Giving support

How to support someone during a pregnancy decision/before an abortion:

Many women feel relief when their partners and support people are understanding about pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, irritability and moodiness. Pregnancy can greatly affect a woman’s ability to function in daily life, and so you may want to offer assistance with tasks or responsibilities she is feeling unable to fulfill. Most symptoms will go away within a few days after an abortion.

Sometimes simple acknowledgement can be important. For example, if you’re her partner you can acknowledge your share of responsibility in causing the pregnancy and that she is the one having to go through the abortion.

If you have had an abortion or been involved in one in the past, you may want to say a little about that. It can be very helpful for women to know they are not alone. However, remember that her experience may not be the same as yours or anyone else’s. It is best not to assume you know how she feels or tell your own or others’ stories in a way that will pressure her to make one decision or another.

If she is finding the experience difficult, it is OK to reassure her and in fact that might be exactly what she needs! However, in doing so, try not to minimize the experience or what she is feeling. Many women share that the hardest thing for them is being told that they should feel another way, be logical/rationale about the decision, or somehow make themselves feel better, even if it is coming from an intention to reassure or support them.

If she or the two of you are feeling very conflicted about the decision, you may want to contact the clinic for a decision making counselling session. There are also online resources that are available to help you – see our your decision page for more information. Note: beware of Crisis Pregnancy Centers that claim to specialize in this area, but are actually anti-abortion organizations that may use scare tactics, provide misinformation or pressure women into a certain option.

Talk to her about the options, but let her know that you understand it is ultimately her decision. If you can say so honestly, let her know that you will support her decision either way. However, supporting her decision either way does not mean that you do not have any feelings about it or that you have to keep them hidden. In fact, women often want to know how their support person is feeling about the abortion, especially if it is her partner. Sometime partners don’t talk to women about the abortion or how they are feeling as a way of being strong for them or allowing them to make their own decision. However, most women will want to know how you’re feeling and what sort of support you would offer if she ended the pregnancy or kept it and possibly had a baby. Try to be open about your feelings and communicate honestly about where you are at while also giving her room to make the choice for herself. It may ultimately be her decision, but how you feel about it will likely be an important factor in what she decides.

If you cannot support her decision, do your best to at least respect it. Be cautious of any tendency to control, coerce or pressure her. Remember that she is the expert on her own life and body that we can never fully know all the factors that influence someone’s decision. If you feel that you cannot be there for her if she chooses a particular option with the pregnancy, you should inform her of this and try to ensure that she has other support to work through the decision.

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