What Is an Elective Abortion?

What Is an Elective Abortion
What Is an Elective Abortion

An elective abortion is carried out voluntarily and not due to medical necessity. Another name for it is "voluntary abortion."

However, the phrase "elective abortion" is debatable. A medically necessary (therapeutic) abortion cannot be distinguished from an elective abortion.

It's challenging to estimate the prevalence of elective abortions. Statistics frequently fail to distinguish between elective and therapeutic abortions because the line between them is hazy.

What distinguishes an "elective" abortion from a "therapeutic" abortion?

A therapeutic abortion is required by medicine. An abortion that is carried out voluntarily to end the pregnancy is referred to as an elective abortion.

An elective abortion and a therapeutic abortion are medically equivalent. These phrases are used in law to categorize whether or not abortions are covered by health insurance and how they are regulated.

However, the actual procedures are the same. To put it another way, the sole distinction between an elective and a therapeutic abortion is the reason for the procedure.

Abortion may be chosen by certain people because:
  • They don't want a child or to get pregnant.
  • They are not emotionally or financially prepared to become parents.
  • They do not wish to expand their family.
  • They are involved in an abusive or unstable relationship.
An abortion may be used therapeutically because:
  • The danger of death during pregnancy or childbirth is very significant.
  • Having a baby is seriously complicating my health.
  • Fetal mortality during pregnancy (miscarriage) or soon after birth (stillbirth) is highly likely.
The phrase "elective abortion" is debatable. ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, advises against using the term "elective abortion."

The phrase "can be used to differentiate between reasons for abortion care and diminish the value of the abortion care that many patients need," according to the statement. The reason for getting an abortion shouldn't be determined as "elective" or "not elective" by a third party.
Abortion-related motivations can vary widely and are very personal. What some people might consider a choice, others might perceive as a necessity.
Every abortion is both elective and therapeutic, as Katie Watson argues in The American Medical Association Journal of Ethics.

A therapeutic abortion is not required for anyone. You can decide to take the risk and continue being pregnant even if a doctor determines that it would be risky for you to carry the baby to term.

Similarly, since an unplanned pregnancy might have an impact on your health, stopping it may be seen as medically necessary.

There is debate over what constitutes a "medically necessary" abortion. It is possible that what one medical practitioner deems necessary will not be shared by another.

How do you determine if you are eligible for an elective abortion?

Anyone who desires an abortion is free to do so. However, where you reside will determine how, when, and where you acquire one.

Visit our guide to abortion laws or the state-by-state abortion laws map from the Center for Reproductive Rights to discover more about the rights you have in your state. Compared to "therapeutic" abortions, "elective" abortions are subject to greater limitations in some states.

The legal limits on gestational age, or how "far along" your pregnancy is, vary by state and can have an impact on when you can receive an abortion. From the first day of your most recent menstrual cycle, your gestational age is determined.

You might think about going to another state to get an abortion if they're forbidden or hard to get on your own.

A clinic can be located using:
  • Abortion Finder
  • Planned Parenthood
  • National Abortion Federation
Consider telemedicine abortion services like Aid Access or Carafem if you're thinking about administering an abortion pill on your own at home.

Take a look at this resource from the National Network of Abortion Funds if you require financial support.

How are elective abortions performed?

Because medical experts don't often discriminate between elective and therapeutic abortion, there isn't much information available regarding the gestational age at which elective abortions are performed.

However, given the majority of abortions take place in the first trimester (before 13 weeks of pregnancy), we can infer that this is also when most elective abortions take place.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 93.1% of abortions occurred in the first trimester in 2020, 5.8% occurred in the second trimester, and 0.9% occurred in the third trimester.

Medication abortion and in-clinic (surgical) abortion are the two methods of abortion. Both are reliable and secure.

53% of all abortions in the United States are medication abortions (performed with tablets taken orally). Typically, medication abortions are only performed during the first trimester of pregnancy.

