Frequently Asked Questions

IS ABORTION SAFE?

Yes, abortion is safe. Outdated myths and inaccurate media portrayals will have you think otherwise. But the facts, which come from the National Institute for Health, show that abortion is actually safer than childbirth in the United States.

HealthQ is a registered abortion provider in Massachusetts and fully licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. We participate in quality assurance site visits and adhere to evidence-based clinical standards developed by the National Abortion Federation, which sets the requirements for abortion care in the U.S. and Canada. Our trained providers will take the time to review all risks and possible complications during your visit.

WILL IT BE PAINFUL?

Abortions can be accompanied by pain, but we offer suggestions and solutions to help manage and reduce it. Nitrous oxide is a safe and non-addictive method of providing relaxation and pain reduction. If you choose to use it during your abortion, you’ll be able to hold up a mouthpiece and breathe in the gas as desired, supervised by a trained staff member. The effects wear off within 1-3 minutes of breathing regular air so you will be fine to drive yourself home. We believe that cost shouldn’t be a barrier to pain management, so there is no additional fee should you choose this service.

We recommend that you take 800mg of Ibuprofen before your appointment to help with cramping during or after your procedure. Please do not take aspirin.

Where Can I Get an Abortion If I’m Too Far Along to Have One at HealthQ?

HealthQ provides services for abortion in Lawrence, Haverhill, and Beverly for up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, however, abortion is available in Massachusetts for up to 24 weeks and may be available past that depending on the circumstances. We can help direct you to a provider who can help meet your needs or you can visit here to learn of other options in the New England region.

dot design for our sexual health clinic in Lawrence, Haverhill, and Beverly

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER AN ABORTION?

Pad/Tampon Use
Pads should be used for the first few days after your procedure. The rate of bleeding can be observed more easily when pads are used. Tampons can be used once the bleeding has slowed down and you are only spotting.

Your Period
Your first period after the procedure should occur in 4-6 weeks. If you feel you may be pregnant or your period does not come after 6 weeks, call the center. If you are using hormonal contraception (pills, patch, ring, Depo-Provera, or Nexplanon), your first period can vary depending on the method. Be sure to discuss what to expect with your provider.

Sex
You should not have sexual intercourse until you feel ready. This may mean a few days for some people or several weeks for others. This is up to you. You are capable of getting pregnant as soon as 7 days after your abortion, so you should use the birth control method that you discussed with the provider if you do not wish to get pregnant again.

Activity
You may resume normal activity immediately. Sometimes, with strenuous activity (like heavy lifting and physical exertion), your bleeding may increase. This doesn’t happen for everyone. If you notice your bleeding increase with strenuous activity, then avoid these activities for two days.

Bathing
You may bathe in a shower or tub at any time. However, do not douche.

Sore Breasts
If your breasts were sore before the abortion, the soreness will usually go away within a week. To feel more comfortable, limit any stimulation to the breast until the soreness goes away and wear a tight-fitting bra or sports bra. Some people who have abortions later in pregnancy (after 16 weeks) will sometimes get breast milk after abortion.

Q: DOES HAVING AN ABORTION IMPACT LATER PREGNANCIES?

There are no indications that abortion affects a person’s ability to become pregnant later on. Our providers will review all risks and possible complications during your visit.

Q: HOW MUCH DOES AN ABORTION COST? CAN I USE INSURANCE?

At HealthQ, the discounted fee for self-pay clients is $650 for both procedure and medication abortion. There are no hidden fees. We charge the same for both types of abortion so your choice is based on your preferred experience, not cost.

If you are uninsured, we may be able to help you enroll in MassHealth or connect you with an organization that will help cover some or all of the cost of your abortion. If you are paying “out-of-pocket” as a self-pay client, we will ask you to pay the full discounted fee at the time of your visit by cash, credit or debit card.

