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Abortion

Abortion may, at first, seem like the easiest way to deal with an unplanned pregnancy; however, abortion is not just a simple procedure. For many women, it is a life-changing event with significant physical, emotional, and spiritual/moral consequences. Most women who struggle with past abortions say they wish they had been told all of the facts before making their choice. As with any major decision, you will want to be well informed, which includes information about abortion methods and abortion risks.

Abortion Methods


Risks of Abortion

Ultimately, you have the responsibility and legal right to make the decision about your pregnancy. It is important for you to know that though your parents, relatives, and baby's father may care about you, no one can force you to get an abortion. Real empowerment comes when you take the time to find the inner strength and resources you need to make an informed decision about your pregnancy based on accurate and factual information. The choice you make is for a lifetime and deserves careful thought and consideration. PCC is here to help you explore your pregnancy options and other concerns.

Abortion Methods

The Morning After Pill
Plan B One-Step TM (Morning-After Pill) is intended to prevent pregnancy after known or suspected contraceptive failure, unprotected intercourse or forced sex. It contains large amounts of levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone found in some birth control pills. It may work by preventing the egg and sperm from meeting by delaying ovulation; it won't disrupt an implanted pregnancy, but may prevent a newly formed life from implanting in the uterus. 1

Plan B One-Step TM consists of one pill taken within 72 hours of sex. 2

Side effects may include changes in periods, nausea, lower abdominal pain, fatigue, headache and dizziness3. If your period is more than a week late, you may be pregnant from a prior sexual encounter. Plan B One-Step TM should not be taken during pregnancy nor used as a routine form of birth control. 4,5

There is evidence that Plan B One-Step TM use may increase the risk for ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition6. Women who have severe abdominal pain may have an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, and should get immediate medical help.

It is reported that Plan B One-Step TM prevents an average of 84% of expected pregnancies7,8. There are no long-term studies on the safety of Plan B One-Step TM in women under 17, after repeated use or effects on future fertility9.

ella® 10

ella® (ulipristal) is an FDA-approved emergency contraceptive for use within 5 days of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Pregnancy from a previous sexual encounter should be ruled out before taking ella®. It is to be used only once during a menstrual cycle. It is estimated that taking ella® will reduce the number of expected pregnancies from 5.5% to 2%. ella® may reduce the chance of pregnancy by preventing or postponing ovulation. It also may work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, which is a form of early abortion4. ella® is a chemical cousin to the abortion pill Mifeprex. Both share the progesterone-blocking effect of disrupting the embryo's attachment to the womb, causing its death11.

The most common adverse reactions of ella® include headache, nausea, stomach (abdominal) pain, menstrual cramps, fatigue and dizziness. Women who experience abdominal pain three to five weeks after using ella® should be evaluated right away for an ectopic pregnancy. Much is unknown about the drug, including its effect on women who are under 18 or over 35 years of age, taking other hormonal contraception, pregnant from a previous encounter, taking ella® repeatedly during the same cycle or are breast-feeding.

Click here for more information about the Morning After Pill.

Medical/Chemical Abortions
RU-486 (The Abortion Pill)
This method (sometimes called the "Abortion Pill") is used very early in pregnancy, no later than nine weeks after your last period. The abortion provider either gives you an oral dose or injects you with Mifepristone (Mifeprex). This drug stops the production of a hormone your body needs to sustain the baby's life. The lining of your uterus softens and breaks down. If the baby isn't expelled, you are given another drug (Cytotec or Misoprostol) to make your cervix dilate and your uterus contract to push the baby from your body (similar to labor). This procedure usually takes three visits. If it fails, you will need a surgical abortion because of risks to your health and a high risk of fetal deformities.

M&M Method
Two drugs are used in this chemical abortion method. Methotrexate (MTX) was developed to fight cancer. It attacks cells that are growing rapidly and prevents them from multiplying. When used for abortion, MTX stops the baby from further developing, which will end his/her life. MTX is usually given as an injection. If needed, about a week later Misoprostol is vaginally inserted to cause contractions and expulsion. The M&M method is used up to seven weeks from your last period. If this procedure fails, you will need a surgical abortion because of risks to your health and the high risk of fetal deformities. MTX is sometimes used when an ectopic pregnancy occurs to protect the health of the mother, which is not the same as an elective abortion.

Surgical Abortions
Suction Aspiration (Used up to 14 weeks LMP)
For this procedure, you lie on your back with your feet in stirrups, and the abortion provider applies a shot of anesthetic to your cervix to reduce pain. Your cervical muscle is stretched with dilator rods of increasing size until the opening is wide enough to allow the abortion tools to pass into your uterus. The provider then guides a suction device through the cervix and into your uterus. When the suction machine is turned on, you hear and feel the strong force of the vacuum, which may cause intense cramping. The vacuum is used to pull the placenta and baby into parts small enough to pass out of your body through the suction tube.

