The type of abortion often depends on how far along you are (gestational age), patient preference, cost, and availability. If you are considering an abortion, your first steps can include:
- Confirming your pregnancy
- Verifying how far along you are
- Talking to a nurse about your health history and your options
- Learning about the risks and side-effects of the abortion pill and abortion procedures
Take the first step and make an appointment today to confirm your pregnancy.
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The following is an explanation of the different abortion procedures and their requirements by trimester. (Note: We do not perform or refer for abortions.)
First Trimester Abortions
RU486, Mifepristone (The Abortion Pill): Within 70 days after last menstrual period (LMP)
This method uses a pill to end the life of the embryo. If the abortion has not occurred within two days, the mother is given a second drug to induce cramps and expulsion of the fetus. The mother will then have a final doctor’s visit to verify the procedure’s completion. The abortion pill will not end an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy where the embryo implants outside of the uterus). An undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening to the mother. For this reason, you should always have an ultrasound done before choosing RU486.
Manual Vacuum Aspiration: up to 7 weeks after LMP
This procedure begins by inserting a long, thin tube into the uterus. The embryo is then suctioned out with a large syringe attached to the end of the tube.
Suction Curettage: between 6 to 14 weeks after LMP
The doctor will first widen the cervix with metal rods to make room for the larger fetus. Local or general anesthesia is typically administered to combat pain for the mother. (No pain medication is given to the fetus.)
A tube attached to a suction machine is then inserted into the uterus and used to dismember and extract the fetus piece by piece. Finally, a loop-shaped knife is utilized to sweep the uterus of all fetal remains.
Second Trimester Abortions
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E): between 13 to 24 weeks after LMP
The fetus is now too large to be broken up by suction alone and must be removed with forceps and other instruments. The provider will first dilate the cervix by inserting laminaria sticks (thin rods made of sterilized seaweed) a few days before the procedure. When the cervix is ready, the fetus’ skull will be crushed and its body will be dismembered and removed through forceps, suction, and a sharp tool known as a curette. Following the procedure, the patient may be given medication to contract the uterus and reduce bleeding.
Second and Third Trimester Abortions
Dilation and Extraction (D&X) (partial-birth abortion): from 20 weeks after LMP to full-term
D&X and D&E abortions share the same steps leading up to and after the procedure. In a D&X procedure, the abortionist will grasp the fetus’ legs using forceps and deliver it up to the head. Next, an opening is created in the base of the skull using scissors, and the brain is removed with a suction catheter. The skull will then collapse and the fetus is removed.
Second and third-trimester abortion procedures carry different risks. You owe it to yourself to learn more about how each option can impact you, your health, and your future.
If you are pregnant and considering abortion, you owe it to yourself to get answers and learn your options before you decide. An empowered decision is an informed decision.
We provide free pregnancy services, including medical-grade testing, limited obstetric ultrasounds, consultations, and evidence-based information on abortion and pregnancy options. We do not perform or refer for abortion.
Make an appointment today