No compulsory counselling: The advantages for women
Margot Schaschl (Austria)
Gynmed Clinic, Vienna, Austria
Austrian law only requires counselling by the medical doctor. This is usually no more than a standard medical conversation about informed consent. There are no other regulations, and no requirement for further counselling, nor does the law provide for any compensation for such counselling.
Our experience has shown that more than 90% of the women who come to us for an abortion have already made their decision. In most cases, the decision is made quickly, within a few days, usually with advice and support from a partner, family, or friends. Many women also search the Internet for information. But most women do not need professional counselling to make a decision.
The advantages of the Austrian system for women are:
The basis for the counselling is accepting and respecting the woman’s decision. To challenge her decision is neither fair nor professional. On the contrary, being too investigative can lead to paternalism.
Another key element of the counselling is that each woman knows best about her present life circumstances. Therefore, only she can decide if she needs assistance in her situation.
Professional counselling is good and necessary. Nevertheless it should be voluntary, patient-directed, and individually adapted for each woman.
There are few things that could do more harm than biased counselling that tries to lead the woman to a particular decision. That can lead to indoctrination.