What is an abortion?
Abortion is a safe, common health care service to end a pregnancy. In Pennsylvania, you can get an abortion up to 24 weeks since your last menstrual period.
How is an abortion done?
After your pregnancy is confirmed, a provider will determine how far along you are. Based on this and a few other questions, you will be given the option for a medical abortion or a vacuum aspiration procedure. You and you provider can decide what type of abortion is best for you based on your preference, medical history, and how far along you are.
What are the different types of abortion?
Medical abortion: You take two medications (mifepristone and misoprostol) usually around 24-48 hours apart. The first medication, mifepristone, blocks the hormone progesterone, causing the lining of the uterus to thin and preventing the embryo from staying implanted and growing. The second medication, misoprostol, causes the uterus to contract and expel the embryo through the vagina. You’ll experience cramping and bleeding at that time. Some people experience other mild side effects like continued spotting, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or dizziness. The first medication is often taken in a medical office and the second at home. A medical abortion can be performed up to 11 weeks of pregnancy.
Vacuum aspiration: In this procedure your cervix may be gently stretched to allow a suction device to remove the pregnancy tissue from your uterus. Toward the end of the procedure, you may feel some cramping. This is typically an outpatient procedure, meaning you go to the office, have the procedure, and go home, all in the same day. The suction portion of the procedure itself usually takes less than 15 minutes but the timing may vary. Depending on the clinic, you may be able to select from a few different options to manage discomfort or pain during the procedure – from local numbing medicine to medication administered intravenously that will put you to sleep during the procedure. This procedure can be performed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy in Pennsylvania.
How safe is abortion?
Abortion is extremely safe. The risk of complication is minimal. In fact, the risk of dying because of an abortion (0.1-0.2/10,000) is lower than the risk of dying from childbirth (7.1/10,000). Abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures for pregnant people in the U.S. Fewer than 0.05% of women obtaining abortions experience a complication.
How effective is abortion?
A vacuum aspiration procedure works more than 99% of the time. Medication abortion is 95% to 98% effective.
What are the current restrictions on abortions in Pennsylvania (as of July 2022)?
A pregnant person must receive state mandated counseling and then wait 24 hours before obtaining any type of abortion. The counseling includes information designed to discourage people from obtaining abortions. An abortion may be performed at 24 or more weeks after last menstrual period only if the person’s life or health is endangered. In Pennsylvania, Medicaid and plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act on the state’s insurance exchange marketplace do not cover the cost of abortion (except for cases of pregnant person’s life endangerment, rape, or incest). The parent of a minor must consent before a minor obtains an abortion. There is another option for teens seeking an abortion. Teens may ask a judge for a “judicial bypass” or permission to have an abortion without a parent or guardian’s consent. Learn more about judicial bypass here.
How can I get an abortion in Philadelphia?
These are sites in Philadelphia that provide reproductive health and family planning services, including abortion:
|1348 Bainbridge Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
|Planned Parenthood – Locust (Elizabeth Blackwell)
|1144 Locust Street, Lower Level
Philadelphia, PA 19107
|Philadelphia Women’s Center
|777 Apple Tree Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
|The Peace Center
|3737 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
|Planned Parenthood Surgical Far Northeast
|2751 Comly Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154
|Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia – Paley Family Planning
|5501 Old York Road, Paley 3
Philadelphia, PA 19141
|Jefferson Health Family Planning Services
|833 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
What are crisis pregnancy centers?
Crisis pregnancy centers or pregnancy resource centers are unlicensed and unregulated by the PA Department of Health, and they have a hidden anti-abortion agenda. These are places that imitate abortion clinics or other health centers and are funded by organizations that do not support abortion. These centers may be staffed by nonmedical personnel and provide information that is medically inaccurate and designed to discourage people from getting an abortion. They may offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds done by non-licensed personnel. Ultrasounds done at these types of clinics may miss critical information about your pregnancy and provide inaccurate information. In contrast to an abortion clinic or medical clinic, these facilities are not required to keep your information private. Learn more about these unlicensed and unregulated clinics in Philadelphia:
- Community Organizing — Abortion Liberation Fund of PA (abortionfundpa.org)
- Crisis Pregnancy Center Map
How can I pay for an abortion?
Some private health insurance plans cover the cost of an abortion. In Pennsylvania, Medicaid and plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act or the state’s insurance exchange marketplace do not cover the cost of abortion (except for cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest).
If you need help paying for an appointment, visit:
- Abortion Liberation Fund of PA, or call 215-584-6622
- National Abortion Federation, or call its hotline at 800-772-9100
- National Network of Abortion Funds
If you need help arranging or paying for travel, visit:
- Brigid Alliance provides help with travel expenses. You can make an appointment at one of their partner clinics to access this help.
- Haven Coalition provides help with overnight lodging for those who need to travel to New York City for an abortion. You can make an appointment at one of their partner clinics.
What if I am too far along to get an abortion in Pennsylvania?
If your pregnancy has been confirmed to be past 24 weeks gestation by ultrasound with a licensed medical provider and your health is at risk or your pregnancy will not survive, you can be connected to services in another state such as New Jersey or New York. To be connected to these services, please visit the Later Abortion Initiative.