It is important that you consider all of your options before you decide to have an abortion. Discussing your options with someone you trust along with pregnancy counseling can help you make the best decision for yourself. If you decide to proceed with an abortion, you may have to choose between two or more types of abortion procedures. Furthermore, the best time to have an abortion is between five and ten weeks after your last period.
What is an Abortion?
An abortion is described as the termination of a pregnancy. During an abortion, the embryo, fetus or baby is removed from your uterus, either by taking pills that cause you to miscarry (a medical abortion) or through surgical means, in which the embryo, fetus or baby is removed with the use of surgical tools. Most abortions are performed on an outpatient basis so you can expect to recover in the comfort of your own home.
When Did Abortions First Appear?
The Supreme Court case, Roe vs. Wade, ruled that you have a right to terminate your pregnancy during the first six months. This 1973 ruling legalized abortion in the United States. The court determined that having an abortion is a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution and that denying that right infringes on the 14th Amendment (i.e. the right to privacy, the right to fair and equal treatment and the right to terminate a pregnancy).
How Prevalent is Abortion?
According to the Guttmacher Institute (2007):
- Approximately 90% of abortions occur within in the first 3 months of pregnancy (first trimester). In addition, approximately 60% of abortions occur within the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, 20% in the 9th or 10th week and 10% in the 11th to 12th week.
- Approximately 50% of American women, ages 18 to 24, receive abortions each year. Out of that 50%, 20% are between 18 and 19 years old and 30% are between 20 and 24 years old.
- Approximately 10% of abortions occur during the second trimester with 5% occurring between the 13th and 15th week of pregnancy and 5% occurring between the 16th and 20th week of pregnancy.
- It is important to note that after your 24th week of pregnancy, you are only provided an abortion in response to a serious medical condition or health concern. Only 1% of pregnant women have late-term, medically-related abortions. If you plan to have an abortion, it is best to have it as early as possible – for safety reasons.
- Approximately 60% of pregnant women who seek an abortion have given birth at least one time.
- Approximately 50% of pregnant women seeking an abortion admit that they were not using protection at the time of conception. They also acknowledge that the pregnancy was unexpected.
- Women of all social classes, economic statuses, races, cultures, ethnic groups and religions seek abortions. In fact, approximately 80% of women who have abortions consider themselves highly religious, 88% report that they live in affluent areas and 60% report that they live in urban areas and are considered economically disadvantaged.
Guttmacher Institute. (2007). In brief: Facts on induced abortion in the United States. Retrieved from http://contraception.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sd n=contraception&cdn=health&tm=542&f=20&tt=2&bt=2&bt s=2&zu=http%3A//www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_a bortion.html.
Jones, R. K., Darroch, J.E., & Henshaw S.K. (2002). Contraceptive use among U.S. women having abortions in 2000–2001. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 34(6), 294–303.