Disclaimer: This column is not politically driven. It is an attempt to educate the facts that surround abortion.
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade was a landmark move that angered a lot of people, to say the least. The constitutional ruling that protected a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion was reversed. Instead, abortion regulation has been placed in the hands of individual states.
As pro-choice and pro-life rallies gather across the country, one would assume that most individuals who weigh in on abortion rights comprehend what it is — the risks and the reasons. Yet, many times, as with any hot-button topic, that’s not entirely true. It can be easier to take a stand with a group you identify with than take the time to understand the debate at hand. It’s crucial to know what abortion is in order to make a decision. As a society it’s invaluable to form an opinion.
So, it’s time to talk about abortion, from a factual approach. What is abortion? What are the risks? And why would a woman get one?
What is abortion?
First, let’s clarify the very basic question.
Lexico, powered by Oxford, defines abortion as “the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.”
There are two types of abortion—medical and surgical.
A medical abortion is done within the first nine weeks of pregnancy. It uses medication to end an undesired pregnancy, carry out a miscarriage, or if there is a medical condition where carrying a pregnancy to term becomes life-threatening. This type of abortion is better for individuals who want to have greater privacy and control over their bodies since it can feel more “natural” as medication causes the uterus lining to shed, and this can be done at home.
A surgical abortion is broken down into two types — an aspiration that occurs within the first trimester, and dilation and evacuation (D&E) for late-term abortions up to 24 weeks. In many instances, D&E is done when the fetus has medical deformities. Both types of surgical abortions can require fewer doctor visits, and are done in a relatively short period where a doctor merely uses suction to empty the uterus.
Medical abortions have a success rate of over 95% while surgical abortions are 99% effective.
What are the risks?
Both types of abortions, though effective, come with inherent risks.
The risks of a medical abortion are infection, prolonged bleeding, fever, digestive discomfort, or unsuccessful completion that results in surgery. Medical abortions are not an option if you have an IUD, ectopic pregnancy, are far along in pregnancy, are on blood thinners, have certain medical conditions (seizures, liver, kidney, lung, heart, blood diseases), or have allergies to the medication.
Risks with a surgical abortion are a little more serious since it requires the use of medical instruments. They include pre-term birth; an infection that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and, if untreated, infertility; and heavy bleeding. However, it’s important to note that a successful surgical procedure will not impact child-bearing ability later on.
Both options, medical or surgical, also come with the risk of depression, anxiety, and emotional turmoil.
Why would a woman get an abortion?
The decision to have an abortion isn’t made lightly. Extreme public opinion narrows in on a woman’s opinion on motherhood (to be or not to be), but there are several reasons women opt to terminate a pregnancy. They can be financial insecurities, mental health problems, pregnancy as a result of rape, birth control failure, timing, or even underlying medical conditions.
“There are situations where pregnancy termination in the form of an abortion is the only medical intervention that can preserve a patient’s health or save their life,” reports The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
There are also instances where a fetus’s health is determined so critical while still in the womb that, if carried to term, it would result in a painful or short-lived life.
No matter where you land on the Supreme Court’s ruling, proper sexual health education is essential as are the regulations that surround it. With all of the above said, I firmly advocate a woman’s right to choose and maintain complete autonomy over her own body and do not believe it should be up to public or government opinion.
If you’d like to continue this conversation please reach out. I am open to all sides, and do not judge.
The weekly wellness series is in partnership with James Lane Post, an East End experience.