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What Are the Different Types of Abortion?

There are two main types of elective abortion, surgical (in a clinic) or medical (abortion pill). The type you are eligible for usually depends on how long you have been pregnant. 


Read this article to learn about the different abortion types, what’s involved, and health considerations before scheduling an abortion procedure or ordering the abortion pill online.

Surgical vs. Medical Abortion

Medical abortion is generally FDA-approved for women only within the first 70 days of their pregnancy. It may be referred to as self-induced abortion or at-home abortion.


There are a few types of surgical abortion, all of which require an in-person visit to a clinic. 


Surgical abortion can be used when medication abortion isn’t an option, including for women who have been pregnant for longer than 70 days.

Surgical Abortion Types

Dilation and Curettage Surgical Abortion (D&C)

Suction curettage abortions (also called D&C or vacuum aspiration abortions) are usually used in the first trimester, around 12 or 13 weeks of pregnancy.


First, your vagina will need to be dilated, numbing medication will be applied, and then a narrow tube will be inserted where the pregnancy will be removed primarily via suction. 

Dilation and Evacuation Surgical Abortion (D&E)

Surgical abortions conducted in the second trimester (after 13 weeks of pregnancy) will usually require a series of visits.


First, you’ll have your cervix dilated, possibly with small dilating sticks called laminaria, and you’ll be given any necessary pain medication or antibiotics. 


Some women choose to be asleep during the procedure. While you’re sedated, the doctor uses suction and surgical tools to remove the pregnancy tissue. 

Medical Abortions

A medical abortion can be performed for up to 10 weeks of gestational age. It is typically prescribed at an abortion clinic, where the abortion process begins. It involves taking two different drugs.


The first drug is mifepristone, which stops the pregnancy from progressing. The second, misoprostol, induces cramping so that your uterus expels the fetus and pregnancy tissue.

Risks of Different Abortion Types

Elective abortions of all types are serious medical procedures, and it’s important to understand your health and potential risks.

Surgical Abortion Risks

Potential risks of surgical abortion can include: 

  • Damage to the cervix
  • Cramping
  • Scar tissue on the uterine wall
  • Infection

Medical Abortion Risks


The Mayo Clinic lists the following risks associated with the abortion pill:

  • Incomplete abortion (may need to be followed by surgical abortion)
  • An ongoing unwanted pregnancy (if the procedure doesn’t work)
  • Heavy/prolonged bleeding
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort
  • Infection

Schedule an Appointment

At Hope First, we offer no-cost ultrasounds where you can gain more information about how long you have been pregnant and the types of abortion you are considering.


If your pregnancy is ectopic or has miscarried, you’ll need a procedure other than an abortion, and an ultrasound can also alert you to those possibilities.


We also offer no-cost options consultations where you can learn about your options in a compassionate, confidential atmosphere. We are here to equip you with facts and resources, so you can make the decision that is right for YOU.

Contact us today to make an appointment!

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