Yes. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973) established that the right to choose abortion is protected by the U.S. Constitution. However, after the first trimester of pregnancy, each state has the right to regulate how a woman can access abortion care and states can choose to restrict access to abortion care after the second trimester. At the Philadelphia Women’s Center, we are able to accommodate women up to 21.6 weeks gestational age. If your ultrasound results show that you are more than 22 weeks, we can help you find a safe clinic to explore your abortion options.
For more information click here. http://www.prochoice.org/policy/courts/roe_v_wade.html
Though abortion is legal in all 50 states, there are some states where it is so hard to get an abortion that many women cannot access the care that they need. There are even some states where it is so difficult for a doctor to provide abortion care that there are no doctors at all, or only one doctor in the whole state! It is important to stay active and informed abour your medical choices. For more information about the challenges facing women and doctors, click here: http://reproductiverights.org/
Though all medical procedures carry some risks, abortion is considered one of the safest procedures a woman have. Having an abortion at any stage in pregnancy is considered to be 5 -10 times safer than going through childbirth. If you choose to have an abortion at the Philadelphia Women’s Center, our staff will be available to answer any questions or concerns that you have regarding specific risks before your procedure.
To learn more about the risks associated with abortion click here:
A surgical abortion occurs when a doctor (or other qualified health care provider) removes a pregnancy from the uterus. The doctor numbs the cervix (opening of the uterus), then dilates (opens) the cervix a little bit to put in a small tube and removes the pregnancy with suction. A surgical abortion may take anywhere from 5 – 20 minutes depending on where you are in your pregnancy.
For additional information about a first trimester abortion click here (go to first trimester page) and for additional information about a second trimester abortion click here (go to second trimester page).
Medical abortion involves the use of medications that induce abortion. For most women, the medical abortion process is similar to having a miscarriage. This option is only available early in pregnancy. The Philadelphia Women’s Center uses the FDA approved medications mifepristone and misoprostol for medical abortions. Mifepristone is also known as RU-486 or Mifeprex®. In the small percentage of cases in which medical abortions fail, surgical abortion procedures are often required to complete the abortion process.
For additional information about medical abortion click here (go to the medical abortion page).
In order to have an abortion, your physician must be able to confirm that there is a pregnancy in your uterus. At the Philadelphia Women’s Center, we use an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy. If you are very early in your pregnancy, it may be too small to be detected or seen on the ultrasound. At this early stage, the likelihood of missing all or part of the pregnancy tissue (resulting in an incomplete abortion) is increased. In order to avoid this complication, we ask that you wait until your pregnancy is at least 4 or 5 weeks, when it will be clearly visible with ultrasound.
In addition, we will need to confirm that the pregnancy is in the uterus before attempting an abortion. In rare cases, the pregnancy may be developing outside of the uterus or in one of the fallopian tubes. This is called an ectopic pregnancy, and may require immediate emergency care. Using an ultrasound before your procedure will help us to rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy before starting your procedure.
In general, an abortion is legal in the United States through the second trimester, or 24 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP). In some situations, usually involving severe fetal defects or abnormalities, third trimester abortions may be performed, but these are extremely rare and cannot be performed in all states.
At the Philadelphia Women’s Center, we are able to accommodate women up to 21.6 weeks gestational age. If your ultrasound results show that you are more than 22 weeks, we can help you find a safe clinic to explore your abortion options.
Because both the risks of abortion and the costs increase as a pregnancy progresses, we recommend that you make the decision to end your pregnancy as early as possible. However, an abortion at any time during pregnancy is still a very safe procedure.
A first trimester surgical abortion will usually take about 5 minutes. Second trimester abortions can be longer, taking anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes for the surgical procedure. Some second trimester abortions also require additional time to dilate the cervix before the surgery is performed. The dilation process can take anywhere from 30 minutes up to 24 hours prior to the surgery.
While the surgery itself is not long, it is important to remember that there are several pre-operative assessments that are required to ensure your comfort and safety prior to the surgery, so your appointment may take several hours to complete.
Every woman experiences pain differently and what seems very painful to one person may not seem painful at all to another. The physical experience that you have during an abortion will vary depending on the type of abortion you choose to have (surgical vs. medical abortion) and the type of anesthetic you choose (local vs. sedation).
Women who choose to have a surgical abortion with a local anesthetic will often tell us that they experienced strong cramping and a feeling of pressure during the procedure. How intense the cramps are will vary from person to person. Mild cramping (like menstrual cramps) after a surgical abortion will usually last for one or two days, though it is normal to have cramping on and off for a few weeks. This cramping should be alleviated with over the counter pain medication.
Women who choose to have a medical abortion will often tell us that they experienced very stong cramping and heavy bleeding that subsides within several hours. Mild cramping (like menstrual cramps) after a medical abortion will usually last for one or two days, though it is normal to have cramping on and off for a few weeks. This cramping should be alleviated with over the counter pain medication.
