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If you discover that you are pregnant but don't want a baby you might consider an abortion. 

Abortions end a pregnancy after it has started. Deciding whether to have an abortion should always be your choice. And if you do decide to have one, it is nothing to be ashamed of.  

There are different types of abortion. One involves taking abortion tablets, the other involves a surgical procedure.   

It's important to have a safe abortion. This means it must be carried out by a certified medical professional from a licensed clinic. Doing anything else is very dangerous. 

It is also important to know what your country’s abortion laws are. 

What is an abortion?

An abortion ends a pregnancy (which is why they’re also called pregnancy terminations).  

You can either have a surgical procedure or take abortion pills – but both things must be done under the guidance of a certified medical professional. It is dangerous to do anything else.  

Where can I get an abortion?

At a hospital or a clinic that is legally licensed to carry out abortions.  

It’s important not to go to an unlicensed clinic or an uncertified person, buy abortion pills online, or use herbal remedies or other things that are advertised as ‘at-home abortions’. These can put your health, even your life, in danger. 

How does an abortion work?

Abortion tablets 

You take two pills, usually one or two days apart (one is called mifepristone, which blocks the main pregnancy hormone, the other is a misoprostol tablet, which ends the pregnancy).  

You will bleed from your vagina as you pass out the pregnancy. This usually happens a few hours after you take the misoprostol tablet. 

If you're less than 10 weeks (2.5 months) pregnant, you can usually take the second abortion tablet at home. 

Surgical abortion 

A surgical abortion procedure removes the pregnancy from the womb.  

You’ll be asked to take a medicine that opens your cervix (the opening to your womb) before the operation. 

Surgical abortion at 14 weeks (3.5 months) pregnant or less: If you are 14 weeks pregnant or less, you will be given a local anaesthetic to numb your cervix then a tube will be inserted into your womb to remove the pregnancy via suction. This takes about 10 minutes, and you should be able to go home a few hours later. 

Surgical abortion after 3.5 months pregnant: If you are more than 14 weeks pregnant, forceps will be used to remove the pregnancy. You will be put to sleep or heavily sedated beforehand. It normally takes about 20 minutes and usually you can go home the same day. 

After an abortion, it’s likely you'll get some stomach cramps and vaginal bleeding. This can last for around two weeks. 

It’s normal to feel lots of emotions after your abortion. Everyone’s experience is different. If you are struggling, the best thing to do is to speak to someone you trust or a trained counsellor.  

Is abortion legal?

Different countries have different laws about when you can get an abortion and in what circumstance. For example, in some countries an abortion is only legal if the mother’s life is at risk, or only up to a particular time in the pregnancy. And there may be certain things you have to do beforehand, like getting agreement from more than one doctor.  

It’s important to know about the abortion laws in your country so you can understand whether getting an abortion in your circumstances is legal or not.  

If it is illegal, speak to an organisation that works on reproductive rights to discuss your options. Some people who are pregnant but don’t want a baby choose adoption or even travel to somewhere where abortion is legal. 

Will having an abortion harm my chances of getting pregnant later on?

A safe abortion from a licensed clinic should not affect your ability to have a baby in the future.  

It’s possible to get pregnant soon after an abortion, so it’s a good idea to think about your birth control options. 

Let's talk about abortions

Here are a few questions to help kick-off discussions on the issues you need to talk about! You can share them on social, on WhatsApp or just get talking.

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How do I decide if I should get an abortion or not?

Some people may be certain they want to have an abortion, while others may find it more difficult to make a decision. Good information and support can help you choose what’s best for you. 

You may want to speak to your partner, friends or family for support, but you don’t have to. A healthcare professional will be able to give you information on abortion services and talk you through your options. Remember the final decision is yours to make and you shouldn’t be pressured into a choice you are not comfortable with. 

Can abortion increase the risk of breast cancer?

There is no evidence that having a safe abortion from a licensed clinic will increase someone’s risk of developing breast cancer.  

Is abortion safe?

Yes – when it is performed in a registered clinic under the guidance of a certified medical professional. 

Does a foetus feel pain during an abortion?

A foetus cannot feel pain until the nervous system begins to develop, which does not happen until at least 24 weeks (6 months) of pregnancy.  

What advice can I give to someone about abortion?

The best thing you can do is to give them clear and accurate information. This might be a difficult time for them so it’s important to be kind, to listen and do not judge.  

If they feel embarrassed or ashamed about discussing abortion with you, give them details of a friendly healthcare professional, a helpline or factual online resources, like this website. 

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  • Last updated: 21 March 2022
  • Last full review: 01 March 2022
  • Next full review: 01 March 2025
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