Everything You Need To Know About Abortion

Curious about abortion? Here's everything you need to know about it! | Art by Sarah Wintner

Curious about abortion? Here’s everything you need to know about it! | Art by Sarah Wintner

At Gurl, we absolutely support the right to a safe abortion, and we know many of our readers do too. But no matter if you support abortion or you’re against it, you should actually know exactly what you’re supporting or fighting against. Yes, even the most pro-choice girls don’t really know how abortion works! Many might not even know that there is more than one way to have an abortion.

At a time when countries are trying to restrict women’s health and rights, knowing the facts about abortion is more important than ever. It’s time to separate fact from fiction for once and for all. So check out the nitty gritty about abortion below, you won’t regret it.

What exactly is an abortion?

An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by removing a fetus or embryo from one’s uterus. They are performed before the fetus can survive on its own outside of the womb. The only exception to this rule occurs during late-term abortions, but they’re performed when the life of the mother is at risk.

Are there different kinds of abortions? How are they performed?

Okay here we go, hang tight.

carl sagan

Yes, there are two primary modes of having a safe abortion: a medical abortion and a surgical abortion.

Medical Abortion: This is a non-surgical way of terminating a pregnancy by taking medication known as an abortion pill. It is generally used within the first 9 weeks (63 days) of a pregnancy. It’s incredibly effective and works in 97 out of 100 cases according to Planned Parenthood. Here’s how it works

1) You’ll take the abortion pill, which blocks the hormone progesterone. A lack of progesterone will break down the uterine lining, making it impossible for the pregnancy to continue. You will also receive antibiotics to take after you take the pill.

2) You’ll take a second pill called misoprostol 24 to 48 hours after taking the abortion pill. This medicine essentially flushes the uterus out, causing heavy bleeding and intense cramps. This usually lasts for only a few hours. Most women successfully abort during this time frame, but it can last up to a few days for others. Honestly, this process sucks because you’re not going to feel great. You might feel dizzy and nauseous or develop a mild fever. Usually taking some Ibuprofin will help ease the grossness.

After all of that, you need to have a follow up appointment with your doctor, clinic, whatever two weeks later to ensure that the pregnancy is successfully terminated.

Surgical Abortion: This is the method you’re probably most familiar with. It’s the more invasive way of performing an abortion and they’re incredibly effective.  There are two kinds of surgical abortions, the most common being aspiration, which is generally performed no later than 16 weeks after a missed period. The other is dilation and evacuation, a later-term abortion method which occurs later than 16 weeks after a missed period. The procedures are largely the same, but the latter requires a little more time and pain meds.

Anyway, if you have a surgical abortion, you’ll most likely receive an aspiration, otherwise known as a vacuum aspiration. If you’re imagining a Hoover, er, you’re not entirely incorrect. Here’s what happens during this five to ten minute long procedure (yes, only five minutes!):

1) A health care practitioner will check out your uterus and see what’s going on up there.

2) You’ll be given the option to be totally conscious or sedated, which leaves you conscious but super relaxed.

3) A speculum will be inserted into your vagina. This tool simply helps separate the vaginal walls so that your health care provider can examine your vag and cervix. They might proceed to inject numbing medication in or around your cervix.

4) Next, your cervix will be stretched with dilators, a fancy way of saying a few thick rods. As an alternative, you might have absorbent dilators inserted a day or a few hours before your abortion; they absorb fluid and help stretch the cervix.

5) A tube is inserted into the cervix and the uterus and either via a hand held devise or a machine, the uterus is gently emptied out. Another tool known as a curette might be used to help remove any additional tissues left behind.

6) You’ll be given antibiotics and a recovery time of about an hour.

Most people say that this procedure feels like having menstrual cramps, but some have more uncomfortable experiences. It’s a good rule of thumb to take it easy afterwards, as you might feel kinda icky for the rest of the day. Bleeding is normal, but it’s also common not to bleed at all after an abortion.

