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.

Healing After Miscarriage: Support for Men and Women
Healing after miscarriage

About 31% of pregnancies confirmed after implantation end in miscarriage. That translates to roughly one of every three pregnancies.

With this in mind,  no two women experience miscarriage in exactly the same way. We have worked with women who share that they expected sadness but never experienced it, and that’s okay. We’ve also worked with women who experience overwhelming grief after miscarriage, and that’s also okay. We’ve worked with men who sit anywhere on the spectrum as well – some don’t mourn while others need support services in order to cope with their grief.

There is no right or wrong way to feel after the demise of a pregnancy and no single path to healing. If you’ve had a miscarriage and find yourself struggling with recovery, there are resources to help you and your partner through the physical and emotional pain you’re experiencing.

Emotional Healing After Miscarriage

Emotional healing after miscarriage is a broad concept. There are many kinds of feelings that follow miscarriage and different kinds of healing depending on a wide variety of factors.

Many women experience what we consider appropriate sadness after a miscarriage. The term is broad, but generally speaking, these women are mourning the loss of a pregnancy and the plans they had for the future life that will not be. They’re able to cope and work through their grief with appropriate resources and generally don’t experience major behavioral changes or problems as a result. Although you may never stop grieving the loss, the sadness and anxiety that comes with it typically diminish by about a year after your miscarriage.

In other cases, miscarriage can impact a woman’s relationship with her body. While pregnancy often inspires women to care for their bodies in a renewed way, miscarriage can have the opposite effect, making it difficult to reconnect with your body and learn to love and trust it again.

About one-third of all women who go through a miscarriage meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis a month after the loss; 18% will still meet those criteria 18 months later. For these women, their bodies often become a traumatic site or trigger, making it difficult to escape the challenging thoughts and feelings they’re experiencing. Depression and anxiety can follow.

It might seem surprising, but it’s very common for men and women who face an unexpected and even unwanted pregnancy to mourn after learning they’ve miscarried.

There are several steps you can take to help facilitate emotional healing after your loss.

Acknowledge the pregnancy. Because many couples don’t announce a pregnancy until the second trimester, it can be exceptionally challenging to grieve the loss of a pregnancy in the first trimester. If it was never announced, it can be hard to “break the ice” with friends and family members when it comes time to share the loss. However, sharing the pregnancy and loss can help you build a support group and acknowledge the pregnancy.

Remember the baby. Naming the baby or honoring the baby through a memorial service – which can be done alone at home or or more formally with friends or family – can help.

Join a local or online support group. It’s common to feel alone or like nobody understands after a miscarriage. Many men and women don’t share their feelings with others for many reasons: unsolicited advice often follows, they don’t want to be the center of attention, they feel a sense of privacy about their loss, or their support system isn’t comfortable with a great deal of emotion, for example. Joining a support group can help you connect with others in a safe space who have experienced a miscarriage.

Know the facts. Keep in mind that a miscarriage isn’t an indication of infertility or inability to carry to term. The vast majority of women (85%) go on to have healthy pregnancies after a miscarriage. Additionally, many women become pregnant soon after a miscarriage while still honoring and grieving the loss, so becoming pregnant again doesn’t bring your grief to a halt prematurely.

Seek out help from a mental health provider. PTSD, depression, anxiety, and body image issues can be hard to navigate alone. Getting help from a mental health provider, like a counselor or therapist, is often a critical step in your healing journey.

Physical Healing After Miscarriage

While you’re grappling with the emotions that often follow a miscarriage, your body also needs to heal. Both physical and hormonal changes can serve as a reminder of what you’ve gone through and require extra attention during the next several weeks or months.

Following an early pregnancy loss, expect strong cramping and bleeding that mimics a heavy period. Know that it may take 4-6 weeks for your period to return after your miscarriage. During this time, care for your emotional health, drink plenty of water, take the vitamins recommended by your provider, and get enough rest if possible. Call your OBGYN if you have bleeding that soaks through more than two pads an hour, severe cramping that lasts more than two weeks, high fever, or odorous vaginal discharge.

When fetal demise occurs later in pregnancy, recovery can mimic the recovery that follows pregnancy and delivery. Following a stillbirth, you can expect cramping, large blood clots, breast engorgement, and hormonal changes. Follow your doctor’s orders as you recover and make self-care a priority: nourish your body with nutritious food, water, and plenty of rest. If you experience a high fever, pain that is getting worse instead of better, bleeding that is becoming heavier instead of lighter, or odorous vaginal discharge, see your OBGYN right away.

Help for Healing After Miscarriage

Remember, if the pregnancy was unexpected or unwanted, you might still experience difficult thoughts and feelings as you recover.

To learn more about early pregnancy, unexpected pregnancy, or recovering after miscarriage, visit Willowbrook Women’s Center. Our compassionate team offers a wide variety of services to support in Cameron and St. Joseph, Missouri.

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.