In Pennsylvania, abortion is legal during the first six months of pregnancy. Medication abortions and surgical abortions are both practiced and offered. Prior to receiving either method, a woman must receive state-mandated counseling, which includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, as well as information on adoption and parenting. She is then required to wait 24 hours before the procedure can be made available to her. This waiting period gives her time to consider her options before making a very crucial decision that involves both her and her unborn baby. A parent of a minor must also consent before an abortion takes place.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 66 percent of legal abortions occur within the first eight weeks of gestation, and 92 percent are performed within the first 13 weeks. This has made the medication abortion, better known as the “abortion pill”, the most popular method among women who decide to follow through with terminating their pregnancy. Two different medicines are administered: mifepristone and misoprostol. First, mifepristone is given. Pregnancy needs a hormone called progesterone to progress normally. Mifepristone blocks your body’s own progesterone, stopping the pregnancy from progressing. Then, usually around 48 hours later, misoprostol is taken. This medicine causes cramping and bleeding and empties your uterus of the embryo.
Women are informed that the medication abortion is the closest thing to a miscarriage and compare it to a heavy period with light cramping because it’s “more natural and less invasive”. However, a medication abortion is incomparable to a miscarriage since miscarriages are due to natural causes. Abortion is intentional, miscarriages are not.
For women who are further along than thirteen weeks, the surgical procedure is necessary to terminate the pregnancy. This is when surgical instruments are inserted and used to remove the fetus. Doctors claim that it is one of the safest procedures done on a woman in the US. While doctors often say these words in an attempt to soften the situation and help ease nerves, this approach doesn’t fully prepare anyone for experiencing this procedure firsthand; what one will see and feel can actually be quite traumatizing.
Risks, risks, risks
Although abortion is said to be natural and among one of the safest procedures for women in the US, that is ultimately untrue. There are still many risk factors that are associated with both types of abortion procedures, as no procedure is ever risk-free. An individual should be aware of these risks and take them into consideration. Some of the risks associated with abortion include blood clots in your uterus, very heavy bleeding, infection, injury to your cervix, scarring of the uterine lining and perforation of the uterus, injury to other organs, allergic reaction to medication, and even death. Woman can also experience the loss of their fertility or an increase in miscarriages after an abortion. These are all physical risks that can be painful and could affect you for years to come.
Apart from physical risks, there are many mental health issues that can arise as well, including an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the American Pregnancy Association, common negative feelings include guilt, anger, shame, remorse or regret, loss of self-esteem or self-confidence, feelings of isolation and loneliness, sleep problems and bad dreams, relationship problems, and thoughts of suicide. Every woman’s situation is different and individual support networks vary. This may make some individuals feel less able to cope. If suicidal thoughts or self-harm occur, please seek urgent help immediately.
It compounds tragedy, breeds new problems, and never goes away
Bad things happen and, unfortunately, they will continue to happen regardless of how much control we think we have in preventing them. There are many reasons why an individual considers an abortion. Sometimes babies are a product of rape. Others are diagnosed with a defect that will require lifetime care. Some women are informed that their pregnancies are considered high-risk and may put their own personal health at risk for various reasons. Parents of a teen daughter might never have known she was pregnant. Or possibly, having an abortion means an affair will remain undiscovered.
With all of this said, there is one thing that needs to be known; one tragedy is not answered with another. The baby that was conceived during the horrific experience of a rape is not the monster. Terminating the unborn is not a cure. We do not avoid health issues by avoiding the reality of another human being. Many parents of a pregnant teen daughter are far more accepting and loving than she could’ve imagined. The truth is always better than a lie—especially when another’s life is at stake. Each one of these situations craves compassion and real facts that provide life-honoring options for both the mother and child. These options will enable them to defy the odds. Presenting or accepting abortion as an easy fix to any of those situations only causes more damage to be undone down the road. Just because it’s often a hidden choice doesn’t mean it won’t stay with you forever. For anyone who has already participated in abortion, while there is no way to change your past, there is a way to heal from it.
