What is an abortion?
Abortion is the early ending of a pregnancy.
Sometimes abortion happens on its own. This is called miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. But women can also choose to end a pregnancy by getting surgery or taking medicine.
When should you see a doctor?
If you think you might be pregnant, see a doctor as soon as possible. If you are pregnant, this is an important time to learn as much as you can about your options. The earlier you are in your pregnancy, the more options you are likely to have. Also, the risk of problems will be lower.
Is abortion the right option for me?
Having an unintended pregnancy is very common, and many people decide to have an abortion. Only you know what’s best for you, but good information and support can really help you make the decision that is best for your own health and well-being.
Why do people decide to have an abortion?
If you’re thinking about having an abortion, you’re so not alone. Millions of people face unplanned pregnancies every year, and about 4 out of 10 of them decide to get an abortion. Some people with planned pregnancies also get abortions because of health or safety reasons. Overall, 3 in 10 women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the time they’re 45 years old.
Sometimes, the decision is simple. Other times, it’s complicated. But either way, the decision to have an abortion is personal, and you’re the only one who can make it.
Everyone has their own unique and valid reasons for having an abortion. Some of the many different reasons people decide to end a pregnancy include:
- They want to be the best parent possible to the kids they already have.
- They’re not ready to be a parent yet.
- It’s not a good time in their life to have a baby.
- They want to finish school, focus on work, or achieve other goals before having a baby.
- They’re not in a relationship with someone they want to have a baby with.
- They’re in an abusive relationship or were sexually assaulted.
- The pregnancy is bad for their health.
- They just don’t want to be a parent.
Deciding to have an abortion doesn’t mean you don’t want or love children. In fact, 6 out of 10 people who get abortions already have kids — and many of them decide to end their pregnancies so they can focus on the children they already have. And people who aren’t already parents when they get an abortion often go on to have a baby later, when they feel they are in a better position to be a good parent. The bottom line is, deciding if and when to have a baby is very personal, and only you know what’s best for you and your family.
What can I think about to help me decide?
Family, relationships, school, work, life goals, health, safety, and personal beliefs — people think carefully about these things before having an abortion. But you’re the only person walking in your shoes, and the only person who can decide whether to have an abortion. The decision is 100% yours.
Here are some things to consider if you are thinking about an abortion:
- Am I ready to be a parent?
- Would I consider adoption?
- What would it mean for my future if I had a child now?
- What would it mean for my family if I had a child now?
- How would being a parent affect my career goals?
- Do I have strong personal or religious beliefs about abortion?
- Is anyone pressuring me to have or not have an abortion?
- Would having a baby change my life in a way I do or don’t want?
- Would having an abortion change my life in a way I do or don’t want?
- What kind of support would I need and get if I decided to get an abortion?
- What kind of support would I need and get if I decided to have a baby?
Decisions about your pregnancy are deeply personal. You hold the power to make decisions that are best for you in order to stay on your own path to a healthy and meaningful life. There are lots of things to consider, and it’s totally normal to have many different feelings and thoughts when making this decision. That’s why it’s important to get factual, non-judgmental information about abortion. Support from family, friends, partners, and other people you trust can also be helpful. But at the end of the day, only you know what’s right for you.
Who can I talk with about getting an abortion?
Lots of people lean on others to help them with their decision. It’s good to choose people who you know are understanding and supportive of you.
Your local Planned Parenthood health center has caring professionals that can answer any questions you may have. They’ll give you expert care, accurate information about all your options, and non-judgmental support along the way — no matter what you decide about your pregnancy.
Other family planning centers and private doctors may also talk with you about your decision. But be careful when looking for a reliable health center, because there are fake clinics out there that claim to offer information about pregnancy options and abortion. They’re called Crisis Pregnancy Centers, and they’re run by people who don’t believe in giving you honest facts about abortion, pregnancy, and birth control. Crisis pregnancy centers are often located very close to Planned Parenthood health centers or other real medical centers, and have similar names — they do this to confuse people and trick them into visiting them instead.
