FAQ Commonly Asked Questions
The Abortion Care Network answers your questions (FAQ) about abortion safety, abortion procedures, protesters, pain management, the need for support, and the difference between the abortion pill and surgical abortion.
Is abortion safe?
Abortion is one of the most common outpatient surgical procedure in the country and, when performed by an experienced physician, it is extremely safe. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading public health research organization, abortion is 11 times safer than carrying a pregnancy to term.
Will having an abortion prevent me from having children in the future?
There is no evidence of a link between an uneventful abortion and infertility. The major causes of infertility are scarring of the Fallopian tubes from infections and advanced age of the mother. As with any surgery, infection, though rare, is a risk. Taking all your medications, following instructions, and returning for your follow-up examination will reduce your chance of any post abortion problems. If you are concerned about this risk, do not hesitate to ask your provider about it and they will be able to answer your questions more specifically.
Is abortion painful?
Every person responds to and tolerates pain differently. Read Will It Hurt? Abortion patients are generally surprised at how well they feel after their abortion. Although most women experience some hard cramping during the procedure, the intensity of the cramps begins to lessen quickly while in recovery. When patients leave, they may feel light cramping that can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. During a non-surgical abortion, patients can experience a more intense level of cramping for a longer period of time but pain relievers and rest can help manage the discomfort. We recommend that you discuss your pain management options with your chosen provider.
Do I have to be awake/asleep for the procedure?
Every clinic offers different pain management options. Many offer a local anesthetic, which numbs the cervical muscle to reduce discomfort during dilation. Some offer options such as IV sedation or nitrous oxide, which sedates the patient. Others offer general anesthesia, which puts the patient to sleep for several minutes. Some clinics can also help you use relaxation techniques to lessen the pain. Discuss the risks and benefits of all options with your clinic or doctor.
How long will I be at the clinic?
Be prepared to spend anywhere from three to six hours at the clinic. Depending on your stage of pregnancy, your pain management choice, state laws (which may require that you visit the clinic more than once) and the internal policies of the clinic, the time you spend at the clinic will vary.
Can I bring someone with me to the clinic? Can they stay with me during my abortion?
Most clinics encourage you to bring a support person with you to your appointment, to sit with you while you wait and to help you get home after the procedure. Some clinics allow support people to participate in counseling sessions. Some clinics will also allow that person into the surgery room, but many clinics are not set up for that. If this is very important to you, consult your clinic before making your appointment.
Can I bring my children with me to the clinic?
Most clinics discourage or prohibit bringing children since it is a long visit and waiting is hard on everyone. We recommend that you ask your provider for suggestions.
Will there be protesters at the clinic?
Clinics do not have control of protesters and every city is different. Some experience demonstrations on a daily basis, some have protesters that come only on the days abortions are being performed and other clinics have no demonstrators at all. Ask the clinic if there are protesters if that is a concern of yours. The clinic staff, who also have to personally deal with protesters, will be happy to tell you whether demonstrators might be present on the day of your appointment and what you might expect from them. Remember, these anti-abortion activists have a political or religious agenda and don't know (or care about) you and your situation! Check out our handout You Are A Good Woman.
What is the difference between a surgical abortion and a non-surgical abortion?
Surgical abortions are performed using a suction/aspiration method where the cervical muscle is gently dilated (widened) and suction is used to remove the pregnancy. A non-surgical abortion is usually performed by the administration of Mifeprex ("RU-486") or by a shot (methotrexate). Both also use the medication misoprostol to cause bleeding. These medications essentially induce a miscarriage over the course of 2 or more days.
For more information, go to www.abortionclinic.org, www.pregnancyoptions.info.