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Abortion: Counselling

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 11 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what counselling is offered to women (a) contemplating, (b) during and (c) after an abortion. (148373)

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) evidence-based guideline “The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion (2004)” gives recommendations to commissioners and service providers on the information to be given to women contemplating an abortion, following an abortion and on women’s counselling needs.

The guideline states that professionals involved in abortion services should be equipped to provide women with the information they need, including accurate knowledge about possible complications and sequelae of abortion, in order to give genuinely informed consent. Clinicians caring for women requesting abortion should try to identify those patients who require more support in decision making than can be provided in the routine clinic setting. Facilities for additional support, including access to social services, should be available. Appropriate information and support should be available for those who consider, but do not proceed to, abortion. The guideline also recommends that referral for further counselling should be available for the small minority of women who experience long-term post abortion distress.

A number of organisations produce patient leaflets on this issue including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Family Planning Association.