In-clinic abortions, often known as surgical abortions, are performed in a medical facility, like a clinic or hospital. Up to 16 weeks, vacuum aspiration is typically used to end pregnancies, and up to 24 weeks, dilatation and evacuation.

Abortions in the third trimester, sometimes known as "late abortions" or "later term abortions," are uncommon; they will make up just 0.9% of all abortions in 2020. They are frequently carried out as a result of fetal abnormalities or underlying medical risks that may be detected via a prenatal screening test.

What can you expect after an elective abortion?

Depending on whether you had an abortion using medication or at a clinic, your healing time will vary.

If you've had an abortion, you'll likely go through the following:
  • Moderate to severe bleeding: Bleeding typically lasts 9 days after a pharmaceutical abortion, although it might last longer. Abortions performed in clinics often result in minor bleeding and spotting for three to five days after the procedure.
  • Moderate to severe cramps: On the day of medication abortion, you'll probably feel agony. The cramps can linger for many days and are more painful than typical period cramps. Cramping following an in-clinic abortion may worsen for three to five days.
You might also encounter:
  • discharge that’s red, purple, brown, or black
  • fatigue
  • breast or chest pain
  • chills and shivering
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea and vomiting that lasts about 24 hours
You can look after yourself by doing:
  • using a hot water bottle or heating pad for cramps
  • utilizing acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to relieve discomfort
  • rubbing your belly
  • Stay hydrated, especially if you're vomiting or experiencing diarrhoea.
  • consuming ginger or peppermint tea to reduce nausea
  • snoozing and waiting to engage in rigorous exercise until you feel ready
Abortion regrets are uncommon. According to one survey, 99% of people who had abortions believed, five years later, that their choice was the right one.

However, it's normal to have a variety of feelings afterwards. Common emotions include relief, grief, depression, joy, and perplexity. These feelings may be influenced by stress and hormonal changes.

It could be beneficial to speak with a loving, understanding family member or a mental health professional who is knowledgeable about abortion. Additionally, you can receive post-abortion counselling from a sympathetic, unbiased group like Exhale and All-Options.

After a choice of abortion, are problems possible?

Although uncommon, problems with abortion are possible. Complications arise in about 2% of abortion patients.

This statistic takes into account post-abortion difficulties brought on by illegal abortions, which are more prevalent.

Complications resulting from abortions could include:
  • incomplete abortion (the abortion didn’t work)
  • heavy bleeding
  • infection
  • post-anesthesia complications
Get immediate medical assistance by dialling 911 or your local emergency services if you:
  • having a fever of at least 100.4°F (38°C).
  • experiencing nausea or diarrhoea for more than a day
  • bleeding through two maxi pads per hour for two consecutive hours, or one pad per hour for three consecutive hours.
  • pass blood clots bigger than a lemon in size
  • feel excruciating pain that persists despite taking painkillers or that gradually becomes worse
  • experiencing symptoms like pregnancy more than two weeks after your abortion

The bottom line

Legal terminology used to indicate why abortions are performed includes "elective abortion" and "therapeutic abortion." No matter what, the medical procedure is the same.

Compared to "therapeutic" abortions, "elective" abortions are subject to greater limitations in some states. You might be able to travel to get an abortion even if state-by-state abortion regulations vary.


What is a non-elective miscarriage?

When abortion is necessary to avert the death of the mother.

What are the different types of spontaneous abortion?

Threatened, inevitable, incomplete, complete, septic, and missed abortion.

What is the medical term for unwanted pregnancy?


Is spontaneous abortion normal?

It probably occurs in up to 20% of pregnancies

In which month miscarriage is not possible?

before 12 weeks gestation

What is the name of the surgery for spontaneous abortion?

Dilatation and curettage (D&C)

Is it possible to lose a baby at 2 weeks?

An early miscarriage happens in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy

Can stress cause miscarriage?

There's no evidence that stress results in miscarriage

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