In any medical or life decision you make for yourself, you want to be fully informed on all options, and the possible side effects of each before you make a choice. An abortion is no different. Real empowerment comes when you find the strength to pause and find the information necessary to make the best choice for your future. No one else but you has the legal right to choose the outcome of your pregnancy. In fact, did you know that it is against the law for anyone to force you to have an abortion? Not even a husband or parent can require you to undergo an abortion, even if you are under 18 years old. Many women who struggle with past abortions wish someone would have given them more education about it. That’s why we are here, to help you get fully informed.
Common Abortion Procedures:
The Morning After Pill (MAP) : For Use Within 72 Hours of Intercourse
Also known as “Emergency Contraception,” this procedure consists of a pregnancy test and two doses of pills. First, the women must take a pregnancy test and receive a negative test result before taking the pills. If a negative test result occurs from the pregnancy test, then the woman is instructed to take the first dose of the MAP. Note: A negative test result indicates that the woman is probably not pregnant from intercourse during her previous monthly cycle, but it will not show whether or not she just became pregnant (from intercourse the “night before”). She is instructed to take this first dose as soon as possible, but no more than 72 hours after intercourse. The woman takes a second dose 12 hours after the first dose. If conception already occurred within the 72 hour time frame (that is the “night before”), the life may be expelled. This would be an early abortion.
RU486, Mifepristone: For Use Within 4 to 7 Weeks after LMP (Last Menstrual Period)
RU486 is an abortion pill that would be taken very early in a pregnancy. Every RU486 abortion involves at least two drugs, RU846 (Mifepristone) and a Prostaglandin (PG), uterus so that the baby is destroyed and cannot even begin the process of implanting to further it’s life. If the baby is able to implant, RU846 will work to destroy this baby through the tenth week of its life. If the lining of the uterus is destroyed, the child cannot receive nourishment. Basically, it works by starving the baby. After this takes place, the baby has to leave. The baby has to be evacuated (removed) from the uterus. The woman takes another chemical that, in effect, induces labor. This is followed by the “birth” of a dead fetus (most of the time this occurs in your home). It is highly likely that we will see great psychological problems with this occurrence of this type of abortion. Some countries require the patient to sign a paper committing to having a surgical procedure to end the pregnancy if the RU486 fails. As with all abortion procedures, there are risks and dangers that should be addressed before agreeing to this. It is still considered experimental, and there are several restrictions on who can or can not use it “safely”. Also, RU486 must be administered within a five to seven week window from the first day of the woman’s last normal menstrual period.
Early Vacuum Aspiration: For Use Within 7 Weeks after LMP (Last Menstrual Period)
This surgical abortion is done early in the pregnancy up until 7 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. The cervical muscle is stretched with dilators (metal rods) 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 Aspiration Procedure: For Use 6-14 weeks after Last Menstrual Period
If you are six to fourteen weeks into your pregnancy and choose to have an abortion, the doctor would probably use this procedure. You would lie on your back with your feet in stirrups and the doctor would apply a shot of anesthetic to your cervix to reduce pain. Your cervical muscle would be stretched with cone-shaped rods until the opening was wide enough to allow the abortion tools to pass into your womb. (Sometimes Laminaria is placed in the cervix and left overnight to soften the tissue and reduce the risk of injury during this stretching.) Then the doctor would guide the suction device through the cervix and into your womb. When the suction machine was turned on you would feel the strong force of the vacuum machine which is used to pull the placenta and fetus into parts small enough to pass out of your body through the suction tube. During surgery the doctor could not see the inside of your womb and would operate by touch alone, trying to detach the fetus from the wall of the womb with the powerful suction tip without touching the womb itself.
Dilation & Evacuation (D&E): For Use 13-24 weeks after LMP (Last Menstrural Period)
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.
Dilation and Extraction (D&X): For Use From 20 Weeks after LMP to Full-Term
Also known as Partial-birth Abortion, this procedure takes three days. During the first two days, the cervix is dilated and medication is given for cramping. On the third day, the woman receives medication to start labor. 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 skull contents. The skull collapses and the baby is removed.
Immediate Risks of Abortion:
Some side effects may occur with induced abortion. These include abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In most abortions, no serious complications occur. However, complications may happen in as many as 1 out of every 100 early abortions and in about 1 out of every 50 later abortions. Such complications may include:
Heavy Bleeding – Some bleeding after abortion is normal. There is, however, a risk of hemorrhage, especially if the uterine artery is torn. When this happens, a blood transfusion may be required.
Infection – Bacteria may get into the uterus from an incomplete abortion resulting in infection. A serious infection may lead to persistent fever over several days and extended hospitalization.
Incomplete Abortion – Some fetal parts may not be removed by the abortion. Bleeding and infection may occur.
Allergic Reaction to Drugs – An allergic reaction to anesthesia used during abortion surgery may result in convulsions, heart attack and, in extreme cases, death.
Tearing of the Cervix – The cervix may be cut or torn by abortion instruments.
Scarring of the Uterine Lining – Suction tubing, curettes, and other abortion instruments may cause permanent scarring of the uterine lining.
Perforation of the Uterus – The uterus may be punctured or torn by abortion instruments. The risk of this complication increases with the length of the pregnancy. If this occurs, major surgery, including a hysterectomy, may be required.
Damage to Internal Organs – When the uterus is punctured or torn, there is also a risk that damage will occur to nearby organs such as the bowel and bladder.
Death – In extreme cases, other physical complications from abortion including excessive bleeding, infection, organ damage from a perforated uterus, and adverse reactions to anesthesia may lead to death. This complication is very rare and occurs, on average, in less than 20 cases per year.
Other Risks of Abortion - Abortion and Breast Cancer Medical experts are still researching and debating the linkage between abortion and breast cancer. However, a 1994 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found: “Among women who had been pregnant at least once, the risk of breast cancer in those who had experienced an induced abortion was 50% higher than among other women.” Here are more important facts:
1. Carrying a pregnancy to full term gives protection against breast cancer that cannot be gained if abortion is chosen.
2. Abortion causes a sudden drop in estrogen levels that may make breast cells more susceptible to cancer.
3. 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.
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
• Suicidal Thoughts
• Anniversary Grief
• Flashbacks of Abortion
• Sexual Dysfunction
• Relationship Problems
• Eating Disorders
• Alcohol and Drug Abuse
• Psychological Reactions
People have different understandings of God. Whatever your present beliefs may be, there is a spiritual side to abortion that deserves to be considered. Having an abortion may affect more than just your body and your mind – it may also have an impact on your relationship with God. What is God’s desire for you in this situation? How does God see your unborn child? These are important questions to consider.
Explore Your Options
You have the legal right to choose the outcome of your pregnancy. But real empowerment comes when you find the resources and inner strength necessary to make your best choice. Here are some other options.
Choosing to continue your pregnancy and to parent is very challenging. But with the support of caring people, parenting classes, and other resources, many women find the help they need to make this choice.
You may decide to place your child for adoption. Each year over 50,000 women in America make this choice. This loving decision is often made by women who first thought abortion was their only way out.
Help Is Available!
Facing an unexpected pregnancy can seem overwhelming. That's why knowing where to go for help is important. Talk to someone you can trust - your partner, your parents, a pastor, a priest or perhaps a good friend. Here at the Hope Pregnancy Care Center, we have caring people who are ready and available right now, to help you through this difficult time.
* The Hope Pregnancy Care Center does not provide abortion services or referrals, but we do provide accurate information on abortion that we hope we can share with you to help you make an informed decision. This information is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice.