near you.

Questions to Ask Clinic Staff

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? (Learn more about parental consent and notification laws.)
  • 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 protesters? 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?