What does “waiting period” mean?

ribbon Medically reviewed Aug 2020 by Robin Watkins, CNM, WHNP-BC

Before you can get an abortion, you’ll have a counseling appointment with a health care provider, who will talk you through your options and next steps, including choosing how you’d like to manage pain. You may also have an ultrasound to figure out how far along the pregnancy is.

Depending on the laws in your state, you may be able to have the abortion the same day as your counseling appointment. In states that have “waiting periods,” you may need to come back another day for the actual procedure. For example, some states have a 24-hour waiting period. That means that once you have the counseling appointment, you have to wait 24 hours to get the abortion.

Keep in mind that some states have laws that allow you to do your counseling appointment virtually, and then do your ultrasound (if it’s required) and abortion at the same appointment, if you have to travel a long distance to get an abortion. These laws prevent you from having to travel a long distance twice or having to stay far from home during the waiting period. If you are going to have to travel a long way for your abortion, ask if virtual counseling is an option when you call to make your appointment.

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