MassHealth and most insurance plans cover abortion, but not all do, so it is important to confirm with your insurance company if abortion is covered under your plan. Please provide your insurance information when scheduling an appointment so we can help you verify coverage. You can also check directly by calling the member services 1-800 number on the back of your health insurance card. To verify coverage, ask the following questions:

  1. Do I have coverage for voluntary termination of pregnancy (a.k.a. abortion)?
  2. Do I need a referral from my primary care provider (PCP) for this procedure?
    Most HMO type insurance plans require you to have a referral. You are responsible for obtaining a referral from your primary care provider before your visit, however, please feel free to ask our staff should you need help checking your insurance benefits and/or obtaining a referral.
  3. Is there a deductible I need to pay for this procedure?
  4. Is there a copay I need to pay for this procedure?
    Insurance copays are set by your insurance company and vary depending on your plan.

Q: I LOST MY COPY OF ‘CARING FOR YOURSELF DURING AND AFTER A MEDICATION ABORTION,’ WHERE CAN I FIND THIS?

You can download a copy in English or Spanish on our patient portal.

Q: DO I NEED PERMISSION TO HAVE AN ABORTION?

The decision to continue or terminate a pregnancy belongs to you. However, Massachusetts has a law that requires minors ages 15 and younger to obtain one parent’s consent to have an abortion. If you do not want to involve a parent in your abortion decision, you can ask for an order from a judge to allow you to have an abortion without telling anyone. This is called a judicial bypass. There is no cost for the judicial bypass. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, you can talk to one of our staff members for assistance in obtaining a judicial bypass.

Q: DOES ABORTION CAUSE BREAST CANCER?

No. Since 2003, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) agreed that scientific evidence does not support a link between abortion and breast cancer.

As the American Cancer Society states, “abortion is an issue that can bring out strong feelings in people. These feelings are often linked to personal, religious, and political views that may have little to do with any connection to a disease like cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer (aside from skin cancer), and it’s the second leading cancer killer. Because it can be a deadly disease, it’s one that many fear. Linking these topics creates a great deal of emotion and debate. But scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.

Q: CAN I BRING SOMEONE TO MY APPOINTMENT?

You are welcome to bring a support person to our health center, but it is not required. Companions must provide a government-issued photo ID and must remain in the waiting area during your appointment.

Q: DO YOU HAVE PROTESTERS AT HEALTHQ?

Our health centers are located in multi-use office complexes surrounded by private property. Protesting on private property is prohibited, and to date, we have had very few protesters.

Q: DO I HAVE TO LOOK AT MY ULTRASOUND IMAGE?

This is up to you. You are welcome to see your ultrasound and to have our provider explain it to you. If you do not want to see it, you do not have to.

Q: WHEN SHOULD I START BIRTH CONTROL AFTER MY ABORTION?

Although you may not have your period for several weeks after your abortion, you could become pregnant right away, even if you’re still lightly bleeding. If you do not want to become pregnant again, most birth control methods can be started at your abortion appointment or your follow-up appointment. Our staff can help you choose a method and get you started as soon as possible.

Q: SHOULD I HAVE AN ABORTION?

We highly recommend the All-Options Talkline 888.493.0092 for unbiased, judgment-free, and open-hearted support in decisions, feelings, and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption.

Q: HOW DO I TELL MY PARENTS I AM PREGNANT?

Every family is different, but telling an adult, especially a parent, “I’m pregnant” and/or “I want an abortion,” may seem like a really hard conversation. If you need help making a plan, an All-Options staff member can help you prepare for this conversation. You can also check out our “For Young People” resource section. Some things to consider:

  • Choose the right time and set up the conversation. Example: “I need to talk to you because I trust you and need your help.”
  • Keep calm and stick to the facts. Example: “I’ve taken a pregnancy test and I am pregnant.”
  • Show them that you’ve been proactive about the situation. Example: “I’ve done a lot of thinking about different options and decided this is the right choice for me. I’ve found a health center that can see me and they will take our insurance.”
  • Give them a chance to process the news, just as you did. Don’t make assumptions about how they feel. You can even ask them questions about how they feel and whether they’ve ever been in a similar situation. Example: “I didn’t know what to think when I first found out, so I understand that you may need some time to process as I did.” “Have you or anyone you know ever encountered something like this?”

