Additional Resources

Abortion procedures, risks, and recovery.

Abortion Procedures

If you’ve become pregnant from unprotected sex, it’s difficult to decide what choices to make. One choice is abortion – terminating the embryo and thus ending the pregnancy.

There are two types of abortion: medical abortion through the abortion pill, and surgical abortion, a surgical procedure most often performed at abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood.

Like all medical and surgical procedures, abortion carries its fair share of risks – both physical and emotional. Schedule an appointment at the PHC to discuss what option is right for you.

We do not perform abortions or refer for abortions.

Medical Abortion (Abortion Pill)

The abortion pill is a two-part medical procedure that terminates pregnancies up to 10 weeks.

You will take several mifepristone pills (these pills are commonly known by the brand name Mifeprex or the name RU-486). These pills cut off the embryo’s supply of blood and nutrients, and the embryo will die. At the second appointment, you will take two tablets of misoprostol (also known as Cytotec). Some doctors may have you swallow these tablets, while other doctors may insert the drug into your vagina. The misoprostol will cause you to begin cramping, expelling the embryo from your body. 

After this, you may expect bleeding and spotting for up to 16 days. A follow-up appointment is usually required to make sure the embryo is completely expelled.

Side effects include:

  • abdominal pain
  • severe cramping
  • heavy bleeding
  • possible infection

Before scheduling a medical abortion, receive a free ultrasound from the PHC to determine your pregnancy’s viability.

Regret taking the abortion pill?

Reversal may still be possible within 72 hours of taking the pill. For more information, visit

We do not perform abortions or refer for abortions.

The risk of complication or infection is high with the abortion pill.

You should not take the abortion pill if you have any of the following:

  • high blood pressure

  • heart disease

  • bleeding problem

  • anemia

  • uncontrolled diabetes

  • an IUD in place

  • pregnancy outside the uterus, known as an ectopic pregnancy (in the fallopian tube)

After taking the abortion pill, contact your doctor right away if you experience:

  • weakness

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • diarrhea

  • fever of 100.4 or higher for more than 4 hours

  • heavy bleeding that soaks through two full-sized pads per hour for two hours

Other potential risks include:

  • seeing embryonic parts expelled

  • some fail to abort

  • heavy bleeding that soaks through two full-sized pads per hour for two hours

Surgical Abortion

Surgical abortion is more invasive than medical abortion, but it can performed later-term, depending on the laws of the state. Most states do not allow abortions after the point of fetal viability (usually around 24 weeks).

Aspiration (suction)

up to 13 weeks


Used throughout the first trimester of pregnancy, this procedure uses a vacuum device to suction out the embryo.

For later first trimester pregnancies, the embryo’s body must be pulled apart before being suctioned out. In addition, a curette may be used to scrape out any additional fetal parts.

Step by step

  • Cervix softened using medication the night before
  • Local anesthetic injected in cervix
  • Cervix stretched open using dilating rods
  • Plastic tube inserted in the uterus and connected to a vacuum device that pulls the fetus’s body apart and out
  • A curette may be used to scrape any remaining fetal parts out of the uterus
  • Removed tissue examined to verify completeness

Risks include:

  • serious physical complications
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • incomplete abortion
  • allergic reaction to medication
  • organ damage

Dilation & Evacuation (D&E)

13 weeks and up


The majority of second trimester abortions performed are D&E. Some operators end the life of the fetus through lethal injection a few days before the procedure.

Because of the fetus’ growing size, the fetus must be pulled apart before the pieces are removed. A curette or suction device is used to remove the remaining tissue.

Step by step

  • Cervix softened using medication for 2 days before procedure
  • Local anesthetic and sedation given, or general anesthesia
  • Cervix stretched further open with dilating rods
  • Forceps used to pull fetal parts out through the cervix
  • Account for all fetal body parts: skull, spine, ribcage, four limbs
  • A curette or suction is used to remove any remaining tissue or blood clots

Risks include:

  • incomplete abortion with retained tissue
  • infection
  • heavy bleeding
  • organ damage
  • reactions to anesthesia
  • risk of complication & death increases with duration of pregnancy

Dilation & Evacuation (After Viability)

24 weeks and up


This procedure is performed on late-term pregnancies and is associated with a much greater risk to the life and health of the mother. The procedure is similar to the D&E 13 weeks and under procedure.

The fetus’s life is ended by injected digoxin or potassium chloride into the fetus before the procedure. Then the fetus’s body is pulled apart using forceps and removed through the cervix.

Step by step

  • Procedure takes 2-3 days
  • Lethal injections may be given to stop the baby’s heart
  • Cervix softened and dilated for 3 days prior using medication
  • General anesthesia may be used, or IV sedation and local anesthetic
  • Surgical instruments used to grasp and pull fetal parts out through the opened cervix
  • Fetal skull usually needs to be crushed before removal

Risks include:

  • increased risk to life & health of the mother
  • highest risk of death with a rate of 1 per 11,000
  • infection
  • heavy bleeding
  • embolism
  • organ damage
  • anesthesia complications

We do not perform abortions or refer for abortions.

Abortions can be dangerous, especially if you have certain health conditions. Learn more about the risks on this page.

Abortion Risks

Like any surgical or medical procedure, abortion has the possibility for physical and emotional complications (scroll down for abortion recovery).

Even though some risks may be low, it’s important to educate yourself in the possibilities. Also, risk to yourself increases the further your pregnancy progresses. In addition, certain preexisting health conditions can complicate the abortion process. Read below for more details.

If you’re not sure abortion is worth the risk, schedule an appointment at the PHC and talk over your options with a peer mentor.

Percentage of women at risk for damage to their cervix during an abortion.

All women, especially young teenagers, are at risk for damage to their cervix during an abortion, which can lead to complications with later pregnancies.
(Source: Focus on the Family)

Abortion has the possibility for physical and emotional complications.

Abortion Recovery

Abortion is often considered a solution for the stressful circumstances of unexpected pregnancy. However, the actual act of receiving an abortion can have long-term psychological repercussions.

Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) is the official term for the psychological after-affects of abortion. As a sub category of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), PASS is a real and devastating illness that should be treated with care and love.

Symptoms of PASS include:

  • guilt
  • anxiety
  • numbness
  • depression
  • flashbacks
  • suicidal thoughts

If you’re struggling with guilt or depression following an abortion, you are not alone in this struggle. At the PHC, we’re here to get you started on the road to renewal and healing – without judgement.

Online Healing Resources

Abortion can be a traumatic experience so if you don’t feel ready to talk with a peer mentor face-to-face, that’s okay. Below are some online resources to get you started. We’re here whenever you need us.

We’re here to get you started on the road to renewal and healing without judgement.

Abortion Changes You

Abortion Changes You is a worldwide outreach that invites men, women, and family members who have been touched by abortion to begin healing.

Read Stories | Begin Healing

Hope After Abortion

Hope After Abortion is a branch of the Project Rachel Program, intended to reach out to women experiencing grief from the loss of a child by abortion, and to offer them reconciliation and healing.

Read Stories | Begin Healing


PATH stands for Post Abortion Treatment & Healing. PATH strives to represent the loving forgiveness and presence of Christ, and to lead you back to him. And when you find your way back to God, yourself and to forgiveness of any others  who may have hurt you.

Begin Healing