Men who accompany women for an abortion or who just want to be helpful usually do not know where to turn to get clear, unbiased information. In order to help to provide some of this information, we have divided questions that are frequently asked at abortion clinics into three categories: the factual, the emotional and the spiritual.
FACTUAL Frequently asked Questions
1. How can I find a quality provider?
You are very smart to know that not all abortion providers are alike, just as in any field. The first thing you might want to do is to get a referral from someone you trust, such as your doctor or family planning clinic. Next, be certain that the provider is a member of one of the national organizations, such as the Abortion Care Network (www.abortioncarenetwork.org) or the National Abortion Federation (www.prochoice.org). An internet or yellow page ad is not a guarantee of quality service! Try to get the name of the physician before your appointment so that you can do a web check. Is the doctor board-certified in ob-gyn? Lastly, call the clinic. Are their fees suspiciously lower than the others? How does the staff sound? Are they knowledgeable, friendly, willing to take their time with you? Do they offer counseling afterwards should you or your partner want to come in to talk? Is there a fee for this counseling?
2. How does she decide which type of abortion to choose?
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.
3. Can I be with my partner during the procedure?
Being with your partner during counseling, the procedure, or recovery is an option that only some clinics offer. If this is important to you, be sure to call and ask before making your appointment. Keep in mind, though, that your partner has the final word on whether you can be present.
4. Will she be in a lot of pain during the abortion itself?
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.
5. How do we know if an abortion in a clinic is better or the abortion pill at home?
First of all, the abortion pill is generally offered only in early pregnancies up to 9 weeks. This guide may help you both to decide which method is better for her. Often, the pill is chosen by those who want to experience the passing of the pregnancy in privacy, and feel that they have the self confidence to handle the process alone or with a partner. Those who prefer to have the support of clinic staff and/or want the procedure over in five minutes rather than much longer, can choose to have the abortion at a clinic. At the time the appointment is being made, you can ask if both methods are available.
6. Afterwards, how will I know if she is OK or not?
A quality provider will send each patient home with a list of instructions as well as how to get in touch with them should you have any questions or concerns. Choosing a clinic with 24/7 answering service will do a lot to ease your mind. You can expect that she will actually feel quite well physically, but she may have cramps that are easily treated by ibuprofen.
7. How do we know what method of birth control is best?
A good provider will review all methods of birth control if you wish, or just the ones you want to know more about. Currently the most effective and long lasting method of birth control is an IUD (a device that is inserted by a doctor or nurse practitioner into the uterus) and the names are Mirena or Paragard. Another method you might want to consider is Nexplanon or Implanon, which is also highly effective. It also is inserted by a medical professional, this time under the skin. Of course the pill or NuvaRing are still a valid choice and some clinics will provide a year’s prescription during the appointment. Before you make the appointment, be sure to ask if birth control counseling is available on procedure day at no additional charge.
8. When can we resume having sex?
Most clinics tell patients to refrain from sex for two weeks. Also, using condoms may be necessary until the chosen method of birth control is fully functioning, which could mean a bit more than two weeks.
9. How can I be of most help afterwards?
The first thing you can do to be helpful is to read the instruction sheet carefully as soon as you get home. Also, you can help by being sure she has ibuprofen, Advil, or Motrin, sanitary pads, and condoms at home. Extras include a ThermaCare heat patch, DVD’s, and warm fluids. She will feel reassured to know that you care.