About half of all people with uteruses in the US face an unplanned pregnancy at some point. They have three options:
While the choice is clear for some, it is common to be undecided. We can help our patients make this decision by providing accurate information and facilitating nonjudgmental discussions about their options.
The first step is to date the pregnancy with an ultrasound and tell the patient what options are available based on the age of their pregnancy, as well as when those options will change as the pregnancy progresses. For example, medication abortion is available only for early pregnancies and options become more limited later in the pregnancy. It is important for the patient to know what their options are and when their decision must be made. See our state profiles tab for more state-specific information about which abortion options are available at which gestational ages.
Finally, it is important that we stay cognizant of our own implicit biases as we navigate these conversations. It is normal and understandable to have strong thoughts and feelings about abortion. Awareness of our biases allows us to best set them aside, giving our patients the unbiased, patient-centered conversations that they deserve.
Talking Points to Guide the Discussion
- There is no right or wrong decision. I am here to provide information and resources for you to make the best decision for you and your life right now.
- Unintended pregnancy is normal. Nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended. About 40% of them end in abortion and about 60% of them end in birth.
- A whole range of emotions are normal when experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. You may feel joy, anxiety, fear, concern, etc. It’s important to give yourself space and permission to feel all these. No emotion is off-limits.
- This decision is entirely yours. Although you may find it helpful to lean on partners, family, and/or friends, recognize that you have absolute authority over your body and this decision.
- If someone pressured or forced you to have sex, messed with your birth control to get you pregnant, or pressured you into getting pregnant, that is called sexual or reproductive coercion. It is a form of abuse, and it is illegal. I can help you access resources if you think this applies to you.
- There are “crisis pregnancy centers” or “pregnancy resource centers” that provide free/low cost sexual and reproductive health services. While these establishments provide affordable care, be aware that they are often anti-abortion and may not provide accurate, unbiased information. See the page on this website about crisis pregnancy centers for more information.
Questions for patients to ask themselves
- Which option(s) could you live with?
- How would each option affect your everyday life?
- What would each option mean to the people closest to you?
- What is going on in your life?
- What are your plans for the future?
- What are your spiritual and moral beliefs?
- What do you believe is best for you in the long run?
Resources for Patients
Resources for making a decision
- Connect and Breathe: An after-abortion nonjudgmental talk line (866-647-1764)
- Faith Aloud: Offers compassionate and nonjudgmental support from trained clergy and religious counselors
- Online workbooks for 1) Pregnancy Options, and 2) Abortion Resolution
- Planned Parenthood on pregnancy options
Resources for continuing the pregnancy/parenting
- Planned Parenthood on considering parenthood
- National Parent Helpline
- The National Parenting Center
- Need Help Paying Bills
- Single Parent Advocate
Resources for Adoption
- Planned Parenthood on considering adoption
- Adopt America Network
- Adoption Network Law Center
- American Adoptions
- Child Welfare Information Gateway to search for adoption services in your state
Resources for Abortion
- Planned Parenthood on considering abortion
- Women on Web
- Planned Parenthood on reproductive coercion
- “Reproductive and Sexual Coercion” by The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG)
- All Options connects women to community resources, information, and support