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SHAG Week - Abortion

For SHAG Week your SU have written an article on Abortion, including information on where to find support.

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No matter if you have had unprotected sex or your contraceptive has failed, being faced with an unplanned pregnancy can be super scary. You will likely have a whole flurry of emotions hit you at once, some positive and some negative. It can be hard to talk to friends and family about something so personal, so know that there are resources available to you to help you discuss your feelings and come to the best decision that suits you. If you do make the choice to have an abortion, the stigma surrounding it can often be worse. If you choose to share your experiences, you might be faced with people that don’t agree with your decision. 

But let’s get one thing clear. Abortion is healthcare. And like with all healthcare, yours, is no one else’s business. 

Your body, your choice.

Like with every single medical procedure there are small risks involved, and the risk increases the later the abortion is carried out. However, there are so many myths and misinformation out there, we wanted there to be somewhere where you could get the FACTS.

The below information has been pulled from the NHS, Marie Stopes and WHO websites and all links are at the end of the article.

There are two different kinds of abortion that you could have, depending on your specific needs and how far along in the pregnancy you are.

There is a Medical Abortion. This involves no surgery or anaesthetic, and is taken in the form of 2 pills, taken 1-2 days apart. If you are less than 10 weeks pregnant you can take them at home, if you are over 10 weeks pregnant then you will take them at a clinic or hospital.

Risks (before 14 weeks)

  • Needing another procedure, this happens to 70/1000 people
  • Damage to the womb or sepsis, this happens to 1/1000 people

Risks (after 14 weeks)

  • Needing another procedure, this happens to 13/100 people
  • Infection or injury to the womb, this happens to a small number of people


Then there is a Surgical Abortion. This would involve the use of a local anaesthetic, conscious sedation (relaxed but awake), or deep sedation or general anaesthetic (asleep). There are two types of surgical abortion, Vacuum or Suction Aspiration, this can be performed up to 14 weeks, or Dilatation and Evacuation (D&E), this can be performed after 14 weeks.

Risks (before 14 weeks)

  • Needing another procedure, this happens to 35/1000 people
  • Damage to the womb or sepsis, this happens to 1/1000 people

Risks (after 14 weeks)

  • Needing another procedure, this happens to 3/100 people
  • Heavy bleeding, this happens to between 1-10/100 people
  • Infection or injury to the womb or cervix, this happens to a small number of people


For all types of abortion, you will likely have some stomach cramps and vaginal bleeding. The bleeding can last a week or two.

Having an abortion does NOT increase the risk of breast cancer.

Having an abortion does NOT affect your chances of becoming pregnant in the future.

The World Health Organisation says that the risk of death from a safe abortion is lower than death caused by a penicillin injection, or by continuing with a pregnancy. To put it bluntly, people that have an abortion are less likely to have complications than people who have their tonsils or wisdom teeth removed.

We are lucky in this country that abortion is legal and safe, but as we all know, people in other countries are not so lucky. Lack of access to safe, timely, affordable and respectful abortion care poses a risk to not only the physical, but also the mental and social well-being of people capable of getting pregnant.

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and want to talk about your options, there are different resources that can help.

  • Marie Stopes - A Reproductive Health Charity             
  • NHS - Contact your GP or 111 for advice and help
  • BPAS – British Pregnancy Advisory Service


Essex University offer mental and emotional wellbeing services where you can confidentially talk about issues affecting you. You can reach out to these support services here.

If you have any questions or would like more information about any of the above, our amazing SU Advice team are always happy to help.  You can reach out to them at suadvice@essex.ac.uk.


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