If you have confirmed that you or your partner is pregnant, there are three basic choices:
- Continue the pregnancy and become a parent
- Continue the pregnancy and arrange for an adoption, either within your family or through an agency.
- End the pregnancy by having an abortion
Ideally, both individuals responsible for the pregnancy are able to support each other and share in the decision-making. Ultimately, however, it is up to the pregnant person to make the choice that feels best for them. Different choices fit for different people at different times in their lives. Everybody is unique.
It is important to be aware of all the options available, so that you are able to make an informed choice. We offer pregnancy options counselling appointments, in which one of our nurses or doctors will review all the options with you (and a partner, if desired). They will ask guided questions to help you clarify your thoughts and feelings and will inform you of resources that are available to support you in whatever choice you make. They will answer any questions you have and help connect you with the appropriate people as you move forward with your choice.
Our nurses and doctors will not put any pressure on you to make a particular choice. They are simply a source of knowledge and emotional support, and are here to help you make the choice that feels best to you.
Parenthood is a life-long commitment – you become responsible for the care and upbringing of a child. Becoming a parent may fit in with your goals, or it may interfere with your future plans. Parenting can involve both joys and challenges. Iit can also lead to dramatic lifestyle changes. Work, school, and social schedules need to be adapted and it’s important to have financial and social supports in place.
Sometimes people raise a child with a partner and sometimes people raise a child on their own. Pregnancies and children can change relationships – for better or for worse. Pregnancy can bring partners closer together, but it won’t fix problems in a relationship. Relationships are more likely to last if they are strong and healthy before a pregnancy. Talk to others who are parents to find out about their experience.
If you’re continuing the pregnancy, be sure to see a doctor for pre-natal care, maintain a healthy diet, and avoid drugs, alcohol, and smoking.
Here are some questions to consider when thinking about becoming a parent. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. They are just ideas for you to think about:
- Do you feel ready to take on the tasks of being a parent?
- Do you have people who will help you?
- Do you want a child more than you want anything else?
- If you are in a relationship, does the other person want to be a parent?
- Do you think you are too young or too old to have a baby?
- Do you believe you can manage this by yourself?
- Do you have enough money to meet a child’s needs?
- Will having a child now stop you from having the life you want for yourself?
- If you have other children, will having another child cause problems for them?
With an adoption, a person continues a pregnancy, gives birth, and then places the child with someone else to raise. The birth parent signs legal papers to give custody to someone else. These papers are signed after the baby is born, so the birth parent can change their mind about her decision up to the time when the custody papers are signed.
Adoptions can be arranged through the Department of Community Services or through private agencies. You can place a child with someone you know (e.g. a family member or a friend) or with someone you don’t know. A person can decide to choose adoption at any point during the pregnancy or immediately after the baby is born. The earlier an adoption decision is made, the more time a person has to make arrangements and prepare for the adoption.
Here are some questions to consider when you are thinking about arranging an adoption. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. They are just ideas for you to think about:
- Do you think you could continue the pregnancy and give birth, without having to raise the child?
- Do you think you could help the child have parents who can love and care for him/her?
- Could you postpone being a parent until later in your life when you feel ready?
- Do you like the idea of giving someone else a baby they are unable to have themselves?
- Would your family rather have the baby stay in the family than be raised by strangers?
- Do you think you could place the baby with someone else after nine months of pregnancy and delivery?
- Are you okay with the idea of someone else caring for your child?
- Would you be okay with or without contact with the child in the future?
- Would you worry about whether the baby was being well-treated?
What is abortion?
Abortion is a safe, legal, medical procedure that ends a pregnancy. People may also refer to an abortion as a “termination”, a “TA (therapeutic abortion)”, or simply a “procedure.”
There are two kinds of abortions: medical and surgical. Medical abortions involve either the drugs methotrexate and misoprostal or the use of the drug Mifegymiso. Surgical abortions are performed at hospitals and in private clinics.
The Halifax Sexual Health Centre is aware that Mifegymiso, is available in Nova Scotia and funded by MSI for Nova Scotian health card holders as of November 1st, 2017 for people up to 49 days pregnant. Mifegymiso is currently not a service option at HSHC, but it will be in the future.
As of November 1st, 2017, the abortion self-referral process is Nova Scotia has not been fully realized.
People choose abortion for a variety of reasons. In general, people choose abortion because being pregnant at a particular time is not right for them. An abortion is still an abortion whether it is happening because a fetus has an abnormality, there has been a fetal demise, or simply because a pregnancy is not wanted. Having an abortion does not affect a person’s ability to get pregnant in the future.
If you are thinking about having an abortion, here are some questions to consider. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. They are just ideas for you to think about:
- Would you like to postpone being a parent until you are able to provide for a child (e.g. are older, finished school, more financially secure, in a stable relationship)?
- How do you feel about the idea of being a single parent if the other person is unable or unwilling to raise a child?
- Are your religious or spiritual beliefs against abortion?
- Are you afraid you might not be able to get pregnant again?
- Does your family or someone else who is important to you oppose abortion?
- Do you have a valid health card or enough money to pay for an abortion?
At our clinic, our patients are here for a variety of reasons, from STI testing and birth control prescriptions to hormone replacement therapy. No one will know if you are here for an abortion referral.
Who can have an abortion?
