Asked Questions -
About Abortion Appointments
How long does it take?
The actual abortion procedure takes only 5-10 minutes for
first trimester procedures, and 15-20 minutes for second trimester
procedures, depending on gestation.
However, the abortion appointment will last 3-5 hours and will include
paperwork, blood draw, laboratory tests on blood and urine,
ultrasound examination, counseling about options, birth control,
what to expect during and after the abortion, understanding
the medications as well as the abortion procedure and giving
informed consent, answering all your questions, taking medications
or receiving injections, a pelvic examination followed by
the medical procedure, and recovery. For second trimester
D&E's, appointments will be made on 2 or 3 consecutive
days. After the procedure there is in-clinic recovery time
of 20-30 minutes for first trimester procedures and about
an hour for second trimester procedures. Women who opt
for sedation will have a longer in-clinic recovery
period the day of their procedure.
What about counseling?
Everyone having an abortion has
the opportunity to have all of their questions answered. The
clinic will also provide information about birth control,
sexually transmitted infections, and referrals to additional
resources as needed. If a woman is not completely ready for an abortion, she will
not have an abortion that day.
What if I am undecided?
If a woman is undecided, counselors
are available for a more-involved "options counseling"
session. If you are undecided, ask for "options counseling"
when you call to make an appointment. There is a separate fee for this service.
An excellent resource for women who are undecided or not yet ready to make their decision is Pregnancy
Options. Website covers all three
options -- parenting, abortion, and adoption. Offers emotional "tools" to get clear about
how you feel in an easy-to-read format with room for writing,
drawing and doodling.
You can also call "Backline" (888-493-0092) a service where you can talk on the phone with a trained volunteer to explore all your options.
Will I have pain?
The pain a woman feels during abortion comes from muscle
cramps, similar but stronger than menstrual cramps. Relaxing
before and during the procedure will help reduce pain. Depending upon the clinic, clients will work with the Registered Nurse Anesthetist and Medical Doctor to choose from a range of anesthesia sedation options. Sedation helps the woman's muscles relax
during the procedure thereby reducing cramping.
If a woman chooses sedation, she must have someone else drive her home.
How should I prepare
for an abortion appointment?
Do not use street-drugs for 24-48 hours before your appointment
because it could cause a serious interactions with the operative
medications if you have other drugs in your system. Avoid
aspirin or alcohol for 24 hours prior to your appointment
because they thin the blood and may increase bleeding.
Dress in comfortable 2-piece clothing; preferably short sleeved
top because your blood pressure will be monitored. Do not
eat for 2 hours before your appointment.
Can I bring a friend
or my partner with me?
We encourage you to bring a support person with you to the
clinic. Out of concern for security, legal issues, and liability,
support persons may not be allowed in some parts of the clinic.
Ask when you are there.
Are there picketers
at the clinic? Will I be safe?
In Renton, our clinic is located within a medical/dental
complex. Picketers are not allowed within the interior parking
lots or sidewalks, so you can drive in and park without coming
in close contact with pickets. Most days there is a single
picketer, Sara. She is an older woman with 1-2 large signs near
the entrance to the parking lot, but a long way from the door
to the building. What to do if you see protesters at the clinic.
In Yakima, frequently there are 3-8 picketers on public sidewalks.
In Tacoma, the door is locked beyond the front entry. You
will be "buzzed" in after showing picture identification.
There are occasionally pickets who must stay on public sidewalks.
Uniformed security guards may be present. Do not
be alarmed. They are for your safety -- as well as ours.
The guard will will not allow anyone to enter the building
unless they have an appointment or they accompany someone
with an appointment. They inspect all purses and bags. DO NOT bring guns or
weapons with you. Weapons will be confiscated by the guards.
What about after the
A normal period should begin in 4-8 weeks. Ovulation can
occur at any time after the abortion so birth control is needed
to prevent pregnancy. If you are using birth control pills,
a backup method is recommended for the first 4 weeks (one
cycle) of pills..
To reduce risk of infection in the first 1-2 weeks after
- do not have intercourse or douche
- do not take a tub bath or go swimming
- avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting (over 15 pounds)
- avoid alcohol, aspirin and marijuana which may cause heavier
- do not use tampons until your next period
If you experience heavy bleeding, call the
clinic. Heavy bleeding is defined as when you soak
a maxi-pad in less than one hour, for 2 hours in a row.
Some women experience breast engorgement caused by the pregnancy
hormones. This is normal. To help this go away, bind the breasts tightly with
an ace bandage for several days. Do not touch or simulate
the nipples (don't let water pound on them when taking a shower). Engorgement
should go away within a few days to a week. Any stimulation
such as touching will increase milk production.
We have a 24-hour hotline for abortion clients. We
encourage you to call if you have questions or problems.
Schedule a post-abortion checkup at the clinic or with your
regular health care provider for 2-3 weeks after your abortion.
Will the clinic give
me birth control to use for the future?
The counselors at the clinic discuss your health status and
give you options such as birth control pills, Depo Provera,
and condoms. For other methods of birth control, such as diaphragm,
cervical cap, IUD, you may make an appointment to
come back to the clinic at a later time after the abortion.
See our birth control
page for more info about each option.
What if I have trouble
coping emotionally after the abortion?
If you desire a post-abortion counseling session, just call
the clinic to schedule an appointment. This is included in
the original fee for abortion.
There are several additional resources for women who wish
to explore their post-abortion emotions in a safe space. Check
out these websites: Peace
After Abortion, After
There exists a national talkline Exhale at 866-439-4253 -call to talk with a trained professional who will listen to your worries and answer your questions.
For More Information:
- the most reliable research on abortion is done by the Alan
Q & A about Abortion
Are you pregnant? Reliable information on pregnancy options from the National Abortion Federation
June 10, 2011
gives you a responsibility. If somebody else is making the decision for you, or
taking the decision out of your hands, then you don't have the opportunity to
be responsible for yourself."
Feminist Women's Health Center