Choosing an Abortion Provider
12 Important Things Every Woman Should Know
If you are considering an abortion, you want to get the best care possible. But any doctor can put out a shingle and claim to be a qualified practitioner. Some states don't even require special training or a medical license. But how can you tell the quacks from the professionals? Here are some things to look for.
- Beware of clinic workers who try to rush you into a quick decision. This will be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Take some time to think it over and seriously consider your other options. A few days of consideration will not limit your choices.
- Beware of clinics that offer counseling but promote abortion as the only workable choice. The "counselors" have probably been trained to sell you an abortion and are not looking after your best interests. Such persons may try to make pregnancy sound frightening. A fair-minded counselor will help you explore all of your choices.
- Beware of abortion clinics that are stuffed with clients. They are probably performing the abortions "assembly line" style on particular days of the week. The doctor will not take the time to get to know you, your specific situation, and your health concerns. Getting an abortion from a sub-standard facility can leave you with an infection, maimed, or worse. (One abortion facility was found to be reusing the disposable plastic cannulas used for suctioning out the uterus.)
- Make sure that your abortion is being performed by a board-certified physician who has completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology, not a nurse or other clinic personnel. Some psychiatrists and ear, nose and throat specialists have been known to perform abortions, as well as some people with no medical training at all. Find out what the laws are in your state. Find out in advance exactly who will be performing your abortion and his/her credentials.
- Make sure your doctor has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. If there's a complication, you want to know that you'll be rushed to a place that can give you adequate care. Find out what hospital your doctor is affiliated with. You might even consider choosing a doctor who performs abortions in a hospital. An abortion performed in a hospital is always safer than one done in a clinic since you're already in the right place if something goes wrong.
- Beware of clinics which do not give you a frank discussion of your health risks. Common problems include pain and infection. Less common but more serious risks include infertility, hemorrhaging, and anesthetic complications. Some clinics will have patients sign disclaimers, refusing responsibility if something goes wrong. Read the fine print and never give up your rights.
- Make sure the clinician takes a detailed health history. There are many important factors that can affect the safety of the procedure for you, including past pregnancies, RH factor, etc. If the abortion will be done non-surgically, then any history of circulatory disorders or heart trouble is crucial.
- Ask what you should do if you have any complications from the abortion. Some clinics will urge you not to go to the hospital or to your regular doctor if you have problems because they don't want anyone to know they have botched your abortion.
- Ask if there are any lawsuits pending against the clinic. Ask if any of the clinic doctors have been implicated of any wrongdoing. One abortionist in Massachusetts was permitted to continue practicing, despite having molested one of his minor patients and other wrongdoings.
- Beware of clinics that won't show you the ultrasound of your unborn child. Some clinics have performed abortions on women who weren't even pregnant. The clinician should be able to show you the fetal heartbeat on the sonogram. (Many abortion clinics have the ultrasound screen facing away from the patient.)
- If you are a teen, beware of clinics that don't want to involve your parents in the abortion decision. They may tell you that your parents don't need to know, or offer to help you get a "judicial bypass" if necessary. Your parents care about your health, and though they may be angry, they are responsible for looking out for your best interests. If you fear violence or other abuse from your parents, your counselor should be helping you find a safe home. A quick and secret abortion will do nothing to change your abusive situation.
- Beware of clinicians who pressure you into getting a tubal ligation especially if you are young, poor, or a minority. They may tell you that you can get it reversed later, but it should be considered permanent. Sterilization abuse is a well-documented phenomenon, and some women are particularly vulnerable to this type of coercion after a trying pregnancy or abortion.