Supporting your loved one through abortion during COVID: What you should know
While COVID restrictions prevent support persons from being present at the clinic for abortion procedures, there are still ways you can help support your loved one at this difficult time.
Support persons are an essential, cherished part of our patients’ care and healing. Supporting your loved one through anything challenging involves, above all, caring for and focusing on their well-being to the best of your ability.
In what is already a difficult emotional process, we deeply regret that we are not able to allow support persons into the clinic for the duration of the pandemic. These guidelines are mandated by Ontario’s Ministry of Health to minimize risk to staff, patients and the general population,
As the only Toronto-area clinic that provides access to late-term abortion care, it is critical for us to abide by these guidelines so that we can remain open and provide care for those who need this service as well as first-trimester procedures.
We recognize how challenging this is for patients and their support persons. Know that we’re doing our best to mitigate this for our patients with our kind and compassionate nursing care. We’ll help patients move through the process with empathy and as little discomfort as possible. We also provide patient education handouts, which can be a useful resource for the support person at home.
Even if you’re not able to be with your loved one at the clinic, you still play an important role in helping her through this experience.
Here’s how you can support her, before and after the abortion:
Be present and take her lead
Whether it’s in the car as you take her to the appointment, or afterward at home, simply BE with your loved one as she goes through this process. The most important part of helping is being present with her as she shares her thoughts, feelings and experience of the procedure.
Actively listen, check in with her, and encourage her to tell you what she needs to feel comforted. Allow her the time and space (or closeness) she asks for. Help her feel understood until she gradually recovers.
Separate your thoughts and feelings from hers
For both your loved one and yourself, there are no “incorrect” ways to think or feel about abortion. It’s OK to have your own opinions and emotions. While this can be difficult, focus on your partner’s thoughts and feelings without adding yours into the mix. She has had to navigate a lot in her abortion journey: making the decision, wrestling with a range of thoughts and emotions, and going through the procedure itself. She needs your attention at this time. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get support. If you need to process your own thoughts and feelings, seek counselling or get help from a trusted friend or family member - whomever you feel safe with.
Assure her that she is not alone
An estimated one out of every three to four women in Canada and the US have an abortion. If you know more than four women, chances are you know someone who’s had one. We just don’t talk about it. It’s deeply personal and can be unpleasant, not to mention that everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject. No one wants to expose themselves to judgement.
The Cabbagetown Women’s Clinic is a safe, judgement-free space. We greatly respect the difficult decision your loved one and you have made. We see her, hear her and support her.
If you or your partner, friend or loved one has any questions about abortion procedures or clinic protocols during COVID, please contact us.
Did you know you can get OHIP-covered counselling?
Counselling is available for patients and their support persons prior to the procedure and is covered by OHIP. You can contact:
Planned Parenthood Toronto - (416) 961-0113
Birth Mark - (416) 479-0086
Bay Centre for Birth Control - (416) 351-3700
A note about pronouns
At the Cabbagetown Women’s Clinic we try to provide inclusive care to all cis and trans-gendered patients. If you or the person you are supporting is a trans-male, please know that you are welcome and we will use your desired pronouns during your care as soon as we are aware of your wishes. Read the text above with “she/her” as “they/their/he/his” as applicable.