Understanding Abortion & The Risks: Everything You Need To Know In 2021

There are a number of reasons why you may be thinking about an abortion. A tough pregnancy situation can leave you searching for what seems like the quickest way out. But as with any medical procedure, it is best to make sure you know all the information first before making a decision.

Ending a pregnancy is never an easy choice. If you’re considering abortion, it’s natural to have questions and concerns. You’re not alone. Read on for a pre-abortion checklist and the necessary steps to take before an abortion decision. In addition, Embrace offers private, pressure-free abortion education and counseling.

Women just like you have been coming to our center in Wichita since 1985. Our services are confidential and offered at no cost to you; we never financially benefit from your decision. Call 316-945-9400 or text 316-530-1009 to schedule your appointment today.

Step 1: Confirm Your Pregnancy

While this may sound like an odd question, are you sure you’re actually pregnant? When a missed period occurs or you have light spotting, it’s easy to jump to conclusions and assume that you’re pregnant. If you are experiencing any symptoms of early pregnancy or are unsure, the best thing to do is have your pregnancy confirmed. At Embrace, we offer lab-quality pregnancy testing at no charge to you.

Some of the most common signs of early pregnancy are:

  • Increased fatigue.
  • Swollen and sensitive breasts.
  • Morning sickness.
  • Aversion to certain smells and foods.

Step 2: Verification Ultrasound

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you then need to confirm that it is a viable pregnancy: that the pregnancy is healthy and will carry to term on its own. You might not know that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage on their own, with the majority of them occurring during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The best way to ensure that you have a viable pregnancy is through a verification ultrasound. Ultrasounds tell you the location of your pregnancy to ensure it’s not an ectopic (or tubal) pregnancy and the approximate gestational age of your pregnancy. This information will help determine what abortion procedures are available to you.

Step 3: Learn About Your Abortion Options

There are two types of abortion procedures: medical and surgical. If you are 10 weeks or less into your pregnancy, medical abortion (more commonly known as the abortion pill) is available to you.

After 10 weeks into your pregnancy, the abortion pill is not medically allowed; surgical abortion options, such as suction and curettage (S&C) or dilation and evacuation (D&E), are then offered. In S&C abortions, a suction machine and a curette — a thin, loop-shaped knife — are used to remove the fetus from your uterus; this is the most common abortion procedure.

For D&E abortions, the same tools are used in conjunction with forceps; this procedure is typically only performed on women with advanced pregnancies.

The cost of abortion will vary based on several factors, such as your insurance coverage, the location of the provider, and how far along you are. In Wichita, you can expect to pay $600-$800 without insurance, on average.

Step 4: Learn About The Side Effects

Lastly, you should be aware of the side effects and risks of abortion procedures. Surgical and medical abortions share some side effects, such as abdominal cramping, pain, nausea, and heavy bleeding. However, surgical abortions are more invasive. In rare cases, the procedures can cause damage to your uterine lining or cervix, which may make it harder for you to become pregnant in the future.

Knowing that we are more than just physical beings, it’s important to consider the mental and emotional side effects as well. There’s no way to predict your emotional response to terminating a pregnancy or how it will affect you even years down the road.

It’s common for women to feel a wide range of emotions after an abortion, such as guilt, depression, relief, anger, or regret. Part of these feelings are due to the hormonal changes that occur during and after pregnancy, but abortion can take a mental toll as well.

Often referred to as Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS), its effects are different for each woman and can present in many different ways. At Embrace, we offer free post-abortion recovery counseling to help you navigate the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of abortion that you may experience.

Medical Abortions: Risks & Side Effects

Many women who become pregnant unexpectedly think abortion is an easy and painless solution. However, there are real risks and side effects to abortions you should know about. Make sure you understand the realities of abortion before you decide

Though medical abortions are supervised by doctors and nurses, they are far from risk-free. There are many possible physical side effects to medical abortions, including:

  • Abdominal pain, sometimes severe.
  • Spotting or bleeding.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and trouble eating.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Infections in your vagina, cervix, or uterus.
  • Damage to your cervix or uterus.
  • Damage to other internal organs.
  • Loss of life.

Most of these side effects are rare, but they become more common the longer you wait to get an abortion. If you’re considering an abortion, you should be aware of these risks and that you cannot predict whether or not they will affect you.