No matter what abortion technique you undergo, if you experience bleeding only use pads! Not tampons, not menstrual cups, pads.

Okay but what happens afterward?

You’ll, hopefully, be pregnancy free! But otherwise, it’s just as I said earlier: You can experience bleeding, nausea, bowel weirdness and general ick. But this won’t last very long!

But that’s physically. Emotionally, well, it depends. But you definitely need some down time.


What about age?

That varies from country to country and state to state.

In the United States these rules are particularly messy. If you’re under the age of 18, you might be required to have one or both of your parents give you permission or at least know about your decision to have an abortion before your procedure. However, there are exceptions to this rule. You could get a judge to excuse you from requiring parental permission, you could get permission or notify a legal guardian instead of your parents, too. Some states will even allow you to forgo asking for permission all together if you’re a victim of abuse or neglect.

If you live in California, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington and you’re under 18, congrats, you don’t have to tell anyone a damn thing before getting an abortion. Check your state’s rules here.

In the United Kingdom, a minor who is deemed competent by medical staff can receive an abortion without parental notification or permission. However, anyone under the age of 13 are not given the same provisions. Social workers or the police might get involved in that case.

In Canada, age restrictions do not exist when it comes to abortion.

Isn’t abortion murder? It’s killing babies!


First of all, there is a difference between a fetus and a baby. A baby is, you know, born. A fetus only begins developing away from its zygote (fertilized egg) stage after 2 months of pregnancy. A fetus is a part of its mother, a baby is not. But honestly, shrugging and saying, “Eh, it’s just a clump of cells” shouldn’t be the only way to support abortion. Some people are going to view aborting fetuses as ending a life, no matter what. If you’re of this belief, you have the right to that opinion. But forcing women to feel like a murderer after terminating the “life” of a fetus that isn’t sentient, can’t feel, can’t think, can’t see, etc isn’t exactly effective. Especially given the fact that this procedure is 100 percent legal in a majority of the world.

Wait, but I heard that a fetus can feel pain!

No, they can’t.

People wouldn’t need to get abortions if they just kept their legs closed!

It’s strange how people assume that everyone who gets an abortion is some big ol’ slut who happily has unprotected sex and doesn’t care about the consequences. Uh, that’s not the case at all. Nobody looks forward to an abortion. Nobody wants to deal with awful cramps, nausea and bleeding out of their cooch; especially in the states when procedures are often upward of $400. Also, given the fact that so many conservative areas have made abortion access as difficult as possible, some women have to travel over 50 miles or even go out of state to reach their closest abortion clinic. Yeah, sounds like people are really using abortion as birth control, right? Not.

It’s also worth mentioning that half of the people who receive an abortion used contraception the month that they became pregnant. Oh, and over 60 percent of people in the United States who have an abortion already have one or two children. Doesn’t exactly sound like folks’ stereotype of the teenage, irresponsible sex machine, does it?

Are there ways to naturally abort?

Many people swear by herbal abortion remedies, but you shouldn’t do it. They’re incredibly dangerous so, yeah, just say no.

I’m not sure if I’m pro-choice or pro-life!

confused gif

Do you believe that someone should have access to a safe termination of her pregnancy before the fetus is viable? Congrats, you’re pro-choice. If this goes against what you believe in then you’re anti-abortion.

I don’t like abortion and think we should have less of them.

Nobody likes abortions. Seriously, who likes surgery or dealing with any sort of physical discomfort? People who are pro-choice aren’t supporting abortions because they love the idea of a uterus getting flushed out. They support abortions because they know that they’re a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy. But if we really want to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancy and abortion, then we need to make sure that people have as much access to contraception as possible. Birth control! IUDs! Condoms! All that good stuff.

If abortion becomes illegal, that’ll force people to be safer about sex, right?

