Regardless of your politics regarding abortion, actually facing one is never fun. It’s easier for some than for others. Nevertheless, it’s a very personal experience. Friends and family of someone choosing to abort their pregnancy may wonder what they can do to support their loved one during this potentially difficult time.
Here are a few ways that you can be an ally to someone having an abortion, written by someone who has had one:
1. First and foremost, tell them that you support them regardless of their decision, and then do that.
It is so important to simply support the decision that they make. Do not pressure them in any direction, regardless of circumstances. This is their choice to live with, for better or worse. This is your role as a companion to the person who has to shoulder the burden. At the end of the day, it is not your body or your life. Wholeheartedly embrace that fact — and their choice — and help make the transition between pregnant and not pregnant easier for your loved one.
2. Go with them to their appointments before, during and after the abortion.
Not everyone will want company for all of their appointments. But someone does have to be the official person to pick them up after the abortion — and be relied upon to do so.
The first appointment may be difficult for the person having the abortion, when the length of pregnancy and due date are confirmed. From there, a date for the service is selected and payment is settled up front. However, if there is state funding and insurance involved, it may take a couple of weeks to process, which can push the date of the procedure forward. Mine took an extra three weeks to process, bringing me up to 11.75 weeks, just barely making the cut-off for that clinic! Be flexible and present while your loved one goes through this process.
3. Keep your fantasies to yourself.
Your loved one may vacillate between keeping the pregnancy or not. They may talk about what it might be like to bring it to term, and fantasize further into parenthood. Don’t talk about your idea of genders, names, birthdays and things related to a child. Reflect what they are saying, with the mantra of “I support you in whichever decision you make. If you do choose to be a parent in the future, you’re going to be great.”
No matter how much you want to be auntie, uncle, grandma/pa, dad or Parent Number Two to that fetus, it’s not your choice. To be perfectly truthful, your feelings do not matter during this time — even if you are incredibly positive about the decision. This time is not about you; it has to be about your loved one. Reflect that in your behaviors and attitude.
4. Regardless of if the procedure is in-clinic or at home via pill, your pal is going to physically feel like shit.
If they choose to have company, be there to pamper them and wait on them. When I came out of the procedure, I was tender, incredibly swollen and bloated, and bled for a few days — all very natural things to happen at this time. I was able to rely on a house full of incredible women and my partner to get me through it, and I have no idea what I would have done without them. If I was hungry, someone was bringing me food. If I was thirsty or uncomfortable, one of them was on the kettle bringing me tea. Bored and wanted to talk? Let’s do this. Sobbing and needing a lap to cry into? All of them were on it.
This is the time for you to up your best friend game to the umpteenth degree. Have an arsenal of movie ideas, your loved one’s favorite comfort foods and cathartic playlists on hand — but don’t be offended if that person just needs to take time for themselves, too. At the time, my catharsis looked like unlimited grilled cheese sandwiches or mac n’ cheese, a ton of nice herbal tea, Bridget Jones’ Diary, lots of Halloween candy and a Grimm marathon. If it happened now, I would probably watch Obvious Child a couple of times and gorge on feminist web TV shows like You’re So Talented, Polyglots, and Bwitches.
This is going to be something that your pal remembers for the rest of their life. This is the time for you to be at your most selfless in your relationship with them and just be there, whatever it needs to look like. This is how real friendship works.