Referral begins by providing information to your patient if they need services beyond what you can provide in clinic. It is important to regularly vet referral resources for quality control (consider making “mystery shopper” calls to referral sites). While referral practices and motivations varied, one national study showed few clinicians facilitate referral for abortion beyond verbally naming a clinic if an abortion referral was made at all (Homaifar 2017).

In areas where access is limited, patients may face multiple obstacles to obtaining an abortion, and good care coordination is critical to ensure that patients receive the services they need. Taking a more active role in referrals can help clear up misperceptions or misinformation about the legality and safety of abortion, and can assist with complex social or medical circumstances (Zurek 2015). Important steps to fully assist the patient may include:

  • Scheduling an appointment
  • Helping access supportive services such as funding, transportation childcare, insurance coverage, or interpreter services
  • Following up on the patient’s satisfaction and outcomes with the care received
  • Following up with patients that were referred out

In addition to referrals for services you don’t offer, referral making may also involve:

  • A pregnancy options talk line for undecided patients or for support after an abortion
  • Prenatal care or adoption facilitators (open and closed adoption)
  • Intimate partner violence specialists
  • Human trafficking specialists
  • Referral for a judicial bypass for a minor
  • Sexual abuse care
  • Mental health services
  • Substance use services
  • Post-abortion counseling referrals
  • Social support services


EARLY ABORTION TRAINING CURRICULUM Copyright © 2020 by UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. All Rights Reserved.