Pregnancy Decision Making Questionnaire

Why Counselling is important

Abortion Clinics in NSW

Womens Health Centres in NSW


Why Counselling is important

The case for counselling in the context of having a termination of pregnancy

  • Counselling prior to having an abortion is not a mandatory requirement by government or any other authority;

  • We would not support it being made mandatory as such a requirement assumes that women cannot make up their own minds about what they want to do; it also assumes that women cannot be trusted to know their own minds;

  • In addition, when laws have been introduced to make counselling mandatory in the context of having a termination of pregnancy, those laws also then usually list requirements which make the counselling an ordeal rather than a supportive experience. For example, in many states of the United States of America, counselling has been made mandatory but with provisions which specify the woman must see pictures of the foetus at different stages of development or that the woman must first have counselling and then wait for a period of 24 or 48 or 72 hours before she can implement the decision.

  • We would, however, argue that women need support when they are making a decision in regard to a pregnancy and, if their decision is to have a termination, they need further support when implementing that decision; (women who have chosen to continue a pregnancy also need support – we are building our resources and knowledge of agencies to refer women to who resolve to continue a pregnancy);

  • It is surprising the number of negative ideas which can come into one’s mind when one is pregnant and one is considering having an abortion;

  • Whilst abortion laws have been liberalised in NSW since October 1971 and whilst abortion has been readily available for many years now, since approximately 1979 the anti-abortion groups have been beavering away with their misinformation;

  • There are government funded services with names such as ‘Pregnancy Support’ or ‘Pregnancy Help’ – in the main these are anti-abortion in their perspective and they seek to undermine women’s confidence in abortion clinics (e.g. by making erroneous comments such as ‘they don’t sterilise their instruments’) and by trying to talk women out of a decision to terminate a pregnancy;

  • We don’t realise, until we are pregnant and are considering having a termination, how much of that misinformation there may be in our minds;

  • We’ve all heard stories of ‘backyard’ abortion providers; we would argue that we women have a collective memory of abortion being clandestine, of abortion being hard to obtain, of abortion being costly;

  • These memories/impressions can come up if we are facing the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy or not and can leave women feeling vulnerable, scared, uncertain of what to do; Supportive counselling and factual information can help allay these fears;

  • We all need support at difficult times in our life - for those of us who have adequate support from family and friends and, therefore, may feel access to a counsellor on their day at a clinic is not necessary, that’s great;

  • A lot of women do not have adequate support from family and friends when making the decision to terminate a pregnancy – provision of counselling by clinics is crucial because, for all the above factors, it can never be assumed that women have adequate support from family and friends.

List of Abortion Clinics in NSW

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The above information was prepared by Margaret Kirkby, Coordinator, The Bessie Smyth Foundation 39 North Parade Auburn NSW 2144; ph: (02) 9649-9744; fax: (02) 9649-8144; email: bessie@zip.com.au; website: www.zipworld.com.au/~bessie - we welcome feedback (be it positive or negative) - please email or fax or write to us with your feedback and suggestions. December 2003