Medication Abortion FAQ
What to expect at your visit
Medication abortion is a safe and effective procedure in which two different medicines are taken to end the pregnancy. The first medication (mifepristone) blocks the hormones necessary for a pregnancy to grow; this ends the pregnancy. The second pill (misoprostol) makes your uterus contract and empty; this is similar to a miscarriage.
First Clinic Visit:
- On the day of your appointment, we’ll review your medical history, answer questions, and obtain your consent. Next, we’ll do lab work, a vaginal ultrasound, and make sure that you’re eligible for the medication.
- Next, you’ll meet our Nurse Practitioner. When you’re ready to start the process, she’ll give you the first pill to take at the clinic.
- You can use the second medication 24 to 48 hours after you've taken the first pill---you will decide what works for you. You can go about your normal activities in the time between the two medications.
- When you’re ready, you’ll insert the second medication into your mouth or vagina. You can expect to start bleeding within 1-4 hours, and the majority of the heavy bleeding usually lasts for about 5 hours and then tapers off. It is a good idea to plan to take it easy for the next 24 hours. The time it takes to complete the abortion varies from woman to woman. Light to moderate bleeding may come and go over the next 1-2 weeks. The Nurse Practitioner will review normal variations of bleeding with you.
- Bleeding and cramping are normal. Cramping can go from feeling like a normal period cramp to more intense pain. We will talk with you about how to manage your temporary pain and discomfort.
- You must be within a two hour drive of a healthcare facility and have no plans to leave the country soon.
Second Clinic Visit:
- 1-2 weeks after your abortion, you’ll come back to Health Quarters for an ultrasound to make sure the procedure is complete, and we'll check that you’re feeling well and provide you with post-abortion contraception, if you wish. The final visit is quick but important. Very rarely (1-3% of the time), will we need to provide follow-up medical care.
Call us 24/7 at (978) 922-4490 if you need us after your abortion.
- Preparing for your visit
- You must arrive 15 minutes earlier to complete necessary counseling and consents prior to your scheduled appointment time. Please also build in time to find parking and find our clinic locations.
- Please bring proof of insurance and a valid government-issued photo ID (such as a license or passport). If this is a problem, please contact the clinic.
- If you are using insurance, we must verify coverage before your appointment. This process may take several days so make sure you provide your insurance information ASAP after scheduling. Please see our FAQs for more information.
- Copays and outstanding patient balances are due at the time of your appointment. We accept cash, MasterCard and VISA.
- It is important be well-hydrated and to eat a good meal (ideally nothing very greasy or spicy) before your appointment. We also strongly recommend taking 800mg of ibuprofen with your meal, prior to appointment. (Do NOT take aspirin.)
- Please wear full coverage underwear that you can wear with a pad and comfortable clothes that let you undress from the waist down.
- You can come by yourself and drive yourself home. However, you are more than welcome to bring a friend but they will not be permitted into the exam room with you. They must present a government-issued photo ID and comply with clinic policies.
- Do not take aspirin 7 days prior to your visit.
- Do not take any illegal drugs or alcohol 24 hours prior to your visit.
- If you are accompanied by children or babies, a separate responsible adult is required at all times to care for the child in the waiting area.
- We recommend having good thick maxi pads (not tampons or pantyliners), a thermometer, pain medicine in case of cramping (Ibuprofen, Advil, or Motrin are fine, Not Aspirin), and a heating pad at home for after your appointment.
- Do not bring a bag larger than a wallet, recordings devices, or weapons to the clinic.
- Health Quarters is committed to providing all our patients with exceptional care. When a patient cancels without giving enough notice, they prevent another patient from being seen. Please call us at (888) 727-9428 by 2 p.m. on the business day prior to your scheduled appointment to notify us of any changes or cancellations. If prior notification is not given, you may be charged $25 for the missed appointment.
- We have a very full schedule, so if for any reason you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, it is important to let us know right away. This helps ensure you're able to find another appointment soon and also frees up the spot you aren't using for someone else seeking care.
- Which type of abortion is better?
