Frequently Asked Questions About Abortion

CLICK ON THE QUESTION BELOW

 
How can I schedule an appointment?

Call us. Our staff can schedule an appointment for you and will be happy to answer your questions. Call 216-991-4000 or toll free 877-PRETERM (877-773-8376). You will make your second appointment when you are here. (Ohio law requires that you receive certain information and sign a consent form at least 24 hours before your procedure.) If you’re 17 weeks pregnant or more, the abortion may require 3 visits. Scheduling your appointment on the phone will take 10–15 minutes. We will ask you the date your last normal menstrual cycle began to help us estimate how many weeks pregnant you are (this will be confirmed by ultrasound during your first appointment). Based on the information you provide, we will explain your estimated fees.

 

 
What if I can’t afford an abortion?

We know that it can be hard to come up with the money to pay for an abortion. You were probably not planning for this expense.

 

We keep our fees as low as we can, and we offer financial assistance to many of our patients.

 

If you are worried about your ability to pay for your abortion, please know that the sooner you can come for care, the less expensive the procedure is going to be. When you call us, our staff will discuss your options and help you think about ways to gather the money.

 

If your situation is particularly difficult, your advocate will refer you to one of our financial specialists, who can talk to you about what other resources might be available to you.

 

 

What questions will you ask when I schedule an appointment?

When you call to make an appointment, the phone advocate you speak with will need to ask you a lot of questions. This is so they can make the right kind of appointment for you and get your medical chart started. It is also so that they can provide you with accurate information and help you with any financial concerns you might have. You will have the opportunity to ask your questions, too!

 

Some things you will be asked include:

  • A phone number where we can reach you (If you need for our calls to you to be confidential, we can set that up.)

  • The first day of your last menstrual period

  • If you have had a pregnancy test, ultrasound, or pelvic exam, and what the results were

  • Whether you are taking any medications

  • If you have any serious medical or emotional problems

  • If you have any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

  • If you have ever been hospitalized

  • If you know whether you are Rh-negative (This is a blood condition that affects your health in pregnancy and may require an injection of Rhogam following an abortion. If you are Rh-negative and have been pregnant before, you probably were told.)

  • Whether you have insurance or Medicaid. (If you do, we will need information from your insurance card and your social security number.)

  • Who referred you or how you found out about Preterm 

 

 

What do I need to bring for my appointment?

Bring a valid photo ID. If you're a minor coming with your parent, your parent needs valid photo ID, and you’ll need a copy of your birth certificate. Bring your insurance or Medicaid card, if you have one. If you're using a credit card for payment, make sure the cardholder is with you and has ID. 

 

 

What will happen at my first visit?

On your first visit, you can expect:

  • Fill out medical history paperwork

  • Ultrasound exam

  • Finger prick to take a small blood sample to check for anemia and to see whether you’re Rh positive or negative

  • Private counseling session

  • Private consultation with a physician

 

We do our best to move you through your appointment as quickly as we can, but there will be a lot of waiting. Bring a book or magazine or a quiet activity to pass the time. Coffee, pop, and snack machines are available. Free wi-fi is available too. 

 

 

What will happen at my second visit?

The length of the second visit will depend on what services you are having. It can take anywhere from 2–6 hours. When you schedule your second visit, we'll give you an estimate of how long it will take and any special instructions you'll need to follow.

 

We will be there to support you during your procedure. Afterward, you will rest for a while in the recovery room. You’ll receive detailed instructions for what to expect after your abortion.

 

If you're having oral sedation, conscious sedation, or anesthesia, here are some additional reminders:

  • You must have a driver with you to drive you home.

  • Don't have any alcohol for 24 hours or marijuana for 48 hours before your appointment.

  • If you're having anesthesia or conscious sedation and you have a nose, lip, or tongue piercing, you'll need to remove it before the procedure.

  • If you’re having conscious sedation, don’t eat any solids for 8 hours before your appointment. You can drink clear liquids up to 4 hours before your appointment, then nothing by mouth (not even gum or water). You can brush your teeth, but don’t swallow any water.

  • If you're having anesthesia, don't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your appointment—not even water or gum. You can brush your teeth, but don’t swallow any water.

 

 

Is abortion safe?

Yes. Abortion is a common and very safe medical procedure. There are many false myths surrounding abortion from people who do not believe you should have the choice. While every medical procedure involves some risk, the truth is that complications are rare. In fact, abortion is far safer than childbirth—and safer even than having your tooth pulled or getting a shot of penicillin.

 

Abortion is also safe in the long-term. An uncomplicated abortion will not affect your ability to have children in the future. There is no link between abortion and breast cancer or any other ongoing physical or mental condition.

