It can have long-term emotional and physical complications as well. Many women and men deal with post traumatic stress disorder following an abortion decision.
Life Choices does not perform abortions of any kind. We also do not provide referrals for abortions. We are describing the most widely used abortion procedures in order to help you understand what is at stake before making a decision you may regret. We feel women and couples need to have all the information available in order to make the best choice for them.
This drug is FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved for use in women up to 49 days after their last menstrual period; however, it is commonly used "off label" up to 63 days. The FDA-approved procedure usually requires three office visits. On the first visit, the woman is given pills (mifepristone) that cause the death of the embryo. Two days later, if the abortion has not occurred, she is given a second drug (misoprostol) which causes cramping that expels the embryo. The last visit is to determine if the procedure has been completed.
Vaginal bleeding lasts for an average of 9-16 days; 1 in 100 women bleed enough to require surgery (D&C) to stop the bleeding.
According to the FDA, "Cases of serious bacterial infection, including very rar cases of fatal septic shock, have been reported."21 This means that some Mifeprex users have died as a result of total body infection. The FDA issued a health advisory July 19, 2005 and changed safety labeling to warn of the risk of this serious bacterial infection.
The abortion pill will not work in the case of an ectopic pregnancy where the embryo lodges outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. If not diagnosed early, there could be a risk of the tube bursting, internal hemorrhage and death in some cases.
The mifepristone-misoprostol regimen fails in 8% of uses in pregnancy up to 49 days gestation, 17% at 50-56 days gestation, and 23% at 57-63 days gestation. A surgical abortion is usually done to complete a failed medication abortion.
Risk of fetal malformations:Research associates the use of misoprostol during the first trimester with certain types of birth defects among medication abortion "failures".27
Women who change their minds after beginning a medication abortion and want to continue their pregnancies should immediately seek the help of an obstetrician.
This drug is FDA-approved for treating certain cancers and rheumatoid arthritis, but is used "off-label" to treat ectopic pregnancies and to induce abortion. It works by stopping the growth of rapidly dividing cells. It is used up through 49 days of pregnancy and given orally or by injection. Three to seven days after methotrexate is taken, misoprostol (the second medication used in the RU-486 abortions) is used vaginally.
Side effects of methotrexate include mouth ulcers, low white blood cell count, nausea, abdominal distress, fatigue, chills, fever, dizziness, decreased resistance to infection and anemia. Severe, sometimes fatal, bone marrow suppression and intestinal toxicity have been reported. Liver toxicity and cancer may occur (usually after prolonged use). Severe, occasionally fatal, skin reactions have been reported.
This form of medication abortion uses only the second drug given in the RU-486 method. It is typically inserted vaginally, requires repeated doses and has a significantly higher failure rate than the RU-486 method. It is associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and with potential birth defects (central nervous system and limb defects) in pregnancies that continue.
This surgical abortion is done throughout the first trimester. Varying degrees of pain control are offered ranging from local anesthetic (typically) to full general anesthesia. For very early pregnancies (4-7 weeks LMP), a long, thin tube is inserted into the uterus which is attached to a manual suction device and the embryo is suctioned out.
Late in the first trimester, the cervix needs to be opened wider bexause the fetus is larger. The cervix may be softened the day before using medication placed in the vagina and/or slowly stretched open using thin rods made of seaweek inserted into the cervix. The day of the procedure, the cervix may need further stretching by metal dilating rods. This can be painful, so local anesthesia is typically used. Next, the doctor inserts a plastic tube into the uterus and applies suction by either an electric or manual vacuum device. The suction pulls the fetus' body apart and out of the uterus. The doctor may also use a loop-shaped tool, called a curette, to scrape any remaining fetal parts out of the uterus.
DIALTION AND EVACUATION (D&E): ABOUT 13 TO 24 WEEKS AFTER LMP
The majority of second trimester abortions are performed using this method. The cervix must be opened wider than in a first trimester abortion because the fetus is larger. This is done by inserting numerous thin rods made of seaweed a day or two before the abortion and/or giving other oral or vaginal medications to further soften the cervix. Up to about 16 weeks gestation, the procedure is identical to the first trimester one. After the cervix is stretched open and the uterine contents suctioned out, any remaining fetal parts are removed with a grasping tool (forceps). A curette (a loop-shaped tool) may also be used to scrape out any remaining tissue.
After 16 weeks, much of the procedure is done with the forceps to pull fetal parts out through the cervical opening, as suction alone will not work due to the fetus' size. The doctor keeps track of what fetal parts have been removed so that none are left inside as this can potentially cause infection. Lastly, a curette, and/or the suction machine are used to remove any remaining tissue or blood clots, which if left behind cause infection and bleeding.
MEDICATION METHODS FOR SECOND TRIMESTER INDUCED ABORTION
This technique induces abortion by using medicines to cause labor and eventual delivery of the fetus and placenta. Like labor at term, this procedure typically involves 10-24 hours in the hospital's labor and delivery unit. Dogoxin or potassium chloride is injected into the amniotic fluid, umbilical cord or fetal heart prior to labor to avoid the delivery of a live fetus. The cervix is softened with the use of seaweed sticks and/or medications. Next, oral mifepristone and oral or vaginal misoprostol are used to induce labor. In most cases, thes drugs result in the delivery of the dead fetus and placenta. The patient may receive oral or intravenous pain medications. Occasionally, scraping of the uterus is needed to remove the placenta.
Potential complications include hemorrhage and the need for a blood transfusion, retained placenta and possible uterine rupture (splits open).