Severe, intense pain is not normal after an abortion and could be an indication that something is not OK. If you are experiencing extreme pain after your procedure, please call us right away!
Whether or not your parents must be informed about your abortion depends on the state you live in. Thirty-three states have some type of law that requires parental involvement in a minor woman’s decision to have an abortion. In Pennsylvania, minors under the age of 18 need to have at least one parent consent to their abortion. If involving your parent or guardian is not something that you can or want to do you can do judicial bypass. Judicial bypass is when you meet with a judge privately who emancipates you for purposes of this decision. The judge will sign and present you with documents that will take the place of your parent consenting. This is an easy and legal process and our staff is happy to help you through it.
If you would like more information about the laws in your state, click here: http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_OMCL.pdf
A lot of people are confused about the difference between medical abortion (also known as “medication abortion”) and emergency contraceptive pills (also known as “morning-after pills”)! Emergency contraception pills help to prevent pregnancy; medical abortion terminates an established pregnancy.
According to the best scientific evidence available, all FDA-approved emergency contraception pills work by interfering with ovulation or fertilization before pregnancy begins and are not able to terminate an established pregnancy. For more information about the difference between emergency contraception and medical abortion click here: http://ec.princeton.edu/questions/ecabt.html
Medical abortion involves the use of medications that induce abortion. For most women, the medical abortion process is similar to having a miscarriage. This option is only available early in the pregnancy. The Philadelphia Women’s Center uses the FDA approved medications mifepristone and misoprostol for medical abortions. Mifepristone is also known as RU-486 or Mifeprex®. In the small percentage of cases in which medical abortions fail, surgical abortion procedures are often required to complete the abortion process.
For additional information about medical abortion click here (go to the medical abortion page).
ECPs are used to prevent pregnancy immediately after sex. They can be up to 95% effective when taken immediately after sex. You might choose to use ECPs if you have unprotected sex, have a problem with your contraception use (condom breaks, skipped a day of your birth control pill, etc.) or if you are sexually assaulted. ECPs are most effective when taken immediately after unprotected sex, but can be used up to 5 days after.
Plan B®, Next Choice®, Levonorgestrel, and ella® are currently the only products marketed specifically as emergency contraceptive pills in the United States. Plan B, Next Choice and Levonorgestrel are available without a doctor’s prescription for women 17 and older. If you are under 17, you will need a doctor’s prescription in order to obtain one of these ECPs. All women, regardless of age, must obtain a prescription for Ella.
Though all medical procedures carry some risks, abortion is considered one of the safest procedures a woman have. Having an abortion at any stage in pregnancy is considered to be 5 -10 times safer than going through childbirth.
If you choose to have an abortion at the Philadelphia Women’s Center, our staff will be available to answer any questions or concerns that you have regarding specific risks before your procedure.
If you would like to know more about the risks associated with abortion, you can click here:
You may have your partner, parent or friend with you doing your information session, but they will not be able to be with you during your surgical procedure or during your stay in the recovery room. Your support person is welcome to wait in our waiting room, or leave and return to pick you up.
If you feel that you will need additional support during your surgical procedure, please talk with one of our patient advocates. Our advocacy staff is there to support you and is able to be with you throughout your procedure.
Yes, having an abortion is very safe. An abortion procedure is up to 10 ten times safer than childbirth. While there are risks associated with an abortion procedure every time you have one, there is no definitive research that shows that having more than one abortion procedure will cause increased risks to you, your future health or your fertility.
However, pregnancy in general does carry risks and having many pregnancies – regardless of whether the pregnancies end in abortion or not – may increase some of these risks. Because of this, it is extremely important that you share your health history and a detailed pregnancy history with your medical provider to ensure that you are receiving the highest quality of care for your individual needs.
When choosing an abortion provider, it is important to find one that meets your needs, both physically and emotionally. There are many different types of healthcare facilities that provide abortion care, such as private doctor’s offices, clinics, surgery centers, and hospitals. When looking for an abortion provider, try to get as much information as you can about the facility. The more you know about your provider, the better your experience will be.
A good abortion provider will answer all your questions. If you are unsure of your decision, they should provide you with unbiased counseling and referrals for all of your pregnancy options. The provider should be able to provide accurate medical information about abortion procedures, the procedure’s safety and possible risks, pre- and post-operative instructions, and information about any state mandated abortion laws that you need to follow. Most importantly, you should be treated with respect and compassion, and be offered access to supportive services after the procedure such as counseling and birth control. You deserve the best treatment and services available, and you deserve to be treated with dignity and kindness.
When calling a provider for information, have a list of questions ready. Here are some suggestions for questions:
- What types of abortion services do they offer?
- What will happen on the day of the appointment?
- Are the facility and the staff properly licensed?
- Are there special state requirements for minors?
- Are there special state requirements for counseling or waiting periods?
- How will the provider determine how many weeks pregnant the patient is?
