If you’ve chosen to have an abortion, you may be wondering about what to do next. There are several things to think about such as finding an abortion provider, paying for the abortion, and learning if there are laws in your state that require a waiting period or some other step before you have an abortion.
The first step is finding the right clinic or doctor’s office for you. If at any time you need help finding a provider of quality care, please call the NAF Hotline referral line 1-877-257-0012 for assistance (no funding assistance provided on this line).
What Is a Safe Facility?
All facilities are different, but there are some basics that you should know about. The following questions will give you an idea of a facility’s practices.
- Is the provider licensed by the state?
- Is the facility a member of NAF?
- Does the facility do a pregnancy test? Will the facility do either a pelvic exam or a sonogram to determine how far along you are in the pregnancy?
- What methods of abortion do they offer (surgical abortion, medical abortion)?
- Will the facility staff explain the procedure to you, making sure you understand your decision and the risks and benefits of your options?
- Will you also have the opportunity to have all your questions answered?
- What is included in the cost? Could there be additional charges? (You should know all of the costs up front.)
- Will the procedure be provided on the premises?
- Will you have a blood test for anemia and Rh factor?
- Is there a follow-up exam and is it included in the fee?
What Is a NAF Facility?
NAF is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. Our member facilities care for more than half the women who choose abortion each year in the United States and Canada. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City and private clinics in Colombia. In order to become a member, a facility must complete a rigorous application process. Member facilities must comply with our standards for quality care, updated annually in our Clinical Policy Guidelines, which set the evidence-based standards for abortion care in North America. NAF periodically conducts site visits to confirm that our members are in compliance with our Guidelines.
Finding an Abortion Provider
The best way to find an abortion provider is to use our online directory of NAF providers or call the NAF Hotline. If you have been diagnosed with a fetal anomaly, require specialized later abortion care, or are a medical professional looking for a referral, please call the NAF Hotline Referral Line: 1-877-257-0012 (no funding assistance provided on this line). For unbiased information, options counseling, referrals, and funding assistance call 1-800-772-9100.
Beware of Fake Clinics
Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) have a long history of deception. For example, some CPCs intentionally choose their name to mislead women into believing that they offer a wide range of services, including family planning and abortion care, when in fact they offer neither. CPCs may advertise in phone books near the headings of “Abortion” or under “Abortion Alternatives,” “Women’s Organizations,” “Pregnancy,” “Medical,” “Women’s Centers” or “Clinics.” CPCs may locate themselves near legitimate clinics that offer abortion care in a deliberate attempt to lure patients into visiting their centers.
Although CPCs portray themselves as medical clinics and urge women to come in for options counseling, they do not provide full options counseling and generally will not refer for abortion care or birth control. CPCs have used tactics intended to delay and even harass or intimidate women from having an abortion and have given out false and misleading information in order to dissuade women from choosing abortion.
For your own protection, ask the organization you contact if they provide abortion care or give abortion referrals. Evasive and unclear answers to this question should make you suspicious. For help finding a reputable abortion provider, please call the NAF Hotline referral line 1-877-257-0012 (no funding assistance provided on this line).
- When they can give you an appointment
- What services they offer
- What their services cost (based on gestational age)
In order to get answers to these questions, you will need to determine how far along you are in the pregnancy.
You should have near you:
- Pen and paper
- Your schedule
- Date of your last normal menstrual period
- List of any questions you may wish to ask
- Phone number where you can be reached
Factors That May Affect Cost
- Gestational age: After the first trimester, the fee for the procedure may increase each week.
- Rh negative status: If your blood does not contain Rh factor (about 15% of people are Rh negative) you will need to have an injection of immune globulin. This is to protect your health and that of any future pregnancies you may have.
- Anesthesia: Depending on what type of abortion you are having, you may elect to have a form of anesthesia such as intravenous (IV) sedation or general anesthesia.
- Medications: Some clinics charge separately for medication used during or after the procedure, including sedatives, pain medication, and antibiotics.
- Type of abortion: Sometimes there is a difference in price for a medical and an aspiration abortion.
Make sure you understand all the costs before your visit so you can be prepared.
Some clinics accept only cash, while others may provide different options for payment.
- Insurance: Some insurance companies cover elective abortion to some degree. The best way to find out what your insurance policy covers is to call your insurance company. You also need to contact your clinic to determine if they accept insurance.
- Medicaid: Several states accept state assisted health care for abortion procedures. All states have to accept Medicaid for situations of rape, incest, or life endangerment, however not every state complies. Additionally, not all clinics work with Medicaid funding.
- If you need financial counseling, please call the NAF Hotline 1-800-772-9100.
Parental Involvement Laws
There are two forms of mandated parental involvement:
- Parental Consent, where one or both of the woman’s parents must give their permission for her to have an abortion
- Parental Notification, where one or both of the woman’s parents must be notified by the provider that their daughter is having an abortion
Almost all parental notification and consent laws have judicial bypass options. This means that if you feel you cannot involve one or both of your parents, you can ask a judge for permission to proceed with your abortion. The judge will decide whether you are mature enough to make the decision to have an abortion without involving your parents. If your clinic is in a state that has a parental involvement law, they may be able to help you with obtaining a judicial bypass. However, there are some places where judicial bypass is not available or difficult to obtain.
Some states have waiting periods for a state-mandated informed consent process. This means that it is illegal to provide an abortion to a woman until she has been given state-generated information about abortion. After this information is provided, the woman must wait usually 24 to 48 hours before she can have an abortion. Clinics in these states have procedures to comply with these laws.
Not every clinic has protesters every day. Some clinics rarely, if ever, have protesters. If you are concerned about protesters, ask about this when you call to make an appointment.
Most clinics have systems in place to help minimize the likelihood of patients encountering significant difficulties with protesters. If you do have problems, let the staff inside the clinic know. Here are some tips on how to avoid anti-abortion protesters:
- Know where you’re going: Many people find that having detailed information about the clinic’s location, what the building looks like, or which door to enter helps them feel more comfortable and confident about arriving at the clinic.
- Wear earphones: Some people find it helpful to listen to music when they arrive at the clinic. If there are protesters at the clinic, listening to music can block out whatever protesters might be saying, and deter them from approaching you.
- Bring a friend: Many people find that it helps to have a friend, relative, or partner come with them to the clinic. Even if that person isn’t able to stay with you for your appointment, it might ease your mind to have a support person with you when you arrive at the clinic.
- Look for clinic escorts: Many clinics have volunteer escorts who stand outside the clinic and walk with patients to the clinic entrance. Most often, these volunteer escorts wear vests that clearly identify them as clinic escorts. They are used to dealing with protesters and are trained to help patients feel comfortable.
- If a protester approaches you: You don’t need to talk to them, answer their questions, or take any of the literature that they might try to give you. Some people find they feel most comfortable if they look straight ahead, avoid eye contact with protesters, and walk quickly and confidently.
Once you are inside the clinic, the clinic staff will need certain information about you so they can tailor the experience to your physical and emotional needs. This usually requires the following:
- A complete health history, including information about previous pregnancies and any medications you may be taking.
- Exams and lab work, including:
- A blood test to establish whether you are anemic and whether your blood is Rh positive.
- A pelvic exam and/or sonogram to establish that you are pregnant and exactly how far along you are.
- A counseling session to explain the procedure, discuss your options and to be sure you understand and are comfortable with your decision.