Uh, no. Abortions aren’t going to stop happening if they’re illegal. It’ll just make abortions an underground practice, which is so dangerous. If people are so concerned about life, wouldn’t they want to make sure that people are as safe as possible? Not sure how that’s going to happen when desperate women end up resorting to back-alley abortions which could end up killing them.

I’m pregnant and I want an abortion but I’m scared!

It’s natural to be scared! Here’s what you need to do: Make sure you are legally able to obtain an abortion. If you’re lucky enough to have healthcare, it could cover most if not all of the cost. If not, try raising some money via a Go Fund Me campaign or something of that sort (if you appeal to sites like Tumblr, you could end up with enough funds pretty quickly). Find your closest clinic, grab one of your closest friends and make the trek. Make sure you do this on a weekend so that you have a few days to recover.

If I have an abortion, will I regret it?

That depends on a lot of factors, including whether or not you’ve had adaquete support prior to your abortion or if you have a history of emotional problems. If it makes you feel any better, however, 90 percent of women don’t regret their abortion, so chances are you won’t either. Good luck!

Have you or has someone you know had an abortion? What would you say to girls and young women who are considering the procedure? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram.


Are You Allowed To Get An Abortion?

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  • Jenni

    The nervous system starts to develop between 3-8weeks, but the cells that will become nociceptors will not have differentiated yet. Before 3 weeks it really could not feel pain… If you know anything about Embryology. If you take any form of birth control, you kill probably kill a fetus every month.

    I’m on the fence about the issue as I sit here with two beautiful children and a pregnancy that I don’t want. Med school isn’t fun with morning sickness.

  • Philip Lynn

    I want to specially thank PROPHETESS MASADE for remove a disgraceful pregnancy from me which was at the point of making me a mockery because my parents has always have the desire that all of their children must be a graduate before having anything to do with man or getting. PROPHETESS MASADE casted an abortion spell on me and make everything to disappear within 72hours. I didn’t have to go to the hospital putting my life in danger in the hand of hospital doctors. i will always be grateful to you PROPHETESS MASADE. She also cast a pregnancy spell if reverse is your case from mine. All you need to do is to hurry up now and contact this woman/prophetess on masadeinstanthelp@gmail.com

  • Jenn

    So, I’m torn as to whether I support abortion or not (which is what brought me here). With that being said, I cannot believe that a baby that is capable of life outside of the womb cannot feel pain. Otherwise, wouldn’t this baby not feel pain after they were born? Breathing air does not make your pain receptors start working. A woman can get an abortion as late as 23 weeks. Although a baby born at this stage has a low chance of survival (about 17%) they can still survive … I just don’t know.

  • Emily

    Okay, this is just disgusting! How do abortion supporting people sleep at night?! YOU ARE KILLING A HUMAN!!! YES, MORON, A FETUS IS A HUMAN! It is
    just months away from becoming a holdable, visible child. When the sperm fertlizes the egg, it is already a person. I don’t think that just because you get an abortion means you’re some slut. People have sex, its only life, stop assuming that most anti abortion people always think that. Children are blessings, and from the minute of conception, they have a purpose in life. Abortion is not giving someone a chance at life. And boo hoo, “No one likes abortion because no one likes surgery and bleeding and nausea!” Get over your selfish ass. Please. If you are “tough” enough to murder something so innocent, be it a fetus or a child, then you are damn tough enough to deal with “surgery, cramping and bleeding” without complaining. Also, absolutely do not get on my ass about “Scientific Facts and studies that some random ass person did in a laboratory” because I do not care about that. Scientific facts and professors can kiss my ass! You can’t deny the facts of life.

    • No Name

      Wow. Somehow I doubt that you have had an unwanted baby that you won’t be able to support. Yes, a human fetus is technically human. (Definitely not a tiger or something!) But there is a HUGE difference between a week old fetus and a week old baby. It is a baby after it has been born. It is still a fetus when in the womb. Children ARE blessings but how would you feel if you can’t support your little miracle?. And yes, adoption is an option but there is no guarantees that your blessing won’t be miserable at a foster home and actually find a family to adopt them. I think abortion can be a good choice if it is not the right time to have children.

