What women want from abortion counseling in the United States: a qualitative study of abortion patients in 2008

Soc Work Health Care. 2011;50(6):424-42. doi: 10.1080/00981389.2011.575538.


Abortion counseling, including informed consent laws specifying what a woman must be told to obtain an abortion, have been the subject of a great deal of social policy. Using a qualitative sample of 49 women seeking abortions in 2008, we asked women whether they had their mind made up when they called the clinic to make their appointment as well as what they wanted from abortion counseling. The majority of women contacting the abortion clinic had already made up their minds to have an abortion and were therefore not seeking options counseling. Neither were they seeking to emotionally confide in their abortion counselors: They anticipated that the counselor would try to discourage them from having an abortion, they stated that they had met their emotional needs elsewhere, and they feared that confiding in the counselor might endanger their ability to obtain an abortion. They perceived other women needed counseling, though, to help them make a responsible decision. A cafeteria-style approach to counseling that allows women to specify what their needs are would better match abortion counseling with women's stated needs. These data have the potential to inform public policy to better suit abortion-related counseling with women's needs.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion Applicants / psychology*
  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Connecticut
  • Counseling*
  • Family Planning Services
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Texas
  • United States
  • Washington
  • Young Adult