The Abortion Option

We tend to think that being “supportive” means keeping silent and letting her make the decisions. You have a right to know the facts and help choose the best option. You and your partner deserve to know about all the potential risks ahead of time before you go through a procedure that can have long-term effects on your health and wellbeing.


The Abortion Pill

The abortion pill is also called a medical abortion and typically is done through 9 weeks from a woman’s last menstrual period—LMP, (even though the FDA only approves this through 7 weeks LMP). This requires a few doctor visits and involves two medications: mifepristone and misoprostol. Taking these meds ends the embryo’s life insider her and causes cramping and bleeding for 1-2 weeks. At this time she may see identifiable parts of the baby expelled from her body. Sometimes this abortion still method fails to terminate the pregnancy.

If the medical abortion is not successful, she will then undergo a surgical procedure to complete the abortion. Medical abortion usually involves more bleeding than a surgical abortion.( Both abortions cost about the same.) Sometimes a woman will need the surgical procedure in addition to the medical one just to stop the bleeding. A small number of women have died from infection as a result of these procedures. There have also been reports of birth defects in some of the pregnancies that continue.

Some people claim that the abortion pill is pretty natural and safe. But do not make the mistake of believing it: there is nothing safe or natural about a medication that ends life. It also carries the risk of excessive bleeding and life-threatening infection for her too.

Surgical Abortion

All surgical abortions involve opening the woman’s cervix and cleaning out her uterus (where the baby grows) using surgical instruments. The length of time a woman has been pregnant determines the type of surgical abortion performed.

The most basic procedure is as follows:

  • A day or two before the abortion procedure, her cervix is softened and slightly dilated using medication placed in her vagina.
  • The day of the procedure, the woman is put on her back with feet up in stirrups and her knees spread wide apart.
  • She is given meds to cause some sedation (this may involve general anesthesia, which raises the cost and risk of the procedure).
  • A metal, clamp-like tool is placed in her vagina and stretched open to access her cervix (opening to the womb/uterus).
  • Local anesthetic is injected into her cervix.
  • The cervix is stretched open using progressively larger metal rods.
  • A plastic tube is placed through the opening into the uterus and attached to suction (pump).
  • The suction pulls the baby’s body apart and out through tubing, into a jar.
  • For pregnancy 16 weeks (LMP) and beyond, a grasping instrument is used to pull parts of the baby out because his bones are hardening and he’s too large to fit through the suction tube. The abortion provider keeps track of what body parts are being removed so that a body part is not left behind that might cause bleeding or infection.
  • Finally, a scraping tool is used to remove any remaining fetal tissue, the placenta and the amniotic sac.

Later Term Abortion

Later term abortion procedures are generally considered to be those taking place after 22 weeks since the woman’s LMP and are associated with a higher risk of complications and death. For these abortions, injections of specific medications are given to cause the baby’s death before the procedure starts. This requires using an ultrasound machine to guide placement of a long needle through your partner’s abdomen and into the amniotic fluid, umbilical cord, or directly into the baby’s heart, causing it to stop beating. A surgical abortion may follow or the abortion provider may induce labor, which can involve 10-24 hours in a hospital’s labor and delivery unit where she will give birth to a dead baby. Sometimes a surgical scraping of the uterus is necessary to remove any afterbirth.

What can go wrong?

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Incomplete abortion and/or infection
  • Damage to the cervix, uterus, or bowel
  • Reactions to anesthesia

In addition, having a surgical abortion can increase a woman’s likelihood of having a premature baby in the future. By comparison, carrying a baby to term reduces her risk for breast cancer, especially for younger women with their first pregnancy.

After Abortion

Following abortion, some women experience an initial relief. At first life seems to return to “normal,” but the crisis isn’t over. Later, serious problems can develop that may affect a woman’s ability to enjoy her life.

A woman is at increased risk for:

  • Clinical depression and anxiety
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Suicidal thoughts, attempts and deaths
  • Relationship difficulty, including sexual intimacy struggles

What about YOU?

Men who have experienced a partner’s abortion may struggle with:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Feelings of failure
  • Feeling powerless
  • Grief
  • Relationship problems