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Choosing to Have an Abortion

Deciding to have an abortion can be a major decision. Are you unsure?  Take the time you need to make your decision.

Planned Parenthood Toronto (PPT) is a pro-choice organization. When you are pregnant, we believe that you have the right to access factual, caring and non-judgmental information and services on all three of your options: abortion, adoption, and parenting.

There are many myths about abortion. Some people have strong opinions about abortion and may try to pressure you into a decision. To make your own choice, it is helpful to have all the facts.

Is abortion safe?

  • An abortion is a safe medical procedure that ends pregnancy.

Is abortion legal?

  • Abortions are legal. There are no legal restrictions on abortion in Canada.

What are the different types of abortions?

Surgical abortion

  • A surgical abortion uses gentle suction-type devices or curettes (scoop shaped devices) to remove pregnancy tissue from your uterus. There is no cutting and no stitches are needed.
  • There are 3 kinds of surgical abortions. The kind you have will depend on how long you have been pregnant and whether you have your abortion at a clinic or a hospital.
  • For more information on how a surgical abortion is done, see below.

Medical abortion

  • A medical abortion uses drugs to stop the growth of the pregnancy and to release the pregnancy tissue from the uterus.
  • This type of abortion is done in pregnancies up to 7 or 9 weeks GA, depending on clinic and the type of medication used.
  • For more information on how a medical abortion is done, see below.

Will the abortion hurt?

  • Everyone has a different experience. Most people get menstrual-like cramps but some have no pain at all. Some people who are awake for the abortion may feel pressure during the procedure. Medication is used to reduce discomfort and help you relax.

Will anybody find out?

  • No. This medical information cannot be released to anyone but you. No one needs to know unless you wish to tell them. After 2-3 weeks’ time, a doctor or healthcare provider will not be able to tell, even through a vaginal exam, that you’ve had an abortion.

Do I need to have my parent or guardian’s permission?

  • No. In Canada, anyone over 12 years of age can legally have an abortion in a clinic or hospital. You do not need the consent or permission of your parents, partner or your family doctor.

Will I be able to get pregnant in the future?

  • Yes. Having an abortion will not prevent you from getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy in the future.

What exactly happens during an abortion?

Surgical Abortions

  • To get a surgical abortion you have a 2-3 hour long intake appointment that includes a counselling/education session, ultrasound, and test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Depending on the clinic/hospital and gestational age (GA) you may be able to have the abortion procedure in the same appointment.
  • There is no cutting and no stitches are needed.
  • The cervix is gently opened with medication and/or medical instruments. A flexible tube providing gentle suction and/or other instruments are inserted through the cervix and used to remove the pregnancy tissue from the uterus. This can take 2-15 minutes.
  • For pregnancies more than 12 weeks GA, you may take medication or have laminaria (sterilized compressed seaweed sticks) inserted into your cervix to make opening your cervix for the abortion easier. These take time to work, so you may return to the clinic/ hospital the next day for the abortion procedure.
  • For pregnancies of more than 19 weeks GA, you may return the next day for more medication/ laminaria to continue opening your cervix and return on a third day for the abortion procedure.
  • After the abortion procedure you stay in a recovery area until the medical staff are confident you can go home safely.
  • You cannot drive yourself home after an abortion.

Medical abortions

  • To get a medical abortion, you make an appointment at a clinic that offers it [Link]. You have a counselling session, ultrasound and STI test. At the clinic you get an injection (to stop the pregnancy from growing) or take a pill (to detach the pregnancy from the wall of the uterus), and later take tablets at home to make your uterus contract to expel the pregnancy tissue.
  • Pregnancy tissue usually expels within 24hrs after you take the tablets at home, but in some cases may take days or weeks to finish expelling. Different medications are more or less likely to finish the process quickly. You may need follow up blood tests or visits until the tissue is expelled or if any concerns arise.
  • Note: The abortion pill (Mifegymiso/RU486) is approved for usage in Canada, but not yet widely available. Feel free to call ahead to abortion clinics in your area to see who is prescribing Mifegymiso.

Differences in medical abortions by medication:

Methotrexate and Misoprostol Mifepristone and Misoprostol (the abortion pill, Mifegymiso)
how far along in pregnancy (gestational age) up to 7 weeks up to 9 weeks
how you take it
  • injection at clinic
  • tablets inserted into vagina 3-5 days later
  • pill taken at clinic
  • then tablets melted between gums and cheek 24-48 hours later
% finished w/in 24hrs of tablets 65% 90%
cost Free with Ontario health card; about $300 without one About $300-$350


Useful Tip
In 35% of medical abortions, it takes several days or weeks to release all of the pregnancy tissue.  This tissue may take one or more days to start coming out. There is no way to know when it will start, so you may have to leave work or school immediately if it suddenly starts. Also, medical abortions may involve more cramping and bleeding than a surgical procedure.

Download Planned Parenthood Toronto’s info pamphlet on this subject: Abortion


*We know that these aren’t the words everyone uses for their bodies (eg. trans folks), and support you using the language that feels best for you.