Types of Abortion

Tap a topic to learn more.

I want to learn about abortion pills.

Medical abortion uses medication to end a pregnancy during the first trimester. The procedure typically takes a few days and starts with a visit to a participating doctor’s office or clinic.

 

“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 the last menstrual period (LMP). On the first office visit, the first pill (mifepristone) is swallowed, which eventually causes the death of the baby over the next few days. One to two days later, misoprostol tablets are taken which cause cramping that expels the embryo.3

 

While you will not be given anesthesia, you may be given medications to manage pain during and after the medical abortion.4  You may also be given antibiotics to help prevent an infection.5

 

After a medical abortion, it is very important that you follow up with the provider to make sure you are healing and to check for complications.  The abortion provider will decide if the follow-up should include a phone call, a blood test, an office visit, and/or an ultrasound.6

 

If the doctor thinks that the abortion failed, or was not complete, you will need to decide if you will take more pills to induce abortion, undergo a surgical abortion, or continue your pregnancy.7

 

After the abortion, you may experience a range of emotions, including relief, sadness, guilt, or all three.8  However, information is lacking about the long-term psychological impact of medical abortion on women.

What are your questions about abortion? 

 

Call our abortion information hotline to talk to someone.  We have information about surgical abortions, the abortion pill, how much abortion typically costs, and potential side effects of abortion.  

877-791-5475

I want to learn about surgical abortion.

Surgical abortions are done by opening the cervix and passing instruments into the uterus to suction, grasp, pull, and scrape the developing baby and placenta out.9  The exact procedure is determined by the size of the baby.

 

The aspiration/suction abortion method is performed up to 14 weeks after the last menstrual period (LMP).  Most first trimester 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’s body apart and out.10

 

The dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion method is performed at about 15 weeks LMP and up.  Most second trimester abortions are performed using this method.  Local anesthesia, pain medications (orally or through IV), and sedation are commonly used.  Besides the need to open the cervix much wider, the main difference between this procedure and a first trimester aspiration/suction 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 aspiration/suction abortion.11

 

The D&E after viability abortion method is performed at 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 are usually injected into the fetus or the amniotic fluid to stop the baby’s heart before starting the procedure.12  The cervix is opened wide, the amniotic sac is broken, and forceps are used to dismember the fetus.  An alternative procedure, called “Intact D&E” attempts to remove the fetus in one piece, reducing the risk of leaving parts behind or causing damage to the woman’s body.  This doctor pulls the fetus’ out legs first, delivering most of the baby’s body through the cervix, followed by crushing the fetus’ skull, since it is difficult to open the cervix wide enough to bring the head out intact.13,14

What are your questions about abortion? 

 

Call our abortion information hotline to talk to someone.  We have information about surgical abortions, the abortion pill, how much abortion typically costs, and potential side effects of abortion.  

877-791-5475

I’m not sure what to do next.

Having an abortion is a serious decision with the potential for significant physical and psychological consequences.15,16,17,18  You owe it to yourself to get answers to your questions, weigh the alternatives, and consider how the procedure may impact your future.

 

Before the procedure, talk with your partner, trusted family, or friends about the decision.  Get all the facts from a medical professional.  Some people seek the support of a spiritual advisor or professional counselor.

 

Consider calling us.  We specialize in supporting women and men who are making a difficult pregnancy decision and are here to answer your questions about abortion.  Feel free to call if you simply want to talk to someone about your situation.

Deciding whether or not to have an abortion is complex.  Your situation is unique, and we are ready to listen.  Call our confidential hotline to ask your questions about abortion.

Our promise to you:

 

  • Our help is available at no cost.
  • We will keep all information confidential.
  • You can remain anonymous.
877-791-5475


The woman I spoke to listened to me. You could tell in her voice she truly cared about what I was going through and didn’t push me to make a decision.

References
  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018, March 6). Abortion | Medical Abortion | MedlinePlus. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from https://medlineplus.gov/abortion.html
  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2016, March 30). Mifeprex (mifepristone) Information. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm111323.htm.
  3. Ibid
  4. American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists. (2016). Medical Management of First-Trimester Abortion – ACOG. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Practice-Bulletins/Committee-on-Practice-Bulletins-Gynecology/Medical-Management-of-First-Trimester-Abortion
  5. Ibid
  6. U,S. Food & Drug Administration. (2016, March). Mifeprex Full Prescribing Information: Post-treatment assessment: Day 7 to 14. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/020687s020lbl.pdf
  7. Food & Drug Administration. (2016, March). Mifeprex Full Prescribing Information. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/020687s020lbl.pdf
  8. Mayo Clinic, “Medical Abortion”: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/medical-abortion/about/pac-20394687?p=1 (Accessed October 5, 2018
  9. Paul, M., Lichtenberg, S., Borgatta, L., Grimes, D., Stubblefield, P., Creinin, M. (2009). Management of unintended and abnormal pregnancy comprehensive abortion care: Chapter 10 first-trimester aspiration abortion. (1st ed., pp. 135–56). West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
  10. Ibid
  11. Paul, M., Lichtenberg, E. S., Borgatta, L., Grimes, D. A., Stubblefield, P. G., & Creinin, M. D. (2009). Dilation and Evacuation. In Management of unintended and abnormal pregnancy: Comprehensive abortion care (pp. 157-74). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
  12. Pasquini, L., et al. Intracardiac injection of potassium chloride as method for feticide: Experience from a single U.K. tertiary centre. Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 2008;115(4):528–31.
  13. Ibid
  14. American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (2013). Practice Bulletin: Second-Trimester Abortion (135).
  15. Thorp, J.M., Hartmann, K.E., Shadigian, E. Long-term physical and psychological health consequences of induced abortion: Review of the evidence. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2003;58(1):67–79.
  16. Mayo Clinic. (2017, July 19). Abortion: Does it affect subsequent pregnancies? Retrieved November 7, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/expert-answers/abortion/faq-20058551
  17. Coleman, P.K. (2011). Abortion and mental health: Quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995–2009. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 199, 180–86. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.077230.
  18. Swingle, H. M., Colaizy, T. T., Zimmerman, M. B., Morriss, F. H. (2009). Abortion and the risk of subsequent preterm birth: A systematic review with meta-analyses. The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 54(2), 95–108.

NOTE: We offer accurate information about all your pregnancy options; however, we do not offer or refer for abortion services or emergency contraception. 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.