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The Phone Call

October 2008
By: Rita Williams
The answer to 'Can I get an appointment for an abortion?' is never no.

The scariest phone call anyone working at a pregnancy center can receive is the one inquiring about an abortion. You know the person on the other end has only one intent and that is to find a way to get an abortion. Many pregnancy center workers will freeze and automatically want to answer their question with a 'no' and follow up with what services they do offer. Usually the caller hangs up right at 'no' and fails to take the opportunity to learn the other important information.

Pregnancy center workers may feel that they are being deceptive or manipulative if they do not give a direct answer. This is not true if you answer with the deepest concern for the caller. You should talk to her just like you would if she were in your counseling room. Remembering your training on good questions and rephrasing can be put to good use here. First of all, this phone call always comes unexpectedly, so the first response should be, "One moment please." Place the client on hold and ask for prayer before you reconnect. The following script is one example of how that phone call should flow.

Counselor: "Hi, this is Rita. I am the peer counselor here. How can I help you?"

Client: "I need to schedule an abortion."

Counselor: "How far along are you?"

Client: (usually something like this) "I don't know. I did a home pregnancy test and think I'm about three weeks."

Counselor: "Okay, the first thing we need is to know how far along you are. There are different types of abortion procedures depending on how far along you are. Have you had a previous abortion?"

Client: (one of two responses) "No, I never had one before."
(second response) "Yes, I had one about (number) years ago."

Counselor: "Well I think you should know that an abortion procedure has risks. We are a counseling and education center. We can offer you a verification of your pregnancy for your insurance, information on the different types of abortions available, an ultrasound, and a doctor's visit, all free of charge. This way you will know how to make the best decision for you. We don't refer or do abortions, but you definitely want to talk to a doctor and have all of this information before you make your decision. Can I make an appointment for you to come in for that free pregnancy test and verification so we can set you up with our doctor?"

Client: There are a number of different responses. One response is that this is what she doesn't want, and she will say 'no' and hang up. Another response is that she will open up and tell you her whole life's story and why she needs to abort. Another is that she does want to talk to your doctor, and the word free is a good offer.

All we can do is our part. By being prepared, open, and caring, we provide the opportunity for callers to talk and come in. Jeannie, one of the employees at the Pregnancy Resource Center in Lodi, California, does this with every call. One time she received a call from a Muslim man who wanted an abortion for his wife. After the questions, he shared his whole life's story with Jeannie, and she talked him into coming in. He and his wife choose life for their baby, but he said that out of five phone calls he made looking for an abortion, our center was the only one that cared about him and his wife. He shared that the decision for them to have this baby was definitely because of the way he was treated on the phone. He felt that someone really cared about him and his wife. Guess what? Someone did.

Rita Williams is a banquet speaker and has been the marketing consultant for the CPC in Reno, Nevada. She can be contacted at

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