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Abortion

You have the legal right to choose the outcome of your pregnancy regardless of age or marital status. Real empowerment comes when you find the resources & inner strength necessary to make your best, most informed decision.

Abortion is not just a simple medical procedure. For many women, it is a life changing event with significant physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. Most women who struggle with past abortions say that they wish they had been told all of the facts about abortion.

The following information will help you understand more about abortion procedures, side-effects and risks.

We have some useful information below to enable you to make the best possible INFORMED decision about you and your baby's health. 

 

Where am I in my pregnancy?

Initially, gestational age is calculated by your last menstrual period (LMP). The first day of your last menstrual period is considered Week 1 Day 1.  This means by the time you miss your period you are likely 4-5 weeks pregnant. Check out some resources under FETAL DEVELOPMENT.

ABORTION PROCEDURES

Morning After Pill (MAP): within 72 hours of sexual intercourse:

 Also known as “Plan B,” it is a drug that is intended to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.

What is it?

 It contains a high dose of a progesterone (levonorgestrel), which is found in many kinds of birth control pills.  At the dosage found in the morning-after pill, this drug may work on rare occasions to prevent an embryo from implanting in the uterus.  

How does it work?

It may prevent ovulation: the egg will not be released to meet the sperm – so fertilization, sometimes known as conception, cannot occur.  It may affect the lining of your fallopian tubes so that sperm cannot reach the egg.  This also prevents fertilization.  It may irritate the lining of your uterus.  If an egg has already been released and fertilized by the sperm, this irritation could make it harder for the embryo to implant in your uterus.  

Side Effects

You may experience several sort-term side effects when taking the morning-after pill.

 These include:

  • Nausea  
  • Vomiting
  •  Irregular and unpredictable menstrual periods
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Breast tenderness
  • Allergic reaction to medications

* Some of these symptoms can also indicate serious medical conditions such as an ectopic pregnancy. Remember to always consult your medical practitioner. 

RU486, Mifepristone: within 4 to 7 weeks after last menstrual period:

 Also known as the Abortion Pill (COMPLETELY different from the morning after pill), this medical abortion is used for women who are within 28 to 49 days after their last menstrual period. This procedure usually requires three office visits.

What is it?

Three RU 486 or mifepristone pills are given to the woman on the first visit, who returns two days later for a second medication called misoprostol (also called Cytotec). Though the FDA recommends that you take two tablets by mouth, many abortion providers insert it in your vagina.  You may also be given some antibiotics. 

How does it work?

The combination of these medications causes the uterus to expel the fetus.   Two weeks later, a third visit to the doctor should confirm that the abortion is complete.  However, 1 to 4 percent of women will still need a surgical abortion to terminate the pregnancy.  This could mean a fourth and maybe fifth visit.

side effects

  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting for an average of 9 to 16 days.  
  • Up to 8 percent of all women may experience some bleeding for 30 days or more.  
  • Hemorrhage (heavy bleeding)
  • Serious infection
  • Allergic reaction to medications
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Death

Early Vacuum Aspiration: within 7 weeks after last menstrual period:

 This surgical abortion is done early in the pregnancy up until 7 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period.

What is it?

The cervical muscle is stretched with dilators (metal rods) or by taking Cytotec (a synthetic prostaglandin) until the opening is wide enough to allow the abortion instruments to pass into the uterus. A hand held syringe is attached to tubing that is inserted into the uterus and the fetus is suctioned out.

Suction Curettage: within 6 to 14 weeks after last menstrual period:

This surgical abortion is done in the pregnancy between 6 and 14 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period.

What is it?

In this procedure, the doctor opens the cervix with a dilator (a metal rod) or laminaria (thin sticks derived from plants and inserted several hours before the procedure) or by taking Cytotec. The doctor inserts tubing into the uterus and connects the tubing to a suction machine. The suction pulls the fetus’ body apart and out of the uterus. One variation of this procedure is called Dilation and Curettage (D&C). In this method, the doctor may use a curette, a loop-shaped knife, to scrape the fetal parts out of the uterus. The procedure normally takes between 15-30 minutes. The fetal remains are usually examined to ensure everything was removed and that the abortion is complete.

 

side effects

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding & Cramping up to 2 weeks
  • Damage to uterine lining or cervix
  • Perforation of the uterus
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Allergic reaction to medications
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Death

Dilation and Evacuation (D&E): within 13 to 24 weeks after last menstrual period:

This surgical abortion is done in the pregnancy between 13 and 24 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period.

What is it? 

This surgical abortion is done during the second trimester of pregnancy. Because the developing fetus doubles in size between the thirteenth and fourteenth weeks of pregnancy, the body of the fetus is too large to be broken up by suction and will not pass through the suction tubing. In this procedure, the cervix must be opened wider than in a first trimester abortion. This is done by inserting laminaria a day or two before the abortion. After opening the cervix, the doctor pulls out the fetal parts with forceps. The fetus’ skull is crushed to ease removal.

SIDE EFFECTS

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding & cramping up to 2 weeks
  • Damage to uterine lining or cervix
  • Perforation of the uterus
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Allergic reaction to medications
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Death

Dilation and Extraction (D&X): from 20 weeks after last menstrual period to full-term:

This surgical abortion is done in the pregnancy between 20 and 40 weeks (full term) after the woman’s last menstrual period.

What is it?

 Also known as Partial-birth Abortion, this procedure takes three days. During the first two days, the cervix is dilated and medication is given to promote cramping. On the third day, the woman receives medication to start labor and your water should break. After labor begins, the abortion doctor uses ultrasound to locate the baby’s legs. Grasping a leg with forceps, the doctor delivers the baby up to the baby’s head. Next, scissors are inserted into the base of the skull to create an opening. A suction catheter is placed into the opening to remove the skulls contents. The skull collapses and the baby is removed.

SIDE EFFECTS

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding & cramping up to 2 weeks
  • Damage to uterine lining or cervix
  • Perforation of the uterus
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Allergic reaction to medications
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Death

 

OTHER RISKS TO ABORTION

Abortion and Breast Cancer

It was recently published (2013) in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Causes and Control,  that a scientific study “found a 44 percent increased breast cancer risk after an abortion. It also found that the risk grew significantly with subsequent abortions – a 76 percent increase after two abortions, 89 percent after three.”

Here are some important facts:

  • Carrying a pregnancy to full term gives protection against breast cancer that cannot be gained if abortion is chosen.

  • Abortion causes a sudden drop in estrogen levels that may make breast cells more susceptible to cancer.

  • Most studies conducted so far show a significant linkage between abortion and breast cancer.

 

Effect on Future Pregnancy

Scarring or other injury during an abortion may prevent, or place at risk, future wanted pregnancies. The risk of miscarriage is greater for women who abort their first pregnancy.

Emotional Impact

Some women experience strong negative emotions after abortion. Sometimes this occurs within days and sometimes it happens after many years. This psychological response is known as Post-Abortion Stress (PAS). Several factors that impact the likelihood of Post-Abortion Stress include: the woman’s age, the abortion circumstances, the stage of pregnancy at which the abortion occurs, and the woman’s religious beliefs.

Post-Abortion Stress Symptoms:

  • Guilt

  • Anger/Rage

  • Anxiety

  • Emotional Pain

  • Depression

  • Suicidal Thoughts

  • Anniversary Grief

  • Flashbacks of Abortion

  • Sexual Dysfunction

  • Relationship Problems

  • Eating Disorders

  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse

  • Psychological Reactions

*If you suffer from any of these Post Abortion Stress Symptoms please consider our Abortion Recovery Program.