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Insights in reproductive health research and practice from CompassCare's medical team.

What is Informed Consent?

“Every state requires that a patient consent before undergoing medical treatment and that the consent be ‘informed,'”1 yet only 35 states require that women receive counseling before an abortion is performed. This does not excuse your healthcare provider from fulfilling their responsibilities to communicate all possible short- and long-term side-effects of each treatment option. Your provider should also help you to explore which treatment options are most consistent with your values and beliefs. For example, if a woman believes that abortions ends the life of a baby, yet she is offered an abortion by her provider and accepts it, this shows that the woman is not truly free to act in accordance with her beliefs.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, “informed consent is a process through which accurate and relevant information is presented to a patient so that he or she is able to knowledgeably accept or forego medical care, based on an appreciation and understanding of the facts presented.”2 If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, your choices should be filtered through these principles.

  • Have you been provided with adequate information?
  • What do you believe about when human life begins?
  • Do you understand all your treatment options?
  • Are you able to make an uncoerced decision based on that information?

To put it another way, a truly uncoerced choice happens only when a woman feels equally empowered to pursue every option. Too often women facing unplanned pregnancy feel that abortion is their only option, and are not empowered by their provider to make any choice.

CompassCare offers free pre-abortion counseling, to help you make a truly informed decision.


1 The Guttmacher Institute (2012) State Policies in Brief, Counseling and Waiting Periods for Abortion.  Retrievd from: http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_MWPA.pdf

2 The Guttmacher Institute (2006). C.T. Richardson, E. Nash. Guttmacher Policy Review. Misinformed Consent: The Medical Accuracy of State-Developed Abortion Counseling Materials .Fall 2006, Volume 9, Number 4. Retrieved from: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/09/4/gpr090406.html