Types of Abortion

Last Updated: 8/26/2020

Abortion is legal throughout much of the world, but the laws in each country or state vary. It's best to research your local municipal or state laws before considering abortion.

Abortion is legal in the United States during the first and second trimesters only. A majority of the abortions in the USA are done in the first trimester of pregnancy. The first trimester is the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

There are some states that allow abortions until the 24th week, which is the very end of the trimester but many prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. A 3rd trimester abortion is often only done if the mother's or the baby's life is in danger.

Abortion by Trimester

Several of the abortions are limited to a specific week of pregnancy before they are not a viable option. It's best to consult a doctor to understand where you are in your pregnancy so you can make the correct choice.

First Trimester (1st)

The first trimester is when you have the most options for types of abortion. The most common option is the abortion pill, or medical abortion.

The other options you have are Methotrexate & Misoprostol and Vacuum Aspiration.

Second Trimester (2nd)

This is the trimester that most states, and countries, stop abortions via laws and regulations.

In this trimester the abortion pill and early contraceptives stop working and you're limited on what you can do. The most common abortion type for the second trimester is the vaccum or suction aspiration.

In some cases they will dilate you and evacuate the fetus which is a combination of suction and manual removal of the fetus. This is the most brutal method.

The other option is to induce labor and is rarely used in the United States. Essentially they force you into labor and cause you to birth the unborn child.

Third Trimester (3rd)

Generally abortions are not completed in the third trimester unless doctor approved and the mother's or the baby's life is in danger.

Medical Abortion

A medication abortion is performed by taking two medications in pill-form: mifepristone (Mifeprex) and misoprostol (Cytotec). The two drugs work together to end the pregnancy.

A medical abortion, via pill, only works up until the 10th week of pregnancy. This type of abortion isn't for everyone.

You should consult a doctor, but the doctor may suggest you avoid the abortion pill if you:

  • are allergic to the pills
  • have severe liver, kidney, or lung disease
  • have a bleeding disorder or you take blood thinners
  • have an intrauterine device (IUD)

Methotrexate & Misoprostol

Methotrexate and misoprostol (MTX) is an abortion method you can only use in your first 7 weeks of pregnancy.

Methotrexate is a cancer drug that's used to stop cells from multiplying. In the same process it stops the embryo from growing. The Misoprostol then contracts the uterus to release its contents.

This method is rarely used for planned abortions.

Doctors mainly use it for women who have a pregnancy outside their uterus, an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening if it continues.

The cost of methotrexate and misoprostol can range from $300 to $1,000 depending on which doctor you see. Some insurance companies may cover it.

You get the methotrexate from the doctor in either a pill or shot form. You'll have to take the misoprostol pills 4-6 days later at your home.

We advise taking time away from work, school, or whatever you're involved in to spend 3-4 days at home the moment you take the misoprostol.

After you take the misoprostol you can expect the abortion to start within 12 hours. You'll start to have cramps and heavy bleeding. This bleeding may last up to 8 hours.

Vacuum Aspiration

A vacuum aspiration, or suction aspiration, is done during the first trimester or early second trimester as long as you are less than 16 weeks pregnant.

Aside from the abortion bill, this is the most common form of abortion in the USA.

In many cases people try the abortion pill first and then resort to the vacuum aspiration to end the pregnancy.

A vacuum abortion costs between $600 and $1,000. The length of pregnancy determines the final cost and some insurance agencies will cover a portion.

The vacuum, or suction, uses a gentle suction to pull the fetus and placenta out of the uterus. This procedure is only done at a clinic, doctor's office, or hospital and shouldn't be done anywhere else.

It isn't always painful but you may experience some cramps as your uterus contracts as the tissue is removed.

The procedure lasts only 5 to 10 minutes.

Even though the procedure is rather short, in many cases the doctor's will keep you in the clinic for up to a few hours to make sure the abortion is complete.

You may experience bleeding, cramps, sweating, nausea, or dizziness post abortion.

Diluation & Evacuation

A dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedure is used in the second trimester, typically after 14 weeks of pregnancy. This procedure is usually recommended if someone has waited too long to get an abortion or by someone who chooses to end a pregnancy due to the fetus having severe abnormalities or a medical problem.

D&E uses a combination of vacuum aspiration, forceps, and dilation and curettage. The procedure may be done over a two-day period.

Day One: The doctor dilates your cervix to make it easier to remove the pregnancy tissue. Day Two: The doctor uses forceps to remove the fetus and placenta, a tube to suction out the uterus, and a coop-like instrument called a curette to scrape out the uterine lining.

This procedure will be in a hospital or clinic. A D&E can be painful but your doctor can give you numbing medicine to prevent discomfort.

A D&E procedure takes less than 30 minutes and you can go home the same day.

Side effects from D&E can last up to two weeks after the procedure and you may want to take a few days off of work due to discomfort. You'll need to wait for a few weeks before having sex again and should avoid heavy exercise while you heal.

The cost of a D&E procedure can cost more than $1,500 and the price varies.

Induction Abortion

An induction abortion is done in the second trimester of pregnancy. It may be an option if you’re past the 24th week of pregnancy and can no longer get a D&E procedure.

This method is rarely used in the United States.

You'll be given medicine that puts you into labor and your uterus will contract to release the pregnancy.

This procedure is done at a hospital or specialized clinic. You'll feel intense cramps as your uterus contracts (similar to actual labor).

This procedure can take several hours or more than a day to complete.

You will need to take a day or two off work to recover and avoid sex for up to 6 weeks.

Due to the nature of this procedure being so late, you can expect to pay $3,000 or more.

Emergency Contraception

A lot of people think emergency contraception is a form of abortion. You may know it as "Plan B". Emergency contraceptives are not the same as the abortion pill. If you're already pregnant then it won't end the pregnancy.

These need to be taken within 5 days after having unprotected sex.

You can buy emergency contraception without a prescriptiong at a drugstore.

What's On This Page:
  • Types of Abortion
  • Abortion Type by Trimester
  • Medical Abortion
  • Methotrexate & Misoprostol
  • Vacuum Aspiration
  • Diluation & Evacuation
  • Induction Abortion
  • Emergency Contraception
  • Useful Links