  • Emily

    Okay, this is just disgusting! How do abortion supporting people sleep at night?! YOU ARE KILLING A HUMAN!!! YES, MORON, A FETUS IS A HUMAN! It is
    just months away from becoming a holdable, visible child. When the sperm fertlizes the egg, it is already a person. I don’t think that just because you get an abortion means you’re some slut. People have sex, its only life, so seriously stop assuming that most pro choice people always think that. Children are blessings, and from the minute of conception, they have a purpose in life. Abortion is not giving someone a chance at life. And boo hoo, “No one likes abortion because no one likes surgery and bleeding and nausea!” Get over your selfish ass. Please. If you are “tough” enough to murder something so innocent, be it a fetus or a child, then you are damn tough enough to deal with “surgery, cramping and bleeding” without complaining. Also, absolutely do not get on my ass about “Scientific Facts and studies that some random ass person did in a laboratory” because I do not care about that. Scientific facts and professors can kiss my ass! You can’t deny the facts of life.

    • Sadie

      I agree with what you’ve said, but I think in the first paragraph, you meant to say “Anti – Abortion” instead of “Pro-Choice” it confused me, probably just a typo, haha.. But aside from that, preach it girl!!

  • Lana

    I fully support people forming their own opinions about topics such as abortion, however people cannot form valid thoughts when they are being fed the lies given in this article.
    First of all, the portion of this article saying that a fetus is not a baby is completely untrue. A fetus is a baby. A fetus can feel pain. It is human. It is not just a clump of cells…do people think there’s just some magical moment where one second you’re cells and the next you’re human? From the moment of conception, a human is created.
    The thing is, abortion IS murder, and anyone who claims otherwise is in denial.

    • Please cite a reliable source that confirms that a fetus can feel pain during a routine abortion procedure.

    • Cilia

      A week old fetus is NOT a baby. It will grow and develop and become a baby but it is not a baby yet. Check out a picture. It can’t feel pain. For pete’s sake, it doesn’t even have a head!!! Then look at a week old baby. Big difference huh?

  • Julia

    I don’t care what others have to say, but ABORTION IS MURDER. You’re killing a living thing. This person could grow up and do amazing things but now after abortion there’s a 0% chance they can do that. Please don’t put stupid hate replies because this is my opinion.

  • Sara

    Not to get involved in some fight on the internet, but I just want to caution the young girls reading this to consider what some of these sugar-coated phrases actually mean. “Pro choice” means never letting a baby grow up to make a single choice of their own. The article claims unborn babies are not alive because they are not senient, cannot feel, think, or see. I’m thinking blind and/or mentally challenged people, etc, might be a tad offended by the insinuation that any one of those things takes away from being a living thing. I am not so arrogant as to believe myself as more valuable than either an old woman in a nursing home or an unborn baby in a womb. As for the statement that abortion must not be wrong because it is legal in the majority of the world…really? It’s okay because everyone else is doing it? And since we clearly are so very concerned with women’s rights here, about half this babies being killed would have grown up to be women. What about their rights? I’m sorry, but I come from the position that life is sacred. Ending a life is a serious thing that should not be taken lightly. As for the argument that abortion prevents children from being unloved or stuck in foster homes…so those children don’t have the right to live, either? Kill them off, why don’t we. I know that I can’t even imagine being pregnant as a teenager and having to face so much fear and judgement. My heart really does go out to you girls. I just hope you think about how important this decision is and don’t let yourself be mindlessly brainwashed. Even if you continue to insist that a fetus is not human, you cannot deny that abortion prevents a fetus from then “becoming” a human. Again it denies a human life. Please remember this, girls: you have a chance to bring something beautiful out of something very difficult. You are loved by the God who died to give you grace, and He can give you strength. And babies have the right to know that same love, to grow up, to laugh and to love and to live life to the fullest. Just think about it, and call me crazy if you must.

