Is this topic for you?
This topic is about ending
a pregnancy. If you have had unprotected sex in the last 5 days and don't want
to become pregnant, see the topic
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. If you are
thinking about having an abortion, it's best not to wait. The earlier you are
in your pregnancy, the more options you are likely to have. Also, the risk of
problems will be lower.
Your doctor will ask about your medical
history and will do a physical exam. You will have lab tests to make sure that
you are pregnant. You may also have an ultrasound.
How will you know what decision is right for you?
Deciding to continue your pregnancy or end it is very personal.
Counseling may help you to decide what is best for you. If you're comfortable,
you can start by talking with your doctor. Family planning clinics also offer
counseling to help you decide what is best for you. You may also want to talk
with someone close to you who understands how pregnancy and raising a child
would affect your life. Carefully think through your choices, which are
- Have a baby, and support and raise your
child to adulthood.
- Have a baby, and place the baby for adoption.
- Have an abortion.
When can an abortion be done?
It will depend on
how many weeks pregnant you are. You may have a choice between a medical
abortion (which means taking medicine to end the pregnancy) and a surgical
abortion such as vacuum aspiration or dilation and evacuation (D&E).
After 9 weeks, surgical abortion is usually the only option. The risks
from having an abortion in the second
trimester are higher than in the first trimester.
Abortions done early in the pregnancy can be done by
your doctor or
gynecologist. Some nurse-midwives, nurse
practitioners, and physician assistants may also be trained to do some types of
abortions. Abortion services are most likely to be offered at university
hospitals and family planning clinics.
Some states in the U.S. have legal
restrictions on abortion. Talk to your closest Planned Parenthood or other
family planning clinic to learn more about restrictions in your state.
In some states, women younger than 18 will need a parent's permission. A
minor can get a court order that will allow an abortion without a parent's
Abortions are rarely done after 24 weeks of pregnancy
(during the late second trimester and entire third trimester). Many states have restrictions on abortions after 24 weeks.