Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Counselling before and after an abortion

4-minute read

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?

An abortion or termination is a procedure to end a pregnancy so it doesn’t result in the birth of a baby. It’s done either surgically or medically.

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

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2021


Back To Top

Need more information?

Abortion Counseling Service | Marie Stopes AU

Marie Stopes Australia provides free decision-based abortion counseling services to women seeking a termination of pregnancy.

Read more on Marie Stopes Australia website

Providing Emotional Support | Abortion and Contraception Support - Marie Stopes Australia

Providing emotional support About this guide What is Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare? What does good emotional support look like? Looking after yourself Counselling support A little about this guide You’re reading this guide because you want to provide helpful and compassionate support for someone who is accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare

Read more on Marie Stopes Australia website

Abortion

An abortion (or termination) is the medical process of ending a pregnancy so it does not result in the birth of a baby.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Abortion - surgical and medical options

An abortion is when a pregnancy is terminated. If you decide to have an abortion, there are 2 options available - surgical or medical.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Surgical Abortion | Marie Stopes AU

Have your surgical abortion in an accredited Marie Stopes day surgery clinic with a doctor specialised in abortion care. Sedation options and evening and weekend appointments available. Free independent counselling, registered nurse on call 24 hours and interpreters available on request.

Read more on Marie Stopes Australia website

Pregnancy support counselling - COPE

COPE's purpose is to prevent and improve the quality of life of those living with emotional and mental health problems that occur prior to and within the perinatal period.

Read more on COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence website

Start Talking Telehealth

National Telehealth Program for Families Experiencing Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Gidget Foundation Australia’s Start Talking program provides free specialist perinatal telehealth psychological counselling services for expectant and new parents nationwide

Read more on Gidget Foundation Australia website

Help for perinatal patients under Medicare

COPE's purpose is to prevent and improve the quality of life of those living with emotional and mental health problems that occur prior to and within the perinatal period.

Read more on COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence website

Fragile X syndrome

People with Fragile X syndrome (or Fragile X) have intellectual disability, behavioural and learning challenges as well as certain physical characteristics

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Teenage pregnancy

Being a teenager and finding out you are pregnant can put enormous stress on a young woman and her family so it is important to be supportive.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.