It avoids responsibility
Responsible people must make hard choices sometimes; it’s a part of life. Abortion is sometimes used as a form of birth control or an easy way out from a one-night stand gone bad. Contraception is never 100% effective and the best planning can fail. However, when two people choose to participate in sexual intercourse, they then need to take the next step with accepting responsibility when faced with pregnancy. Finances may be tight or the timing may be bad, but there is always a more responsible path to be chosen regarding an unwanted pregnancy, whether that be choosing to co-parent, raising your child as a single parent, or placing your baby for adoption. Just remember, you won’t always be stuck in the circumstances which make this moment seem so hard.
It’s not empowering or liberating for women
In recent years, many statements have been plastered on cardboard signs or posted on social media in an effort to justify the choices women have made. They feel this gives them a voice where they feel unheard and rights where they feel cut short. A few popular statements include “My body, my choice”, “Abortion Rights are Human Rights”, and “Abortion is Healthcare”. These statements could not be any more contradictory and hypocritical to the message they are trying to portray and rights they are trying to gain. Rights are violated when people are deprived of their basic rights in a discriminatory fashion. Unborn children are deprived of life – the most basic right of all – simply based on their developmental status. Ending a life is not empowering or liberating and should never be considered gain for another. As a woman, you have the right to remain whole mentally and emotionally and the choice you make should remain separate from such statements.
Is the abortion pill reversable?
As addressed before, there are two different medications given to end a pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol. Studies on the abortion pill do show that if you take the first medicine but not the second, the abortion pill is less likely to work. So, if you’ve begun the process of having an abortion using the abortion pill but find yourself immediately regretting it, don’t waste any time—contact your doctor right away. Reversal and possible treatment work by giving the mother extra progesterone up to 72 hours after she takes the first set of pills. Odds are that 55% of pregnancies will continue after treatment and around 750 babies have been saved by this process.
Why ultrasounds are crucial when considering abortion
Ultrasounds are vital during pregnancy. They help determine how far along you are and check on the baby’s development, confirm a viable pregnancy [not ectopic], and can usually detect a heartbeat as early as 5 ½ to 6 weeks after gestation. When a woman is considering abortion, ultrasounds are especially important because it’s the first time a woman gets to “see” her baby. Depending on when it’s done and the baby’s position, she may also be able to see hands, legs, and other body parts. Ultrasounds also help bring the reality of the situation into perspective when women see firsthand the life that is developing within.
In 2014, a study out of University of California, San Francisco analyzed records from over 15,000 women seeking abortion from Planned Parenthood clinics in LA. A total of 1,121 were categorized as having “medium” and “low” decision certainty. In this grouping, only 1.3% who did not view an ultrasound continued their pregnancy while 4.8% of those who viewed the ultrasound did continue their pregnancy, representing a statistically significant difference between the women viewing and not viewing the ultrasound image. Many continue to promote the idea that when a woman gets glimpses of her baby during a sonogram, her maternal instinct awakens and prompts her to carry the pregnancy to term. Woohoo for ultrasounds!
Choosing adoption over abortion
If you’ve read all the information you can handle, parenting is still out of the question, and you feel abortion remains the best option for your situation, there is one more option to consider: adoption. The thought of this choice may be difficult to even consider for many reasons. While there may be negative feelings and opinions associated with adoption, there are also so many positives, making this a far more rewarding option than having an abortion. One of the cool things about the adoption process is that you’re in control and get to decide what adoption plan best fits your situation. While it may seem like there is no “right” decision when it comes to your unplanned pregnancy, some women believe that making the sacrifice to carry their baby to term and placing them with another family provides them a sense of purpose during this confusing time in their life. For some women, adoption is a way to feel positive about an unplanned pregnancy, giving them a sense of fulfillment while fulfilling another family’s desire to parent, especially when they are unable to carry themselves. It’s something to consider! And something we can further discuss if you’re interested.
If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, we want you to realize that you are not alone. It’s our mission to provide you with free and confidential pregnancy services, tools, and resources to make the most fully informed decision possible. If you are considering abortion, your first step is a pre-abortion assessment and we can discuss your options with absolutely no pressure. Contact us today at (717) 442-3111 or request an appointment online at any time.
Authored by Kate Grim