There are several things you need to know about your pregnancy before you can choose abortion. First, you need to begin with a confidential pregnancy test. After a positive pregnancy test, you should schedule a confidential ultrasound to get all of the information you need to decide. At the Pregnancy Resource Center, we offer both at no cost to you.
There are two main types of abortion, medical and surgical. Which method you qualify for will be determined by how far along you are in your pregnancy. Abortion is a serious medical procedure. Make sure you have all the information you need before choosing abortion.
This type of abortion is also known as RU-486, the abortion pill, medication abortion, or chemical abortion. Although the names are different, the medication is the same. The abortion pill is not the same as emergency contraception (i.e., Morning After Pill, Plan B, ella). Medical abortion is a procedure that uses particular medications to end a known pregnancy.
Before a medical abortion, it is essential to to discuss your medical history with your healthcare provider and have an ultrasound to determine the location and age of your pregnancy. Medical abortion is not a safe option for those who are too far along in their pregnancy, have a pregnancy outside the uterus (ectopic pregnancy), who have an IUD, or who have certain health conditions, including bleeding disorders and adrenal insufficiency.
The abortion pill method is a three-step process. First, you will take mifepristone, a drug that blocks the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone, the lining of the uterus will thin causing the detachment and death of the embryo or fetus and end your pregnancy. This process usually takes 2-3 days.
Note: Some women change their minds and decide they do not want to continue the medication abortion at this point. If you have taken mifepristone but have changed your mind, it may be possible to stop the abortion process, but you need to act now. Contact the national help hotline at (855) 209-4848, available 24/7. You will be connected with caring medical professionals who can guide you towards reversing the effects of mifepristone.
Next, you take misoprostol. This drug causes cramping to expel the fetus from your body. Women may experience nausea, weakness, fever/chills, vomiting, headaches and dizziness, diarrhea, and severe bleeding.
Finally, it is important to follow up with your doctor to ensure all the contents of your uterus have been expelled. If not, you may be required to have a surgical abortion.
Medical Abortion Risks
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Medical abortion is not a safe option for those who:
- Are too far along in the pregnancy.
- Have a pregnancy outside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy).
- Have a blood clotting disorder or significant anemia.
- Have chronic adrenal failure.
- Use long-term corticosteroids.
- Have an intrauterine device (IUD).
- Have an allergy to the medications used.
- Do not have access to emergency care.
- Can’t return for a follow-up visit.
Even if you do not have any of the above conditions, there are risks you should be aware of when taking the abortion pill. The most common side effects of the abortion pill are vaginal bleeding and cramping, which can sometimes be severe. Other common side effects include nausea/vomiting, fever/chills, diarrhea, and headache. Risks include infection, bleeding severe enough to require hospitalization, allergic reaction and an incomplete abortion.
There are a few different types of surgical procedures, depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy. Once again, an ultrasound is necessary to determine the age and location of your pregnancy.
Different Surgical Procedures
This method is usually performed within the first trimester of pregnancy (twelve to thirteen weeks). The abortion provider begins using anesthesia to numb the cervix. Afterward, the cervix needs to be opened based on the size of the fetus. The cervix is dilated by inserting thicker and thicker dilation rods or using laminaria, a type of seaweed. When the cervix is opened wide enough, the abortion provider suctions out the contents of the uterus. To ensure the procedure is complete and nothing is left in the uterus, some providers use a sharp curettage followed by final suctioning.
Dilation & Evacuation (D & E)
This method is performed in the second trimester (roughly thirteen to twenty weeks). Because the pregnancy is further along, the cervix will need to be opened wider. Once again, the abortion provider will use a series of dilation rods that may take several hours or overnight to dilate the cervix to the proper size opening. With a D & E, both suction and forceps are used to pull the fetus apart and out. After the fetus and the contents in the uterus have been evacuated, the abortion provider will check to make sure nothing internally has been punctured, and the fetus and pregnancy matter has been completely removed.
You Are Not Alone
It is important to us that you do not feel alone making a decision about your unplanned pregnancy. As with any medical procedure, it’s essential to understand what abortion entails, side effects, possible risks, and complications. We also want you to be aware of options other than abortion. If you would like to talk with someone about your situation, call us. We can provide confidential information and advice to help you.