Common abortion procedures

First Trimester: 0-13 weeks

Medication Abortion

  • Also known as the “abortion pill”
  • Within the first 10 weeks, advanced practice clinicians can prescribe two drugs — mifepristone and misoprostol — to terminate the pregnancy
  • Used in conjunction, these FDA-approved drugs cause cramping and bleeding to empty the uterus

Vacuum Aspiration

  • Also known as surgical abortion
  • Until around 13 weeks, the uterus can be emptied using manual or machine suction
  • The procedure takes place in a doctor’s office, typically with local anesthesia, and can be conducted by certified nurse midwives, nurse practitioners or physician assistants

Second Trimester: 14-26 weeks

Dilation and Evacuation

  • Until 24 weeks, pregnancy can be terminated by dilating the cervix and emptying the uterus with surgical instruments
  • The procedure commonly takes place under general anesthesia, meaning the patient is asleep, and must be conducted by a physician

Third Trimester: 27-40 weeks

Late-term Abortion

  • A fetus is generally considered viable once it reaches 24 weeks or weighs 500 grams
  • California law allows abortion after viability only if the life or health of the pregnant person is threatened

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