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Your doctor is required by law to give you information on a Woman's Right to Know before you receive an abortion. 

It includes the risks, side effects, and statistics on the risk of dying as a result of the procedure.

Types of Abortions

Medical Abortion

A medical abortion uses drugs (as opposed to surgery) to terminate your pregnancy.  RU 486 (mifepristone) and methotrexate are the two drugs commonly used for medical abortions.  This procedure usually requires 3 office visits.  On the first visit, pills are given which block the effects of progesterone, a pregnancy sustaining hormone.  This drug cuts off the supply of blood and nutrients to the developing embryo. On the second visit another drug is given to cause the uterus to contract and expel the embryo.  A third visit is done to confirm that the abortion is complete.  1-4% of the abortions will be incomplete which would require a surgical abortion to terminate the pregnancy.

The side effects of the abortion include hemorrhage (heavy bleeding) and infections.  The abortion pill is used in early pregnancies.

Surgical Abortion

D&C (Dilation and Curettage with Vacuum Aspiration) This type of abortion is typically used during the first trimester of pregnancy.  The doctor dilates (opens) the cervix and empties the uterus using suction.  After suctioning, the doctor may also scrape the walls of the uterus to ensure the embryo and placenta have been completely removed. Later in the first trimester, the cervix may need to be opened wider to accommodate the growing fetus.  The day before the procedure, thin absorbent rods may be placed in the cervix.  Further dilating many be done on the day of the procedure by inserting metal rods of increasing sizes into the cervix.

D&C abortion can be painful and local anesthesia or IV sedation may be used to manage pain.

The side effects of a D&C abortion include hemorrhage,(heavy bleeding), infection, and damage to organs by abortion instruments. In extreme cases, complications can lead to death. 

D&E (Dilation and Evacuation) This type of abortion is usually done in the second trimester of pregnancy.  Because the fetus is larger, the cervix is dilated  one to two days prior to the procedure with thin absorbent rods (laminaria) being inserted into the cervix.  Oral or vaginal medication to dilate the cervix may also be used.

After the cervix is stretched open the fetus is removed using a grasping type of tool (forceps).  Due to the size of the fetus, it is usually necessary to take it out in parts   in order for it to fit through the cervix.  The uterus is then scraped out with a currete and suctioned to remove any remaining fetal tissue. 

D&E abortions are painful and IV conscious sedation is commonly used to manage the pain.

The doctor keeps track of the removed fetal parts to insure that none are left inside the uterus as this could cause infection.

The side effects of a D&C abortion include hemorrhage,(heavy bleeding), infection, and damage to organs by abortion instruments. The is a higher risk of these side effects occurring the later the pregnancy due to the increased work being done to empty the uterus.  In extreme cases, complications can lead to death. 

Medical Abortion
Surgical Abortion