Most women who have an abortion feel they have made the right decision. But for some, having an abortion can be a more difficult experience. Counselling before and after an abortion can provide you with the support and information you need.
What is abortion?
Should I get counselling on having an abortion?
If you are thinking about having an abortion, you’ll need accurate information to help you make the decision. It’s important to know about all the risks and options.
Counselling is when you talk to a trained health professional in a safe space, both about the procedure and about your thoughts and feelings.
Counselling can help you to feel better about the abortion later. It can help you to feel supported and empowered to make the right decision for you and to think through all the pros and cons.
In some cases, your partner or parent may also want to have counselling. You don’t have to both see the same counsellor.
Counselling before an abortion
Abortion counselling, sometimes called pregnancy support counselling, aims to give you information and help you think through your options. It can help even if you have already made your decision.
A trained counsellor will talk to you about the procedure itself so you can decide things like what anaesthetic you would like and understand what to expect afterwards. They can also discuss other pregnancy options and talk you through things to consider, including your career, financial situation, your family or your mental or physical health.
Counselling before an abortion can also be a good time to talk about your thoughts and feelings to help you decide what to do about your pregnancy.
It’s important to note that the person you speak to won’t judge you or try to persuade you. Their role is to give you information and help you work through how you feel.
Counselling before an abortion is usually a single session, but the counsellor will understand that you need to see them urgently.
Counselling after an abortion
After an abortion, most women will have a follow-up appointment in which they talk to a doctor, nurse or other health professional. They will normally discuss their physical and emotional recovery and go over options for contraception.
For some women, the experience of having an abortion will have been quite traumatic. They may experience guilt, shame, grief, depression or anxiety afterwards. If this applies to you, it can be very helpful to talk to a trained professional about how you feel.
Anyone can have counselling after an abortion, even if the abortion was a long time ago. Talk to your doctor or find a counsellor in the list below if you think you may need counselling after an abortion.
How do I pay for abortion counselling?
Some pregnancy support counselling services are subsidised by Medicare. You may be able to get a Medicare rebate for some doctors, social workers, mental health nurses or psychologists. You can get 3 sessions per pregnancy if you are pregnant or have been pregnant in the last 12 months. You will need a referral from your doctor. There may be some out-of-pocket costs.
There are also free phone and online counselling services available (see list below).
Where to get abortion counselling
The role of a counsellor is to provide you with unbiased information that will help you make a decision that is right for you. They shouldn't make any judgements or try to tell you what to do. There are some organisations may try to encourage women not to have an abortion. Before you have counselling, it’s a good idea to ask first what their position is about abortion.
Some good places to find non-biased counselling are:
- Your doctor
- Your local Family Planning clinic
- Marie Stopes Australia for abortion counselling online, or call 1300 405 568 to make an appointment
- 1800 My Options on 1800 696 784 for information about pregnancy options
- 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732 if you have experienced sexual assault or domestic family violence
- PANDA on 1300 726 306 for people experiencing anxiety or depression around pregnancy
- Lifeline on 13 11 14 for crisis support
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 for support if you are experiencing anxiety and depression
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak to a maternal child health nurse
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Last reviewed: March 2021