Why Do I Have To Explain Myself?

Submitted by: Heather MacGibbon.

One of the most commonly asked questions I have been asked over the ten years of acting as an advocate for patients considering abortion is, Why do I need Counseling since it is my decision?

First, I agree that most patients who come into the office seeking an abortion have already gone through the painful process of soul searching. It is always the individual woman s decision regarding whether to continue a pregnancy or not. Although some people need to have a Patient Facilitator or Advocate to act as a sounding board as they make their decision regarding an unplanned pregnancy most have used friends and family for that role and resent the presences of a stranger asking questions. However, abortion counseling fulfills several other important roles.

Dealing with Changes in the Law & Sonograms


New Laws being drawn up in various states, most recently Texas, may require all women considering abortion to look at and or hear a description by the sonographer of the sonogram image prior to their procedure.

Sonograms have always been part of abortion testing. They are important to doctors because they allow understanding of the position of the uterus, the length of the pregnancies gestation and if there are complicating factors such as fibroids or placentas attached to c-section scar tissues to name a few.

However the role of the sonogram has also played an increasing role in the Anti- Choice movement s attempts to dissuade women from having abortions. While women have the option of seeing the ultrasound done as part of their testing, currently it is the patient s choice.

While studies show that about 73 % of women do choose to see the image, regardless of their eventual decision regarding abortion for some it is too difficult. Many women experience this process as painful and intrusive because it makes what has already been an extremely emotional and painful decision harder. Patient Facilitators in abortion providers offices can help women deal with the mix of emotions the sonogram might bring up if she desires to speak with someone.

Informed Consent Documentation

Another important role that Patient Facilitators / Advocates can play in abortion clinics and medical offices is that of explaining the steps a patient will go through and going over consent forms. Patients are required to sign informed consent forms when having almost any medical procedure which list risks and complications. Abortion is no different. Sometimes patient desire someone who can answer questions about these forms, like how often complications happen, or what some of the terms on the forms refer to. More developed providers such as Parkmed Physicians have staff and are fully commited to patients being interviewed by a physician before the procedure. Having someone there to discuss these issues is important, especially with emotionally charged medical procedures like abortion. Having someone to explain and support women as they go over this information can make a huge difference in how comfortable patients are and their overall abortion experience.

A Source of Other Referrals

It is sometimes the case that women who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy are facing other challenges as well. They may be fleeing an abusive relationship. They may be homeless and searching for shelter. They may have family problems that need to be address. These are not issues that Patient Facilitators can handle themselves however, they can act as conduits for referral to social service agencies and long term counseling services in their communities to help women in difficult situations.

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