First Trimester Surgical Abortion

Abortion costs and procedures vary greatly depending on how far along your pregnancy is or what trimester of pregnancy. The first trimester of pregnancy is defined as weeks 1 through 12 and is calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). In early pregnancy, both a medical and surgical abortion are available based on state laws and limitations. Each type of abortion has its own set of risks. Below is information about a first trimester surgical abortion also known as suction or vacuum aspiration.

As you are learning more about abortion, consider the following questions to ensure you are prepared for whatever decision you make.

What is a First Trimester Surgical Abortion?

An early surgical abortion in the first trimester is known as a suction aspiration abortion named after the method used to terminate the pregnancy.

When can you have a surgical abortion?

Up to 14 weeks LMP.

    How does a surgical abortion work?

    A suction abortion involves removing the pregnancy from inside the uterus through a manual or electric vacuum device. The normal steps are as follows:

    • Sedation or relaxation medication may be offered or administered. Cost may vary based on sedation chosen.
    • The cervix will be numbed with a local anesthetic injection.
    • Depending on the weeks of pregnancy, the cervix may need to be stretched to allow use of a medical instrument to remove the contents. The cervix may need to be softened using laminaria which is a small rod made of seaweed that dilates the cervix and/or by applying vaginal medications. Metal dilating rods may be used if further stretching of the cervix is needed.
    • A plastic tube will be inserted that is attached to a manual or electric vacuum device. The vacuum device will remove the fetus in sections or whole, depending on the weeks of pregnancy and size of the fetus.
    • An instrument called a curette may be used to scrape any remaining fetal tissue and blood clots from the uterus.
    • Removed contents of the fetus will be reassembled and examined to verify the procedure was complete.

    Additional Information about costs and risks:


    The cost of a surgical abortion varies greatly from state to state and is based on weeks of pregnancy along with medications received. The average cost is $500 – $600.

    Immediate Risks:

    Although immediate serious complications are rare, review the list of possible risks below:

    • Heavy Bleeding
    • Infection
    • Incomplete abortion
    • Allergic reaction to medications
    • Organ damage
    Longer Term Risks:

    Emotional –Abortion as a pregnancy outcome can be difficult with varying emotional responses. Some women immediately feel the impact of their decision while others report the effects of their decision five to eight years after the abortion experience. Some of the emotional factors experienced by women choosing abortion include:

    • Elevated rates of depression compared to women without a history of abortion. The instance of depression is higher in women who have abortions in their 2nd and 3rd trimester.
    • Increased substance abuse.
    • Anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, and feeling “numb” are some of the descriptions used in Post Abortion Syndrome. Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) has been included as a subset of Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) in recent years.

    Relational – An abortion decision will impact relationships in your life whether you have shared this information with people around you or not. If those in your life are aware of your decision, this can affect your relationship with them. Maybe you did what they wanted or maybe you did not. If they are unaware of your decision, your perception of what they would think may affect your relationship. Relationships which are likely to be affected include:

      • your partner
      • your parents
      • your current children
      • your future children

    Spiritual – Would you consider yourself to be spiritual? What was your opinion about abortion before you found yourself in this place? What are your beliefs about God? Because we are made of mind, body, and soul, exploring the effects abortion has on your spiritual future is important.

    Fetal Development

    4 Weeks
    • The embryo has a heart beat. At 6 weeks heart motion can be seen on an ultrasound.
    8 Weeks
    The embryo measures ½ inch from head to rump. Internal bodily functions are present and will continue to develop.
    9 -10 Weeks
    The baby is called a fetus, which means “unborn offspring.”The fetus can hiccup and move hands. Distinct differences between sexes develop with ovaries in a girl and testes in a boy.
    11-12 Weeks
    During weeks 11-12 the baby will yawn, swallow, form fingerprints and toenails. By the end of the 12 weeks baby will measure 3 inches from head to rump.

    Sources for this page:

    Coleman P., Coyle C., Rue V. (2010, August 1). Late-Term Elective Abortion and Susceptibility to Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms. Retrieved from:

    Cougle J., Reardon D., Coleman P., (2003, April 9). Depression Associated With Abortion and Childbirth: A Long-Term Analysis of the NLSY Cohort. Retrieved from:

    Reardon D., Coleman P., Cougle J., (2004, May25) Substance Use Associated with Unintended Pregnancy Outcomes in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Retrieved from:

    Speckhard A., Rue V. (1992 Fall) Postabortion Syndrome: An Emerging Public Health Concern. Retrieved from:

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