SUMMARY POINTS

SKILLS

  • It is valuable to identify and understand the life experiences that have affected your opinions in order to promote a non-judgmental climate for patient care.
  • When counseling about pregnancy or contraceptive options, use a non-directive approach with active listening, open-ended questions, and accurate information.

SAFETY

  • Abortion is safe, and access to legal abortion is associated with significant reductions in maternal morbidity and mortality (Upadhyay 2015, White 2015).
  • Patients who received an abortion were not at risk for mental health problems, and were at no higher risk of PTSD than women denied an abortion (Biggs 2016Cohen 2013).
  • Providers face security risks in some settings. Safety may be enhanced by remaining alert and avoiding wearing a white coat or scrubs outside the clinic.

ROLE

  • Abortion is common; it is the most common outpatient procedure performed among women.  One in 3 U.S. women will have an abortion in her lifetime.
  • Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, and nearly all unsafe abortions (98%) occur in developing countries.
  • Given high rates of unintended pregnancy, abortion, and early pregnancy loss in the U.S., most health care providers will interact with patients navigating these issues.
  • Restrictive state laws being implemented at a rapid rate across the country create harmful obstacles to care, increase gestational age at which patients obtain abortions, increase disparity in access, and do not lower abortion rates.
  • Reproductive health access and training are becoming limited due to hospital mergers, religious restrictions at training sites, and lack of transparency for patients and trainees.
  • The 89% of U.S. counties without an abortion provider are home to 38% of reproductive-aged women.
  • By providing high-quality pregnancy options counseling and either family planning services or timely referrals, you improve the access and quality of care patients receive.
  • If you do not provide abortion services directly, it is important to know how to refer patients and handle follow-up issues in your community.