What Should I Know About Abortion?

By: Life's Choices|August 31, 2020

“Abortion is a major decision with emotional and psychological consequences. If you’re considering this procedure, make sure you understand what it entails, side effects, possible risks, complications and alternatives.”

-Mayo Clinic Overview to Medical Abortion

If you are considering abortion, you are in a position where all your options are hard ones. You may feel in a panic to end the pregnancy, but it’s important not to rush your decision. Take a deep breath. You have time to make an informed decision.

Here are some questions to ask before ending your pregnancy:

1. AM I REALLY PREGNANT?

Pregnancy tests are not always accurate. An ultrasound can confirm the pregnancy, determine the gestational age and detect a heartbeat. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in natural miscarriage. An ultrasound will confirm that the pregnancy is a viable uterine pregnancy (able to grow and result in a live birth). At Life’s Choices we offer a free ultrasound to confirm pregnancy.

2. WHAT TYPE OF ABORTION PROCEDURE WILL BE USED?

There are non-surgical and surgical methods of abortion. Knowing how long you have been pregnant will help determine which method is used.

  • Non-surgical Abortion Method: Non-surgical, or medical abortions, sometimes called “The Abortion Pill” may be performed up to 15 weeks gestation, measured from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). A medical abortion involves swallowing a pill or pills and may take several hours or several days for the embryo to be expelled. The process may be started in a doctor’s office and completed at home. You may see the embryo that is expelled. It may involve severe cramping and what seems like a large amount of blood. It’s important that you are prepared for this and know what to look for if complications occur. For more information about a medical abortion, see this description from the Mayo Clinic.
  • Surgical Abortion Method: Surgical methods in the first trimester (first 12 weeks of pregnancy) are different than in the second trimester (fourth, fifth and sixth months of pregnancy). Note that abortions in Pennsylvania are not allowed after 24 weeks LMP.  Surgical abortion involves inserting instruments into the uterus to remove the developing baby (fetus). For more detailed description of a surgical abortion see this article from the American Pregnancy Association.

3. DO I UNDERSTAND THE POTENTIAL RISKS?

Every medical procedure carries the risk of complications. Non-surgical abortions carry the risk of infection, bleeding, sepsis (blood infection) and aspiration pneumonia (breathing vomit into the lungs).

A surgical abortion in the first trimester is considered minor surgery. In a small number of cases the womb may not be completely emptied, an infection could occur or instruments may tear a hole in the womb. Similar complications may occur in a second trimester surgical abortion, however the later you are in the pregnancy, the greater the risk of complications.

(Please see the full list of potential abortion risks here)

4. WILL I FEEL PAIN?

Ask the abortion provider what pain relief options are available for the abortion procedure that is being used and what the cost will be. Local anesthesia is commonly used, however in some cases sedation or general anesthesia may be an option.

5. WHAT CAN I EXPECT TO FEEL EMOTIONALLY AFTER THE ABORTION?

Each person responds differently and may include a combination of positive and negative feelings ranging anywhere from relief to regret. Some women may feel empty or have a sense of guilt.  At Life’s Choices we have trained representatives who can give you information to make an informed decision.

6. HAVE I BEEN TESTED?

It’s important that you do not have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) before an abortion procedure. Any surgical procedure can be complicated by infection.  Having an STI at the time of your abortion could cause the infection to travel through the reproductive organs. If this occurs and is left untreated it could result in Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.

Many people do not know they have an STI because often there are no symptoms. At Life’s Choices we offer free testing and treatment for gonorrhea and chlamydia, two of the most common STIs.

We discuss more about why it’s important to get a reproductive screening before having an abortion in this blog post.

7. HAVE I CONSIDERED ALTERNATIVES TO ABORTION?

Many women who initially considered abortion ultimately found delight in having a child, even though the timing or circumstances were not ideal. The human spirit is amazingly strong and resilient, and a person can adapt well to many things in life that did not go as planned.

If parenting is not an option but you do not want to end the pregnancy, adoption is something to consider. Adoption could be the bravest, most unselfish thing you do in your life. Life’s Choices has an extensive amount of resources and referrals for support if you choose to parent your baby or if you choose to pursue adoption.

8. IS SOMEONE PRESSURING ME TO HAVE AN ABORTION?

Only you can make this decision since you are the one who will need to live with the consequences of your choice. While you may respect the opinion of your parents or the father of the baby, no one can force you to have an abortion against your will. It is illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion without your informed consent. You can find more information about your legal rights in this online booklet listed under “additional resources” below. It is an excellent resource published by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

WE’RE HERE FOR YOU

If you are considering abortion, we would love to talk with you to help you process this decision. Contact us today. A caring, non-judgmental representative will help you navigate the choices ahead of you.

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