Definitions

Considering Abortion? Know the facts.

First Trimester Abortion Procedures
Emergency Contraception - "The Morning After Pill"
RU486, Mifepristone
Early Vacuum Aspiration, Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA), IPAS Syringe

Second Trimester Abortion Procedures
Suction Curettage and Dilation & Curettage (D&C)
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E)

Third Trimester Abortion Procedures
Dilation and Extraction (D&X)
Prostglandandin

Effects of Abortion
Common Physical Side Effects

More Serious Physical Effects
Post-Abortion Emotional Effects
Additional Risks

First Trimester Abortion Procedures
Emergency Contraception: within 72 hours of sexual intercourse; non-surgical
Referred to as the “Morning After Pill” or “Plan B,” emergency contraception is a method of preventing pregnancy to be used after a contraceptive fails or after unprotected sex. It is not for routine use. Plan B works like a regular birth control pill to prevent pregnancy. However, this potent steroid medication does have possible serious side effects and a pregnancy test is recommended to determine if you are already pregnant. [return]

RU486, Mifepristone: within 4 to 7 weeks after the last menstrual period (LMP); non-surgical
RU486, also known as the Abortion Pill of Medical Abortion, is used to end an early pregnancy. This procedure requires up to three office visits. During the first visit, three mifepristone tablets are administered to the woman. Two days later, two misoprostol tablets are administered. The combination of these two drugs causes the uterus to expel the fetus and blood. On day 14, a return to the provider’s office will confirm the pregnancy has ended.[return]

Early Vacuum Aspiration, Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA), IPAS Syringe: within 7 weeks after LMP; surgical
This surgical abortion is performed early in the pregnancy. The cervical muscle is stretched and a flexible tube is passed through the cervix into the uterus.  A hand held syringe is attached to tubing and the fetus is suctioned out. [return]

Second Trimester Abortion Procedures
Suction Curettage and Dilation & Curettage (D&C): within 6 to 14 weeks after LMP; surgical
In this surgical 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 tube is run along the surface of the uterus causing the fetus to be dislodged and pulled out of the uterus. Dilation and Curettage (D&C) is a similar method where the doctor uses a curette, a loop-shaped knife, to scrape the fetal parts out of the uterus. Afterwards, the remaining fetal tissue is suctioned out of the uterus. [return]

Dilation and Evacuation (D&E): within 13 to 24 weeks after LMP; surgical

This surgical abortion is done during the second trimester of pregnancy and is done over the course of 2-3 days. An ultrasound is done to determine the size of the uterus and the number of weeks of the pregnancy. In this procedure, the cervix must be opened by inserting dilators or laminaria a day or two before the abortion. After opening the cervix, the dilators are removed. Metal forceps are used to break up and remove fetal parts; a curette is used to scrape the lining of the uterus; suction is used to remove any remaining fetal tissue. [return]

Third Trimester Abortion Procedure
Dilation and Extraction (D&X):
from 20 weeks to full-term; surgical
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. [return]

Prostglandandin Abortion: surgical
Prostaglandin is a hormone that is injected into the amniotic sac to induce violent labor usually resulting in the death and discharge of the fetus. In late term abortions, the doctor first injects a toxic solution into the fetus’ heart to ensure death and then administers the prostaglandin injection to discharge the fetus. [return]


Side Effects of Abortion
Common Physical Side Effects of Abortion
These include nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, bleeding, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, back pain and breast tenderness. [return]

More Serious Physical Effects
In some cases, more serious side effects and complications may be experienced with abortion: heavy or prolonged bleeding, infection, incomplete abortion, allergic reaction to drugs, damage to the cervix, scarring of the uterine lining, perforation of the uterus, and damage to internal organs. [return]

Post-Abortion Emotional Effects
Most women experience “Post Abortion Stress.” Some of the more common symptoms include feelings of guilt, anger, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, anniversary grief, abortion flashbacks, sexual dysfunction, relationship problems, eating disorders, and alcohol and drug abuse. [return]

Additional Risks
Scarring or other injury caused as a result of an abortion may prevent or place at risk future wanted pregnancies. Miscarriage is greater for women who abort their first pregnancy. Women who have had an abortion may be more prone to develop breast cancer. [return]