 

You’ll have an opportunity to discuss the procedure and its risks prior to your abortion. We are happy to answer your questions.

 

 

Will I be able to have children in the future?

One of the myths surrounding abortion is that abortion causes infertility. Another myth is that the more abortions someone has, the more infertile they become. There is no scientific evidence, whatsoever, that abortion is in any way linked to infertility.

 

 

Will having an abortion give me breast cancer?

No. Anti-abortion groups frequently claim that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer. There were some early studies that suggested this might be the case, but follow-up investigations have shown the link to be false. There is no scientific evidence, whatsoever, that abortion is in any way linked to breast cancer. 

 

 

Will I have mental health issues?

This is another myth about abortion. There is absolutely no evidence that someone who has an abortion will have more mental health problems than someone who hasn’t had an abortion. The latest scientific survey showed that 95% of women don’t regret their abortions.

 

This is not to say that you will not experience strong emotions after an abortion. Some people grieve deeply. That is a normal response to loss. As with any grief, it is important to work through the feelings so that you can move forward in your life. If you need help resolving your grief, you may find that mourning rituals can help you or you may benefit from talking with a counselor.

 

Our staff can help you find the right ritual or refer you to counselors and pro-choice clergy. While very few people experience serious issues, you can always come back to talk with a patient advocate. Feel free to call. 

 

 

Will an abortion hurt?

There’s no simple answer because everyone experiences it differently. Many people describe the feeling as similar to menstrual cramps, but probably more intense than what you’re used to. Everyone is different so we offer several sedation and pain management options to help you feel comfortable. We also provide a calm and relaxing environment, and one of our patient support staff members will be with you during the procedure. Our caring staff is also available to address your worries or concerns. Being in such caring environment reduces anxiety and can help you relax and feel safe and well cared for. 

 

 

What do you offer for pain?

First, we offer support, comfort, and relaxation. Since everyone is different, for surgical abortions we offer several options:

 

Every patient receives a local anesthetic to numb the cervical area. This is an injection of lidocaine into the cervix, and it leaves you fully aware during the procedure. If you choose this option only, as many patients do, you can expect to feel some uncomfortable pressure and menstrual-type cramping during the procedure.

 

If you choose oral sedation, we'll give you pills to help relieve anxiety and discomfort. You will still be awake and aware.

 

If you choose conscious sedation, we'll administer medication through an IV that helps you relax and lessens any discomfort. You will be deeply relaxed but still able to respond to directions. You may not fully remember the procedure.

 

If you choose anesthesia, also administered through an IV by a certified registered nurse anesthetist, you'll sleep during the procedure and won't feel anything.

 

Conscious sedation or anesthesia may be required by the doctor for minors or certain second trimester procedures. We will discuss your options with you.

 

Please be aware that if you choose oral sedation, conscious sedation, or anesthesia, you'll need someone with you to drive you home. If you choose conscious sedation or anesthesia, you'll have eating and drinking restrictions. There is an additional charge for oral sedation, conscious sedation, and anesthesia. Our appointment staff are happy to answer any questions.

 

If you choose to have a medication abortion, you should be prepared for strong menstrual-type cramping for 4–12 hours. We’ll give you prescriptions for the pain and nausea. 

 

How far into pregnancy can I have an abortion?

Each state in the U.S. has its own set of laws regarding abortion care.

 

Currently, we offer surgical abortion from 6 through 21 weeks from the date of your last menstrual period. We offer medication abortion through 9 weeks (70 days) based on our ultrasound exam. Please note that in the state of Ohio, we are unable to offer elective abortions past 19 weeks of pregnancy (21 weeks and 6 days since your last menstrual period). Pregnancy is measured from the date of your last menstrual period (LMP). It is known that the time of fertilization is normally two weeks after the beginning of the last menstrual period. Please call us if you have questions about how this will affect you.

 

 

How early into pregnancy can I have an abortion?

For a surgical abortion procedure, at 6 weeks or beyond. For a medication abortion, as soon as we can see the pregnancy with ultrasound, typically 5 or 6 weeks. 

 

 

What is the difference between a surgical and a medication abortion?

A surgical abortion is a procedure in which the doctor numbs the cervix and uses instruments to remove the pregnancy from the uterus. The procedure usually takes 3–20 minutes. In a medication abortion, you terminate your pregnancy by taking a combination of 2 drugs, one you will take here at the clinic and one you will take at home. Our pages on surgical abortion and medication abortion have more information. 

 

 

Do my parents have to know?

