Choosing a Good Provider
How Do You Choose a Good Provider?
Not all abortion clinics are the same. And, since many women do not talk about their abortion experiences, it can be difficult to find out what to expect. In addition, the quality of care can vary widely among providers. We have developed some guidelines to help you make your decision wisely with some assurance that you will be receiving the highest quality of care.
1. DO NOT TRUST THE PHONE BOOK!!
Just because the ad is big and expensive does not mean that it is a good facility. Furthermore, the ad may not be entirely truthful. Investigate before you make an appointment. Some clinics advertise that they are in a specific town, but when you call they may say "we’re not open there yet". You may be in for a longer trip than you first thought. They may even be in another state! If they are not truthful in their yellow page ad, it is a red flag.
2. Get a referral from someone you trust.
Ask a friend or family member if you feel comfortable. You can also call a local hospital or doctor’s office and ask them to give a referral. Ask national organizations such as the National Coalition of Abortion Providers or the National Abortion Federation (www.prochoice.org) who they recommend in your area. Their members must adhere to the highest standards of medical care and counseling.
3. Call the clinic on the phone.
How do they sound? Are they friendly? Are they knowledgeable? Do they listen? Do they answer all your questions? Ask if you can set up an appointment to see the clinic before the date of your surgical or medical abortion. Is the clinic actually located where the ad in the phone book says it is? Will they tell you the credentials of their doctors and staff?
4. Ask about their services.
What do they offer? Is your support person invited in to surgery and counseling with you? How many visits are required? What is the procedure like? What types of anesthesia are offered and who administers it.What are her/his qualifications? Do they offer birth control and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases as well? What type of medical protocols do they follow? What do they do in case of an emergency? Do they provide free options counseling?
5. Ask about their fees.
Do the fees sound "too good to be true"? If they do, they probably are. Ask what charges are included in the fee. Are all medications included? Is all lab work included? Is a follow-up included? Is a method of birth control included? Do they participate with insurance plans? Do they give a reduced fee if you have medical assistance? Do they help you with funding if you cannot come up with the whole fee?
6. Ask about the qualifications of their staff.
Are their doctors OB/GYNs? Are they board-certified? Things to ask include: How many procedures has he/she performed? What/where was their training? What is her/his specialty? Will they give you the names of the doctors on their staff? Even if they won’t give you the doctor’s name, will they give you their credentials? What about the staff? Do they have Registered Nurses on staff? What about the counselors? Who provides counseling and what is their training? Will the counselor talk to you about your decision at no charge if you are unsure? Are there counselors available to accompany you in the procedure if you request it? Do the counselors provide post-abortion counseling if you want it?
7. Take a look at the clinic and staff.
Is the clinic clean? What type of instruments do they use and how do they clean them? What is the atmosphere like? Is it cold and sterile or warm and friendly? Does the staff dress professionally and appropriately? Do they treat you as an individual and with respect and understanding? Can your partner or parent talk with a counselor if they want? Are the procedure rooms clean and private? Do they have brochures on decision-making, birth control methods, and descriptions of the procedure including risks? Do they provide referrals for adoption and pre-natal care? Are their explanations thorough? We know it can be difficult to trust a medical provider that you have never seen before and we hope these suggestions help. You can’t predict exactly what your experience will be but you can have some control over it. Be sure to give the staff feedback-both positive and negative-that will help them serve women better.