Considering Abortion

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Learn About Abortion Procedures and Abortion Risks Abortion is not just a simple medical procedure. For many women, it is a life changing event with significant physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. Most women who struggle with past abortions say that they wish they had been told all of the facts about abortion and its risks.

Abortion Procedures:

Morning After Pill (MAP): within 72 hours of sexual intercourse Also known as “Emergency Contraception,” this procedure consists of a pregnancy test and two doses of pills. The woman first 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 Morning After Pill. Note: a negative 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 not 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 is expelled. This is an early abortion.

RU486, Mifepristone: within 4 to 7 weeks after LMP Also known as the Abortion Pill, this medical abortion is used for women who are within 28 to 49 days after their last menstrual period. This procedure usually requires three office visits. The RU 486 or mifepristone pills are given to the woman who returns two days later for a second medication called misoprostol. The combination of these medications causes the uterus to expel the fetus.

Early Vacuum Aspiration: within 7 weeks after LMP 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 Curettage: within 6 to 14 weeks after LMP In this procedure, the doctor opens the cervix with a dilator (a metal rod) or laminaria (thin sticks derived from plants and inserted several hours before the procedure). The doctor inserts tubing into the uterus and connects the tubing to a suction machine. The suction pulls the fetus’ body apart and out of the uterus. One variation of this procedure is called Dilation and Curettage (D&C). In this method, the doctor may use a curette, a loop-shaped knife, to scrape the fetal parts out of the uterus.

Dilation and Evacuation (D&E):within 13 to 24 weeks after LMP 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): 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
Induced abortion carries a risk of several side effects. These risks include abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In most abortions, no serious complications occur. However, the risk of complications is about 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. However, there is a risk of hemorrhage, especially if the uterine artery is torn. When this happens, a blood transfusion may be required.

Infection – There is a risk that 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 – There is a risk that some fetal parts may not be removed by the abortion. Bleeding and infection may occur. RU486 may fail in up to 1 out of every 20 cases.

Allergic Reaction to Drugs – There is a risk of an allergic reaction to the anesthesia used during abortion surgery. These risks include convulsions, heart attack and, in extreme cases, death.

Tearing of the Cervix – There is a risk that the cervix may be cut or torn by abortion instruments.

Scarring of the Uterine Lining –There is a risk that suction tubing, curettes, and other abortion instruments may cause permanent scarring of the uterine lining.

Perforation of the Uterus – There is a risk that 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, there is a risk of 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 may increase the risk of 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 other important facts: Carrying a pregnancy to full term gives protection against breast cancer that does not occur if the pregnancy is aborted. Abortion causes a sudden drop in estrogen levels that may make breast cells more susceptible to cancer. Most studies conducted so far show a significant link between abortion and breast cancer.

Abortion May Effect Risk Levels in Future Pregnancies 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.

Abortion May Increase the Risk of Emotional Problems
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 increase the risk 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
Guilt, Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal Thoughts, Anniversary Grief Flashbacks of Abortion, Sexual Dysfunction, Relationship Problems, Eating Disorders, Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Psychological Reactions

Spiritual Consequences
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 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.

Know 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 is 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. Also, the caring people at

Abortion Facts:
How many abortions are performed in America?
One out of every 4 babies conceived in the United States is aborted. In more than 14 metropolitan areas, abortions outnumber live births. More than 30 million abortions have occurred since 1973, and each year over 1.2 million abortions are done in America.

Why are abortions performed? Women choose abortion for many reasons, but the most common reason they report are relational problems with the father of the child, worry about the responsibility, fear of financial liability, concern about lifestyle changes, and fear of others discovering sexual activity.

Who is having abortions? Statistically, women who have abortions are older than the average American thinks, and 21 percent of the women who have abortions are married. Almost half of those women who have abortions are over age 25. Often, the mother has already had one or more children.

At what stage of fetal development are abortions legal? Under the Supreme Court’s decisions in Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, abortions may be performed for any reason (socioeconomic, failure of birth control, personal choice ) prior to viability (about 24 weeks of pregnancy) and for any reason relating to the mother’s physical or psychological health thereafter. In post viability abortions, the term “health” has been defined very broadly by the Court to include any matter that might affect a woman’s “sense of well-being.” In effect, therefore, abortion is legal for any “health” reason throughout pregnancy.

How often do abortion complications and deaths occur? Getting accurate statistics on abortion morbidity (complications) and mortality (death) rates is difficult. The rate of major complications resulting from abortion is usually reported at around 2%, but the rates are generally accepted as underreported. The risk of complications rises as a pregnancy progresses. The CDC reports that between 1979 and 1986 almost 5% of maternal deaths were due to abortion (including spontaneous abortions), for a total number of 124. The leading causes of death from abortion during this period were hemorrhage from uterine bleeding, generalized infection, and blood clots in the lungs. However, many abortion-related deaths are not listed as such, but as a complication of childbirth or a factor caused by the abortion without mentioning the abortion.

Does abortion cause breast cancer?On November 2, 1994, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study reporting on the relationship between abortion and breast cancer. The following are the most relevant results, and are directly quoted from the study. 1) 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. 2) Highest risks were observed when the abortion was done at ages younger than 18 years – particularly if it took place after 8 weeks of gestation – or at 30 years of age or older. 3) The data supports the hypothesis that an induced abortion can adversely influence a woman’s subsequent risk of breast cancer. However, the results across all studies of this premise are inconsistent – both overall and within specific subgroups. Many researchers say this study is limited and does not imply a relationship between abortion and breast cancer. Others assert that this study does show a connection. Those on both sides of the issue agree that more evaluation and research is needed to clarify the risk between abortion and breast cancer.

What are the psychological risks of abortion? Over the years many studies have shown some degree of post-abortion trauma or negative effects. Some studies have demonstrated that these effects extend even to men involved in abortions as well as siblings of the aborted fetus. Not enough research has been done to determine the number of people who will have negative psychological effects from abortion.

This information was provided courtesy of Care Net.

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NOTE: The information on this website is intended for general education purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice. Our services are not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling, medical or pre-natal care. All information shared by you during your relationship as a client with the Center and its representatives will be kept in the strictest confidence except as required by law or as required for the protection of yourself or others. This Center does not perform or refer for abortion.