    • First of all, I put quotes around life because people have varying definitions of what they define as a true blue human life; I didn’t negate the fact that some people view a fetus as life, especially since some people who see a fetus as life are against abortion and some are pro abortion regardless. However, to imply that I view an aborted fetus in the same light as a mentally disabled person or a blind person is ridiculous on so many levels.

      Second of all, a lack of arrogance has nothing to do with the fact that you think that it is okay to reduce a woman’s rights (or however someone with an unwanted pregnancy identifies) and amplifying the rights of a six week old fetus instead. You obviously believe that pregnant people should have absolutely no agency whatsoever because you support forcing people to be pregnant for nine months and give birth even if they don’t want to. You care about the life and rights of the unborn so much until they’re actually born; then you couldn’t care less because someday that baby turns into a teenager who has an unwanted pregnancy and the all of her rights are overthrown by the rights of the fetus. Yeah, that’s a little twisted.

      Third of all, the last thing that anyone considering an abortion needs is to read your shaming, religious commentary to guilt trip them.

      Lastly, supporting the right to terminate a pregnancy is not the same as thinking that any baby born into unhappy circumstances should be killed. These false equivalencies between a baby and a week old fetus are ludicrous.

  • AJ

    I had an abortion two years ago. I did it because not only was I only sixteen, we couldn’t afford it and people pressured me. Also, do you know how many people look down on and have no respect for teen mothers. After mine I went through a lot of emotional trauma and for a few months I would cry whenever I saw a baby. Even with how much it hurt me emotionally, I know it was the right decision in the end. Do people really believe that it would be a good idea to bring an unwanted child into this world who cannot be provided for? A lot of people say adoption but most kids especially African American children won’t get adopted and will spend the majority of their lives sitting in foster homes feeling neglected. Eventually I will have children and start a family but I am SMART enough to know when the time is best for everyone involved.
    Also, Papillon, its VERY selfish and ignorant to call someone stupid for a mistake they made. You have no right to judge anyone. Just going around promoting safe sex is great but that is not always effective. Please think and consider others feelings before you type.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story and dropping these truth bombs.

  • Papillon

    So much BS I wanna cry.
    One stupid source that that fetus can’t feel pain. Bs!! I read about 20 that they can! Still doesn’t make it ok to kill BTW.
    90% of women who have abortion don’t regret it!?? Where the hell did I read that? I’ve done a 10 page paper spending months on my research. Huge majority if females (mostly teen girls) go thought psychological issues after having an abortion.
    Instead of promoting that abortion is ok, promote safe sex. Because TAHT is why it happens in the first place! Because stupid girls and stupid women have sex without protection and have an unwanted baby. Keep on supporting abortion, while I will keep on throwing up at people like you. Feminist are really something.

    • You’ve read about 20 fetuses that can feel pain? What? Please cite a scientific source that proves that a fetus can feel pain in the first trimester, when most abortions take place, please.

      And you can find the statistic about how most women don’t regret their abortion at several credible sites. Check out this study: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/4512213.html. Additionally, the study states that even women who didn’t feel great or had mixed feelings after their abortion do not believe that they made the wrong decision.

      Abortion is a safe method to terminate a pregnancy. You can support the right to have access to an abortion while also supporting safe sex. If you’re opposed to abortion, you can be opposed to abortion, but don’t come up with fake facts about a 5 week old fetus feeling pain or lies about girls losing their minds after having an abortion. And don’t claim to support one’s autonomy over their body either, because you clearly don’t if you think that a fetus has more rights than the person carrying it.

    • anon

      Um, ok well people can still get pregnant if they use contraception! all it takes is to accidentally miss a pill or a broken condom or something to get a girl pregnant.
      until the cells of a ‘baby-to-be’ are at a certain age or whatever they have no feelings, emotions or anything – they’re just cells