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Abortion: Or everything you want to know about abortions but were afraid to ask

Most important fact: nobody, absolutely nobody likes having an abortion, and many abortions are avoidable by using the ‘emergency contraceptive pill’ within 72 hours of having unprotected sexual intercourse.

Not using emergency contraception if you are worried that you could be pregnant, is ‘burying your head in the sand’ and hoping for the best. Get down to your family doctor, or any other family doctor, or your local family planning clinic or your local ‘emergency room’ NOW and get yourself the ‘emergency contraceptive pill’.

Facts about abortions

There are few subjects which raise more emotion in people than that of abortion. The arguments rage backwards and forwards from ‘it is murder’ to ‘it is the right of every woman to have an abortion if she wants one’.

These arguments all have some truth in them, but dealing with the facts:

  • Abortion of foetuses up to the 24th week of pregnancy is legal in England, Scotland and Wales (in Northern Ireland is only legal in exceptional circumstances)

  • Abortion is available in these countries subject to the approval of two doctors.

  • 180,000 legal abortions are carried out in Britain every year

  • The majority of abortions are carried out before 12 weeks

Further facts are:

  • Legal abortion is very safe for the pregnant woman, and there is very little risk, particularly during early pregnancy

  • Legal abortion does not normally interfere with you having a baby later on in life

  • Legal abortion is free on the National Health Service in England, Scotland and Wales

The methods of ‘abortion’ that are used:

The abortion pill:

  • This works for up to 9 weeks after the date that you had your last period

  • It involves two or three visits to the clinic or hospital

  • You take tablets given to you by the clinic or hospital at the first visit

  • Two days later you visit again and have prostaglandin pessary (tablet) inserted into your vagina. You stay in hospital for a few hours after this until you have aborted, which sometimes involves having strong pains like period pains

For a small number of people (less than one in twenty) this method does not work and you have to have the suction method described below

The suction, or vacuum aspiration, method:

  • This can be used up to 12 weeks after you have had your last period

  • You normally will be ‘put out’ by having a general anaesthetic, which may when you come round from it, make you feel tired for a bit

  • You don’t normally have to stay in the clinic or hospital overnight

Both these methods are very safe and are unlikely to lead to any complications like not being able to have a baby later on.

For late abortions after 12 weeks:

  • after 13 to 14 weeks different methods of abortion are used

  • over 13 weeks there is a similar method as the abortion pill method but with some variation, and there may be more pain and bleeding

  • another method is dilating your cervix under anaesthetic and sucking out the foetal remains

If you think that might be pregnant, and think that you want to have an abortion – act straight away – don’t wait – because the earlier that you have an abortion, the safer and easier it is.

You can get pregnant again two weeks after you have had an abortion, so that even if sex is the last thing you are thinking of, make sure you get some decent advice about contraception

Taken from the website


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