Abortion Education

It is good you are taking the time to do some research before you make your final decision because there are risks, just as there are with any other medical procedure, and you are wise to weigh them.

Are you pregnant?

This is always the first question to ask. It’s important to get verification of pregnancy from a reliable independent source like a pregnancy test or ultrasound.

Our center is here to help you confirm your pregnancy on a more personal basis, one-on-one, and to look at your particular situation and health factors.

Just for starters, here are some facts about the basic procedures you might be considering:

Methods of Abortion*

Methods used before fourteen weeks gestation from last menstrual period are:

Early Non-Surgical Abortion:

  • A drug is given that stops the hormones needed for the baby to grow. This causes the placenta or attachment of the baby to the womb to separate, ending the pregnancy.
  • A second drug is given by mouth or placed in the vagina causing the womb to contract and expel the baby and placenta.
  • A return visit to the doctor is required for follow-up to make sure the abortion is complete.

Possible Complications:

  • Incomplete abortion
  • Allergic reaction to the medications
  • Painful cramping
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Infection
  • Heavy bleeding

Vacuum Aspiration Abortion:

  • A local anesthetic is applied or injected into or near the cervix (the opening to the womb) to prevent discomfort or pain.
  • Conscious sedation and/or general anesthesia are also commonly used.
  • The opening of the cervix is gradually stretched with a series of dilators. The thickest dilator is about the width of a fountain pen.
  • A tube is inserted into the womb and is attached to a suction system to remove the baby, placenta, and membranes from the womb.

Possible Complications:

  • Incomplete abortion
  • Pelvic infection
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Torn cervix
  • Perforated uterus

Dilation and Curettage Abortion:

  • A local anesthetic is applied or injected into or near the cervix (the opening to the womb) to prevent discomfort or pain.
  • Conscious sedation and/or general anesthesia are also commonly used.
  • The opening of the cervix is gradually stretched with a series of dilators. The thickest dilator is about the width of a fountain pen.
  • A spoon-like instrument (curette) is used to scrape the walls of the uterus to remove the baby, placenta, and membranes.
  • A follow-up appointment should be made with the doctor.

Possible Complications:

  • Incomplete abortion
  • Pelvic infection
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Torn cervix
  • Weakened cervix
  • Perforated uterus

Methods used at fourteen weeks gestation and after:

Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) Abortion:

  • Sponge-like pieces of absorbent material are placed into the cervix. This material becomes moist and slowly opens the cervix. It remains in place for several hours or overnight. A second or third application of the sponge material may be necessary.
  • Following dilation of the cervix, medications may be given to ease pain and prevent infection.
  • After a local or general anesthesia has been administered, the baby, placenta, and membranes are removed from the uterus with medical instruments such as forceps and suction curettage. Occasionally for removal, it may be necessary to dismember the baby.

Possible Complications:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Cut or torn cervix
  • Perforation of the wall of the uterus
  • Pelvic infection
  • Incomplete abortion
  • Anesthesia-related complications
  • Weakened cervix

The Medical Risks of Abortion

The risk of complications for the woman increases with each week of pregnancy.  Below are descriptions of possible complications.

Pelvic Infection (Sepsis):  Bacteria (germs) from the vagina may enter the cervix and womb and cause an infection.  Antibiotics are used to treat an infection.  In rare cases, a repeat suction, hospitalization or surgery may be needed.

Incomplete Abortion:  Fetal parts or parts of the placenta may not be completely emptied from the womb, requiring further medical procedures.  Incomplete abortion may result in infection and bleeding.

Cut or Torn Cervix:  The opening of the womb (cervix) may be torn while it is being stretched open to allow medical instruments to pass through and into the uterus.

Bleeding:  Some amount of bleeding is common following an abortion. Heavy bleeding is not common and may be treated by repeat suction, medication or rarely, surgery.  Ask the doctor to explain heavy bleeding and what to do if it occurs.

Perforation of the Wall of the Womb:  A medical instrument may go through the wall of the uterus.  Depending on the severity, perforation can lead to infection, heavy bleeding or both.
Surgery may be required to repair the uterine tissue, and in the most severe cases a hysterectomy may be required.

Anesthesia-Related Complications:  As with other surgical procedures, anesthesia increases the risk of complication.

The Emotional Side of Abortion

Each woman having an abortion may experience different emotions before and after the procedure.  Women often have both positive and negative feelings after having an abortion.  Some women say that these feelings go away quickly, while others say they last for a very long time.  These feelings may include emptiness and guilt as well as sadness.  A woman may question whether she made the right decision.  Some women may feel relief about their decision and that the procedure is over.  Other women may feel anger at having to make the choice.

Counseling or support before and after an abortion is very important.  Family help and support is very important, but the woman may need additional help if the feelings that appear after an abortion become more intense.  Talking with a professional counselor before having an abortion can help a woman better understand her decision and the feelings she may experience after the procedure.  If counseling is available to the woman, these feelings may be easier to handle.

Remember, it is a woman’s right to be fully informed by her doctor prior to any procedure.  A woman should be encouraged to ask questions.

Most people are surprised to learn these things and begin to feel a little like they are being cornered into a hard place and the decisions are not as easy as they had hoped. That is why we are here for you! You can explore all your options with a non-judgmental, caring person after having a professional grade pregnancy test to confirm your pregnancy. Our staff is trained to help you to discover the resources, support and information that are important to you.

 

*Georgia Department of Human Resources, D.o. (n.d.). Abortion: A Woman’s Right to Know. Retrieved from http://health.state.ga.us/wrtk

 

Our Center offers peer counseling and accurate information about all pregnancy options. This center does not offer abortion services or abortion referrals.

This information is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice.