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).

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