Abortion Overview

Abortion is the premature ending of a pregnancy, which could to be attributed to different reasons that vary from one person to another. Some kinds of abortions that commonly take place are:

  • A spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, occurs when a natural cause ends a pregnancy. If you have had or may be having a miscarriage, see the topic Miscarriage.
  • A therapeutic or induced abortion is one resulting from measures taken to intentionally end a pregnancy, using medications (medical abortion) or surgery.

A few things that should be known before undergoing abortion are:

What’s the Right Decision?
One thing that needs to be kept in mind if you’re contemplating having an abortion is that two lives are now involved— not yours alone. So it’s important that you make a well-informed decision.

Early pregnancy counseling helps you reach a favorable outcome, regardless of whether you continue with the pregnancy or choose to have an abortion. Family planning clinics offer pregnancy counseling. You may also want to discuss your decision with a trusted person close to you who has a realistic view of how a pregnancy and parenthood would impact your life. Take time to think through your choices, which are to:

  • Have an abortion.
  • Have a baby and dedicate yourself to supporting and raising your child to adulthood.
  • Have a baby and place the baby for adoption.

Types of Procedures
Depending on how many weeks pregnant you are, you may have a choice between two or more types of abortion procedures. Medical and surgical methods available differ at each stage of pregnancy. As a pregnancy progresses into the second trimester, only surgical abortion can be used. Risks of second-trimester surgical abortion are higher than risks for first-trimester abortion.

Right Person for an Abortion
Early manual vacuum aspiration and medical abortion are offered by specially trained medical professionals, including some nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and medical doctors (such as family medicine doctors and gynecologists). Typically, only medical doctors offer machine vacuum aspiration and other types of surgical abortion. Abortion services are most likely to be available in hospitals and family planning clinics.

Tests Needed
Your health professional would ask about your medical history and will do a physical examination, including a pelvic examination prior to performing the abortion. Lab tests will be done to confirm your pregnancy. An ultrasound may also be done to figure out how many weeks pregnant the woman is.

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