Abortion 101: What to Know Before You Go

This post was co-written with reproductive rights activist Sarah Cohen.

When you work in reproductive rights, people pepper you with practical questions about getting an abortion. How much does the procedure cost? How long does it take? Does it hurt? While the answers vary depending on the particular circumstances, there are a few tips you should know.

First, confirm that you actually are pregnant. This might sound obvious, but as many of us know, it’s surprisingly easy to lose track of when your last normal period occurred. If a home pregnancy test shows a positive result, you are probably pregnant; home test kits rarely give a false positive. If a home pregnancy test shows a negative result, it’s possible that you’re too early for the test to detect a pregnancy. Most test kits come with two in the package, so wait a few days and, if you still think you might be pregnant, take the second test.

If you have a regular OB/GYN, ask if he or she either performs abortions or can refer you to someone who does. Simply speaking from anecdotal evidence, it’s not uncommon for doctors to provide abortion care for regular patients, but not advertise that due to the negative attention it could attract. In fact, you might want to ask your doctor before you ever get pregnant, so that if you ever do need an abortion, you know if your doctor can provide one.

If you are indeed pregnant and have decided that you want to have an abortion, the next step is to find a clinic. This sounds simple but, depending on where you live, it may be challenging.  Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) can help you find the clinic closest to you.

You can also search online for your area and “abortion services,” but make sure to ask any clinic you call if they provide abortions. If they say no, or don’t give you a straight answer, move on to the next potential clinic. Some anti-choice organizations run fake “clinics” designed to give women incorrect information meant to dissuade them from having an abortion.  [Read more...]