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“The patient’s right of self-decision can be effectively exercised only if the patient possesses enough information to enable an informed choice.”
American Medical Association
What medical information do I need?
A lot of our clients feel a sense of urgency to take care of this quickly, and a little overwhelmed, but you have some time. There are three medical issues that every woman needs to know before determining the outcome of her pregnancy:
- Are you really pregnant? According to the Mayo Clinic, 10 to 20% of pregnancies end on their own. At Lifeline, we offer a lab-quality test with instruction from a medical professional to be sure the test is done correctly. However, a positive pregnancy test cannot medically confirm a pregnancy. At Lifeline, you will be scheduled for free ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy. You need to know if the baby is living and growing inside your uterus. To schedule an abortion without this information may mean unnecessarily taking powerful and potentially harmful drugs that may cause pain and heavy bleeding.
- Is the baby inside the uterus, and how far along am I? It is vital that you have an ultrasound to make sure that the baby is growing inside the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy (where the baby is growing outside of the womb, usually in the fallopian tube) is a life-threatening situation for you. If Lifeline cannot confirm an intra-uterine pregnancy (one inside the womb), our medical staff will connect you with life-saving professionals. It is also important for you to know how far along you are. At Lifeline, our registered nurse can explain the abortion procedure and what risks to your reproductive, mental, and physical health exist for you. The possible complications range from heavy bleeding, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea to damage to your cervix or other internal organs, infection, permanent scarring, and-rarely-death
- Do I have an STI? Finally, you need to have an evaluation that includes STI testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Medical News Today states that untreated STI’s increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease by 20%. They also state that abortion increases your risk even further. At Lifeline, you can receive STI testing along with your pregnancy test. We will also do a sexual risk assessment so we can advise you of other testing you may need to protect your future reproductive health.
We understand how you feel. Lifeline has been listening to and supporting women since 1972. Our medical staff has up-to-date information to be there for you today.
Do I know my rights?
An abortion is a violent act which causes the death of one human being and can have harmful and lasting effects for another. Before making this decision, it is important to ask questions to better protect your future reproductive health.
- First, there will be a lot of paperwork. You have the right to fully understand the documents you are signing, as well as the right to make certain the information is accurate. DO NOT SIGN anything until you have read it carefully and understand what it says. DO NOT SIGN anything unless you are given a copy of the document to take with you. DO NOT SIGN anything that contains information that you believe is false, complete, or inaccurate. DO NOT SIGN anything that says that you will not sue the clinic or doctor if you are injured or killed during the abortion.
- You have the right to insist that only a licensed physician perform the abortion. In some clinics, doctors train unlicensed personnel to perform medical procedures even though they have no formal medical education. You do not have to submit to substandard medical care.
- You have the right to know if the physician performing the abortion has had his or her license to practice medicine revoked (taken away) for any reason. You have the right to know if the physician performing an abortion has been sued for malpractice (not providing expected levels of care, resulting in an injury or death of a client).
- You have the right to know if the physician is covered by insurance that will protect you in case you are injured or killed by the physician.
- You have the right to insist that you be taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital emergency room or trauma center if you are injured.
You have the right to not have an abortion. No matter how old you are, no matter if you are married or single, no matter what – no one has the legal right to make you have an abortion. Period.
You have other options. You have rights.
If you are afraid that someone will take you to get an abortion against your will, come see us. We can provide you with a legal document stating that you do not wish to have an abortion. You need to be free to make your own decision.
What non-medical information do I need?
Medical information is vital to protecting your reproductive health. But you know that you have a lot more going on that just some symptoms.
At Lifeline, you will get the chance to tell your story to someone who has experience listening to and helping women separate fear from fact. You will have an opportunity to think about what you need to make the right decision for you.
Have you thought about the pros and cons of each of your options? Have you looked at that list and thought about what your values are?
Do you have some misconceptions about your pros and cons? Which of your convictions are facts and which are fears, that may or may not be reality.
Remember that many women have experienced emotional and spiritual side effects that they never expected. Could that happen to you? Have you listened to their stories to be sure you can handle the aftermath of an abortion?
All of your options will be difficult in different ways. You need to be certain that you make the right decision – one that is right today and ten years from now. Don’t let someone rush you through this process, taking your money without giving you the opportunity to know for sure.
At Lifeline, you will be given a decision guide that will help you know what information you have and what information you need to make your decision. You will have a chance to look at the possibilities and think about what is most important to you.
Are there any alternatives?
You do have alternatives. You can choose to parent your child. You will need a support system and you may need help with education, child care, and material assistance. At Lifeline, we can help you get referrals to all of the services available to you, starting with health insurance.
The state of Pennsylvania cares about the health of mothers and children and provides healthcare for pregnant women and their children. To qualify for this insurance, all you need is verification of pregnancy, which the nursing staff at Lifeline will provide.
There are many local and state agencies which provide affordable housing, affordable food, affordable diapers and formula, clothing, and other maternity and baby supplies – including Lifeline. We will give you information about those agencies and help you get appointments.
The Lifeline staff will help you get your support system together for when your baby arrives and even help you put a plan in place for achieving your future goals. It will take hard work and dedication, but Lifeline will be there for you.
You can also carry your child to term and then place the baby in a loving home through adoption. You can choose the parents. You can choose the level of contact you want, if any. You will get counseling for yourself so you can take control of your life and get back on track. You will have the possibility of having a relationship with your child as adults and get pictures if you like.
At Lifeline, we can help you explore this option during your pregnancy while also working to get a support system together. You can make your decision when you are ready. It will be extremely difficult to know that your child is growing up without you, but adoption is an excellent parenting decision if raising a child just isn’t for you right now. At any time during your pregnancy, you can change your mind and choose to parent. You have options.
I already had an abortion. Now what?
Have you had an abortion recently? Your feelings about the abortion may change over time. You need to be aware that you may suffer intense emotions about your choice and about your child.
No matter what, Lifeline is here for you. We will listen without judgement. We will help you sort out your feelings. We can provide spiritual resources if you wish to help you find peace and healing.
Maybe you feel your abortion decision was the best decision you could make. Come see us anyway and let us give you some materials so you will know what symptoms to look for if you later have difficulty processing your abortion. We are here for you.
Lifeline also has a trained nursing staff that can teach you about your fertility and how your body works so you can understand your amazing reproductive system and how it interacts with your emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. We can talk to you and listen to you describe your relationship and where you think it might be going.
We will talk about your sexual behavior and assess the risks to your reproductive health. We can help you figure out how to be the best version of yourself to improve all of your relationships. We can even talk about sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and how to make sure that you don’t get one so you can get and stay healthy. We are in your corner.
At Lifeline of Berks County, all services are free and confidential.
For clients who come to Lifeline for a pregnancy test, Lifeline offers peer counseling, reproductive health education, material services, and referrals. Our pregnancy tests, limited ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy, options education, and STI testing are for education and are not meant to replace your regular medical care.
Lifeline of Berks County does not provide or refer for abortions. We do listen and help you get the information you need about all of your options.
You have your own story. We are here to listen and provide support.
At Lifeline of Berks County, all services are free and confidential.