Abortion is a term that refers to the termination of the pregnancy by removal of a fetus or embryo from a women’s body. The result of this action is death of a fetus or embryo. Sometimes, an abortion occurs spontaneously, as a complication of pregnancy. However, this term is chiefly used to describe deliberate termination of pregnancy. It is estimated that about 42 million abortions are performed each year worldwide. Almost half of them are done outside a medically safe environment. The unsafe abortions result in about 70,000 deaths and 5 million disabilities. Abortion has been legal in every state of the United States since 1973. However, abortion procedures may vary from case to case, depending on how many weeks a woman is pregnant.
Up to 9 weeks of pregnancy
If a woman is in the early pregnancy, which counts for up to 9 weeks, she may be eligible for simple medicine-induced abortions. These medicines are actually hormonal cocktails that are able to provoke the same effect as of an early natural miscarriage. Women can have this abortion in the medical office or at home. This type of abortion includes taking two different medicines. First one is mifepristone and the second one, taken 48 hours later, is prostaglandin. The abortion occurs up to six hours after taking the second medicine, when the womb breaks and clears its contents through bleeding from vagina. Most women report slight abdominal pain which is easy to manage using painkillers. Other side effects include abdominal upset, nausea and diarrhea.
From 7 to 15 weeks of pregnancy
At this stage, doctors usually recommend vacuum aspiration – a procedure that uses suction to remove fetus from the womb. Typically, woman receives local anesthetic and the procedure lasts up to 10 minutes. The contents of the womb are carefully examined until doctors are sure that everything is done properly. Women may experience sight bleeding for up to two weeks after the abortion.
From 13 weeks of pregnancy
At this stage, women may also opt for medical abortion, using the same chemicals: mifepristone and prostaglandin. However, the process will take longer and women will have to take larger doses of prostaglandin.
From 15 weeks of pregnancy
At this stage, women can have surgical dilation and evacuation. This is more complex procedure and carried out under general anesthetics. It takes about 20 minutes to perform.
Late abortion is any pregnancy termination that takes place between 20th and 24th week of pregnancy. Women will have to spend a night in hospital until they recover, because of the severity of the treatment, which is generally more complex at this point. There are two options available: surgical two-stage abortion and medically induced one.