Abortion is not just a simple medical procedure. For many women, it is a life-changing event with significant physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. Most women who struggle with past abortions say that they wish they had been told all of the facts before having their abortion. The following information will help you understand more about abortion procedures and abortion side-effects and risks.
Morning After Pill (MAP)
Within 72 hours of sexual intercourse.
Also known as “Emergency Contraception” or "Plan B"*, this procedure consists of a pregnancy test and two doses of pills. The woman first must take a pregnancy test and receive a negative test result before taking the pills. Then she is instructed to take the first dose of the MAP. Note: a negative result indicates that the woman is probably not pregnant from intercourse during her previous monthly cycle, but it will not show whether or not she just became pregnant (from intercourse the “night before”). She is instructed to take this first dose as soon as possible, but not more than 72 hours after intercourse. The woman takes a second dose 12 hours after the first dose. If conception already occurred within the 72 hour time frame (that is the “night before”), the life may be expelled. This is an early abortion.
Within 4 to 7 weeks after Last Menstrual Period (LMP).
Also known as the Abortion Pill or Medical Abortion, this abortion procedure is used for women who are within 28 to 49 days after their last menstrual period. This procedure usually requires three office visits. The RU 486 or mifepristone pills are given to the woman who returns two days later for a second medication called misoprostol. The combination of these medications causes the uterus to expel the fetus.
Early Vacuum Aspiration:
Within 7 weeks after LMP.
This surgical abortion is done early in the pregnancy until 7 weeks after the woman's last menstrual period. The cervical muscle is stretched with dilators (metal rods) until the opening is wide enough to allow the abortion instruments to pass into the uterus. A hand held syringe is attached to tubing that is inserted into the uterus and the fetus is suctioned out.
Within 6 to 14 weeks after LMP.
In this abortion procedure, the doctor opens the cervix with a dilator (a metal rod) or laminaria (thin sticks derived from plants and inserted several hours before the procedure). The doctor inserts tubing into the uterus and connects the tubing to a suction machine. The suction pulls the fetus' body apart and out of the uterus. One variation of this procedure is called Dilation and Curettage (D&C). In this method, the doctor may use a curette, a loop-shaped knife, to scrape the fetal parts out of the uterus.
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E)
Within 13 to 24 weeks after LMP.
This surgical abortion is done during the second trimester of pregnancy. Because the developing fetus doubles in size between the thirteenth and fourteenth weeks of pregnancy, the body of the fetus is too large to be broken up by suction and will not pass through the suction tubing. In this procedure, the cervix must be opened wider than in a first trimester abortion. This is done by inserting laminaria a day or two before the abortion. After opening the cervix, the doctor pulls out the fetal parts with forceps. The fetus' skull is crushed to ease removal.
Dilation and Extraction (D&X)
From 20 weeks after LMP to full-term.
Also known as Partial-birth Abortion, this procedure takes three days. During the first two days, the cervix is dilated and medication is given for cramping. On the third day, the woman receives medication to start labor. After labor begins, the doctor uses ultrasound to locate the baby's legs. Grasping a leg with forceps, the doctor delivers the baby up to the baby's head. Next, scissors are inserted into the base of the skull to create an opening. A suction catheter is placed into the opening to remove the skull contents. The skull collapses and the baby is removed.
How much is abortion going to cost me?
The cost for abortions varies depending on how far along in the pregnancy you are, which procedure will be used, whether or not general anesthesia is administered, and what area of the country you live in. Nationwide, costs vary between $350-$900+.
Please remember, the North Jefferson Women's Center does not perform or refer for abortions, but we do offer free, confidential services to help you make an informed decision.
This information on this website is intended for general education purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice.