Key Facts About Abortion  
Key Facts About Abortion  

Once you know you are pregnant, you must decide your next step. Not every pregnancy is expected. When it comes as a shock, the stress can be overwhelming.

Abortion is in the news a lot, but what you don’t hear is information about it. What does it mean to get an abortion, and is it safe? Lack of information adds to the stress of making what will be one of the most critical decisions of your life. We want to ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed choice. Consider some key facts about abortion that you might not know.

What Are the Types of Abortions?

Abortion is a word that you do hear a lot, but what is it exactly? An abortion is the elective or deliberate termination of a pregnancy. Though there may be many reasons a person gives for choosing abortion, it is important to understand exactly what each procedure entails.

There are different types of abortions. They generally fall into two categories:

  • Medical
  • Surgical

Surgical abortions are broken down into the following categories:

  • Aspiration
  • Dilation and evacuation (D&E)
  • Induction

Understanding each can help as you decide your next step.

What is a Medical Abortion?

Medical abortion is done using two drugs: Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Mifepristone is taken first and then Misoprostol about 24 to 48 hours later. The first pill blocks the hormone production required to sustain a pregnancy. The second pill(s) causes contractions to expel the pregnancy and other pregnancy tissue from the uterus. As a result, the embryo cannot stay implanted in the uterus.

The medical abortion is FDA approved up to ten weeks from last menstrual period. Between 3% and 10% will need follow-up care to finish the abortion; however, up to 39% of women will require surgery if taken in the second trimester of pregnancy. Since a medical abortion does not require surgery, it is a common choice for an unexpected pregnancy discovered in the first ten weeks of gestation; however, “One of the best studies…found that the chemical abortion patients had four times the complication rate than the surgical abortion patients.” – Dr. Donna Harrison, M.D.

What Is an Aspiration Abortion?

A suction, or aspiration, D&C abortion is a procedure in which a suction catheter is inserted into the mother’s uterus to extract the pregnancy. Tools are then used to scrape the lining of the uterus to remove any remaining parts. This procedure is performed during the first trimester, typically during five and thirteen weeks LMP (that is five to thirteen weeks after the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period). A suction, or aspiration, D&C abortion is performed in-clinic. Prior to the abortion, the woman should receive an exam that includes an ultrasound in order to confirm that she is pregnant and diagnose any complicating factors, such as a tubal, or ectopic, pregnancy. An abortionist uses metal rods or medication to dilate the woman’s cervix and open the uterus to the pregnancy. A suction catheter is used to vacuum the pregnancy from the womb. The suction machine has a force approximately 10 to 20 times the force of a household vacuum cleaner. The procedure is completed as the abortionist uses a sharp metal device called a curette to empty the tissue remains of the uterus.1 A follow-up exam and ultrasound can be performed to help minimize the risk of incomplete abortion.2

  1. World Health Organization, “Safe Abortion: Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems.” 2nd Edition, 2012. <>.
  2. Debby, A, et. al. “Transvaginal ultrasound after first-trimester uterine evacuation reduces the incidence of retained products of conception.” Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Vol. 27, Issue 1, January 2006, pp. 61-64. <>.

What Is a D&E?

Dilation and evacuation abortions are available from 13-24 weeks of pregnancy. The abortionist dilates the cervix and uses instruments to extract the tissue using a suction catheter and a sopher clamp (a grasping instrument). A curette is used to assure that all pieces have been removed in order to avoid infection.

What Is an Induction Abortion?

An induction abortion happens later in the pregnancy from 25 weeks to full term. This procedure will take several days. A substance is injected through the woman’s abdomen or vagina into the heart of the fetus to cause cardiac arrest. Following the injection, laminaria sticks are inserted to open up the woman’s cervix. It may also be necessary for the abortionist to administer labor-inducing drugs. The woman will usually wait a period of two to four days for her cervix to dilate enough for her to deliver.

How Safe is Abortion?

There is a possibility of complications with any medical procedure. Side effects can include heavy or persistent bleeding, infection, sepsis (infection entering blood), incomplete abortion, allergic reaction to drugs, damage to the cervix, and scarring of the uterine lining. Abortion has been linked to subsequent preterm births and increased risk for mental health issues.

How Will I Feel After Having an Abortion?

Abortions affect women differently. The abortion provider should supply you with aftercare instructions that you should follow closely. A follow-up visit is recommended and some lab tests to ensure you are no longer pregnant. The test looks for an essential hormone made during pregnancy.

You can expect cramping and bleeding that may be heavy at times. Sometimes, your provider might want to track the blood loss, so they will ask you to use a pad. That way, when they ask, you can say you are using a certain number of pads an hour or a day. The bleeding will probably last between 9 and 16 days if you have a medical abortion. If you feel ill or run a fever, contact your healthcare provider.

How Will I Feel Emotionally After Having an Abortion?

A lot happens when you have an abortion, both mentally and physically. The changing hormones may make you moody, but you might also experience other emotions. For example, you might wonder if you did the “right” thing. Initially, some people feel relieved and have no regrets. You might experience many emotions at one time, and that’s okay. There are studies that indicate the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide is greater for a woman who aborts an unwanted pregnancy than it is for a woman who carries an unwanted pregnancy to term.

