Pre-abortion counseling is required by law in 34 states. While this can be an opportunity for patient-centered care, the reality in most states is that the materials counselors must share in states that mandate pre-abortion counseling stigmatize abortion by using misleading language and inaccurate facts about fetal health, abortion risks, and the reversal of medication abortion.
The NWHN fully supports women’s access to medically sound, unbiased information so that they can make informed decisions about their health care, but that’s not the goal of these state-mandated counseling sessions. By requiring providers to give information about anti-choice clinics and instituting waiting period bills that force women to wait at least 24 hours between receiving counseling and obtaining an abortion, states are simply trying to make abortion more difficult to access.
These kinds of laws not only restrict abortion access, but undermine women’s voices in their own family planning decisions. Lawmakers might claim this information is necessary to protect women’s physical and mental health, but this ignores that for any medical procedure, a person must give informed consent, so women are already aware of any abortion risks. Additionally, 99% of women say their abortion was the right decision five years later, so we can safely say that women know what they want and need when they come to an abortion clinic.
Ultimately, for those who do seek unbiased counseling before an abortion, the information shared should be evidenced-based and focused on that individual’s unique situation. Biased pre-abortion counseling and mandatory waiting periods serve only to restrict abortion access further, create confusion in consumers, and frustrate providers.
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