No one should pressure you into making any decision about your pregnancy, no matter what. So it’s important to get the info and support you need from people who give you the real facts and won’t judge you.
If you’re having a hard time finding someone in your life to talk with, check out All-Options. All-Options has a free hotline that gives you a confidential space to talk about making decisions about a pregnancy. They’ll give you judgment-free support at any point in your pregnancy experience, no matter what you decide to do or how you feel about it.
When do I have to make a decision?
It’s important to take the time you need to make the best decision for you. It’s also a good idea to talk to a nurse or doctor as soon as you can so you can get the best medical care possible. The staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center is always here to provide expert medical care and support, no matter what decision you make.
If you’re thinking about an abortion, you’re not alone.
It’s estimated that around half of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned, and that up to one in three Australian women will choose abortion in their lifetime.
While no data collection on abortion occurs in Queensland, it is estimated that between 10,000 and 14,000 abortions take place each year in this state. Abortion is one of the safest and most common types of medical procedures in Australia.
As these numbers show there are many women who decide that a termination is the best option in their circumstances. These women include religious women, mothers, grandmothers, young women, older women, single women, women with children, married women, unemployed women, employed women, and women who were against abortion before they knew they were pregnant. None of these women make this decision lightly; they make this decision as the expert in their own life, considering their situation carefully and understanding what will be the best decision for them at this point in their life.
If you decide that abortion could be an option for you, it may be helpful to have as much information as possible to assist you in making this decision. For information on the clinic procedure, costs, clinic locations, what happens on the day, and how you might feel afterwards, you can use the menu on the left. Or contact one of the counsellors at Children by Choice to ask questions or discuss how you are feeling.
How to get a safe abortion?
This website refers you to licensed doctor who can provide you with abortion pills. After you complete the following online consultation and if there are no contraindications, the medical abortion (with the pills mifepristone and misoprostol) will be delivered to you. A medical abortion can be done safely at home as long as you have good information and have access to emergency medical care in the rare case that there are complications.
The doctor can only help you if :
- you live in a country where access to safe abortion is restricted
- you are less than 10 weeks pregnant
- you have no severe illnesses
Before starting the consultation, do a pregnancy test and an ultrasound, if possible. The consultation consists of around 25 questions. At the end of the consultation you will be asked to give permission to disclose all your information to the doctor. All information will remain confidential.
At the end of the consultation you will be asked to make a donation of at least 90, 80 or 70 euro, depending on the country where you live and your economic circumstances (click here). If you are in a very difficult economic situation, let us know. Please give as much as you can to help other women who are in a similar situation as you but cannot afford to donate anything.
For more information about medical abortion please look under Questions and Answers. To know who we are, please look under About Women on Web.
If you have any questions send an email to Women on Web (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If possible, please do the consultation in your native language.
By starting the consultation, I will be referred to a doctor. I agree to answer truthfully the following 25 questions about my health.
Is Abortion Legal?
Yes. In Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) the law (Abortion Act 1967, as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990) allows a woman to have an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, if two doctors agree that it is less likely to cause harm to her physical or mental health than continuing with the pregnancy.
More than 90 per cent of abortions are carried out before 13 weeks of pregnancy.
More than 98 per cent are carried out before 20 weeks.
The weeks of pregnancy are usually worked out from the first day of your last normal menstrual period. If you have irregular periods, or no periods, or the stage of pregnancy is not clear, this can be checked with an ultrasound scan.
An abortion can be done after 24 weeks if there are exceptional circumstances, for example if there is a serious risk to the woman’s health or there is a substantial risk of physical or mental disability if the baby is born.
The 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland. Abortion is legal in Northern Ireland in very exceptional circumstances. It is only lawful where there is a real and serious risk to the woman’s mental or physical health and the risk is permanent or long-term. Consequently, most women from Northern Ireland have to travel to England to obtain a private abortion. They are not entitled to an abortion on the NHS. Women can contact FPA in Northern Ireland on 0345 122 8687 for confidential counselling, information and support on all options available.
