Timing of an Abortion
No woman plans to have an abortion. However, when unplanned circumstances arise, sometimes ending the pregnancy becomes the only appropriate option. It takes much thought and soul searching to reach a decision. For some, it is much harder than for others and so more time is needed to finalize that choice. Obviously, once an unplanned pregnancy arises, the sooner one terminates it the safer it will be for the woman. This is reflected in the fact that by far, the vast majority of terminations occur before 9 weeks, making it easier and safer. However, for one reason or another, late first trimester and even second trimester abortions are sometimes needed and performed. This is not to say that second trimester abortions should not be performed, but that we should strive to minimize the need for them.
There are three major reasons that a woman would delay ending a pregnancy.
- First, if she were unaware of being pregnant, and cannot help not knowing. This is not something for which a good solution can be obtained.
- Second, she knows of the pregnancy but is unsure of her plans. This is of course very understandable. No one enters such a decision lightly. It is very reasonable for her to take time to way the pros and cons of each option. A fair time period would be one or two weeks. However, stalling beyond that is a possible sign of denial, and there is an urgent need for her to get some assistance to help her figure things out. This is where an abortion clinic can be of help. A consultation with a health care provider will answer many of her questions, and help counsel her to make the correct decision for her.
- Third, she has decided to seek a termination but is unable to get help from a qualified abortion care provider. This is where we have a responsibility as a society to make access easy, timely, and as comfortable as possible. It is not acceptable to make a woman wait for weeks or months because of forbidding laws or because the existing clinics are overwhelmed with appointments.
We as abortion providers have a responsibility to ensure that women can obtain abortion services quickly, comfortably, safely, and without judgement.