We at Harvard University Health Services recognize the decision to end an unplanned pregnancy can be a difficult one. We have prepared this brief information sheet to give you information about abortion options, insurance coverage, and what happens after we refer you to Women’s Health Services or Planned Parenthood. Please feel free to ask us any questions or express any concerns you may have about the process.
When can an abortion be done?
You may have a choice between a medical abortion (which means taking medicine to end the pregnancy) and a surgical abortion such as vacuum aspiration or dilation and evacuation (D&E). The decision on which type you choose depends on your preferences as well as on how many weeks pregnant you are.
For a medical abortion (also known as the RU486) you must be 49 days from your last menstrual period. For medical abortions, we refer patients to Planned Parenthood on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, and (617) 616-1660.
A surgical abortion is done after 6 weeks since your last menstrual period. We refer patients to Planned Parenthood or Women’s Health Services, 111 Harvard Street Brookline, MA 02446. (617)277-0009. The Out of Boston number is 1-800-277-2354.They can also be reached by email at www.womenshealthservices.com
Second tri-mester abortions (patient is greater than 12 weeks of gestation) can be referred to Women’s Health Services and requires appointments on 2 consecutive days.
What happens when I am referred to Women’s Health Services or Planned Parenthood?
- The person answering the phone will ask you about your last menstrual period, your current medications and any allergies you may have, and finally what type of insurance you have. We have found it best to advice women to be in a private place when making this phone call to avoid feeling uncomfortable in front of others.
- Laws regarding minors require the consent of or notice to one parent. Minors can have this requirement waived by the court based on the minor’s maturity and best interest. Legal assistance is arranged by Women’s Health Services and Planned Parenthood. This is done through volunteer lawyers who meet with the client at the court and petition for emancipation.
- After these routine questions, you will be given an appointment.
- After the appointment is made, you will be given instructions as to what to bring with you to the appointment and important points to remember prior to arriving for the appointment.
- We recommend that you be accompanied by a family member or friend for emotional support. Be aware that protesters may be present at both locations where terminations are performed
What will happen when I arrive for my appointment?
- Each facility can answer any specific questions you may have. In general, you can expect to be at the clinic for several hours. We recommend you have someone accompany you to the clinic.
- Trained professionals at each site will ask you for a medical history. Laboratory testing will also be performed including some blood work and a urinalysis.
- A trained counselor will review the procedure with you and answer any questions you may have.
- After this, you will have the procedure performed. You will spend some time in the clinic in the recovery area and be discharged home that same day.
- The medical abortion requires one visit in which you are given the medication and instructed in how to use it. The pregnancy usually ends at home within a day or two after the insertion of the tablets. Health care professionals will discuss with you at length what to expect when using this medication.
Will I have any follow-up appointments?
- Your follow-up care is generally done at HUHS. We strongly recommend you schedule an appointment with your HUHS primary care physician team two weeks after your appointment at the Planned Parenthood or Women’s Health Services
- Our clinicians are always available to you by phone and in HUHS to discuss any unusual symptoms you may experience including fever, pain, or excessive bleeding.
- Our clinician (MD or Nurse Practitioner) will perform a brief physical exam and will talk with you about how you are feeling overall both physically and emotionally. Some women experience assorted feelings of sadness or grief which can be very normal. Your MD or NP may discuss with you talking to someone who specializes in pregnancy loss counseling if you are experiencing overwhelming feelings of sadness or depression. Please note that grieving can be part of process in any unplanned pregnancy regardless of choice to continue the pregnancy or proceed with termination.
- This is also a good time to talk about contraceptive options if you have not already done so.
What about insurance coverage and confidentiality?
Students who have the HUSHP Student Health Insurance Plan (Blue Cross and Blue Shield) have 100% coverage of a termination through Planned Parenthood and Women’s Health Services. Students with their own secondary insurance or through their parents would need to check with their insurance about the coverage. In general this service is usually covered, but the bills may be mailed to the person who is the primary insurer. For students who do not want to tap into their own secondary insurance, the HUSHP Student Health Fee will provide a $350.00 benefit and confidentiality is guaranteed in all circumstances with no notification or billing submitted through a parent’s name or address.
HUGHP members have coverage of termination procedure with applicable copays as identified in the HUGHP member contract.