Step 2: Practice What to Say

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The decision to have an abortion is common, but it is still personal, and you might have a lot of different feelings about it. 

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We don’t talk about abortion much in our society, and it is reasonable to think that a healthcare provider may feel uneasy about it. Some healthcare providers may disapprove of it and decide not to help. Some may just not know much about it, or it might not be part of their practice.  

It is also likely that they will be supportive and glad to help. Many already offer abortion regularly! 

Feeling uncertain about how your doctor or nurse will respond can be stressful. It is normal to feel vulnerable or anxious about what to expect. 

Preparing for the conversation can help you feel more confident. You know yourself best, and it’s a good idea to plan for how you will take care of yourself.  

Here are a few tips to consider: 

Prepare Mentally

Start by going over each step you’ll need to go through. Picture yourself in your mind doing these actions and getting what you need. You have everything you need for success! 

Picture yourself: 

  • Talking to the receptionist
  • Making the appointment
  • Bringing up the topic of your pregnancy and your decision to have an abortion 
  • What you’ll do if you need to educate the nurse or doctor 
  • Taking your prescription to the pharmacy 
  • What you’ll do if you need to educate the pharmacist 

Prepare Emotionally

Getting an abortion may be a new experience for you. Being honest with yourself about how you are feeling can help you figure out ways to take care. Whether you can get what you need, you are taking care of yourself by trying at all! 

To take care of yourself emotionally thorough the experience, you could: 

  • Consider how determined you feel to get your abortion. Get support if you’re not feeling ready or sure that abortion is what you want to do. 
  • Consider when would be the best moment for you to make and go to your first appointment. Would first thing in the morning help? Or would you rather go later in the day? 
  • Consider what you do to feel connected. Do you have a spiritual practice? Do you want support from specific people in your community? 
  • Consider any worries or fears you have. It is okay to have mixed feelings! Be specific. For example, are you worried about the doctor refusing to help? Check out the next section for what you can say and do. 
  • Consider previous experiences you may have had with the healthcare system. You may have experienced racism, moments of judgement, or not getting the care you needed. You can get through hard experiences, and there is support. Call the Access Line at 1-888-642-2725, or text 613-800-6757. 
  • Try out affirmations! These are phrases or words you can say to yourself to remind you of what you can do. For example, 
    • “I know myself best, and I’m in charge of my health”
    • “I can handle whatever comes my way”
    • “If this doctor has a negative reaction, it’s not about me”
  • If it feels okay, be honest about being nervous. This can break the ice with the nurse or doctor, and help you both feel more at ease. 

Know Your Facts!

Knowledge is power! Knowing what you are entitled to, and what healthcare providers can or can’t do, will help you feel prepared.

You could: 

  • Bring written down info about your last period. They will ask for this for sure!
  • Read Step 1 of this guide as many times as you need. You can even bring it with you to the appointment. 
  • Show the Facts About Mifegymiso in Canada section from Step 1 to your healthcare provider if needed.

Consider Bringing a Support Person

Consider the people in your life who know you. Who do you trust? Who is generally supportive of you? You are allowed to bring a support person into the appointment with you.

A support person could: 

  • Take notes 
  • Remind you to ask questions 
  • Help you respond to what the healthcare provider says 
  • Lower any anxiety you might have 
  • Help you to feel more like yourself  
  • Hold your hand during the appointment, or give you a hug after 
  • Talk with you before and after the appointment to make sure things are clear  

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What to Say? (Sample Scripts) 

You are entitled to medical care that meets your needs. 

It is okay to ask healthcare providers for what you need. It is also okay to have strong preferences for how you receive medical care.  

Practising exactly what to say will help you feel confident as you prepare. Below are sample scripts for what you can say every step of the way. Some of these may sound like something you’d never say, and some may feel more comfortable to you. Feel free to mix and match to suit your way of talking. 

Making your appointment

Staff may ask: What is the reason for your visit? or why do you need to see the doctor?

