Types of Abortion Procedures

During an abortion, the pregnancy is removed from the uterus. The options vary depending upon the stage of pregnancy. During the appointment, clinic staff will explain the procedure, risks, medications, options, and what to expect afterward.

Note: weeks are measured since last menstrual period (LMP).

Medical Abortion, the Abortion Pill (also called Medication Abortion, Mifepristone, Misoprostol, RU486, Non-surgical Abortion):
The Abortion Pill is an option up to 8 weeks LMP. Prescription Mifepristone is taken in pill form at the clinic. It causes the end of the pregnancy. Then 24-72 hours later, the woman uses Misoprostol to cause the uterus to contract and expel the tissue. A follow-up appointment is required to make sure the abortion is complete. Occasionally more than one follow-up appointment is necessary. To use this method, women must live within 2 hours of a hospital. Some women prefer Medical Abortion because the process feels more natural and private; they can decide where they are when they go through the experience, such as staying home for the weekend. Side effects of the second medication include cramping, bleeding, diarrhea, nausea, etc.

In the first trimester, measured usually to 13 weeks LMP, aspiration is used to empty the uterus. This first trimester abortion involves three main steps: (1) an injection to numb the cervix, (2) insertion of a soft flexible tube through the cervix into the uterus, (3) suction created by an aspirating machine or a hand-held mechanism to remove the pregnancy from the uterus. It is done in an outpatient clinic, doctor's office or hospital and takes less than five minutes to complete the actual procedure.

D & E (Dilate and Evacuate):
In the second trimester to 26 weeks LMP, Cedar River Clinics use the Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) procedure. Appointments are made for 2-3 consecutive days. On the first day, an ultrasound (sonogram) is performed to determine the size and position of the fetus. Then, the abortion procedure is begun by numbing the cervix with injections and inserting dilators into the cervix. Overnight these dilators gently expand, opening the entrance to the uterus. The next day, the cervix is again numbed, the dilators are removed, and the doctor uses special instruments to evacuate the uterus and remove the pregnancy. The final step is suction using the aspirating machine. In more advanced pregnancies, additional dilators are inserted on the second day and the fetus is removed on the third day. The medical procedure lasts about 10-15 minutes.

Sedation for comfort:
At Cedar River Clinics, anesthesia sedation is an option for either first and second trimester procedures. Anesthesia is administered by a licensed Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) or a physician. Afterward, the woman may not drive. Several medication options are available to help make the abortion as comfortable as possible.

All abortion patients at Cedar River Clinics have access to a 24-hour hotline to call if there are questions or concerns between appointment days or after the abortion procedure.

More info:

updated June 10, 2011

"To stop the stigma, people must talk about abortion. We must shed light on this topic. Yet it's perfectly understandable why people are reluctant to speak out, it's a matter of privacy. And, that privacy deserves to be respected."

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