What Are the Different Types of Abortion?

Generally speaking, there are two categories of abortion: medical and surgical. 

While medical abortion uses drugs to terminate a pregnancy through 10 weeks gestation, a surgical abortion uses a mixture of dilation, suction, and tools to extract the growing fetus. Surgical abortions can be performed later in pregnancy than medical abortion, but availability depends on state laws. 

At the time of writing, abortion is illegal in Texas, except in cases of life endangerment. Before seeking a legal abortion, here is more information about the procedures.

Medical Abortion or “The Abortion Pill”

Medical abortion has many names, including the abortion pill, medication abortion, self-managed abortion, mail-order abortion, at-home abortion, and others. These names represent the different characteristics of ending a pregnancy with prescription drugs.

The most common drugs utilized in this process are mifepristone and misoprostol. Prescribed by a licensed provider, these drugs are taken in succession, about 24-48 hours apart.

Mifepristone first blocks the hormone progesterone to end the pregnancy. Then, misoprostol triggers uterine contractions and expels the embryo and related pregnancy tissue from the uterus.

Typically completed at home, this type of abortion causes cramping and bleeding. Because of this, it’s not an option for women with certain health conditions, such as a bleeding disorder, certain heart diseases, or severe kidney, liver, or lung diseases. 

Surgical Abortion

As mentioned earlier, surgical abortion can be performed later in pregnancy. It works by first dilating the cervix with either small instruments or medication. Then, a health care provider removes the pregnancy and uterine tissue using a curette (a sharp tool or suction device.)

There are a few different kinds: vacuum aspiration, dilation & curettage, and dilation & evacuation, but they all use a similar method. Some might take more time or use more tools if performed later in pregnancy.

As with any medical procedure or medication, every abortion type comes with risks. Make sure you’re aware and informed before proceeding. You will also want to schedule an ultrasound to rule out miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, as these can jeopardize your health and safety.

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