Second Trimester Abortions: Understanding the Facts


The decision of whether to keep your baby, abort, or adopt can be one of the most difficult choices you may ever need to make. Unfortunately, it’s also a decision that may need to be made quickly depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy.

If abortion is a decision you’re leaning towards, it’s critical to consider how many weeks pregnant you are. Choosing an abortion after the 10th week of pregnancy limits your options as far as what type of abortion you are able to receive. The most common method for abortions after 14 weeks is the dilation and evacuation procedure. If you are considering abortion after your first trimester, it’s important to understand the process and facts about the procedure.

What to Expect

After the 13th or 14th week of pregnancy, options for abortion become more limited and are generally more invasive procedures. The most common method for abortions after 14 weeks is the dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure.

How it Works:

  1. Dilation of the Cervix: Achieved by using a rod made of sponge or seaweed. The thin rod is inserted into your cervix where it naturally expands as it slowly absorbs water, causing the cervix to gradually expand. This process can take several hours, and may require the patient to go home and come back the next day once the cervix is fully dilated. Alternately, a medication called misoprostol may be given to soften the cervix.
  2. Pain and Infection Management: When the cervix has dilated, medication is given to reduce pain and the risk of infection.
  3. Local or general anesthesia is administered.
  4. Evacuation: The baby and placenta are first removed from the uterus using forceps. Then a curved instrument called a curette is used to scrape the uterine lining. Lastly, the doctor may use suction to ensure all of the contents of the uterus have been removed.

Potential Side Effects of Second Trimester Abortion

As with any medical or surgical procedure, there are physical risks to undergoing an abortion. These include:

  • Excessive Bleeding: It’s normal for abortion patients to experience bleeding for several days after the procedure, but heavy bleeding indicates a larger issue and will require medical attention.
  • Incomplete Abortion: If any portion of the fetus or placenta remains in the uterus after an abortion, further medical attention is required.
  • Infection: Undergoing any invasive surgical procedure comes with a small chance of infection. A fever, muscle aches, dizziness, or a general feeling of illness will require that you seek further attention from your doctor.
  • Painful Cramps: Because your uterus must shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size, you may feel cramps similar to a menstrual period. If you experience severe abdominal pain or cramping, you will need further medical attention.
  • Emotional Consequences: There is a heightened risk of depression, suicide and relationship challenges for some women who have had an abortion.
  • Complications from the procedure that could potentially require hospitalization, including internal infections, torn cervix, and perforated uterus.

A Compassionate Ear When You Need It

While it is important that you carefully examine your values and goals during this time, it’s equally important not to allow yourself to carry this burden alone. At the HOPE Center, we provide free counseling and resources you need to make the right decision for your life.

Options Medical Clinic does not perform or give referrals for abortions. We offer medically accurate information about abortion, risks, and alternatives, along with free pregnancy testing and ultrasound. We are here to help you make an informed decision that is best for you and your future.

To talk to someone who cares and can help, call 770.924.0864.