Can my Doctor refuse to refer me for an abortion?
No. A doctor or nurse has the right to refuse to take part in abortion if they do not believe in abortion. However, they should always refer you on to another doctor or nurse who will help.
The General Medical Council guidance for doctors makes it clear that a doctor’s personal beliefs should not affect patient care. There is similar guidance provided by the Nursing and Midwifery Council for nurses, and by The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain for pharmacists.
If your doctor is not being helpful, try to see another doctor or nurse at your general practice or visit a contraception or sexual health clinic near where you live. See How to get help with your sexual health.
Will anyone else be told about my abortion?
No. The decision to have an abortion is a matter between you and your healthcare team. All information and treatment is confidential whatever your age. This means that information cannot be shared with anyone else without your agreement. Wherever you have your abortion they are not required to tell your GP.
Many abortion services like to let your GP know out of courtesy, to provide information in case you have any health problems after the abortion, and to allow your medical records to be updated. They can only do this with your permission. Tell your hospital or clinic if you do not want them to inform your GP.
If I am under 16,do I have to tell my parents?
No. You can have an abortion without telling your parents. Your health professional will encourage you to involve your parents or carers, or another supportive adult. If you choose not to do this, you can still have an abortion if the doctors believe it is in your best interests, and that you fully understand what is involved.
All information, advice and services are confidential. However, health professionals will involve social services if they suspect you, or another person, are at significant risk of sexual abuse or emotional or physical harm. They will not do this without talking to you about this first.
How long will I have to Wait?
Waiting times vary according to where you live. Once a referral has been made by your GP or NHS clinic, or you have contacted a private clinic directly:
You should be offered an appointment for your first consultation within five working days. This is to confirm your pregnancy, discuss your eligibility to have an abortion and to assess whether any other procedures are necessary, for example sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment.
The abortion should be carried out within five working days of the decision to go ahead being agreed.
You should not have to wait more than two weeks from your first referral to the time of your abortion.
You should be seen as soon as possible if you need an abortion for urgent medical reasons. Sometimes women with medical problems may have to wait longer as they may need more specialist advice.
What will happen before take place?
For most women, having an abortion will involve at least two separate visits – the first is for an assessment, the second is to carry out the abortion procedure.
The abortion is generally a day-care procedure that does not involve an overnight stay.
During your first appointment you should be given:
- an opportunity to talk things through, and offered extra support, including counselling if you want it, to help you make your decision
- information about the different methods of abortion, which is suitable for your stage of pregnancy and where the abortion will be carried out
- information about what to expect during and after the abortion
- information about any possible risks or complications relating to the abortion
- a blood test to check your blood group and for anaemia
- a consent form to say you agree to the abortion and the procedure being chosen.
The doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your medical history to ensure that you are offered a suitable abortion method and they will ask you about your sexual history to check whether you should be tested for chlamydia or other sexually transmitted infections.
To prevent the possibility of any infection occurring after the abortion you will normally be given some antibiotics.
need to have an ultrasound scan to check your pregnancy dates (some women ask not to see the scan picture, some prefer to see it). This scan should not be carried out in antenatal settings where you would meet women who are continuing their pregnancies
need to have a vaginal examination
be offered a cervical screening test if you have not had one within the last three years.
You should be offered a chance to talk about contraception and discuss which method you would like to use after the abortion. Sometimes the clinic can provide you with your chosen method or if they cannot they will tell you where you can get it.
What does an abortion Involve?
There are different abortion procedures and the method used depends on how long you have been pregnant. An abortion service should ideally be able to offer you a choice of abortion methods, although this may not always be possible.
Early medical abortion (up to nine weeks of pregnancy)
Early medical abortion (sometimes called EMA) involves taking drugs to cause an early miscarriage. It does not involve surgery or an anaesthetic and you will need three appointments. The first is an assessment – the abortion will not be carried out at this visit. You will need two more appointments on two separate days. You should be able to carry out your usual activities between appointments.
