You Have Options if You Decide to Have an Abortion
Women seeking an abortion have two methods to choose from: having an in-clinic surgical procedure or taking medication at home. While both are safe, you have a number of considerations, including risk factors and availability, when deciding which method you prefer.
Performed by a doctor or nurse, surgical abortions (or vacuum aspiration) remove the fetus from the wall of the uterus. They are commonly utilized up to 14 to 16 weeks into a pregnancy. For pregnancies further along, a dilation and evacuation (D&E) is performed.
In-clinic abortions are 99 percent effective and take only five to 10 minutes. You may experience cramping, bleeding and spotting during the following 24 hours, but most women are back to normal activities by the next day. When and where you can schedule the procedure depends on your state regulations and your access to providing health clinics.
The abortion pill
Medical abortion, or the abortion pill, can be utilized up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy. Dispensed from a health clinic, mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, and misoprostol produces cramping and bleeding that cause the uterus to empty, typically within four or five hours, in a process similar to a natural miscarriage. Fatigue and cramping are common for a day, while spotting and bleeding could last longer.
Depending on the progression of the pregnancy, medical abortion, aka medication abortion, reportedly works 87 to 98 percent of the time. In case of failure, additional medication can be administered, or the termination can be completed at a clinic. Though medical abortion is legal in all 50 states, 32 of those states require a prescription by a physician, and 19 of them require the patient be seen by the physician in person, thus prohibiting telehealth.
Rare risks for the in-clinic procedure and the pill are similar: failure to terminate (more common with the abortion pill), tissue left in the uterus, uterine blood clots, heavy bleeding and infection. Though rare, an in-clinic abortion can cause injury to the cervix.
Talk with your doctor. Some women prefer an in-clinic procedure because it is slightly more effective and provides peace of mind knowing a professional is present to confirm success. Some women opt for the pill to have their abortion in the comfort of their own home.
Both methods are considered safe and should not impact future pregnancies.
Where to start
When you’re ready to move forward, you’ll want to locate a facility to schedule an in-clinic procedure or get prescribed medication. States have different laws determining legal timelines. Abortion centers, a doctor’s office and your local Planned Parenthood office may all be options. To locate clinics near you, check out INeedAnA.com, the National Abortion Federation or Abortion Clinics Online Directory. For information about accessing medication abortion online, visit Plan C, carafem, TelAbortion or Aid Access.
Cost will depend on the method, whether you qualify for assistance or are covered by insurance, where you live and the facility you use. The National Abortion Federation may provide assistance, and the National Network of Abortion Funds can help you locate funds in your state. On average, medication abortion in the United States costs $535, but it ranges from $75 to $1,633. Suction abortion on average is $503 and ranges from $435 to $955, while D&E ranges from $500 to more than $3,000.
Preparing for the day
There’s not much you need to do to prepare for an abortion, but you should take care of yourself. Eat well, stay hydrated and get a good amount of sleep. Reduce stress and try not to worry. If you’re nervous, the aforementioned sources can provide tips and FAQs. Have pads for bleeding/spotting afterward (particularly for a medication abortion) and make sure your refrigerator isn’t empty.
Some clinics allow you to wear headphones as a distraction during surgery; if you’re having a medication abortion at home, line up some light reading or silly movies.
Unfortunately, if you’re going into a clinic, you should prepare mentally for the possibility of protesters. Do not be intimidated or made to feel ashamed. Remember that abortions are legal, safe, low-risk medical procedures.
Most women find it helpful to ask a partner, trusted friend, sibling or parent to accompany them. Even if you choose to go alone, having someone to support you afterward is a good idea. Whether or not you include the father is a complicated issue, but in the end, it’s your body.
Recovery from both methods is quick. You may be prescribed medication for pain management. Don’t neglect your mental health during this time. Use a support network, even if it is online. Check out OptionLine, AfterAbortion.org, Shout Your Abortion and PregnancyOptions.info.
Schedule some extra self-love after: yoga, meditation, a warm bath...whatever comforts and makes you feel good. If you’re struggling with negative feelings, reach out to family, friends or a mental health provider. Nearly 1 in 4 women makes the decision to have an abortion. You’re not alone.
Abortion is a medical procedure that is currently illegal or restricted in some portions of the United States. For more information about the legality of abortion in your area, please consult a local healthcare provider.