Objectives: Unintended pregnancy is common in the United States, yet scant research has evaluated women’s preferences on pregnancy options counseling. This study explores pregnant women’s preferences for pregnancy options counseling from health care providers.
Methods: We conducted semistructured interviews with pregnant women at a prenatal clinic and an abortion clinic. We asked women about recent discussions-or lack thereof-about pregnancy options (parenting, adoption, and abortion) with a clinician, and what they would want their provider to discuss about pregnancy options. We analyzed transcripts using modified grounded theory.
Findings: We interviewed 10 women in prenatal care and 18 women seeking abortion. In both settings, most said clinicians should discuss pregnancy options with pregnant women and 1) respect patient autonomy, 2) avoid assumptions about a woman’s desired pregnancy outcome, and 3) consider the patient-including her health and fertility intentions-beyond her pregnancy. Participants wanted their doctors to assess a pregnancy’s individual circumstances to determine the appropriateness of options counseling. A few participants, including women who did and did not receive options counseling, reported they personally preferred not to receive such counseling. Explaining this preference, they cited preservation of privacy, having already made a decision for the pregnancy, or just not wanting to discuss abortion. Regarding best practices for providing options counseling, participants said it should be done in a routine manner, with discretion, and early in pregnancy.
Conclusions: Pregnant women seeking both prenatal and abortion care broadly support options counseling.
Implications: Discussion of pregnancy options, including abortion, provides patient-centered care and supports women’s preferences.