Abortion providers offer both medical and surgical abortions. The types of abortion that may be available depend on factors such as how far along a woman is in her pregnancy and what kinds of procedures an abortion provider offers. Consider all the facts so that you can make an informed decision.
Medical abortions use drugs, instead of surgical instruments, to end a pregnancy.
Early Medical Abortion – Up to 10 weeks from the last menstrual period (LMP)
“The Abortion Pill” (mifepristone plus misoprostol) is the most common form of medical abortion. It was approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use in women up to 10 weeks after LMP.1 It is even used beyond 10 weeks LMP, despite an increasing failure rate.2, 3, 4 It is done by taking a series of pills that disrupt the embryo’s attachment to the uterus, and cause uterine cramps which push the embryo out. 5
Things to consider:6
- Bleeding can be heavy and lasts an average of 9-16 days.
- One woman in 100 need a surgical scraping to stop the bleeding.
- Pregnancies sometimes fail to abort, and this risk increases as pregnancy advances.
- For pregnancies 8 weeks LMP and beyond, identifiable parts may be seen.7
- By 10 weeks LMP, the developing baby is over one inch in length with clearly recognizable arms, legs, hands, and feet.8
- Methotrexate is FDA-approved for treating certain cancers and rheumatoid arthritis, but is used off-label to treat ectopic pregnancies and to induce abortion.9, 10 Given by mouth or injection, it works by stopping cell growth, resulting in the embryo’s death.
Medical Methods for Induced Abortion11, 12 – 2nd and 3rd Trimester
This procedure induces abortion by using drugs to cause labor and delivery of the fetus and placenta. Drugs may be injected into the fetus or the amniotic fluid to stop the baby’s heart before starting the procedure to avoid a live birth. There is a risk of heavy bleeding, and the placenta may need to be surgically removed.
Surgical abortions are done by opening the cervix and passing instruments into the uterus to suction, grasp, pull, and scrape the pregnancy out. The exact procedure is determined by the baby’s level of growth.
Aspiration/Suction13, 14 – Up to 13 weeks LMP
Most early surgical abortions are performed using this method. Local anesthesia is typically offered to reduce pain. The abortion involves opening the cervix, passing a tube inside the uterus, and attaching it to suction device which pulls the embryo out.
Dilation and Evacuation15, 16 (D&E) – 13 weeks LMP and up
Most second trimester abortions are performed using this method. Local anesthesia, oral, or intravenous pain medications and sedation are commonly used. Besides the need to open the cervix much wider, the main difference between this procedure and a first trimester abortion is the use of forceps to grasp fetal parts and remove the baby in pieces. D&E is associated with a much higher risk of complications compared to a first trimester surgical abortion.
D&E After Viability17-19 – 24 weeks LMP and up
This procedure typically takes 2–3 days and is associated with increased risk to the life and health of the mother. General anesthesia is usually recommended, if available. Drugs may be injected into the fetus or the amniotic fluid to stop the baby’s heart before starting the procedure. The cervix is opened wide, the amniotic sac is broken, and forceps are used to dismember the fetus.
The “Intact D&E” pulls the fetus out legs first, then crushes the skull in order to remove the fetus in one piece.
It may seem like abortion is the solution to moving on with your life or getting back on track. No matter what you choose – to carry or to abort – your life is forever changed. This pregnancy will always be part of your story.
Abortion carries the potential for physical complications, which are significant if they happen to you. Did you know that surgical and later term abortions are also associated with an increased risk of emotional/psychological complications such as depression, anxiety, and relationship difficulties?21-26 Women are not the only ones who may be in distress after abortion: Men can suffer too.27-29
Some women who struggle with past abortions say that they wish they had been told all of the facts about abortion and its risks before they made that choice. If you or someone you know is experiencing regret from an abortion, Pregnancy Care Center offers confidential, compassionate support designed to help women and men work through these feelings. You are not alone.
Pregnancy Care Center offers accurate information about all your pregnancy options; however, we do not offer or refer for abortion services. The information presented on this website is intended for general education purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice.
Our consultations are a safe way to educate yourself about options like co-parenting, married parenting, and single parenting. Welcoming a child into the world means a lot of changes. Some are big, some are smaller; some are exciting, others are scary. You don’t have to prepare for parenting alone. Whatever option you choose, we can help you become the best parent you can be.
When there are no easy options, some women and couples ask: Could adoption be right for me and my baby? Many women or couples can find the choice of adoption difficult; however, being able to understand the adoption process often gives women and couples peace of mind.
There is plenty of time to consider whether adoption is the right parenting choice for your child . . . what kind of family you want to place your child in . . . and how much ongoing contact you want with him or her? You have the right to understand how adoption could affect you and to receive support, including counseling during and after your pregnancy. We can help you consider the facts about adoption, as you decide if it may be a fit for your situation. We are not connected with any adoption agency and never profit from your decision.
In an open adoption, the Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents share contact during the pregnancy and after the birth. There is not one level of openness that works for all adoptions so this can mean sharing photos, phone calls, texts and sometimes even visits.
Most experts and adoption professionals will agree that an open adoption is the healthiest for those involved but they also stress that the level of openness should always focus on meeting the needs of the child, not the Adoptive Parents or the Birth Parents.
In a semi-open adoption, Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents will share non-identifying information and the communication between Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents will typically be handled by their adoption agency/professional.
In a closed adoption, no information or contact is shared between the Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents.
In the past, almost all adoptions in the US were closed, but today, most adoptions will have some level of openness.
A Post Adoption Contact Agreement (PACA) is an agreement that allows for certain, specified contact between the Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents. Laws on PACAs will vary from state to state. Some states will enforce them so long as they serve the best interest of the child and other states will either prohibit or not enforce them.