At the second appointment, you will be given a tablet (called mifepristone) to swallow. This blocks the pregnancy hormone that is necessary for the pregnancy to continue.
It is very unlikely that the abortion will happen after taking only the mifepristone, but very occasionally it can happen. Some women change their mind about the abortion after they have taken mifepristone. Although studies so far do not show that mifepristone is associated with any risk of fetal abnormality, women are advised to continue with the abortion once they have taken mifepristone. You will be given a 24-hour contact telephone number in case you are worried or would like to talk to someone at any time.
At the third visit (one or two days later) you will be given prostaglandin tablets (called misoprostol or gemeprost). Misoprostol can be used in the vagina or taken by mouth; gemeprost can only be used in the vagina. This causes the uterus (womb) lining to break down and you will start to bleed. You may feel cramping pains similar to period pains; you will be offered pain-relieving drugs. The pregnancy is lost with the bleeding just like a miscarriage. This normally happens 4–6 hours after using the prostaglandin tablets.
Medical abortion after nine weeks
The drugs used for early medical abortion are also used for abortion later in pregnancy. Because the abortion is being carried out later in the pregnancy it may take longer, and higher and repeat doses of prostaglandin may need to be used, along with pain-relieving drugs. The abortion is like having a late miscarriage and is usually completed in time for you to return home on the same day, but sometimes it is necessary to stay overnight, particularly when the abortion is carried out later in the pregnancy.
Vacuum aspiration from 7–15 weeks of pregnancy
Vacuum aspiration (sometimes called suction abortion) involves a small tube being inserted into the vagina, through the cervix (entrance to the uterus) and into the uterus to remove the pregnancy by suction.
To make this easier, tablets containing misoprostol are sometimes inserted into the vagina before the procedure is carried out to help soften the cervix. To reduce any discomfort or pain during the abortion there is a choice of pain relief. A local anaesthetic can be injected into the cervix or you can have a light general anaesthetic so you are asleep during the procedure. Some women choose conscious sedation – drugs that make you sleepy but you stay conscious during the abortion procedure – you won’t remember everything that happens during the abortion.
Vacuum aspiration takes about 5–10 minutes. You will usually go home on the same day, a few hours after the abortion has been carried out.
Surgical dilation and evacuation (D&E) from 15 weeks of pregnancy
This method is usually carried out under general anaesthetic. The cervix is gently stretched and opened (known as dilation) to allow special forceps to remove the pregnancy in fragments. Remaining tissue is removed by suction as in vacuum aspiration. This takes 10–20 minutes. You may be able to return home on the same day if you are healthy and there are no complications.
Abortion after 21 weeks
Abortion at this stage is not common. It involves either the surgical dilation and evacuation method, or medical abortion. Whichever method is used, a doctor will ensure the heart of the fetus is stopped so it is not born alive. The procedure takes time and you will have to stay in the hospital or clinic, sometimes overnight. Having a late medical abortion will involve you going through what is similar to labour to deliver the fetus.
Are there risks at the time of the abortion?
Problems at the time of the abortion are not very common and are less likely to occur when the abortion is carried out in early pregnancy and when an experienced doctor performs it.
- Excessive bleeding (haemorrhage) happens in around one in every 1,000 abortions; this increases to four in 1,000 abortions carried out after 20 weeks.
- Damage to the cervix happens in less than 10 in every 1,000 surgical abortions.
- Damage to the uterus happens in up to four in every 1,000 surgical abortions.
- Damage to the uterus happens in less than one in every 1,000 medical abortions carried out after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- Should complications occur, further treatment such as a blood transfusion or surgery may be required.
All methods of early abortion carry a small risk of failure to end the pregnancy and a further procedure will need to be carried out. This is uncommon and occurs in fewer than one in 100 women.
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