Currently in Nova Scotia, any person who is up to the 15th week of pregnancy can have a surgical abortion. There is no age restriction and you do not need parental consent. After a pregnancy is 15 weeks and 6 days along, a person may be able to go out of province to have an abortion, as the cut-off date is different from province to province. You can access a complete list of clinics in Canada and their policies here.
What if I’m not from Halifax?
If you live more than a two hour’s drive away from Halifax, one of our nurses will have to book your appointment. Over the phone, a nurse will do an assessment and discuss how to best access the steps of your abortion without coming to Halifax several times. Usually, this includes getting blood work done in your local area, and then having a referral appointment and ultrasound in Halifax, with the abortion happening the next day. Someone needs to drive you home from your abortion. An abortion is usually a 2 to 3 day trip to Halifax.
We are currently collecting information on other sites for abortion in Nova Scotia.
What if I don’t have a support person?
If you do not have a support person to help you through your decision to have an abortion or to take you to and from the hospital and other appointments, Nova Scotia is home to the Maritime Abortion Support Services (MASS). They are best reached by Facebook. They can arrange for you to have your own abortion doula to drive you and support you emotionally.
Who can do an abortion referral?
The doctors at our clinic, family doctors, and physicians at walk-in clinics can all do abortion referrals. If they won’t provide the referral themselves, they should refer you to someone else in your area who can and will.
What is the process like?
Typically, an abortion takes four steps. You can cancel your referral process at any time. A support person can be with you during most of the process.
1) Referral appointment: During this appointment, you will speak to a nurse and/or a doctor about your pregnancy options. They will explain the details of the abortion process as well as process your referrals for your next steps. You may be asked questions about your health history, previous pregnancies, drug allergies, birth control usage, STI history, and PAP test history. There may be a physical pelvic exam. These appointments are usually 15-30 minutes long.
2) Blood work: A blood work requisition form will be given to you at your referral appointment. This test is meant to confirm the pregnancy.
3) Ultrasound: An ultrasound is necessary to date the pregnancy for the doctor performing the abortion. This usually takes 30 minutes.
4) Abortion: The surgical procedure will be performed at a Termination of Pregnancy Unit (TPU). You may be in the hospital for 4 to 6 hours. You are not put to sleep. You have the option of having an IUD inserted as a form of birth control at the same time as your procedure. Someone must be there to pick you up after your procedure (i.e. not a cab).
5) Aftercare: You can get a medical note for time off work during this process. A post abortion exam is not mandatory, but is an option if you’re interested in a follow up appointment. A post abortion exam is not a physical exam.
How much does it cost?
In Nova Scotia, abortions performed in the hospital are free if the person has a valid Canadian health card (although people from provinces outside of Nova Scotia may have to pay up front and be reimbursed). To have a private clinic abortion, a person doesn’t need a doctor’s referral, but they must pay for the procedure.
For a Canadian with no health coverage, the whole abortion process can cost up to $1724.24. For a non-Canadian citizen, it can cost up to $1955.74. Some private insurance will reimburse you, but you should check your plan. An admin can help you understand the breakdown of costs over the phone.
What are my other options?
Our doctors and nurses can go over the choices between abortion, adoption, and keeping a pregnancy if you book one of our “pregnancy options” appointments. If your options do not seem to be reflected here (for example, you are over 15 weeks and 6 days into your pregnancy), you can contact a nurse to outline your options out of province.
Dealing with an abortion can be complicated. Luckily, here in Nova Scotia we have lots of great resources. The Maritime Abortion Support Services can connect you to an abortion doula (a trained support person) and other resources, such as someone to drive you to and from your procedure.
Other organizations that may be helpful are family resource centres (such as the Chebucto Family Centre), the provincial 811 nursing line, Mobile Crisis, counsellors from the Termination of Pregnancy Unit at the hospital, hospital chaplains, the Mi’kmaq Crisis Line, Belmont House, Bayer’s Road Mental Health Clinic, and South House Gender and Sexuality Resource Centre.
HOW TO BOOK AND PREPARE FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT AT HSHC
Booking an appointment with us is easy! Give us a call at 902.455.9656 ext. 0. A volunteer or a medical
administrator will answer the phone. To book an abortion, you must speak with an administrator. You can say that you would like to book for “an abortion”, “a termination”, a “TA”, or for “pregnancy options.”
You may need to speak with a nurse to book your appointment if you are from out of town or if you think you may be more than 13 weeks pregnant. We cannot book appointments by email or Facebook.
While we can give you information about the abortion process, you cannot book an appointment for someone else, even if they are your partner or child. We will need to speak with the person directly.
If you are from Halifax, to book, we will need your full name, birth date, and phone number. The person on the phone will ask if you have taken a positive pregnancy test yourself as well as for the date of the first day of your last normal menstrual period.
If you are from out of town, to book we will need your full name, birth date, phone number, address, and health card number and expiry date. The person on the phone will ask if you have taken a positive pregnancy test yourself as well as for the date of the first day of your last normal menstrual period. If a nurse is unavailable to speak to you at the time, a nurse will contact you within 24 hours.
Make sure you bring your valid provincial health card with you to your appointment. Clients without health cards are subject to doctors’ fees.
Are you a youth? You do not need parental consent for any of our appointments.
Don’t have access to or lost your health card? You are entitled to your health card information! Call MSI toll-free at 1-800-563-8880 (in Nova Scotia) or at 902-496-7008 from Monday-Friday 8am-5pm. We require the number and the expiry date. Another tip: take a picture of your card! You will never lose it again!