Recently, a pro-lifer wrote to me to suggest that women who have abortions are run “through the mill” without any counseling and, if they do get some, the counselors try their darndest to persuade the woman to have the abortion.
Let’s put aside for a minute the small percentage of sleaze balls out there who are in the field to only make money. They’re out there and there ain’t nothing I can do about it. Indeed, I know this for a fact because years ago I publicly criticized an abortion doctor in Pennsylvania, warning women not to go to him. The next day, I got a letter from his attorney advising me to “cease and desist” from such criticism. Not making much money at the time, I heeded the advice.
Anyway, every abortion clinic is different and has its own way of approaching things, but the average clinic has two or three counselors. After the woman fills out her paperwork, she meets with the counselor to discuss a number of issues. Some clinics subscribe to what is known as the “Head and Heart Counseling” method where the counselor delves very deeply into the woman’s thought process to try to determine if, in fact, she is ready for an abortion. There is even a “homework” booklet that was produced years ago that the counselor could give to the woman if she was unsure of her decision. The woman would take the booklet home, answers a bunch of questions, then come back to the clinic. In the abortion industry, the joke was that at times it was almost impossible to get an abortion in one of these clinics.
The average counselor will talk to the woman about her options. They will ask about what kind of birth control, if any, they were using and what kind they might want to use in the future, the goal being that they never want to see that woman again in their clinic. If the patient decides to use birth control pills, the clinic will usually give her three free months of pills to get her going.
The last thing a clinic wants is to have a woman surface years later and complain that she was not counseled well enough, that she didn’t know her options. The clinic does not want a woman ultimately regretting her abortion and one way to avoid that is to counsel her. Of course, the system is not perfect.
Indeed, there are a handful of clinics that find personal counseling insulting. They suggest that women know what they are doing, that it is demeaning to ask a woman if she has really thought through her decision. And there are women who resent the counselors even asking them such questions.
Because every woman is different, there is no cookie cutter counseling experience. And I would suggest that’s exactly how it should be.