Both medication and in-clinic abortions are safe and effective procedures. Some people prefer the convenience of an in-clinic abortion because everything is done in one day and when they leave Health Quarters, they know their abortion process is complete. Some people prefer a medication abortion because they can pass the pregnancy in the privacy of their own home, supported by a friend or family member. To help you compare procedures, check out our comparison.
- Is having an abortion safe?
Abortion is safe. There are many outdated myths about abortion and inaccurate media portrayals but abortion is very safe. The National Institute for Health reports that abortion is safer than childbirth in the United States.
Health Quarters 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 review all risks and possible complications with you at your visit.
- 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 with your visit.
- How much does an abortion cost? Can I use my insurance?
Health Quarters accepts most major insurances. Many insurance plans in Massachusetts, including MassHealth, cover medication and in-clinic abortion. We recommend contacting your insurance company directly to confirm your eligibility and benefits. You are welcome to call us to help you check benefit information.
The self-pay cost for both in-clinic and medication abortion is $650-750. If you are uninsured or your insurance does not cover abortion, please contact us to discuss your options. We may be able to help you enroll in MassHealth or connect you to an organization which will help cover some or all of the cost.
- How do I verify that my health insurance will cover abortion services?
While we accept MassHealth and most major insurances, not all insurance plans cover abortion services. We need to check your coverage before your appointment, so please provide your insurance information while scheduling so we have time to verify for you.
If you would also like to check yourself, you can call the member services 1-800 number on the back of your health insurance card to verify benefits and eligibility. HealthQuarters will still need to verify your coverage ourselves.
To verify coverage, ask the following questions:
1) Do I have coverage for voluntary termination of pregnancy (aka abortion)?
2) Is there a deductible to pay towards this procedure?
3) Do I need a referral from my PCP for this procedure?
4) Is there a co-pay for this procedure?
The representative may ask you where the procedure will be performed (ex. clinic, office, hospital, surgical facility). Be sure to tell them that it will be performed in an “office.”
- Is Plan B the same as the abortion pill?
Also known as the morning-after pill, emergency contraception may prevent pregnancy but it will not stop an already-established pregnancy. Emergency contraception can reduce pregnancy risk for up to five days after unprotected sex but the sooner you take it, the better it works. If you had unprotected sex less than five days ago, check out this page to learn about your options.
- I lost my aftercare directions; can I get them on the website?
Yes! Please use the following link for aftercare directions. Downloads are availibe in both English and Spanish.
- Do I need permission to have an abortion?
The decision to continue or terminate a pregnancy belongs completely to you. It does not belong to your partner, spouse, parents, or community. However, Massachusetts does have a law requiring minors to have one parent’s consent to have an abortion. This is not a Health Quarters policy, but a law that all abortion clinics in Massachusetts have to follow.
If you are under 18 and have a parent who you can talk to, you can look at the next FAQ for tips. If you do not want to involve a parent in your abortion, you will have to obtain a judicial bypass. This is granted by a judge and allows you to have an abortion without telling anyone. There is no cost for the judicial bypass. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, you can talk to a Health Quarters staff person for assistance obtaining a judicial bypass.
If you disagree with this law, contact your representatives and tell them you support the Act to Improve Health Care for Young Women (SD 1167, HD 1618) to give young people the right to consent to prenatal care and mental health services.
- Does abortion cause breast cancer?
No. Since 2003, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) agreed the 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 in women (aside from skin cancer), and it’s the second leading cancer killer in women. Because it can be a deadly disease, it’s one that many women 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."
- Can I bring someone to my appointment?
You are welcome to bring one support person to the clinic, but it is not required. Companions must provide government-issued photo ID and are not allowed past the waiting room. There are several coffee shops nearby if your companion would like to go for a walk while they are waiting.
- Does Health Quarters have protesters?
We are located in large multi-use office complexes surrounded by private parking lots. Protesting on private property is prohibited, and to date, we have never experienced protesters.
- Do I have to look at the ultrasound?
This is up to you. You are welcome to see your ultrasound and to have our clinician explain it to you. If you do not want to see it, you do not have to.