D&E WHEN LIVE BIRTH IS POSSIBLE (FROM ABOUT 24 WEEKS AND UP)
This procedure typically takes 2-3 days and is associated with increased risk to the life and health of the mother. Because a live birth is possible, injections are given to cause fetal death. This is done in order to comply with the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 which requires that the fetus be dead before complete removal from the mother's body. The medications (digoxin and potassium chloride) are either injected into the amniotic fluid, the umbilical cord or directly into the fetus' heart. The remainder of the procedure is the same as the second trimester D&E. Fetal parts are reassembled after removal from the uterus to make sure nothing was left behind to cause infection.
An alternate technique, called "Intact D E" is also used. The goal is to remove the fetus in one piece, thus reducing the risk of leaving parts behind or causing damage to the woman's body. This procedure requires the cervix be opened wider; however, it is still often necessary to crush the fetus' skull for removal as it is difficult to dilate the cervix wide enough to bring the head out intact.
Abortion carries the risk of significant complications such as bleeding, infection and damage to organs. Serious medical complications occur infrequently in early abortions, but increase with later abortions. There is evidence that induced abortion can be associated with significant loss of both emotional and physical health long term.
Getting complete information on the risks associated with abortion is limited due to incomplete reporting and the lack of record-keeping linking abortions to complications. The information that is available reports the following risks:
HEAVY BLEEDING: Some bleeding after abortion is normal. However, if the cervix is torn or the uterus is punctured, there is a risk of severe bleeding known as hemorrhaging. When this happens, a blood transfusion may be required.
INFECTION: Infection can develop from the insertion of medical instruments into the uterus or from fetal parts that are mistakenly left inside (known as an incomplete abortion). This may cause bleeding and/or a pelvic infection requiring antibiotics, and may result in the need for a surgical procedure to fully empty the uterus. Infection may cause scarring of the pelvic organs.
ANESTHESIA: Complications from general anesthesia used during abortion surgery may result in convulsions, heart complications and death, in extreme cases.
DAMAGE TO THE ORGANS: The cervix and/or uterus may be cut, torn or punctured by abortion instruments. This may cause excessive bleeding requiring surgical repair. Curettes and other abortion instruments may cause permanent scarring of the uterine lining. The risk of these types of complications increases with the length of the pregnancy. If complications occur, major surgery may be required, including removal of the uterus (known as a hysterectomy). If the uterus is punctured or torn, there is also a risk that damage may occur to nearby organs such as the bowel and bladder.
RH SENSITIZATION: Every pregnant woman should receive blood type testing to learn if her blood type is "Rh postitive" or "Rh negative". Pregnant women who are Rh negative should receive Rhogam, an injection given to prevent the formation of antibodies that may harm the baby. If an Rh negative woman does not receive Rhogam with each pregnancy, she may develop antibodies which can cause serious complications with he next pregnancy. Rhogam is needed for Rh negative women who undergo abortion.
DEATH: In extreme cases, complications from abortion (excessive bleeding, infection, organ damage from a perforated uterus and adverse reations to anesthesia) may lead to death. The risk of death immediately following an induced abortion performed at or below 8 weeks is extremely low (approxiamtely 1 in a million) but increases with length of pregnancy. From 8 weeks to 16-20 weeks, the risk of death increases 30 times, and from 8 weeks to 21 weeks and over, it increases 100 times (1 in 11,000).
Finding out the real risks associated with abortion is difficult due to incomplete reporting of complications and scientific bias, yet you should be equipped to be able to give full informed consent before going through a procedure or taking medicine that could have long-term effects on your health.
Consider the following as you make your decision:
ABORTION AND PRETERM BIRTH
Women who undergo one or more induced abortions carry a significantly increased risk of delivering prematurely in the future. Premature delivery is associated with higher rates of children with cerebral palsy, as well as all other complications (respiratory, bowel, brain and eye problems).
ABORTION AND BREAST CANCER
Medical experts continue to debate the association between abortion and breast cancer. Research has shown the following:
Carrying a pregnancy to full term gives a measure of protection against breast cancer, especially a woman's first pregnancy. Terminating a pregnancy results in loss of that protection.
The hormones of pregnancy cause breast tissue to grow rapidly in the first 3 month, but it is not until after 32 weeks of pregnancy that breasts are relatively more cancer resistant due to the maturation that occurs.
A number of reliable studies have concluded that there is an association between abortion and later development of breast cancer.
PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT/EMOTIONAL IMPACT
Following abortion, many women experience initial relief. The perceived crisis is over and life returns to normal. For many women, however, the crisis isn't over. Months and even years later, significant problems develop. There is evidence that abortion is associated with a decrease in long-term emotional and physical health.
In line with the best available evidence, women should be informed that abortion significantly increases risk for:
Women who have experienced abortion may develop the following:
The bottom line is that the scientific evidence indicates that abortion is more likely to be associated with negative psychological outcomes when compared to miscarriage or carrying an unintended pregnancy to term.
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, Life Choices offer confidential, compassionate support groups designed to help women work through these feelings. You are not alone.
Many couples choose abortion believing it will preserve their relationship. Research on this topic reveals just the opposite. Couples who choose induced abortion are at increased risk for relationship problems.
Women experiencing lack of support and pressure to abort from their partners were more likely to choose abortion.
People have different understandings of God. Whatever your present beliefs may be, having an abortion may affect more than just your body and your mind - there is a spiritual side to abortion that deserves to be considered. Have you considered what God thinks about your situation? How does God see your unborn child? These are important questions to consider.
If you are pregnant or you need confirmation about being pregnant we can provide a free pregnancy test and discuss with you all of your options in facing this pregnancy that you may not have been planning.
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