In the face of an unplanned pregnancy, men and women often want to learn more about abortion clinics and their purpose. At the Pregnancy Resource Center, we provide pregnant mothers and their partners with evidence-based education about abortion. In this post, we provide a direct explanation of the purpose of a reputable abortion clinic in Portland and the procedures this type of facility offers.
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The Purpose of an Abortion Clinic
The purpose of an abortion clinic is the termination of a human pregnancy. Pregnant mothers seek abortions for various reasons, such as to prevent interference with their careers, to keep the pregnancy secret, or to alleviate financial burdens, among other reasons.
Most abortion clinics offer four types of abortion procedures. The type of procedure a clinic will recommend depends on various factors, including the gestation age, potential risks, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protocols. The sections below outline these procedures.
The Abortion Pill
The FDA has approved the abortion pill for use within the first ten weeks of pregnancy. However, many abortion clinics use this method off-label to terminate pregnancies at a later gestational age.
The abortion pill regimen consists of two steps. The first step involves taking Mifepristone pills to block progesterone, a hormone responsible for stabilizing the lining of the uterus. Consequently, this lining breaks down, stopping the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the embryo.
The second step follows 24 to 48 hours after taking Mifepristone. The patient places two Misoprostol pills in her cheek to contract the uterus and expel the embryo. After this procedure, the patient may experience side effects such as excessive bleeding, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Suction Dilation & Curettage (D&C)
A suction dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure is a first-trimester abortion that clinics generally perform to terminate pregnancies up to 14 weeks.
During this procedure, the abortionist will open the vagina using a speculum to access the uterus’s entrance (cervix). Then, they dilate the cervix and insert a plastic suction tube into the uterus. Depending on the embryo’s size, the abortionist will remove it from the uterus through the tube using either manual or machine suctioning.
The abortionist must ensure that they remove the entire embryo and the placenta. If necessary, they will use a metal curette to scrape the uterus lining and remove any remaining placenta or fragments of the embryo.
Potential risks of this procedure for the patient include cervical laceration, uterine performance, infection, and hemorrhage. Patients who underwent this procedure are also at risk of complications during future pregnancies.
Dilation & Evacuation (D&E)
A dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure is a second-trimester surgical abortion. Clinics typically perform this procedure from 14 to 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Before an abortionist can carry out this procedure, they will use a sterile seaweed product to dilate the cervix over two days. When starting the evacuation procedure, the abortionist will administer local anesthesia and, if necessary, open the cervix further using a dilator. The next step is suctioning out all the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus.
At this stage of pregnancy, the fetus is too large to remove using suctioning. Instead, the abortionist will use a Sopher clamp to reach into the uterus and remove the fetus.
After evacuating the fetus, the abortionist will scrape the uterus lining to remove any remaining fragments and placenta that may cause complications. This procedure has the same risk of complications as a suction dilation and curettage procedure.
Induction is a third-trimester abortion procedure that clinics generally carry out from 22 weeks to term. From start to finish, the procedure takes two to three days to complete, and it starts with the patient taking Mifepristone to degenerate the uterine lining.
Additionally, the abortionist will inject Digoxin into the amniotic fluid to induce cardiac arrest in the fetus. If the fetus is still alive after 24 hours, the abortionist will repeat the injection.
Approximately 36 hours after taking Mifepristone, the patient takes Misoprostol to induce vaginal delivery. Complication rates increase with fetal growth, with potential risks including infection, hemorrhaging, cervical laceration, and uterine rupture.
Final Thoughts – The Value of Pregnancy Counseling
In Oregon, abortion is a legal option for those who must navigate the complexities of an unplanned pregnancy. However, this procedure can potentially impact your physical and mental well-being.
Do you find yourself uncertain about the best path forward? Confidential and non-judgemental pregnancy counseling can provide you with the perspective you need to make a decision that is in your best interest.
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