If you feel you could use an ally, consider having a supportive family member or friend with you. You know your family better than anyone else, and you can decide whether involving them will be helpful to you. If you decide not to involve them, we can help you obtain a judicial bypass.

Q: HOW DO I SUPPORT MY CHILD WHO IS PREGNANT AND CONSIDERING ABORTION?

The single most important thing you can do is to listen to what your child says about how they are feeling. You might feel strongly that there is one clear choice, but there is no right choice to be imposed since each pregnancy situation is different for each person. In terms of long-term mental health, it is crucial for your child to take the primary role in decision-making about their pregnancy. Sometimes this may seem unreasonable, especially when they are young, but this is a vital part of respecting their rights as an individual and, more importantly, of asking them to begin to be responsible for the decisions they make. It is natural to want to blame someone—your child, the person they got pregnant with, yourself, or another parent—but there is no point in approaching pregnancy in a punishing way. This is a time for support and guidance that can easily escalate into a time of hostility and rebellion. You should absolutely share your opinion, how you’re feeling, and how their decision will impact the rest of your family, but please understand that this must truly be their decision. Reassure them that you love them and will always love them, no matter what.

Keep talking and keep listening. The Pregnancy Options Workbook has a lot of decision-making exercises, perhaps you can work on it together.

While supporting your pregnant child with their decision making, it is also important to honor and validate your own feelings since this pregnancy absolutely impacts you as well. Sharing your feelings with your child or someone else you trust is one option; another option is talking to someone at the All-Options Talkline where there are counselors available for anyone involved in a pregnancy.

Q: MY PARTNER IS PREGNANT AND CONSIDERING ABORTION, WHAT IS MY ROLE?

A pregnancy decision can be one of the most difficult issues a couple has to face. The two of you may be in total agreement or you may have completely different feelings. The decision will ultimately be up to the person who is pregnant, but that doesn’t invalidate anyone’s feelings. Partners are certainly impacted by pregnancy, the decision-making process, and the choice made. Keep talking and keep listening. The Pregnancy Options Workbook also has a lot of decision-making exercises that you can work on together.

If you feel you need someone to talk to, the All-Options Talkline is available to discuss pregnancy, abortion, adoption, and miscarriage with anyone who wants to talk before or even after the decision. Men and Abortion is a resource for any support person.

Q: SOMEONE I CARE ABOUT IS HAVING AN ABORTION. HOW CAN I SUPPORT THEM?

Start by telling them that you’re there if they want you to be and that you will follow their lead. Be okay with them not accepting support.

Methods of support:

  • Check with them often to see how they are feeling.
  • Pay attention to their body language as well as words.
  • Be available to drive to our health center, fill prescriptions, and run any related errands.
  • Read through the aftercare directions and be ready to help your person follow them. Also, check out the In-Clinic Abortion Aftercare Guide.
  • Have pain medication available and maybe a heating pad or hot water bottle, for comfort and any pain relief.
  • If they need a follow-up appointment, help with logistical arrangements.
  • Do something special for them: a favorite treat, chores, or a heartfelt letter.
    Offer affection, but be prepared for them to not want anything sexual. You may feel rejected, but remember that they might connect sexual intercourse with their abortion. You can be affectionate without having sex.
  • Be understanding about the symptoms of pregnancy: nausea, tiredness, irritability, and moodiness. Many will go away a few days after the abortion or within a few weeks.

Q: WHY DOES HEALTHQ REFER TO “PATIENT” OR “PREGNANT PERSON” INSTEAD OF “WOMAN”?

HealthQ is committed to providing sexual health and abortion services for everyone. As Jack Qu’emi reminds us in his video from All Access, gender-neutral language for abortion is important because “not everybody who has a functioning uterus identifies as a woman. Some transgender people need access to abortion. Some transgender people have periods. Some transgender people can get pregnant.” If you have questions about our language choices or suggestions about how we can be more inclusive, please let us know.

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