Category Archives: Women’s Health

Why Waiting Periods Before Abortion Are Not Necessary [ Part II]

Continuing from the last blog, here is-why a waiting period [ which is imposed mandatorily by few state laws] is not only unnecessary but is harmful for women access abortive services as well.

The harm in mandatorily requiring more than one trip to the healthcare setting

While many states don’t impose this, some have an in-person meeting requirements. This means that the women having abortion – by MTP Kit or by surgery, have to make numerous trips to the hospital.  Women who have tow take more trips to a clinic may face higher costs, complicated logistics and delay in care.

Due to such laws that enforce medically needless trips to the clinic, women face various troubles. These problems include encountering logistical challenges, expenses of childcare, travel, lodging expense [ if the clinic is not close] etc. Therefore, these costs may especially act as a barrier to low-income women. Ironically, these low income women are the group that experience the highest rate of unplanned/ unwanted pregnancies.

The added difficulties of logistics and prices can lead to delay in obtaining access to medical attention. In fact, 3 in 5 patients surveyed experienced delay reported the time it took to gather funds and make arrangements contributed to the delay.

Meanwhile a recent research in Utah’s in-person counseling law found that there is a 72- hours waiting period. Which on average meant 8 days between counseling and procedure for women who sought pregnancy termination.

Because of long waiting periods and other obstructions many women buy abortion pill online for quicker access and cheaper treatment.

Delay in care due to waiting periods

Waiting periods also result into delay in obtaining medical attention. This can cause an issue as both the risk and cost of an abortion increases as the gestation period increases.

Abortive patients who lived in a state [ where waiting periods are mandatory] waited 1 to ½ days longer compared to patients from other states.

Meanwhile three studies carried out in Mississippi in the 90’s found that state imposed in-person counseling and one-day waiting period requirement associated with a decrease in rate of abortion, an increase in pregnancy terminations out of state and rise in the proportion of abortions in second trimester.

Aborting procedures in later terms typically cost more than the one in earlier gestational stages. One can easily buy abortion pills and terminate pregnancy cost-effectively without surgical intervention. For instance, procedures at around 10 weeks cost $500 approximately compared to more than $1,500 for around 20 weeks’ gestation.

In a recent research, more than half of the patients wished they could have gotten the pregnancy terminated sooner.

The increase in risk of complication [ even if its magnificently low at this point] increases with the gestational age. The number of maternal deaths associated with pregnancy increases as the time it takes to obtain the procedure.

Therefore, poor women seeking abortion are caught in this vicious cycle. The longer they wait- the harder it is for them to afford it, all the while, health risk also increases with time.

Why Waiting Periods Before Abortion Are Not Necessary

waiting periods before Abortion

Waiting periods before abortion is to give regulators, service providers and policy-creators the data/resources they need to involve in current policy negotiations in their states.

So how does waiting periods on access to abortion pills or surgical procedure have impact on its services.

Waiting before abortion

The ability to obtain any health care service without delay is crucial for woman’s reproductive health. Pregnancy termination is legal and safe procedure and governed by same principles of informed consent as any other medical service.

Nevertheless, many states compel women to wait for some time period (between 18 hours to 3 or more days). This is between the pre-abortion counseling and the abortive procedure. While some states require the women’s presence in person rather through internet or phone, before the waiting period even begins.

Making two to three trips puts burden on women who seek abortion. They then need to arrange some time off from their other duties/work, or those who leave in distant areas. Therefore, women need to gather funds or make travel arrangements which may delay the procedure, making them choose riskier options.

More than intrusive, waiting periods, according to the growing medical evidence, are completely unnecessary. 

They introduce an unneeded obstacle to women seeking termination of pregnancy. Furthermore, they intrude upon the patient-healthcare provider relationship- without the patient’s best interest at heart.

  1.  periods Waiting are not Medicine/Science based

  • Waiting periods before the abortive procedure are not ethically compulsory or medically indicated as a part of informed consent procedures.
  • In some cases, even women seeking abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol [ abortive medication] have to wait compulsory. This is when the medical abortive procedure itself takes 2-3 days for completion. Therefore, adding waiting period in such cases places an undue burden on women.

Moreover, terminating pregnancy with MTP Kit, i.e. abortion pills is only allowed till 10 weeks of gestation. Thus imposing time period between the procedure may force women to choose surgical procedure is she is in her 9th week.

  • Enforcing waiting period or even requirement of providing incorrect data/ biased counseling services serves no medical purpose. They only intend to make access difficult.
  • Waiting periods imposed of women seeking to buy abortion pills or surgery are not required in any other medical procedures.

These impositions on women seeking abortion, single them out as patients who cannot make informed decision about their healthcare.

  1.  Women are sure about their decision to abort

  • Almost all women who decide to have an abortion have made their decision final when they try to access medical services. Therefore, the waiting periods only delays their procedure.
  • As per many research reports, 99% of surveyed women seeking abortive procedure were sure about their decision. This was comparatively more than any other patient seeking other procedures. In fact, a recent research concluded that denying a woman abortion results in anxiety problems. The waiting periods too have a negative impact on the emotional well-being of the woman.

Next up – how waiting periods harm in requiring two or more trips and delays in the procedure due to waiting periods.