It’s Important to Have an Ultrasound Before an Abortion – Here’s Why
Establishing a pregnancy timeline, potential miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy are all reasons a woman may consider having an ultrasound before an abortion. If you’re currently pregnant (or sexually active), being familiar with these situations and terms is a must. Each of them illustrate why ultrasound is an important technology in making critical decisions during a pregnancy.
A woman considering abortion may not realize that there are different methods of abortion, and which type she qualifies for has largely to do with how far along she is in her pregnancy. The date of a pregnant woman’s last period is used to determine how far along in her pregnancy she is. According to this study,1 30% of women relied on their memory to remember the date of their last period or didn’t track their cycle at all. Dating a pregnancy may be further complicated in instances when women have irregular periods, or they have just discontinued use a birth control method. Ultrasound is an important way to get a more accurate pregnancy date before an abortion.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, miscarriage is a term used for a pregnancy that ends on its own, within the first 20 weeks of gestation.2 Estimates regarding the frequency of this pregnancy complication range from 10–15% in known pregnancies, and up to 50% in women who may not yet know they’re pregnant.3 There are different types of miscarriages. In a missed miscarriage, a woman may not become aware she has suffered a miscarriage, and it may take three to four weeks for her body to expel the embryo.4 Other women experience signs and symptoms typical of a miscarriage such as vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain, though they are not actually having one. Ultrasound is one important tool physicians use to see what’s going on in these situations.
Ectopic pregnancy is a rare but life-threatening pregnancy complication. It means that the fertilized egg has implanted somewhere other than in the woman’s uterus. No other place in her body was designed to host a pregnancy, therefore an ectopic pregnancy is life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated on time. In the U.S., this pregnancy complication occurs in about 2% of pregnancies, and it accounts for 3–4% of pregnancy-related deaths. According to a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Report,5 there has been an increase in ectopic mortality, and it appears to be associated with illicit drug use and delays in seeking health care. Ultrasound is the vital tool physicians use to diagnose ectopic pregnancy.
Pregnancy complications are real, and we have a screening tool that women can use before making the decision to abort: ultrasound. Ultrasound is important because having all the information is important. We provide these ultrasounds for women who are intending to carry their pregnancies to term, those who are still in the midst of making a decision, as well as for those who have already decided to terminate their pregnancy.
Registered Nurses at a local Portland Pregnancy Resource Center can provide limited ultrasounds to pregnant women walking through our doors at no cost. We understand that abortion is an extremely difficult decision, and we are available to offer up-to-date medical information and important resources.
Anka Radutiu, R.N.
Our services are offered judgment free, at no cost, and according to the tender and transformative love of Jesus Christ.