You could say:

  • “I’m having issues with my period”
  • “Menstrual health issues” 
  • “I just need a prescription”

Asking for Medication Abortion

You could say:

  • “I’ve taken a pregnancy test, and it is positive. I have decided to not go through with the pregnancy. Do you prescribe medication abortion?”
  • “I just found out I’m pregnant and I don’t want to be. I am here because I need a prescription for Mifegymiso (mi-fee-guy-mi-so)”
  • “My period is normally very regular, and this month, it was late. I took a pregnancy test, and it was positive. Being pregnant right now is not what I want, and it’s early at this point. I heard you can take medication to end the pregnancy and that’s what I want to do. Could you prescribe it to me?” 
  • “I wanted to ask you about something important, and it feels vulnerable to me. I just found out that I am pregnant, and I don’t want to continue this pregnancy right now. Could you prescribe me abortion pills?”
  • “Can I get a prescription for medication abortion?” 
  • “Do you provide abortion services? I need a medication abortion.”
  • “I’m pregnant and I would like to get an abortion. Is that a service you provide to your patients?”  
Responding to What the Healthcare Provider Might Say

If the doctor or nurse says they have never offered abortion care before or don’t have training:

You could say: 

  • “Okay but are you willing to help me? I don’t mind if it's your first time prescribing it. I have found these resources for health care providers who have never done it before” 
  • “You don’t need specific training prescribe Mifegymiso. I have found this resource that has helpful information if you are interested in offering abortion to your patients”
  • “If you are willing to do it, it would make it much easier for me to work with you than to (travel out of town, be seen by someone who doesn’t know me, etc.).“

If the doctor or nurse says they are not allowed to prescribe this or that you’ll have to go to the hospital or a specialist:

You could say:

  • “I know that in Canada, family doctors and nurse practitioners are legally allowed to prescribe abortion pills. If you can help me, there is this resource full of information for people who haven’t done it before”
  • “I’d rather not go to hospital. I know that primary care providers are allowed to prescribe medication abortion. I don’t think I need to see a specialist”

If the doctor or nurse questions your decision and wants to send you to get counseling about your options:

You can say: 

  • “No, thank you. I’ve had counselling already and I’m sure of what I want to do. Can you refer me to someone who does provide abortions?”
  • “Thank you for thinking of that. I have considered all my options and I know this is what is best for me. I already have a referral for counselling, so I’m good. What I’d like today is to go ahead with a medication abortion if you are willing to help me.”
  • “I already talked with a counsellor. All I’m looking for today is a prescription”

If the doctor or nurse says that they are required to get an ultrasound first:

You could say:

  • “Can you explain why you think I need an ultrasound? My period is very regular, so I know I am ___ weeks pregnant.”
  • “Is there a medical reason that you think I need an ultrasound? I already had a positive pregnancy test. I know I’m early in the pregnancy because my last period was normal.”  
  • “If there are no medical reasons for the ultrasound, it is not required. I found this resource for doctors or nurses with up-to-date information if you’re interested.”

NOTEAccording to Health Canada, an ultrasound is not required before moving forward with the abortion. However, some health care providers may feel more comfortable and ask you to have an ultrasound before you start. 

In some cases, an ultrasound may be medically necessary. For example, if you have symptoms that may mean the pregnancy may not be in the uterus. Or if you’re not sure when your last period was. 

Sometimes, it happens that some providers ask for ultrasounds because they think that may make some people change their mind. You are always allowed to ask the provider to explain their reasons if they ask you for an ultrasound.

If the doctor or nurse says they need to notify your parents or guardians because you are under 18:

You can say: 

  • “I do not consent to you contacting my parents about this. You do not have to be 18 to get an abortion. I understand what I am asking and I am sure of my decision”. 
  • “You have no reason to contact my parents and I don’t give my permission for that. I am sure of my decision”

NOTE: The only exception to this is Quebec, where you do need parental consent if you are under 14 years old. 

This information was produced as part of the Asking for an Abortion Pocket Guide, which provides facts and tips on how to ask a healthcare professional for Mifegymiso, the drug used for medication abortions.

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The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.