First of all, as someone who is pro-choice, I do NOT believe in abortion as a birth control method. I think that as a choice, abortion should be a last resort and people need to be as proactive as possible about their sexual health. Although I ranted about different contraception methods in one of my other posts, they are very effective when used correctly and using contraception is the responsible thing to do.
Also, if you've had unprotected sex recently (i.e. within the last 5 days), there are other options. The "morning after pill,"(technically, emergency contraception) which is sort of like a "super pill," lots of hormones to stop implantation. Also, if it's been less than 5 days since you had unprotected sex you can also have an emergency IUD implanted, which also can prevent implantation. Many people still consider this abortion, but it is much less invasive and hey, you can't make everyone happy.
- Medical Abortion - also known as chemical abortion, is the use of certain medicines, usually taken in several steps over a period of 2 weeks to terminate a pregnancy. The medications soften the cervix, stop the growth of the placenta and/or encourage contractions. Medical abortion can only be done during the first 9 weeks of pregnancy, causes moderate to heavy bleeding (similar, I'm assuming, as if you had a natural miscarriage) and has a slightly higher risk of infection (1 in 100,000 can lead to death). It also usually requires a few visits and a medical followup.
Surgical Abortion - There are 3 kinds. *WARNING* -- sort of graphic. However, I got them from WebMD, so they are factual.
- Manual Vacuum Aspiration - uses a tube attached to a syringe to draw the fetus out of the uterus. It can be used from 5 to 12 weeks after the last menstrual period.
- Machine Vacuum Aspiration - uses a tube attached to an electric pump to draw the fetus out of the uterus as the above. It can be used during the same time period (5 to 12 weeks after last period).
- D&E - uses a combination of vaccum aspiration, forceps and dilation and cutterage (D&C is what you get when you have a miscarriage after 12 weeks, btw, because you can get a severe infection otherwise). It can be used from 12 to 24 weeks, requires one visit and usually a sedative and local anesthesia. It has less of a risk of infection and is 99% effective.
There are complications with these procedure, as with any.
- Normal symptoms include irregular bleeding (for up to 3 weeks), cramping (for up to 2 weeks) and what they call an "emotional reaction," (which can include sadness, anger, guilt, regret, relief, or a range of depression symptoms. The website warns that prolonged symptoms of depression need to be talked about with a professional).
- Also, they warn about heavy bleeding, clotting, severe pelvic pain, fever etc. because these can be signs of complications. However, less than 1% of patients experience serious complications afterwards.
I believe that anyone who is sexually active should have the facts, for if they ever need to make this difficult choice. They need to have as much information as possible about contraception and methods of pregnancy termination. For instance, WebMD recommends sexually active women to have emergency contraception or a prescription for it on hand at all times.
So many of the young women who went to the "Pregnancy Health Clinic" seemed to have no idea about abortion (or birth control for that matter...I hate to judge, but I wanted to give the girl who was having her 2nd abortion in a year a pack of Trojans and a prescription for the Pill...) and got all kinds of wrong or exaggerated information from the women at the clinic.
They also got lied to about how far along they were in their pregnancy. Knowing about their bodies and menstrual cycles would be helpful here. I think that the best way to prevent all this headache and heartache is prevention. Access to and information about sex, contraception, abortion and reproductive health is the best way for people to make informed sexual choices, whether or not they are choices other people necessarily agree with.
P.S. I got all my information for this blog post from here and the links below.