Dilation and Curettage (D&C) (Used up to 14 weeks LMP)
The abortion provider opens your cervix, as described above, but in this case a loop-shaped knife is used to scrape the wall of your uterus. This cuts the placenta and baby into smaller parts so they can be pulled out of your body through the cervix. There is a higher risk of perforating your uterus with this procedure. A general anesthesia is usually required. A D&C is sometimes necessary when a miscarriage (a natural pregnancy loss) occurs to protect the health of the mother. It is not the same as an elective abortion.

Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) (Used 13-24 weeks LMP)
Because the bones of the baby are larger and stronger, the abortion provider uses a medical instrument to pull the baby into smaller parts and remove those parts through your cervix. This procedure requires your cervix to be opened wider than with the Suction or D&C methods, and there are greater risks of harm to you.

Dilation and Extraction (Partial-Birth Abortion) (Used 20 weeks LMP to full-term)
This procedure takes three days. Laminaria (a seaweed-type substance that expands when moist) is used to dilate the cervix over a two-day period. On the third day, you receive medication to start labor. An ultrasound is used to locate the baby's legs. Grasping a leg with large forceps, the abortion provider delivers the baby up to his/her head. With the baby's head lodged at the cervical opening, the provider makes an incision in the base of the baby's skull, inserts a suction catheter and empties the contents of the baby's skull. The skull collapses and the baby is removed. Damage may occur due to extensive stretching of the cervix during the procedure. Note: On April 19, 2007, in a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Congressional ban on partial birth abortion. The court found that the procedure is never necessary to protect the life or health of the mother, but rather posed significant risks, particularly to a woman's emotional and mental health following the procedure.

Abortion Risks

Physical Risks
Side effects occur with induced, surgical abortion. These include abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Abortion also carries the risk of significant complications such as bleeding, infection, and damage to organs. The further along you are in your pregnancy, the greater the risk. Complications may include: heavy bleeding, infection, incomplete abortion, reaction to anesthesia, damage to the cervix, scarring of the uterine lining, perforation of the uterus, damage to internal organs, and death.

Abortion and STDs: Because abortion is an invasive procedure, it is important that you be screened for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) prior to the procedure, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. An unrecognized STD (such as gonorrhea or chlamydia) can spread into the uterus during an abortion and possibly cause complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or internal bacterial infections. PID is a potentially life threatening disease that can lead to an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and reduced fertility. PID, triggered by the presence of chlamydia, is the single largest cause of infertility in women.

Medical/Chemical Abortion: The risks of chemical abortion (RU486 and M&M) include heavy bleeding, hemorrhage, severe cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, a high risk of fetal deformities if abortion fails, or death. The full abortion may occur anytime or anywhere and may take 9-14 days. If it fails, surgical abortion is necessary.

Emotional Impact
Some women experience strong negative emotions after abortion. Sometimes this occurs within days and sometimes after many years. This emotional response is known as Post Abortion Stress (PAS). Several factors that impact the likelihood of PAS include: the woman's age, the abortion circumstances, the stage of pregnancy at which the abortion occurs, and the woman's religious beliefs

PAS symptoms:
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anniversary grief
  • Flashbacks of abortion
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Relationship problems
  • Eating disorders
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Psychological reactions
If you are experienceing PAS symptoms from a past abortion, we offer support just for you. Call us at 407.846.9101 for more information.

Spiritual/Moral Consequences
People have different understandings of God. Whatever your present beliefs may be, there is a spiritual side to abortion that deserves to be considered. Having an abortion may affect more than just your body and your mind-it may have an impact on your relationship with God. What is God's desire for you in this situation? How does God see your unborn child? These are important questions to consider.

FAQ

Explore Your Options. Take your time. Talk to someone you can trust—like the caring people at the Osceola Pregnancy Center (OPC). The staff and volunteers at OPC are available to listen and provide encouragement and practical help. We will not judge you or pressure you into doing something you don't want to do.

If you or someone you know is pregnant and are considering abortion, here are some concerns you will want to consider:
My parents will kill me if they find out.
Your parents may be upset and disappointed. After the initial shock, parents of pregnant young women usually come to terms with the situation and even become supportive. OPC can give you guidance as to how to break the news to your parents. You may be surprised at how supportive they will be as parents and grandparents.

My parents will kick me out of the house.
If this happens, OPC can help you seek housing options.

My parents are forcing me to have an abortion.
Legally, no one (parents, boyfriend, husband, agency) can force you to have an abortion, even if you are a minor.