Fergusson, David M with Joseph M. Boden and L. John Harwood. “Does abortion reduce the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy? A re-appraisal of the evidence.” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Sept. 2013, Vol. 47, No. 9, pp. 819-827. <>.

If you feel down or question your choice, talk to someone, either a friend, family member, or your healthcare provider. We are always there at Willowbrook Women’s Center if you want to talk about your abortion. There will be no judgment, only support.

Various pregnancy services are available at Willowbrook Women’s Center in St. Joseph and Cameron, Missouri. We can help confirm that you are pregnant and then help you understand your options if you choose to have an abortion. Call or text us today to make an appointment.

Can You Get an Abortion in a Different State Than You Currently Live In?
Sad woman outside wearing hoodie

Can You Get an Abortion in Another State? 

Since Roe v. Wade has been overturned, the matter of abortion laws has been returned to the states. States’ laws that had previously been in place were allowed to go into effect. This may have you wondering what your state allows when it comes to abortion procedures. Depending on where you live, you may be wondering if you can travel to a neighboring state to obtain an abortion if you find yourself in an unexpected pregnancy and you’re considering that option.

What to Consider When Seeking Abortions Outside of Your State

Traveling from your state of residence to another state for an abortion is what is referred to as abortion tourism. This is nothing new. To date, it’s legal for women to travel and providers to perform abortions on women who are residents of other states, as long as the procedures are within the laws of the destination state. The following points are a few considerations when traveling to receive an abortion outside of your state:

  • How will I get to and from the clinic? Fly or drive?
  • Will I need to arrange for a hotel room or other lodging?
  • How much time will I be away from work?
  • Will I need to arrange for childcare?

Other Factors to Consider When Traveling to Get an Abortion

Abortion is a medical or a surgical procedure, depending on several factors, and is accompanied by certain risks to the woman. If you’re traveling out of state to obtain an abortion, you will want to think through these points to help you with your decisions:

  • Will your support person be available to help you, or will they need to plan to take off time from work?
  • If complications from the procedure arise, will you have access to someone who can help you, or will you be alone? Make a plan in case you would experience complications when you’re traveling back home.
  • Make sure you research and have the name of a healthcare provide in your area that is familiar with the recovery and possible complications associated with abortion.

Like any medical procedure, you want to be well informed about the risks and side effects of abortion. Those risks may be exacerbated when travel is involved. 

The Benefits of Coming to Willowbrook

Willowbrook Women’s Center understands the complicated and painful dynamics surrounding unwanted pregnancy and can provide you with the information needed to help you make your decision. We can confirm whether or not the pregnancy is viable and ensure you don’t have an active STD that could make an abortion dangerous for you. We’ll walk you through all of your pregnancy options, because women deserve to have all the information they need as they make decisions about an unplanned pregnancy. All potential options have long-term outcomes. Make an appointment today to get started.

What is Abortion Tourism?  
Woman sitting on hospital bed

With Roe v. Wade being overturned, abortion tourism is already becoming a topic of conversation in the media. Real women facing unplanned pregnancies will need to understand what is meant by this new catch phrase.

Abortion Tourism

Abortion tourism refers to the practice of traveling across state lines to obtain an abortion in the event that some or all abortion procedures may not be available in a woman’s state of residence. Abortion tourism occurs for a number of reasons:

  • In some cases, the abortion clinic(s) in closest proximity are across state lines.
  • Some states have prohibited abortions, while bordering states may offer abortions throughout the entire pregnancy.
  • Some states have prohibited certain types of abortions while other states have allowed them, so women travel to get the type of abortion they want.

Abortion Policy

A state’s abortion policy has an impact on abortion tourism. It’s important to note that abortion has not become illegal in the United States. In addition to knowing critical information about her pregnancy, it will also be important for a woman to know her state’s laws.

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, states will make their own decisions about abortion. It is likely no two states will look exactly same. What can we expect as a result of different state laws?

  • Women who live in states that have banned abortions will need to be proactive in receiving a pre-abortion screening to determine if an abortion is necessary. (Usually access to these screenings is readily available, and often, there is no cost for these services.)
  • States with abortion clinics may be overwhelmed, and it may take longer to get an appointment.
  • Women seeking abortions will need to research more carefully what procedures they would be eligible to receive; centers that provide pregnancy options information will become more vital than ever before.

Even though state laws differ throughout the country, states where abortion is not available will still be providing treatment for ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and miscarriage. These states also have exceptions for incest, rape, and life of the mother.

How Abortion Tourism is Dangerous

Abortion tourism comes with consequences.