Post Abortion Stress Syndrome

In addition to the physical side effects, medical abortions can also have severe mental and emotional side effects that can last for years after the procedure. Emotional side effects after abortions are quite common and can affect every woman differently. Some of the most common mental side effects from abortion are:

  • Emotional turmoil and regret.
  • Moderate to severe depression.
  • Anger towards friends or family members, especially if they encouraged you to go through with the abortion.
  • Feelings of loneliness or isolation from others.
  • Relationship problems with your significant other, especially if they encouraged you to go through with the abortion.
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Many of these symptoms are often grouped together under the name “post-abortion stress syndrome.” PASS is a type of post-traumatic stress disorder that affects women who have undergone an abortion. The symptoms can last for months to years after their abortion and some women never make a complete recovery if they don’t seek help. 

You should also note it’s much more common to feel these side effects when you consider the reality of abortion as the termination of a life inside you.

Abortion Procedures: What To Expect

Abortions are not all the same. Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, you may have to undergo a variety of procedures in order to have an abortion. And though some women believe abortion is an easy and painless solution to an unexpected pregnancy, there are real risks involved. Make sure you understand the realities of abortion before you decide.

Below you will find basic information on the different types of abortion procedures, as well as when in your pregnancy each type of abortion would be performed.

Through 10 Weeks of Pregnancy: RU-486 (Abortion Pill)

For women very early in their pregnancy, RU-486 is a common abortion method. Also known as the abortion pill, RU-486 is actually a combination of two different medications. It is effective at terminating a pregnancy up through the 10th week of pregnancy.

The administration of RU-486 requires at least one initial visit to your provider and a follow-up visit to verify the abortion is complete.

4 To 13 Weeks of Pregnancy: Vacuum Aspiration Abortion

For pregnancies early in the first trimester but where the abortion pill may not be useable (such as in the case of a medical allergy), vacuum aspiration is another possible abortion method. In vacuum aspiration, a doctor will insert a long thin tube called a suction cannula into the uterus. It will then be attached to a manual or electric suction machine to remove the fetus. The doctor will usually give you an anesthetic to reduce discomfort.

For those toward the end of the first trimester, the doctor will need to open your cervix wider. Medications or thin rods made of seaweed can be inserted into the cervix to soften it and open it. The next day, the doctor may further stretch the cervix with metal rods. Local or general anesthesia is usually given for this.

The doctor then inserts a plastic tube into the uterus and uses suction with an electrical or manual suction machine. The suction pulls the fetus’ body apart and out of the uterus. Often a loop-shaped tool called a curette is used to scrape any remaining fetus and fetal parts out of the uterus. These parts are often referred to as “products of conception.”

13 To 24+ Weeks of Pregnancy: Dilation And Evacuation

During the second trimester, your cervix must be opened wider because the fetus is larger. The cervix needs to be opened to prevent the surgical instruments and fetal body parts from damaging your internal organs such as the uterus, cervix, or bladder.

The doctor will dilate your cervix by inserting several thin rods made of seaweed into the cervix a day or two before the abortion procedure. Sometimes oral or vaginal medications are used to soften the cervix further.

On the day of the procedure, after the doctor gives you anesthesia, metal rods are used to further stretch your cervix. Until 16 weeks, a cannula is inserted through the cervical opening, and suction applied to pull the fetal body apart and out of the uterus. The remaining fetal parts will be removed with forceps and a curette.

After 16 Weeks of Pregnancy

Most of the procedure is performed with forceps to pull fetal parts out through the cervix. Then a curettage or suction machine is used to make sure the uterus is empty.

After 24 Weeks of Pregnancy

There is potential for a fetus to be born alive. This requires the doctor to first administer injections of digoxin, potassium chloride, or air to cause fetal death. They will inject the air or medications into the amniotic fluid, umbilical cord, or in the fetus’ heart. Typically a large needle is guided into the fetal heart and injected to stop the fetal heart.

The rest of the procedure is the same as for 13 to 24 weeks of pregnancy noted above unless the doctor performs an “Intact D&E”. This is when the doctor removes the fetus in one piece. Often the doctor will crush the fetus’ skull first because the cervix is not large enough to bring the head out intact.

What Is Abortion Pill Reversal?

It’s an unfortunate truth that many women who choose to undergo an abortion have regrets – and some start having them immediately after taking the first abortive medication. In the past, these women would have had to finish a procedure they didn’t want. Now, however, there is another option: a medical treatment to reverse the effects of the abortion pill.