My boyfriend/husband will leave me if I have this baby.
As the baby's father, your partner is just as responsible for the pregnancy as you are. It's questionable if he really loves you if he threatens to leave you because you want to have your baby. You are wise to be concerned about the effects of abortion on you and your child.

What will everyone think?
There are many single parents today. There is help in the community for single parents. Though your choice to have sex outside of marriage is a concern and an opportunity to reconsider healthy relationships, your baby is not a mistake.

I'm not ready to be a mother.
When you become pregnant, you also become a mother and are responsible for the child growing inside you. Yes, parenting requires more responsibility than being single. There are numerous resources available in the community to help single moms be the best parents they can be. Adoption is also a loving choice for you and your child.

A baby doesn't fit into my plans right now.
There usually is never an ideal time to have a baby. Whether you choose to parent your baby or make an adoption plan, adjustments can be made with the help of people who care about you and support you.

It's not even a baby yet.
The baby is very much alive. Your baby's heart begins to beat at three weeks. By eight weeks brain waves can be detected. By twelve weeks the baby can silently cry and even suck his thumb. For more on your baby's development, see "When Does Pregnancy Begin".

I don't want to end up on welfare. I need to finish school.
Although it may be more difficult to continue your education, many women do graduate and find good jobs while caring for their children. Organizations like the Nurturing Network (1-800-TNN-4MOM) exist to help students and aspiring professional women complete their goals while facing an unplanned pregnancy. Experience shows that children increase a mother's motivation to succeed. Ask an OPC Staff member for other community assistance programs.

Abortion seems so much easier and quicker.
The abortion procedure is quick, but the effects can last a lifetime. Abortion can hurt you emotionally, physically, and spiritually/morally. Most relationships don't survive an abortion.

I can't afford a baby or I don't have medical insurance.
Raising a baby takes planning and help from others. OPC offers help with maternity and baby clothes. Baby supplies are available at no cost to you through our incentive program. Click here for more information about our Wee Care Program. Excellent prenatal health care assistance is also available, and OPC will provide referrals for community programs designed to help you and your child. You may also be covered under your parent's insurance.

I just had a baby; I can't have another one right now.
If you've recently given birth, it can be difficult to find out you're pregnant again. You already know about the miracle of life. Yes, two babies close together can be a challenge, but in a few years you may find that your two children will be the best of friends.

The doctor said something may be wrong with the baby.
Sometimes tests are wrong and the child is completely healthy. Prenatal tests and assessments may also not provide complete information about the level of the problem. Also consider: Is the value of human life dependent on health or attractiveness? Handicapped children deserve a chance at life; a chance to love and be loved. There are organizations that help families with special-needs children. There are also agencies willing to help you make an adoption plan. We can also refer you to a local physician for an expert consultation or second opinion.
One day when you look back on your life, what decision can you live with the best? That you chose the "easiest" and quickest way out through abortion or that through parenting or adoption you created a loving family for your baby regardless of immediate personal and financial concerns.

Adapted from M. Terwilliger, "Some Reasons to Decide" (Pregnancy: Teen Decisions)


Abortion Recovery

Following abortion, many women experience initial relief. The perceived crisis is over and life returns to normal. For many women, however, the crisis is not over. Months and even years later, significant problems can develop.

Women who have experienced abortion may develop the following symptoms:
  • Guilt
  • Grief
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Difficulty Bonding with Partner or Children
  • Eating Disorder
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, our pregnancy center offers confidential, compassionate support designed to help women and men work through these feelings. You are not alone.

If you wish to begin the healing process from a past abortion or abortions, we offer one-on-one and group classes and workshops, free of charge. Deciding to seek help may be one of the toughest decisions you have to make, but it may be one of the best.

To talk to someone about issues from a past abortion, please call us at 407.846.9101 or via email at info@opchelp.org.



References

1 Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Mechanism of action. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed on February 14, 2011.

2 Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Dosage and administration. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.

3 Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Adverse reactions. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.

4 Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Contraindications. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.

5 Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Indications and usage. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.

6 Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Ectopic pregnancy. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed March 14, 2011.

7 Plan B One-Step Prescribing Information. Clinical studies. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.

8 American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Emergency contraception. Practice Bulletin No. 112, May 2010.

9 Plan B One-Step prescribing information. Available at: http://www.planbonestep.com/pdf/PlanBOneStepFullProductInformation.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2011.

10 Watson Pharma, Inc. ELLA - ulipristal acetate tablet. Available at: http://pi.watson.com/data_stream.asp?product_group=1699&p=pi&language=E. Accessed February 23, 2011.

11 Harrison DJ, Mitroka JG. Defining reality: the potential role of pharmacists in assessing the impact of progesterone receptor modulators and misoprostol in reproductive health. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Dec 21, 2010; 45(1):115-9.