Just like any medical or surgical procedure, abortion comes with inherent risks. Following a medical (pill) or surgical abortion, risks can include incomplete abortion, blood clots, heavy bleeding, complications from anesthesia, pelvic infection, perforation of the uterus, and torn cervix. These complications can arise during travel home or after you’ve arrived home – when you are many miles from the provider who performed the procedure. It is in your best interest to schedule, and keep, a follow-up appointment with the abortion provider after receiving a medical or surgical abortion. At Willowbrook Women’s Center, we believe that all women deserve to be equipped with facts in order to make informed decisions when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Facing an unplanned pregnancy? Schedule an appointment at our Cameron or St. Joseph, MO, location today.

How Soon Can you Get an Abortion?
how soon can i get an abortion

You have just discovered you’re unexpectedly pregnant and heard that it’s better to get an abortion sooner rather than later.

While it’s true that post-abortion risks increase as you get further along in your pregnancy, does that mean it’s best to get an abortion as soon as you discover you’re unexpectedly pregnant?

How Early Can I Get an Abortion?

Some abortion clinics will allow you to get an abortion as soon as you have a positive pregnancy test. Since pregnancy tests are so sensitive, you can discover you’re pregnant as early as four weeks. It’s critical to accurately know how far along you are before considering an abortion.

Why It’s Important To Know How Far Along You Are

Before you get an abortion, you must know how far along you are in your pregnancy, also referred to as the gestational age. So why is it so important to accurately verify your pregnancy’s gestational age? Because gestational age is a major factor in determining what type of abortion procedure is an option for you. Also, certain types of abortion procedures increase risks for certain gestational ages.

How Gestational Age Is Calculated

There are three ways to determine gestational age: menstrual cycle dates, clinical examination, and ultrasound.

Menstrual cycle dates: The most important thing to know is that it’s highly inaccurate to determine gestational age by menstrual cycle dates. We will discuss why that is in a moment.

Determining how far along you are in your pregnancy by dates can be a little confusing because it’s calculated differently than you might think. For example, if the first day of your period is day one and you ovulate and conceive on day fourteen, you might expect that you would be considered two weeks pregnant when you miss your period on day twenty-nine. But, instead, although the fetal age would be two weeks, you would be considered four weeks pregnant because gestational age is determined from the first day of your last period.

Why is it so inaccurate to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy by the first day of your last period? There are several reasons:

  • Although women typically ovulate around day fourteen in their cycle, you may have ovulated early or late in your cycle, which would change the date of conception.
  • Sometimes women experience implantation bleeding when they first become pregnant. If the implantation bleeding is mistakenly counted as a period, your pregnancy dates could be off by as much as a month — or more.

Clinical examination: Clinical examination includes a pelvic exam to check your cervix and assess the size of your uterus. Like determining gestational age by menstrual cycle dates, it is very inaccurate. 

Ultrasound: The only way to accurately know how far along you are in your pregnancy is by ultrasound because your healthcare provider can see and measure the pregnancy.

Is an Early Abortion Best for You?

We have discussed why it is important to have accurate information about how far along you are in your pregnancy. Now let’s discuss other factors to consider before moving forward with an early abortion. 

  1. You won’t be able to confirm a viable pregnancy.

A non-viable pregnancy has no chance of survival. And it’s common. According to a 2013 study, the likelihood of miscarriage after week five is 21.3%.

For that reason, it is valuable to know that you have a viable pregnancy before moving forward with an abortion.

Making any decision about an unexpected pregnancy is tough, and many women are unprepared for their complicated emotional response to a carefully-made abortion decision. However, if your pregnancy is not viable, you won’t need an abortion, which could prevent complex emotional and spiritual difficulties for you down the road.

Don’t put yourself through an abortion you don’t need if a miscarriage is certain.

  • You won’t be able to confirm the location of the pregnancy.

Most likely an ultrasound for a very early pregnancy (four weeks) will not confirm the location of the pregnancy. In that case, a clinic may provide you with the abortion pill when you have a pregnancy that is not located in the uterus. This is another form of a non-viable pregnancy, except it’s a medical emergency that needs treatment — not an abortion.

If you take the abortion pill while you have a pregnancy that’s in your fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy), it can be life-threatening.

  • You will be forced to make a rushed decision.

When you discover you’re unexpectedly pregnant, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and scared. But it’s best to make such a life-impacting decision after you have had a chance to catch your breath and feel calmer.

When you discover you’re unexpectedly pregnant so early, you have an opportunity to slow down, take a deep breath, and empower yourself with the facts you need to make the best decision for yourself and your future.

So don’t feel pressured or forced to make a rushed decision. It can prevent future regrets and asking yourself, “What if?” Instead, gather the critical information you need now to make an informed decision about your pregnancy that you can feel confident about.

Unbiased Support Is Available

You matter, and your physical, mental, and emotional health matters too. So take care of yourself by seeking unbiased and highly-skilled support.  It’s available at Willowbrook Women’s Center.

Don’t rush into an early abortion you may not need, there are many things to consider before ending a pregnancy. Allow us to help you gather accurate facts that will help you make the right decision for you. At Willowbrook, we offer all of our services to you at no charge, including a limited ultrasound to determine how far along you are and if your pregnancy is viable.

You will never be judged for your choices and will sense compassion from the moment you walk in our doors. So, make your confidential appointment today and receive the support you deserve.