An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy, which can be performed with medications or via surgery. The official medical term is an “induced abortion,” which specifies that it is a medical procedure. In contrast, a miscarriage or “spontaneous abortion” is when a fetus is expelled from a pregnant person’s uterus before 20 weeks of pregnancy. “Getting an abortion” refers to an induced abortion.
If you are pregnant but do not want to be, you may be interested in getting an abortion. Learn more about how to access abortion and what the procedure looks like below!
Medication Abortion (Abortion Pills)
An abortion pill refers to using two types of medication, mifepristone and misoprostol (or just misoprostol if mifepristone isn’t available), to end a pregnancy. Generally, this consists of a series of tablets taken over the course of 1-2 days that first halts the pregnancy and then induces contractions.
Different surgical procedures can be performed to terminate a pregnancy, depending on how far along in a pregnancy you are. All procedures are out-patient, meaning that you can go home soon after and do not need to stay in the hospital overnight.
Unfortunately, laws being passed in various states aim to prevent people from accessing abortions, often by placing restrictions on clinics and doctors that provide surgical abortions. Here are some questions that may arise as you look at abortion options in your state.
How do I know what the laws around abortion are in my state?
I need financial assistance to pay for my abortion. What are my options?
If abortion is illegal in my state, can I get into legal trouble for getting one?
Abortion is illegal in my state. What are my options?
My state requires me to get "abortion counseling" before I get the procedure. What should I expect?
Is a crisis pregnancy center the same as an abortion clinic?
Myths About Abortion
"Getting an abortion means I can’t have kids in the future.”
This isn’t true! Generally, abortion is a very safe procedure that hasn’t been found to affect fertility or future pregnancies. You can get pregnant just weeks after getting an abortion.
In rare cases, just like any medical procedure, there may be complications that could affect future pregnancies. Abortions that are done earlier in pregnancy are associated with fewer complications.
"People use abortions as a form of birth control."
As of 2014, 51% of people seeking abortions reported that they were already using some kind of contraception/birth control in the month that they got pregnant. Studies have also shown that if people used abortion as their main form of birth control, they would get two to three every year. However, on average, a person who can get pregnant will get no more than one or two abortions in their whole life. It’s clear that this myth is just wrong!
Sometimes, people end up pregnant when they don’t want to be, and it can be due to contraception failure, sexual assault, lack of sexual and reproductive health education, or inaccessible birth control methods.
Abortions are an important tool in the toolbox of reproductive health, alongside contraception, screenings, STI tests, and regular checkups. Not everyone is going to need it, but it’s good to have it just in case. No one should assume the reasons that people get an abortion, so that’s why it’s important to support widespread abortion access.
"Making abortion illegal stops abortions."
Criminalizing abortion and limiting access does not stop people from getting abortions. People have been getting abortions for thousands of years, but only in recent history has modern medicine made them safe, effective, and reliable – when they are protected by the law. By making them illegal, people will continue to seek out abortions through dangerous and unreliable methods, such as through unlicensed practitioners instead of trained doctors.
The most effective way to reduce the number of abortions is to improve sexual and reproductive education and resources, especially contraception methods. When people know how to prevent pregnancy and have the tools to do so (ex: condoms, birth control pills, etc.), overall abortion rates decline.
"Getting an abortion increases my risk of getting breast cancer."
This myth is untrue-- at this point, there is no clear scientific evidence that any type of abortion is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.
While there are some studies that show an increased risk of breast cancer, the most comprehensive studies and reviews find that there is no link between the two. To learn more about these studies, visit this link.
"Abortions are an excuse for people who were irresponsible."
Some people argue that abortion access should be limited to discourage people from getting abortions for “frivolous reasons” after they make a mistake.
In reality, 49% of abortion seekers live below the poverty level and are three times more likely to be poor. 73% of people seeking abortions state financial issues as a reason for their abortion. A driving motivator for seeking an abortion is that people cannot afford to be pregnant and/or raise the resulting child.
Speaking of children, 59% of abortions are obtained by people that already have children. Because these people are already aware of the time, money, and energy that goes into raising a child, we must trust their judgment when they say “I cannot be pregnant or have another child at this time in my life.”
As described above, people can end up pregnant but not want to be for many different reasons, and they do not owe other people explanations. They deserve to feel safe, happy, and confident in their decisions if they choose to get an abortion. That starts with educating ourselves on who gets abortions and the many reasons they might do so.
"If people don’t want a kid, they should put their baby up for adoption."
Adoption and abortion are not equal alternatives. Asking someone seeking an abortion to stay pregnant and give birth is asking them to deal with the life-long health effects of pregnancy. These include chronic hypertension, cardiovascular disease, increased risk of stroke, pelvic floor weakness, incontinence, depression, and more. Additionally, getting an abortion is much safer than being pregnant and giving birth – up to fourteen times safer. For some people, an abortion is about both not wanting to raise a child AND not wanting to be pregnant.