Woman's Right to Know - Abortion Procedures and the Risks

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Making an Informed Decision

This section will tell you about the different kinds of abortions. It will also tell you about the medical risks for abortion, pregnancy, and childbirth.

Abortion is ending the pregnancy by using medicine or a surgical procedure. In Texas, the legal definition of an abortion is the use of any means to terminate the pregnancy of a female known by the attending physician to be pregnant with the intention that the termination of the pregnancy by those means will with reasonable likelihood result in the death of the fetus. Some women consider an abortion because their pregnancy might threaten the woman’s life or her health or her baby may have severe birth defects. Other women choose to end their pregnancy without any known problems with their health or with their unborn child.

Spontaneous abortion (often called miscarriage) can occur when problems with a pregnancy cause the woman to lose that pregnancy naturally.

A doctor should evaluate you if you are thinking about having an abortion. Only a doctor can perform an abortion. Discuss your situation with your doctor. Ask about any risks you might face. You can expect the following things to happen:

  • If you are a minor, a parent must be notified or you will have to ask a judge to waive that notification.
  • You will be asked about your medical history.
  • You will get a physical exam.
  • Some lab tests will be done.
  • You will find out for sure if you’re pregnant and how long you’ve been pregnant. Your doctor will do a pelvic exam and may do an ultrasound.
  • You will get counseling.
  • You will talk about your feelings about abortion.
  • You will find out about the risks of having an abortion.
  • You will find out the risks of having a baby.
  • Your questions will be discussed and answered.
  • You will get some information about abortion. You will have at least a full day to read this information before the appointment for your abortion.
  • You will sign a consent form for your abortion.

Remember, it is your right and the doctor’s responsibility to inform you fully prior to the procedure. Ask all of your questions and make sure you understand the answers. You have a right to view your medical records, including your ultrasound, at any time.

Abortion Risks

The risks are fewer when an abortion is done in the early weeks of pregnancy. The further along in the pregnancy, the greater the chance of serious complications and the greater the risk of dying from the abortion procedure. For example:

  • One death per every 530,000 abortions if you are at eight weeks or less.
  • One death per 17,000 abortions for pregnancies at 16–20 weeks.
  • One death per 6,000 abortions at 21 weeks and more.


Other factors that affect the possibility of complications include:

  • The skill and training of the doctor.
  • The kind of anesthesia used.
  • Your overall health.
  • Abortion procedure used.

Next Page - Abortion Procedures - Medical (Nonsurgical) Abortion
Last updated December 05, 2012