Pregnancy & Parenthood
How will I feel?
Making the decision to have an abortion
can be difficult and painful, but ultimately it
is your choice. It can be much less
traumatic physically and emotionally than
having an unwanted child. A small
percentage of women have long-term
feelings of guilt and some feel that it was a
mistake. Many women feel relieved once
the abortion is over and see their decision
as regrettable but necessary. At least a
third of all women will have had an
abortion by age 45.
How safe is it?
The safest and easiest time to have an
abortion is within the first three months of
a pregnancy. Complications are rare – less
than 1% of women have to have the
procedure repeated because fragments of
pregnancy remain in the womb and cause
persistent bleeding and 1-2% of women
have an infection and are treated with
antibiotics. One or two women per
thousand will have a serious complication
and are likely to experience reduced fertility
or be unable to conceive again. If you have
had an abortion without incident, studies
indicate there should be no increase in
future fertility/pregnancy complications.
How do I get an abortion?
To get an abortion, you need to get a
referral from two doctors, usually your GP
and a doctor at the abortion clinic or
hospital. You can also see the Well Woman
Clinic or Caledonia Youth. Doctors may
refuse on the grounds of conscience, but
they must refer you to another doctor who
can help. If you feel your doctor hasn't
handled your request appropriately you can
inform the local Primary Care Trust.
You can also contact the British Pregnancy
Advisory Service on 08457 304030 to
arrange a private abortion. It costs
between £380 and £950 depending on the
stage of the pregnancy, and they provide
post-abortion counseling for free. Women
may choose this option if they are not
eligible for an NHS abortion, if they are not
comfortable asking their own GP for help,
and/or because it can be arranged quickly.
When is abortion legal?
Abortion is legal up to 24 weeks' gestation,
or when there is a risk of serious
permanent injury (or death) to the mother,
or if the child, if born, would be seriously
disabled. If an abortion is performed after
24 weeks' gestation it will most likely be
because there is something very wrong
with the baby.
How is it carried out?
There are different methods of having an
abortion depending on what stage your
pregnancy is at.
Early medical abortion – up to 9 weeks
You will be given two appointments, two
days apart. At each appointment you will
be given a tablet; together they induce a
miscarriage. It can be painful, like a very
heavy period, and you may feel sick or
get diarrhea from the medication.
Vacuum aspiration abortion – 5-15 weeks
Gentle suction is used to remove the
fetus. You may have a tablet placed
inside your vagina a few hours before,
and you will be given a general or local
anesthetic. The procedure should take 5-
10 minutes and you should be able to go
home on the same day. You may have
bleeding and cramps for up to 14 days.
Surgical dilation & evacuation – 15-19 weeks
This is also known as D&E. You will be
given a general anesthetic and then
narrow forceps and gentle suction will be
used to remove the fetus, placenta and
womb lining. It takes 10-120 minutes
and you should be able to go home the
same day. You may get cramping and
bleeding for up to 14 days afterwards.
Late abortion - 20 to 24 weeks
There are two kinds of late abortion. A
surgical two-stage abortion involves
stopping the heartbeat of the fetus and
then a D&E procedure the next day. A
medically induced abortion uses
medication to induce labour, which will
lead to a late miscarriage, with a D&E
done later to clear the womb. Both types
require an overnight stay in hospital.
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