How To Support A Loved One Who Is Considering Getting An Abortion

The overturning of Roe v Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively banned abortion in several states, and more states are expected to follow suit (via The New York Times). What this means is that not only will some people have to travel to get an abortion, but the stigma that's already attached to the procedure is likely to be felt even more in certain parts of the country.


Abortion is a personal decision. It's also a decision that can be emotionally difficult for some, while for others it's just something they have to do and will do with zero regrets. Just as considering the procedure is personal, so are the reasons for wanting (or needing) to get one. But no matter the reasons behind the consideration, the fact remains that about 23.7% of Americans will have an abortion before the age of 45 (via Guttmacher Institute). It's important for those seeking abortions to know they're definitely not alone. 

If someone you love comes to you and says they're considering an abortion, it's understandable if you're not sure how to best support them or if you're overwhelmed — compassion fatigue is a real thing. It's important, though, to be there for your loved one at this critical time. 


Get as involved as they need you to

First of all, if your friend tells you that they're considering an abortion, choose your words wisely.

When someone gets pregnant, an embryo is developed in the first 24 hours following fertilization. Then, around the eight-week mark, this embryo becomes a fetus (via Cleveland Clinic). A fetus is, in the simplest of terms, a group of cells growing in the uterus. It doesn't officially transition from a fetus to a baby until birth (via Hello Clue).


With this in mind, when you're talking to your friend, always use the word "fetus." It's not just medically correct, but it's helpful language. Make sure to impress upon them that, no matter what they choose, it's their choice and their choice only.

Secondly, do the research with them. When it comes to abortion, there are two options: the in-office procedure or medication abortion that can be done at home with two pills, mifepristone and misoprostol.

Also, make sure the information you find is accurate — there's too much misinformation out there.

"Unjust laws, abortion stigma, and deeply rooted health and economic inequities make it impossible for some people around the country to make their own decisions about continuing or ending a pregnancy," chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Gillian Dean, M.D. tells Self. "Accurate information can help them make the decision that's best for their circumstances and enable them to take care of their health."


In keeping with accuracy, it's important to know the difference between actual abortion clinics and Crisis Pregnancy Centers. The latter are anti-choice places that will only provide misinformation and try to talk your loved one out of their abortion (via Planned Parenthood).

Understand this isn't about you

In addition to helping your friend get the right information and find legitimate places that offer abortion services free of judgment, do your best to not make this about you. As much as you might want to share anecdotes of someone else you know who had an abortion or decided not to have an abortion, shelve that commentary for now; centering the discussion around you can push your friendship into toxic territory. Instead, give your friend a safe space to talk about their feelings, concerns, and what the decision — no matter which way they go — will mean to their life (via MSI Reproductive Choices UK).


"Being faced with an unintended pregnancy can bring up a wide range of emotions for a person," abortion-policy advocate and a board member at NARAL Pro-Choice America Renee Bracy Sherman tells Women's Health. "The most important thing to remember is to show up with unconditional support for your friend. Your friend knows what's best for them. Let them lead."

It's not easy watching someone you love to be faced with such a choice, but it's their choice. While they may go over the pros and cons with you, try to keep your input to a minimum. Just listen. They have to come to this decision on their own. You just need to be there every step of the way, letting them know that you have their back 100%.