Abortion

All about abortion

Abortion means ending a pregnancy. There are two main abortion options: an abortion procedure (also called in-clinic abortion) and the abortion pill (also called medication abortion). Both are safe, effective, and legal in all 50 states of the U.S. and Washington, D.C. Choosing the right kind of abortion for you will depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy, what’s available at the health center where you’re getting the abortion, and what feels most comfortable to you. And we have more information to help you decide between the abortion options.

How state laws may affect you

Waiting periods

The steps leading up to having an abortion may differ depending on what state you will have the abortion in. That’s because different states have different laws about abortion (even though it’s legal in all 50 states). Different states have different laws for political reasons, not because abortion is more or less safe in different states. These laws may make it harder to get an abortion, but they don’t make abortion less safe.

For example, in some states, you can have a consultation, ultrasound, and abortion all in one day. In other states, you may need to have your consultation or ultrasound a day or two before the abortion. That’s because those states have what is called a “waiting period.” Some states have a 24-hour waiting period, which means you’re required to wait 24 hours between the consultation and the abortion. Some states have a 48-hour or even 72-hour waiting period. And some states have no waiting period at all. When you give us your location, we’ll let you know whether there’s a waiting period in your state.

Pregnancy stage limits

Other state laws that could affect your abortion have to do with how far along in pregnancy abortion is allowed in that state. (How far along you are in pregnancy is calculated based on the first day of your last period. We’ll figure it out for you—just give us the first day of your last period. How far along you are may also be determined or confirmed by doing an ultrasound before you have an abortion.) For example, some states might ban abortions starting at 22 weeks of pregnancy, which means that you can get an abortion until you are 21 weeks, 6 days pregnant. Other states might ban abortion after 20 weeks or 24 weeks, and still others don’t have any specific limits on how far along in pregnancy you can get an abortion.

In addition to these state limits, individual abortion providers decide how far into pregnancy they want to offer abortion, so just because your state doesn’t ban abortion until 22 weeks, that doesn’t mean every abortion provider will offer abortions through 21 weeks.

It’s legal for you to travel to another state to get an abortion, and if you’re past your state’s pregnancy stage limit, we’ll help you figure out where it will be possible for you to get an abortion.

The abortion process

Your abortion itself — whether you choose the abortion pill or an abortion procedure — will not vary too much from place to place.

Before your abortion, you’ll be given all the information you need to make an informed decision. After your abortion, your health care provider will give you some instructions about caring for yourself and watching out for things like excessive bleeding and warning signs of infection. But in general, abortions are among the safest medical procedures available, and few people who get them have any serious complications. The rate of major complications is low, at 0.23%, which is similar to the rate of major complications caused by colonoscopies. And it actually has a lower rate of complications than wisdom tooth removal.