Busted: Medical abortion uses medication to end a pregnancy, and surgical abortion uses special instruments to empty the uterus and end the pregnancy. Surgical abortion is only available in 3 hospitals and at Clinic 554 in Fredericton, while medical abortion may be more widely available. Both methods are required in order to provide adequate access as no one option works for everyone.
Long version: Medical and surgical abortion are two options for ending an unwanted pregnancy. A surgical abortion can be performed safely in a hospital or a clinic and involves ending the pregnancy by emptying the uterus/womb with special instruments, according to the National Abortion Federation. A medical abortion involves taking two pills of a medication called Mifegymiso 24-48 hours apart to end the pregnancy. This medication can be used for people who are up to 9 weeks pregnant, although some doctors will prescribe it up to 10 weeks. This medication can be taken at home with follow-up with a doctor afterwards.
Surgical abortion access must always be available for patients who first try a medical abortion because, rarely, the medical abortion can fail and the patient would require a surgical abortion to complete the procedure. An incomplete abortion can cause harm and even death if left untreated.
Medical abortion alone is also not enough to provide adequate access. First, not many health care providers are currently prescribing Mifegymiso as some may conscientiously object or not feel comfortable prescribing a medication they do not have a lot of experience with. Second, as mentioned above, sometimes the medical abortion doesn’t work, and patients must have access to a safe, funded, surgical option to complete the abortion. Finally, some people do not even know they are pregnant until they are past the 9-10 week limit during which Mifegymiso can be used. These patients therefore require access to a surgical abortion.
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