Overall, getting an abortion can involve a lot of waiting around, so it can be helpful to bring things (crossword puzzles, a stockpile of saved Instagram reels) that will keep you both occupied when necessary. On that note, if you or your friend is traveling for the procedure, stocking up on snacks and downloaded podcasts may help pass the time and make your friend feel more comfortable.
If your friend can go alone and would rather do that, you could also offer to arrange transportation by ordering a rideshare or sending a Venmo to cover some or all of their travel costs, if you have the means and want to help in that way.
Now, let’s say your friend is having a medical abortion—which consists of two different prescription medications, mifepristone and misoprostol—at home. Offer to be there with them, if you’re up for it and available. (Potential side effects like cramping, bleeding, and nausea often kick in after the second pill, misoprostol, which causes cramping to pass the pregnancy.)
Maybe you can even offer to sleep over so that you can be there if they need you. And if they want to be alone or with someone else, a care package with painkillers, pads, a heating pad, their go-to comfort food, and their favorite flowers—or whatever you know they’d love—can go a long way.
9. After the abortion, check in. Then keep checking in.
Just because the procedure is over doesn’t mean you should stop showing up. “After your friend has an abortion, the most important thing you can do is listen to their needs and continue to be a supportive friend,” Dr. Dean says. “Maybe they just want someone to be around after their abortion. Maybe they want you to rub their back, make some hot tea, watch their kids, bring them comfort food, or let them rest up.”
Or, if alone time is what your friend is craving, give them that space. But Dr. Rubin recommends offering to be available in the event that they change their mind. Try something like, “Can we make a plan that you’ll contact me if you’re not feeling OK?”
10. Assure them that however they’re feeling is perfectly valid.
Depending on their circumstances, your friend could feel relieved and excited to move on with life. They could feel sad and wish they’d never had to make the choice in the first place. Or they could feel a mix of many emotions. Try to help them let go of any expectations that they should feel a certain way by reminding them that this is their experience and theirs alone. “Sometimes it’s talked about as if abortions are all the same,” Dr. Rubin says. “But there is no single way to experience abortion.”
Likewise, there’s no one way to support someone through the experience, so, again, what your friend or loved one probably needs most is for you to tune into their specific concerns. And if you’re reading this article, you’re already off to a great start.
11. If your beliefs will make it hard for you to be there for your friend, explain that in the most loving way you can.
Maybe if you became pregnant unexpectedly, you would never get an abortion. Doing what’s right for you is always a valid choice, but that doesn’t have any bearing on what’s right for someone else. “Only your friend knows what’s best for them,” Dr. Dean says. “Every situation is different.”
So, what does being a good friend look like if you’re against a friend’s abortion? If you’re able to offer specific kinds of support without judgment, do that, Dr. Rubin says. For instance, perhaps you’re willing to listen to your friend without trying to sway them, but you can’t accompany them to and from the procedure.
If you can’t be impartial at all, it’s OK to say as much for the sake of your friendship, Dr. Rubin says. You can tell your friend this is something you feel really strongly about, and although you respect their bodily autonomy, you can’t talk about it with them because it would probably just cause both of you distress. The bottom line: They need your friendship, not your judgment.