Under current Ohio law, there are two options if you’re under age 18 and want to have an abortion. First, you can get the signature of a parent or legal guardian. Second, you can obtain a judicial bypass from juvenile court. Call us, and our staff can explain the judicial bypass process. 

 

 

What’s the difference between the “abortion pill” and the “morning after pill”?

The “abortion pill,” also called RU-486, mifepristone, and Mifeprex™, is a drug used in medication abortions to end an early pregnancy. The “morning after pill,” also called emergency contraception, EC, or Plan B, is a drug used to prevent unintended pregnancy up to 120 hours after having unprotected sex. Both the abortion pill and the morning after pill are available at Preterm. 

 

 

What happens after an abortion?

Your body will go through changes due to a dramatic drop in the hormones of pregnancy, but you should begin to feel normal within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Any nausea, vomiting, or fatigue you may have experienced should go away within 24 hours. You may feel bloated for a few days. Feel free to eat whatever you want, but don’t overdo it if you’ve had nausea and vomiting.

 

You can return to work or school as soon as you feel well enough. Preterm can provide a medical excuse for the first 7 days.

 

Most people will have a period within 3 weeks. Please be aware that if you’re not using birth control, you could become pregnant again even before your next period begins. 

 

Here are some other effects you might experience:

 

Cramping—You may have mild to moderate cramping the first 2–3 weeks after the abortion. Ibuprofen or Tylenol, a heating pad, and rest will usually control the discomfort. If cramps become severe, call Preterm.

 

Bleeding—Your bleeding pattern will depend on many factors, including the number of previous pregnancies, healing rate, and bleeding tendencies. Also, drinking alcohol will increase the bleeding.

 

After a surgical abortion, some people don't bleed at all. Some spot or bleed lightly. Others bleed more heavily, similar to having a period. Bleeding can last from just a few hours to as long as 3 weeks. It can remain constant or start and stop. All of these variations are normal.

 

If you have a medication abortion, you can expect heavy bleeding (similar to or heavier than a normal heavy period) for 1–12 hours followed by light bleeding for up to 3–4 weeks.

 

If you soak through 2 or more pads in an hour or have several clots larger than a 50-cent piece, call Preterm but do not panic.

 

Breast soreness—Your breasts may feel more tender during the first week. Occasionally, there is breast fullness about the third day after an abortion. Wear a tight-fitting bra and, if necessary, place absorbent material inside it to protect your clothing. Ice bags can also be helpful. Take Ibuprofen or Tylenol to relieve the discomfort.

 

Important Things to Do

 

  • Take your temperature once a day for 3 days. If your temperature is over 100.4°F (38°C) for more than 1 reading, call Preterm immediately. Fever is almost always the first sign of an infection and is often accompanied by tenderness in the lower abdomen.

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. This will help you avoid infection.

  • Take ibuprofen or Tylenol (but not aspirin) if you’re having cramps.

  • If you’ve had a medication abortion, keep your follow-up appointment. It’s very important that you have an exam and a vaginal ultrasound 14 days after a medication abortion, to make sure the abortion was complete.

  • Call Preterm if you have any problems.

 

Important Things NOT to Do

 

  • Don’t insert anything into your vagina, including tampons or a douche, for 2 weeks. This can cause infection. (Many doctors feel that people shouldn’t douche at any time.)

  • Don’t sit in any water—bath, hot tub, or swimming pool—for 1 week. The bacteria in the water can cause infection. Take showers instead of baths. You may wash your hair anytime you want.

  • Don’t lift any heavy objects or do any heavy exercising for 1 week. Strenuous activities will increase your bleeding or cramping.

  • Don’t have sex for 2 weeks. Sex can cause bleeding, cramping, and infection. Also, you could become pregnant even before your next period begins.

 

 

How do I support my partner, friend, or loved one who is having an abortion? 

If someone you love is making a pregnancy decision or has had an abortion, you may be wondering what to do and how to help. You may be experiencing some strong feelings of your own, about the abortion or about seeing your loved one go through this experience.

 

People can have a wide range of feelings after an abortion, and so can the people close to them. Usually there will be a feeling of relief, but mixed with this can also be sadness, loss, anger, or guilt. These feelings are usually manageable.

 

Your partner, child, or friend could probably use someone to listen and give support. At the same time, it is important to give yourself permission to have your own feelings and to find space, perhaps apart from your loved one who had an abortion, to deal with them. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

©2018 Preterm

 

Preterm is a 501(c)(3)

nonprofit organization

12000 Shaker Boulevard

Cleveland, OH 44120

216-991-4000

Toll-free 877-PRETERM (877-773-8376)