What is an abortion?
- Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy.
- A pregnancy that stops growing on its own is called a spontaneous abortion or miscarriage.
- An induced abortion is the active termination or ending of a pregnancy. During an induced abortion, the embryo or fetus and placental tissue are removed or expelled from the uterus.
- There are 2 types of induced abortions: aspiration abortion (sometimes called surgical abortion) or medication abortion (sometimes called medical abortion).
How common is abortion?
- According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (SOGC), “Abortion is the second most common reproductive health procedure, experienced by 31% of Canadian women*. Between 1991 and 2005, roughly 100 000 abortions occurred annually in Canada. Since 2006, the number of abortions has decreased slightly, but incomplete reporting in recent years makes comparisons difficult.”
*note that , gender diverse, and non-binary people also have abortions.
Types of abortions:
Medication (Medical) Abortion
- An abortion induced by medications – usually one that disrupts the pregnancy and another that causes the uterus to contract and push out the pregnancy tissue.
- In Canada the pregnancy must be less than 9 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP).
- According to SOGG, approximately 4% of abortions are currently medication abortions. This number will likely grow as medication abortion access expands across Canada.
Aspiration (Surgical) Abortion
- An inpatient procedure where a healthcare provider removes pregnancy tissue from the uterus.
- The procedure typically takes less than 10 minutes, and involves gentle suction.
- Although sometimes referred to as surgery, this is a very simple and safe procedure that does not involve any cuts, sharp instruments, stitches or scarring.
- It is most often done under conscious sedation.
- Done between 5 and 20+ weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP).