A Woman's Right to Know

Making an Informed Decision

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Abortion is ending the pregnancy by using medicine or a surgical procedure. In Arizona, the legal definition of an abortion means the use of any method with intent to terminate a woman's pregnancy for reasons other than to increase the probability of a live birth, to preserve the life or health of the child after a live birth, to terminate an ectopic pregnancy or to remove a dead fetus. Some women consider an abortion because their pregnancy might threaten the woman's life or her health or her baby may have severe birth defects. Other women choose to end their pregnancy without any known problems with their health or with their unborn child.

Spontaneous abortion (often called miscarriage) can occur when problems with a pregnancy cause the woman to lose that pregnancy naturally.

A doctor should evaluate and counsel you if you are thinking about having an abortion. Only a doctor can perform an abortion. Discuss your situation with your doctor and ask about any risks you might face. You can expect the following things to happen:

  • If you are a minor, a parent must complete the Parental Consent Form For A Pregnant (Unemancipated) MinorPDF and have it notarized unless a judge waives this requirement or assigns an alternate guardian
  • You will be asked about your medical history
  • You will get a physical exam
  • Some lab tests will be done
  • You will find out for sure if you're pregnant and how long you've been pregnant. Your doctor will do a pelvic exam and perform a fetal ultrasound
  • You will be offered the opportunity to view the active ultrasound image and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child
  • You will be asked if you would like a physical picture of the ultrasound image of the unborn child
  • You will certify in writing before the abortion that you have been given the opportunity to view the active ultrasound image and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child if the heartbeat is audible and that you opted to view or not view the active ultrasound image and hear or not hear the heartbeat of the unborn child
  • You will get counseling
  • You will be asked about your feelings about abortion
  • You will find out about the risks of having an abortion
  • You will find out about the risks of having a baby
  • Your questions will be discussed and answered
  • You will get some information about abortion. You will have at least a full day to read this information before the appointment for your abortion
  • You will be offered the opportunity to view the Arizona Department of Health Services website and you can ask for a printed version of the information contained on the website
  • You will sign a consent form for your abortion. If you are a minor, a parent must sign the consent form and have the form notarized.

Remember, it is your right and the doctor's responsibility to inform you fully prior to the procedure. Ask all of your questions and make sure you understand the answers before the procedure begins. You have a right to view your medical records, including your ultrasound, at any time. You have the right to cancel the procedure at any time before the procedure begins.