- How many weeks of pregnancy does the provider offer abortion services up to?
- What is the cost of the abortion? And what does that include?
- Are there lab tests involved? Are they included in the cost?
- What types of payment (cash, credit, insurance, funding) does the facility accept?
- Are follow-up appointments available? Is the cost included?
- When are the appointments available?
- Will the patient be allowed to bring anyone with her to the appointment?
- Is there an opportunity for any last minute questions?
- What will I need to bring to my appointment?
- Should I expect protesters at the facility?
Be careful when looking for an abortion provider as there has been an increase in anti-abortion websites and anti-abortion healthcare facilities. Some of these websites and facilities try to disguise themselves as experts in pregnancy and abortion care, but are actually organizations that are funded by the anti-choice movement to talk women out of choosing abortion or getting accurate information about abortion. Beware of centers listed as “Pregnancy Crisis Centers” and avoid anything listed under “Abortion Alternatives.” If you are unsure of your decision, the center should give you accurate information about all of your options – continuing the pregnancy, adoption, and terminating the pregnancy – and they should respect you for making the decision that is best for your life, they should not try to make you feel bad about any decision that you make.
We have provided the PDF How to Choose a Quality Abortion Provider – PWC, to help you select an abortion provider.
Yes. You have the option of choosing either local anesthesia or IV sedation for your surgical abortion. However, we need to review your current and past medical health history and do a brief physical exam, to determine whether or not IV sedation is a safe option for you in an out-patient facility. Also, because you will need a ride home and not eat or drink after midnight on the night before your surgery, you must have an escort to bring you to and from your appointment if you would like IV sedation.
In the hands of a qualified professional, such as our Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), IV sedation is a safe option for most women during an abortion procedure. Because the Philadelphia Women’s Center is an Ambulatory Surgical Facility, we follow the same state-mandated standard of care as hospitals, so you can be sure you are getting the highest quality care at our facility.
Anesthesia care doesn’t stop when your surgery is over. The process also includes specialized care that takes place before and after the IV sedation is given. In addition to our surgical staff, you will be cared for by our CRNAs who will provide the IV sedation, and experienced Registered Nurses (RN) in the recovery room.
Everyone responds differently to IV sedation. Some women feel wide awake immediately after surgery, while some women will feel sleepy for several hours after and some women will experience some dizziness or nausea afterwards. Because the IV sedation medicines stay in your body up to 24 hours after your procedure, it is important that you have someone to escort you home safely.
It’s all about your safety!
Because the medications used during IV sedation can remain in your body for up to 24 hours and can cause side effects such as feeling drowsy, light-headed, dizziness and nausea, it is extremely important that you do not drive, make important decisions or care for small children immediately after your procedure.
You can expect to get a normal period about 4 to 8 weeks after the abortion.
Generally, you can start having sexual intercourse about 2 weeks after your abortion. We recommend waiting to have sex until after you have a follow-up exam 2 -3 weeks after your procedure. You CAN get pregnant right after an abortion, before your next period starts.
Women express a wide range of feelings after an abortion. From sadness to relief and from anger to grief, a mix of emotions is normal. There is no right or wrong way to feel after an abortion. It is important that you consider your feelings carefully and try not to ignore them.
If you find that you would like help in coping with any emotions that you are experiencing after your abortion, the Patient Advocates at the Philadelphia Women’s Center are available to meet with you at no additional cost after your procedure to discuss any feelings that you are experiencing.
If you feel it would be helpful to speak with a counselor or therapist outside of our Center, we are also able to provide you with supportive referrals. You can also go online or call organizations that offer free telephone counseling before and after abortion. We recommend Backline at www.yourbackline.org or 888.493.0092, and Faith Aloud at www.faithaloud.org or 888.717.5010.
The cost of an abortion procedure varies depending on where you are in your pregnancy and the type of procedure you choose. Generally speaking, the cost of the abortion increases after the first trimester, and sometimes increases with each week of pregnancy. This is because the procedure requires more medication and time to perform as the pregnancy becomes more advanced.
When asking about the cost of a procedure, be sure to ask what that price includes so that you are not surprised by fees on the day of your appointment. For example, you should ask if the cost includes screening tests, ultrasound, medications during and/or after surgery, and follow up visits.
Some insurance plans cover an abortion and some do not. The best way to find out if an insurance plan will cover the cost of your procedure is to call the insurance company directly and ask. Sometimes, even if your insurance company does cover termination of pregnancy, the you might still be responsible for a percentage of the procedure and/or bringing a referral.
If you have state Medicaid in Pennsylvania it will not cover an abortion unless the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or a threat to your life. Philadelphia Women’s Center can help you with the process of having your state Medicaid cover your abortion if any of these are the case. If your insurance does not cover your abortion or you do not have insurance, our experienced staff can often help find you additional financial assistance to cover the cost. Please speak with one of our staff members if you have any insurance or financial questions.