- When should I start birth control after my abortion?
Although you may not get your period for several weeks after your abortion is complete, you can ovulate any time after the abortion. This means you can get 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 very shortly after. Health Quarters staff can help you choose your new method and get you started while you’re still at the clinic.
- What if I don’t know what I want to do about my pregnancy?
Finding out you’re pregnant can be emotionally complicated. While there are time limits based on how far along your pregnancy is, it is helpful to take some time to process your thoughts and feelings. HealthQuarters wants to support you any way we can. We provide judgement free information and options counseling if you would like our help with your decision.
We also highly recommend the All-Options Talkline, for free and confidential pregnancy counseling over the phone. They are a wonderful resource for pro-choice options counseling and support at all stages of pregnancy, including abortion, adoption, infertility, parenting, and pregnancy loss. Another great resource is the Pregnancy Options Workbook, which has exercises and activities to help you with your decision making.
- How do I tell my parents that I’m 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, a Health Quarters or All-Options staff person 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.”
Example: “I’ve already found a clinic that can see me and figured out that they take our insurance.”
Give them a chance to process the news, like you did. Don’t make assumptions about how they feel. You can even ask them questions about how they feel and if they’ve ever been in a similar situation.
Example: “I didn’t know what to think when I first found out, so I understand how if you need some time to process.”
Example: “Have you or anyone you know ever had to deal with something like this?”
If you feel like 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.
- Where can I get an abortion if I’m too far along for HealthQuarters?
HealthQuarters provides abortion services up to 14 weeks of pregnancy but abortion is available in Massachusetts up to 23 weeks, 6 days and is available past that in a few other states. To find a high quality abortion provider who performs abortions past 14 weeks, you can call the National Abortion Federation referral line at 1.877.257.0012. They can also talk to you about financial, logistical, and emotional support.
- 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 your 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 like you need someone to talk to, the All-Options Talkline is available to talk about pregnancy, abortion, adoption, and miscarriage with anyone who wants to talk before or even after the decision. Men and Abortion is primarily a resource for male partners, but a lot of the advice is helpful for any support person.
- 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.
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 great option is talking to someone at the All-Options Talkline where there are counselors available for anyone involved in a pregnancy.
- 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.
Some ideas for support:
- Check in with them often to see how they are feeling. Pay attention to their body language as well as words
- Be available to drive to the clinic, fill prescriptions, and run any related errands
- Read through the aftercare directions and be ready to help your person follow them Check The Medication Abortion Instructions & At-Home Tips Sections
- 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, doing chores, a heartfelt letter
- Offer affection, but be prepared for them not to want to be 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 are all pregnancy symptoms
- Many will go away a few days after the abortion, most within a few weeks
- Why does Health Quarters say “patient” or “pregnant person” instead of “woman?”
Health Quarters is committed to providing sexual health and abortion services for everyone. As Jack Qu’emi reminds us in this great video from All Access, gender neutral language for abortion access is important because “not everybody who has a functioning uterus identifies as a woman. Some trans people need access to abortion. Some trans people have periods. Some trans 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!
- How do I find Health Quarters?
Health Quarters Beverly: Our address is 100 Cummings Center, Suite 131-Q, Beverly, MA. We are located in the 100 building of a large office park. Landmarks include: A large white sign that says "Health Quarters" over our door, two trees, some bushes, and a fire hydrant. You can walk directly into the clinic from the parking lot, please allow time to find parking.
Health Quarters Lawrence: Our address is 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 501, Lawrence MA. We are located in the Riverwalk office park, in the North B section where the parking lot is located. Enter through the G Entrance and make sure you take the elevator that goes all the way to the 5th floor. Take a right when you exit the elevator. Please allow time to find parking.
Health Quarters Haverhill: Our address is 215 Summer St. Suite 216 Haverhill, MA 01830. We are located in the Medical Building across the street from the Linwood Cemetery. Be sure to come around to the back of the parking lot and come in the door on the right.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns and we would be happy to assist you.