Abortion in British Columbia is covered by our provincial health care plan.
There are various abortion procedures available during the different stages of pregnancy:
- Medical Abortion (up to 7 weeks gestation)
- Vacuum Aspiration and Dilation & Curettage (1st Trimester)
- Dilation & Evacuation (2nd Trimester)
- Induction of labour (2nd Trimester)
In Canada, 90% of abortions are done in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, avoiding the added risk associated with later term abortion. The Canadian Medical Association normally recommends that doctors not perform abortions after 20 weeks gestation, as the fetus may be viable.
An ultrasound may be given before an abortion to determine the stage of pregnancy and also afterwards to determine if the abortion is complete. Depending on the type of abortion, the procedure may take between 5–30 minutes, with the entire process being generally less than 2–3 hours.
See also: Fetal Development
Physical and Emotional Risks
Abortions in Canada are considered to be a safe medical procedure. However, as with any medical procedure there are potential risks to consider.
- Heavy bleeding
- Increased risk of premature births in subsequent pregnancies1
- Damage to cervix or uterus, including a small risk of infection or scarring2 that can be associated with infertility or miscarriage
- Possible link to breast cancer *
* highly controversial; see footnote 3.
Many women feel some sense of relief immediately following an abortion. On the other hand, many women encounter strong, negative emotions. Such emotions may be immediate or occur years later.
Emotional responses vary depending on a woman’s age, stage of pregnancy, previous mental health, religious or cultural beliefs, or whether she is being pressured by others into having an abortion.
See also: After Abortion for a list of Post Abortion Stress symptoms and reactions.
Some women believe abortion is their best and only option. Some women are ambivalent about procuring an abortion. Other women feel pressured by others to consider abortion.
Our trained peer counsellors are available to discuss with you any questions you may have regarding having an abortion, barriers to carry, informed consent, risks associated with abortion, and alternatives to abortion.
We are here to help you understand all your options so you can make a well-informed decision. It is your pregnancy, your right to know, and your decision. We are committed to providing you with caring emotional support, no matter what your decision.
Please contact us if you like to discuss your options further.
- P. Shah and J. Zao, “Induced termination of pregnancy and low birthweight and preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analyses,” British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 116, (2009): 1425-42; H.M. Swingle,T.T. Colaizy, M.B. Zimmerman and F.H. Morriss, Jr., “Abortion and the risk of subsequent preterm birth: a systematic review with meta-analyses,” Journal of Reproductive Medicine 54, no. 2 (2009): 95-108.
- Asherman syndrome, or intrauterine adhesions/scarring or synechiae.
- The association between abortion and breast cancer is highly controversial. “Out of 73 published worldwide studies done to date, 56 show a positive association, of which 35 are statistically significant, while a total of seventeen studies show no link.” From I. Gentles, A. Lanfranchi and E. Ring-Cassidy, Complications: Abortion’s Impact on Women (Toronto: The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2013), 125. The 3 most recent studies (2014) conclude a link. For example: Y. Huang, X. Zhang, W. Li, F. Song, H. Dai, J. Wang et al., “A meta-analysis of the association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk among Chinese females,” Cancer Causes & Control 25, no. 2 (2014): 227-236. More research is needed.