The Abortion Pill Reversal Process

Abortion pill reversal is based on reversing or avoiding the effects of the first abortive drug, mifepristone. Because mifepristone works to block progesterone receptors, abortion pill reversal attempts to overwhelm that drug with supplemental progesterone.

By giving a woman who has taken mifepristone high doses of supplemental progesterone, doctors can reduce the effects of the drug and attempt to save the pregnancy. The supplemental progesterone works to negate the mifepristone in the body until the abortion drug is out of the woman’s system and her own progesterone can support the pregnancy normally.

Research shows that when high-dose oral progesterone is taken within 72 hours of the first abortion pill, it is 68% effective in stopping the effects of abortion drugs and saving a pregnancy. In other words, about 68% of women who undergo the reversal will be able to continue on and have a normal pregnancy with no harm to the baby. While this isn’t a perfect success rate, it’s a rare opportunity for a second chance for women who regret their initial choice. Over 2000 pregnancies have been saved to date using abortion pill reversal.

Can I Get An Abortion Pill Reversal?

If you have already taken mifepristone and you’re having second thoughts, it may not be too late. Call the Abortion Pill Reversal hotline today at (877) 558-0333 and learn more about your options, or visit their website now.

How Much Does An Abortion Cost?

The average cost for an abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy ranges between $600 to $800 without insurance. At this time, most insurance companies will only cover abortion in cases of life endangerment.

The final cost is dependent on multiple factors, such as:

  • Insurance.
  • Location.
  • The provider.
  • How far along you are.
  • If follow-up appointments are needed.
  • Travel expenses, such as having to travel out of state.

Frequently Asked Questions About Abortion In 2021

Many women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy often view abortion as their first or only choice. However, when it comes to asking questions about abortion, there is often a stigma surrounding the subject. At Embrace, we are dedicated to providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision about your pregnancy options. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about abortion and Kansas state laws regarding abortion:

Do I Have To Tell My Parents If I’m Under 18?

The requirements for this vary from state to state. In Kansas, the law requires anyone under the age of 18 who is looking to obtain an abortion to have consent from parents or a legal guardian.

Will Plan B Work If I Know I’m Already Pregnant?

No; if you are already pregnant the Plan B pill will not work. The Plan B pill works in one of two ways: by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary, or by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. If your pregnancy test result is positive, your best option is to schedule a free sonogram at Embrace. This will determine how far along you are and make sure the pregnancy is viable.

When Can I Get An Abortion? Am I Too Far Along To Take The Pill?

In Kansas, an abortion can be obtained up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. The only exception to abortion after 22 weeks is if your life is in danger from the pregnancy.

In addition, an abortion pill is an option only for women who are no more than 10 weeks pregnant. After 10 weeks, the pill becomes illegal to use for abortion and surgical methods must be used.

If you don’t know how far along you are, Embrace offers a free limited obstetrical ultrasound with proof of positive pregnancy. Call to ask about getting an appointment scheduled or come in for your initial visit and free pregnancy test anytime during walk-ins hours.

Why Do I Need An Ultrasound Before An Abortion?

Receiving an ultrasound before you get an abortion is an important medical step and one of the most accurate ways to get essential information about your pregnancy. An ultrasound determines if your pregnancy is viable, how far along you are, and the location of your pregnancy.

This is the first step in discovering what pregnancy options you have, as each abortion procedure is only available during certain points of your pregnancy.

At Embrace, we provide limited ultrasounds free of charge.

Does Abortion Hurt? How Will I Feel After?

Every person’s experience with abortion will differ. Most women experience bleeding and cramping, as well as other possible physical risks.

There is no universally accepted standard for how you should expect to feel after an abortion. In some cases, women can deal with feelings of depression, grief, guilt, and loss; this is commonly referred to as Post Abortion Stress Syndrome or PASS.

If you are dealing with such feelings or just want someone to talk to about your experience with abortion, Embrace provides post-abortion support at no cost. Call to schedule an appointment with our licensed counselor today.

If you’re currently considering an abortion or seeking more information on your pregnancy options, don’t be afraid to reach out. You have time to make your decision. Finding out you’re pregnant at any stage of life can be overwhelming and our staff is here to offer support, encouragement, and resources along your journey. We provide pre-abortion consultations and pregnancy services at no charge to you. Call 316-945-9400, text 316-530-1009, or request an appointment online.

Dr. Angela Holdeman

Dr. Angela Holdeman

OB/GYN

The content on this page has been approved by one of our board members: Dr. Angela Holdeman, OB/GYN.