Abortion

  • Can medical abortion medications be detected in a blood or other type of test?

    No, a blood test or other type of test (like biopsy) will NOT show that a woman used Misoprostol (one of the medical abortion methods). Doctors cannot recognize the difference between spontaneous miscarriage and induced abortion unless they find physical traces of the pills.

  • Is it safe to have an abortion with pills if I’ve already had one in the past?

    Women are fertile for about 40 years. Some women need more than one abortion with pills. Having a safe abortion, or more than one safe abortion, does not impact a woman’s health or ability to have children in future.

  • Is it true that emergency contraception causes abortion?

    No. Abortion ends a pregnancy. Emergency contraception (EC) cannot end a pregnancy. EC works before a pregnancy begins. Pregnancy begins with the implantation of the developing fertilized egg in a woman’s uterus.

    EC can be started within five days of unprotected intercourse. It prevents ovulation — the release of the egg. Or it prevents fertilization — the joining of the sperm and the egg — which usually occurs within six days of intercourse. In theory, it’s possible for EC to prevent implantation, but implantation doesn’t occur until five to seven days after fertilization. To read more about emergency contraception, click here.

  • A friend says she heard that millions of women who have had abortions suffer from something called “post-abortion syndrome,” which she says is just like post-traumatic stress syndrome. Is that true?

    No, it’s not true. Post-traumatic stress disorder is recognized as a legitimate psychological diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association. So-called “post-abortion syndrome” is not.

    In fact, severe emotional disturbance after childbirth, sometimes referred to as postpartum psychosis, occurs somewhat more frequently than severe emotional disturbance after abortion. Interestingly, research has shown that rates of post-partum psychosis decrease in societies that legalize abortion.

    Studies suggest that while severe emotional disturbance following abortion is very rare, it is more likely for women who have

    • delays in getting abortion
    • medical or genetic reasons to abort a wanted pregnancy
    • severe pre-existing or concurrent psychiatric illness
    • conflict over abortion
  • Is abortion ever really necessary to save a woman’s life?

    Yes. There are many health conditions in which abortion may become critical to protect a woman's life. There is, for example, a form of pregnancy-related high blood pressure that can be life threatening. The medical term for it is preeclampsia. It occurs in seven percent of pregnant women. If it is untreated or doesn't respond to treatment, it can lead to convulsions, failure of various organ systems, coma, or death. Abortion may be the only way to save the woman's life.

    Certain other conditions, such as severe diabetes, heart disease, or trauma from car accidents, may also require abortion to save a woman's life. Termination of pregnancy is also essential to save the life of a woman with an ectopic/tubal pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the uterus).

  • What are induced abortions and spontaneous abortions?

    An abortion is the induced or spontaneous termination of a pregnancy. A spontaneous abortion occurs when a pregnancy terminates without any medical or surgical intervention, as in the case of a miscarriage. Induced abortions involve surgical or medical procedures for termination of the pregnancy.

  • I missed my period. I should have had it last week. Do you think I’m pregnant?

    The only way to be sure of pregnancy early on is to have a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests are accurate after a missed period — some can even detect pregnancy a few days before a missed period.

    The most obvious symptom of pregnancy is a missed period. Other possible symptoms include

    • nausea
    • inexplicable fatigue
    • sore or enlarged breasts
    • headaches
    • frequent urination

    However, it is possible that any combination of these symptoms could also indicate that a woman is premenstrual, or that she has the flu or some other illness.

    Many women, especially young women, have normally irregular periods. These irregularities may include missed periods and other changes in the menstrual cycle. These irregularities can vary from month to month. Although pregnancy is the most common reason for missing a period, irregularity is also caused by illness, travel, worry, or stress.
    Pregnancy testing is the only way to be sure.

  • Does having an abortion really lead to breast cancer?

    No. There is no truth to this at all. Many studies, including one of 1.5 million women in Denmark, have found no link between cancer and abortion — none.

  • If a woman says she’s had a curettage, does that mean that she had an abortion?

    Not necessarily. Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a procedure that involves stretching open the cervix with medication and/or instruments called dilators and then removing all or part of the uterine lining — the endometrium — with a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette. D&C is done for many reasons. It may be done to

    • perform an abortion
    • remove remains of the placenta after childbirth or miscarriage
    • diagnose or rule out endometrial cancer
    • diagnose or remove suspected polyps
    • diagnose and treat problems with heavy or abnormal bleeding
    • follow up on Pap or other tests that indicate abnormalities in the uterus
  • How accurate are pregnancy tests after abortion?

    The pregnancy hormone, HCG (human chorionic gonadatropin), can remain in the body for up to 60 days after an abortion. Similarly, HCG levels can be measurable for weeks after childbirth. This can lead to pregnancy tests with false positive results for women who take home pregnancy tests.

    Women who use home pregnancy tests and who are concerned that pregnancy is continuing or another pregnancy has occurred can consult their health care provider to test for the precise levels of HCG in the blood, or have an ultrasound to check.

  • Is having an abortion emotionally and psychologically dangerous?

    No. Most women feel relief after an abortion. Serious emotional problems after abortion are much less likely than they are after giving birth. People who are anti-abortion may make false claims about this. They want people to believe that most women who choose abortion suffer severe and long lasting emotional trauma that they label “post abortion trauma”. This is not true.

    Scientific studies over the last 20 years have found that emotional reactions to having abortion are relatively positive with two exceptions; women who had psychological problems before the pregnancy and women who have to terminate a wanted pregnancy.

  • Will I be able to get pregnant and have children after a medical abortion?

    Medical abortions do not affect ability to conceive or bear a child in the future. In fact, if a woman does not want to become pregnant at this time, it is important to start using contraceptives as soon as she starts having sexual relations again.