Answers are provided by Dr. Beverly McMillan, an obstetrician and gynecologist.
What is an Abortion?
"Abortion is a termination of pregnancy that can be either spontaneous or induced. Spontaneous abortions are often called miscarriages. Induced abortion artificially ends the pregnant and, depending on how fat the pregnancy has advanced, determines the method used.
The most commonly performed induced abortion procedure is the suction D and C (dilation and curettage)
method. It is performed up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and sometimes up to 14 weeks. After that, a D and E (dilation and evacuation) abortion is usually performed. Abortions done after 20 weeks are usually done by some type of chemical to induce labor early, either with prostaglandin or a poisonous salt solution."
Does an abortion Hurt?
"Yes it hurts because dilating the cervix. or the neck of the womb, has to be done causing cramping pain. Usually medication is given to help relieve this but the patient is usually awake. A local anesthetic is injected into the cervix to numb it up. This helps some."
Is there much bleeding?
"Bleeding depends a lot on how far advanced the pregnancy is. In abortions performed up to 12 to 14 weeks the bleeding is usually less than six to eight ounces of blood. Abortions done after 14 weeks can be much more bloody."
Is the baby human or just a "glob of cells?"
"The baby is human from the moment of conception. When the one cell it is made of has characteristic 46 chromosomes of the human species, it is unique from that moment. Eighteen days after conception your baby's heart is already beating, probably pumping a different blood type than yours. This is almost at the time you would miss your menstrual period."
"Ten days after conception the baby has planted him or herself in the wall of the uterus and stops your menstrual flow."
"Forty days after conception (doctors) have recorded brain waves. If you touch a little baby's nose at that point it will draw its head back, so there is definitely some sensation at that time. You can see little arm buds showing up than."
"By eight weeks we can even hear the baby's heart beat with an ultrasound stethoscope. In abortions done after that time you can see identifiable body parts."
Does the baby feel pain during an abortion?
"Most likely yes. From six weeks the baby has sensation around its face and mouth. At seven weeks the baby can feel a needle stick and draw back. Even at that time if you put a little probe or instrument in the baby's hand it will curl up its hand around it, so it feels things." Several recent studies in Britain and the U.S. support this position.
Is abortion safe?
"Abortion like any surgical operation. carries some risks. There is probably a ten percent (10%) risk of minor complications such as extra bleeding, cramps or fever. About one in 500 abortions has major complications."
"Major complications include: perforation of the uterus causing bleeding; retained placenta that causes enough infection to make you seriously ill and have to be hospitalized; damage to the bowel or bladder that requires surgery and, sometimes a hysterectomy has to be performed and than you can never conceive again." Click here for more information about abortion complications.
Will I feel guilty after the abortion?
"Many people do, although they may not face that for a number of years. While the first reaction is relief, almost everyone who had an abortion has to deal with some degree of guilt before they are healed of their abortion experience."
If I am pregnant should I tell my parents?
"Yes. It is such an important life decision that could cause permanent damage to your health and you ability to have children in the future. You may have some sever emotional repercussions and should seek the counsel and guidance of your parents who certainly love you and care for your well-being more than anyone else."
What if my parents want me to have an abortion?
"Remember your parents love you and you may have disappointed them and hurt them. If you are gentle but firm in your resolve to give life to your baby, your parents will most likely accept your decision and reaffirm a loving relationship with you. You can seek help from a number of pro-life organizations who will help you continue your pregnancy and even provide a place for you to live temporarily, if needed." See the Resources section for abortion alternative resources.
What if my boyfriend wants me to have a abortion?
"I think that you need to think about why your boyfriend wants you to have an abortion. He probably doesn't want to accept the responsibility of the life he has helped create. He wants you to take all the risks of what might happen to your body and psychological well-being. If the young man is that uncaring about you then you need to talk to someone who has your own best interest at heart."
If I don't want to have an abortion where can I find help?
"There are hotlines for abortion counseling available. I would suggest you contact the nearest crisis pregnancy center or right-to-life chapter in your state. The nearest pro-life organization is the best place to go and ask for help. They can make sure you get the help that you need. Most can be found in the yellow pages."
Check out the Resources and Web Links pages in this website, and try any of these numbers:
Birthright International: 1-800-550-4900
America's Crisis Pregnancy Helpline 1-888-4-OPTIONS