How Is Abortion Done?

How Is Abortion Done | How Is Abortion Done? | 619,591 legal abortions occurred in 2018. It’s a fairly common procedure, but when facing the decision themselves, many women still wonder, ‘how is abortion done?

Some women are so consumed by abortion laws or questions like ‘do abortions hurt,’ that they never pursue the process, even though they want to. Others believe they either aren’t a candidate or are intimated by the process.

In this article, we discuss the different types of abortion, abortion rights, and what to expect from the process. Continue reading if you want to become knowledgeable about the process.

How is Abortion Done?

To answer the question, ‘how is abortion done,’ we’ll start by discussing the two main types of abortions: medication and in-clinic. The type used depends on how far along you are. So, when pursuing an abortion, be sure to find out, ‘what is my due date?

Medication Abortion

A medication abortion, or the ‘abortion pill,’ uses two different medications to terminate a pregnancy. This is an option for women who have had less than 11 weeks since the first day of their last period.

One tablet prevents the woman’s body from producing progesterone, which is necessary for growth. The second pill empties the uterus by causing bleeding and cramping.

A woman should experience bleeding within 24 hours of taking the second pill. They should contact their doctor if bleeding doesn’t occur in this time frame.

The success rate of medication abortion is relatively high, though it depends on how far along the pregnancy is. The highest chance of success is at 8 weeks or less.

In-Clinic Abortion

For women who are further along in their pregnancy, an in-clinic abortion is the preferred option among medical providers. The two types of abortions for in-clinic procedures are suction abortion and dilation and evacuation.

Suction abortion uses suction to empty the woman’s uterus. It’s used for women who are 14-16 weeks along in their pregnancy.

The dilation and evacuation procedure combines suction with the use of medical tools to clear out the uterus. This is for women who are 16 weeks or further into their pregnancy. Both procedures are 99% effective.

Are Abortions Safe?

Both types of abortions are considered safe. When looking at the number of abortions per year, out of 100,000 procedures, less than one results in death. In comparison, out of 100,000 live births, 17.4 result in death for the mother.

However, any medicine or medical procedure comes with risks. Some of the risks for both types of abortions include failure to abort the pregnancy, infection, heavy bleeding, blood clots, and allergic reactions.

These complications are rare and are easy to treat if they do occur. Working closely with your doctor can help minimize the risk of these side effects.

Do Abortions Hurt?

Another top question by women is, ‘do abortions hurt?’ The pain associated with the different types of abortions varies by the individual. Medication abortions often result in heavy to severe cramping.

In-clinic abortions can range from mild to severe discomfort. Many patients compare the feeling to strong menstrual cramps. Plus, you will receive medication and numbing agents to manage the pain during and after the procedure.

Abortion Laws

Abortion laws vary by state with some outlawing the process altogether. Other states instituted other limitations such as how far along a woman’s pregnancy is or who must perform the abortion.

At the federal level, abortion remains legal. However, there are different political agendas attempting to ban abortions past the 20-week mark. These attempts have failed so far.

What to Expect

Knowing the answer to the question, ‘how is abortion done,’ is important, but it’s also important to know what to expect from the procedure as a whole. This can make a difficult process more manageable.

Before the Procedure

Once a woman schedules an abortion or a consultation for an abortion, the medical team may ask her to fast in the event they perform an in-clinic abortion. This generally means no food after midnight the day prior to the appointment.

Day-Of the Procedure

At the clinic, there is paperwork and medical history to review before a physical exam, pregnancy test, blood test, and tests for sexually transmitted diseases are all completed. The medical staff may also perform an ultrasound to determine how far along the pregnancy is.

After this point, the doctor discusses abortion (as part of a brief counseling session) and options. If they recommend an in-clinic abortion, it’s important to expect pain management options such as a local anesthetic (the numbing of the cervix) and post-procedure pain management.

The procedure itself is relatively quick, lasting about 10 minutes. However, the visit itself will last several hours. The appointment time also varies by how far along a woman is in her pregnancy.


After about 30 minutes of monitoring, the patient may return home to rest and begin recovery. If possible, plan on bringing someone along to drive you home. Some clinics require this, especially if you received a sedative.

Light bleeding and cramping for 1 to 2 weeks following the procedure are normal. However, severe pain, bleeding, and fever are not. These symptoms may require medical attention.

If the recovery process goes well, a follow-up appointment is the next step. This typically occurs 1-4 weeks after the abortion. At this appointment, the doctor verifies that the pregnancy was successfully terminated and there are no complications.

Preparing for the Abortion Process

Understanding the answer to the question, ‘how is abortion done,’ can help you with a difficult decision. Now that you understand the different types of abortion, how to learn about your abortion rights, and some statistics about abortions per year, you have assembled important pieces of information.

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