Abortion Procedures and Risks
Listed below is a brief summary of the most common abortion procedures.
Aspiration: 4 to 13 weeks LMP (from the first day of your last menstrual period)
In very early pregnancies (4-7 weeks), a tube is inserted through the cervix into the uterus and the embryo is suctioned out. Toward the end of the first trimester, the cervix needs to be opened wider to complete the procedure since the fetus is larger. The cervix is widened with medications placed in the vagina or a thin rod made of seaweed to soften and open the cervix over night. The day of the procedure, the doctor may further open the cervix with metal rods of increasing size. A tube is then inserted through the cervix into the uterus. Suction created by an aspirating machine or a hand-held mechanism is used to remove the fetus. The suction pulls the fetus' body apart and out of the uterus. The uterus is then scraped with an instrument called a curette to make sure the fetus and fetal parts are all removed from the uterus.
D & E (Dilate and Evacuate): 13 to 26* weeks LMP
The cervix is numbed with injections and then dilators, called laminaria, are inserted into the cervix. Overnight the laminaria expands opening the entrance to the uterus. The next day, the cervix is again numbed, the dilators are removed and the doctor uses special instruments to remove the baby from the uterus. The final step is suction using the aspirating machine. In more advanced pregnancies, additional dilators are inserted on the second day and the baby is removed on the third day.
Abortion Pill (Medication): Up to 49 days LMP (from the first day of your last menstrual period)
Before taking RU-486, you have a right to know what it is, what it could mean to your health, and how it works.
- What is it?
RU-486, also known as "the abortion pill," is actually a combination of two drugs-- mifepristone and misoprostol--that cause early abortion. It should not be used if it has been more than seven weeks since your last period. It is NOT the same as the "Morning After Pill" or "Plan B."
- How does it work?
The first pill, mifepristone, is taken orally and blocks the hormone progesterone needed to maintain the pregnancy. The second pill, misoprostol, is inserted into the vagina 24 to 72 hours later, causing the uterus to contract and expel the placenta and embryo.
- Things to Consider
An RU-486 abortion requires three visits to a health care provider.
Most medical abortions using mifepristone are completed within two weeks, but some can take up to three or even four weeks.
Common Side Effects
Most women experience some of the following after an abortion:
- Bleeding – on average, bleeding lasts 14 days but can last as long as 21 days.
These symptoms typically resolve within a week, sometimes longer.
- Damage to the womb or cervix
- Excessive bleeding
- Incomplete abortion, requiring an additional surgical abortion procedure
- Infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes
- Scarring of the inside of the uterus
- Sepsis or Septic shock
- Uterine perforation
Risks of Abortion:
- Heavy Bleeding
- Injury to the uterus
- Injury to the cervix
- Damage to organs
- Future preterm birth
- Clinical depression
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Suicide or suicidal thoughts
- Difficulty bonding with partner or child
- Eating disorders
- Guilt, grief, anger, anxiety
**We provide pre- and post- abortion counseling and are committed to offering accurate information about abortion procedures.