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The Methods of Abortion
The type of abortion procedure to have performed is primarily determined by the gestational age of the pregnancy, as well as the physical condition and emotional considerations of the patient. Eighty percent of abortion procedures are performed at 8 weeks or less. Ninety percent are at 12 weeks or under, and less than 1.5 percent occur after 21 weeks of gestation. In most cases women may choose between a surgical or medical (Abortion by Pill, RU486, Chemical or Non-Surgical) procedure for a first trimester abortion. As the term suggests, medical abortions do not involve surgery or other invasive methods, but rely on medications to end pregnancy.
The options for terminating pregnancy become more limited as the length of gestational weeks increase. The further along in pregnancy, the more specialized and more complex the procedure becomes. With advanced pregnancy termination procedures the risks and potential complications can become even greater unless they are performed by a highly skilled physician who understands the necessity for appropriate cervical preparation in order to achieve a safe and successful abortion procedure.
Current ultrasound technology now allows pregnancy to be identified even before a patient misses her menstrual period. Abortion can be performed through 24 weeks on an elective basis and beyond that if the pregnancy poses a threat to the mother's life or her health. The risks of undergoing an abortion procedure whether surgical or medical, are associated with far less complications than a delivery at full term. The maternal death rate is ten times greater with carrying a pregnancy to term.
Surgical abortion involves a cervical dilation and vacuum aspiration process that takes approximately 5 minutes to perform. The advantage is that it is a faster, more certain process. The disadvantage is that a surgical procedure presents the slight risk of a cervical tear or laceration, uterine perforation, injury to the bowel or bladder, bleeding, incomplete abortion and infection.
Medical abortion involves induced expulsion of the pregnancy following the administration of medication. The medical abortion is less invasive and for most patients it seems like a more natural process such as a spontaneous miscarriage. The disadvantage is that it may take weeks after receiving the medication to complete; it is less predictable because of a higher chance of failure; there can be excessive bleeding; and the chance of an incomplete abortion with retained pregnancy tissue.
Some patients feel the surgical procedure is a better choice because it is not drawn out over the course of a 2 to 3 week period. Others feel the medical abortion procedure to be more advantageous because it can be done earlier in pregnancy.
It is normal for women to feel nervous or apprehensive about having an abortion, but just as with undergoing any medical procedure, it is much more reassuring when they know what to expect and exactly what will take place. A good abortion provider should thoroughly explain each of the procedure options available, answer any questions a patient may have and always provide the utmost in care and compassion.
If 6 Weeks Or Less
Second Trimester Or Late Term Abortions