Press enter to search

Types of Abortion Available in Wisconsin

There are 3 abortion methods available in Wisconsin: Medical abortions, aspiration abortions, and surgical abortions. Below we have provided information on each of these options, including the periods of eligibility for each procedure. Each method is safe and we hope that these resources will help you decide what is best for you and your body.

Medical Abortion

A medical abortion is also known as “the abortion pill,” which is different than the “morning-after pill.” Although referred to  as “the pill,” this medical abortion is actually composed of two different pills: mifepristone and misoprostol. Your doctor or nurse will give you the mifepristone at the clinic and send you home with the second pill, misoprostol, to take 6-48 hours after you took the first pill.

Am I eligible for a medical abortion?

Medical abortions are provided up to 10 weeks and 0 days after the start of your last menstrual period at the two Planned Parenthood clinic locations in Madison and Milwaukee and at the Affiliated Medical Services of Milwaukee clinic because the FDA only approves this medication through the 9th week of pregnancy.

How does a medical abortion work?

The mifepristone pill works to block your body’s production of progesterone, a hormone necessary in pregnancy growth. The misoprostol causes cramping and bleeding as a means to empty the uterus.

What is the efficacy of a medical abortion?

Medical abortions are very effective.

  • For people who are 8 weeks pregnant or less, it is 98% effective
  • For people who are 8-9 weeks pregnant, it is 96% effective
  • For people who are 10 weeks pregnant, it is 93% effective
  • In the rare occasion that the abortion pill is not successful, to complete termination you can take more medicine or obtain an in-clinic abortion. You will be guided through this process during your follow up appointment.
What should you expect?
  • 3 separate visits to the clinic are required for this abortion method
    • Counseling/office visit with a law-mandated obstetric ultrasound
    • Medication delivery
    • Follow up appointment to ensure termination
  • Your doctor or nurse will have you take the mifepristone in-clinic, but will send you home with the misoprostol along with some antibiotics to prevent infection
  • They will provide instructions for how and when to use the misoprostol  
  • Most people first experience cramping and bleeding between 1-4 hours after taking the misoprostol
  • The experience is comparable to a very heavy period, where you can expect to see very large blood clots and clumps of tissue

Aspiration Abortion

An aspiration abortion is also known as “suction aspiration,” “suction curettage,” or “vacuum aspiration.” The process involves the use of gentle suctioning and a silent vacuum to remove the pregnancy from your uterus. This is the most common type of in-clinic abortion procedure. This is an in-clinic procedure.

Am I eligible for an aspiration abortion?

Aspiration abortions are provided up to 18 weeks and 6 days after the start of your last menstrual period at the two Planned Parenthood clinic locations in Madison and Milwaukee and up to 20 weeks after the start of your last menstrual period at Affiliated Medical Services of Milwaukee clinic. The differing eligibility periods for these clinics are directly based off of the qualifications of the doctors performing the surgery.  

How does an aspiration abortion work?

Before the procedure, you will get pain medication to help with the cramping. You may also be able to get sedated during the abortion, some that cause you to be relaxed, but still awake, and others that cause you to be completely asleep. You will also receive antibiotics to prevent infection. In order to perform the abortion, your cervix must be opened. This is done through placing a small dilator stick, called a laminaria, into the opening of your cervix, or through a simple medication. This process can happen prior to your surgery or during the actual procedure, depending on your doctor or nurse’s recommendation. The procedure begins with an examination of your uterus where they will place a speculum in to see into your vagina. Next, they will inject a numbing medication into or near your cervix. If you had not received the dilator rod placement prior to your procedure, your doctor or nurse will place them in now in order to help stretch the opening of your stick. Next, they will insert a thin tube through your cervix and into your uterus. Finally, they will use a small, hand-held suction device or suction machine to gently remove the pregnancy tissue from your uterus. They may also use a small surgical tool, known as a currete, to remove any excess tissue or to check that your uterus is completely empty. The entire procedure generally takes about 5-10 minutes, not including the preparation of your cervix.

What is the efficacy of an aspiration abortion?

Aspiration abortion is extremely effective – they work 99% of the time and repeat procedures due to a failed procedure are very rare.

What should you expect?
  • 3 separate visits to the clinic are required for this abortion option.
    • Counseling/office visit with a law-mandated obstetric ultrasound
    • Medication delivery
    • Follow up appointment to ensure termination
  • You should plan on being at the clinic for 3 total hours on the day of your procedure. Directly following your procedure, you will rest in the recovery room for about an hour.
  • If you received any kind of sedation, plan on having someone drive you home from the clinic
  • You can return to normal activities the following day if you feel up to it, but refrain from any hard work or heavy exercise for several days and you may resume sexual activity whenever you feel ready
  • It is normal to experience some bleeding after your abortion so use pads until the heavy bleeding subsides. At this point it is OK to use tampons because you may experience spotting for several weeks. Some people never experience any bleeding.
  • You will receive written information regarding self-care instructions and details about what you can expect after your procedure. Don’t forget to take ALL of your antibiotics, no matter how you are feeling.

Surgical Abortion

A surgical abortion is also known as “dilation and evacuation” or “D&E.” The process involves the use of gentle suctioning and the use of surgical tools to remove the pregnancy from your uterus. This is an in-clinic procedure.

Am I eligible for a surgical abortion?

This procedure is generally meant for abortions on patients who are more than 16 weeks pregnant. It is provided up to 18 weeks and 6 days after the start of your last menstrual period at the two Planned Parenthood clinic locations in Madison and Milwaukee and up to 20 weeks after the start of your last menstrual period at Affiliated Medical Services of Milwaukee clinic. The differing eligibility periods for these clinics are directly based off of the qualifications of the doctors performing the surgery. 

How does a surgical abortion work?

Before the procedure, you will get pain medication to help with the cramping. You may also be able to get sedated during the abortion, some that cause you to be relaxed, but still awake, and others that cause you to be completely asleep. You will also receive antibiotics to prevent infection. In order to perform the abortion, your cervix must be opened. This is done through placing a small dilator stick, called a laminaria, into the opening of your cervix, or through a simple medication. This process can happen prior to your surgery or during the actual procedure, depending on your doctor or nurse’s recommendation. For later-term abortions, you may also need to receive a shot through your abdomen, or belly, prior to the procedure. The procedure begins with an examination of your uterus where they will place a speculum in to see into your vagina. Next, they will inject a numbing medication into or near your cervix. If you had not received the dilator rod placement prior to your procedure, your doctor or nurse will place them in now in order to help stretch the opening of your stick. Next, they will insert a thin tube through your cervix and into your uterus. Finally, they will use a combination of medical tools and a suction device to gently remove the pregnancy tissue from your uterus. The entire procedure takes between 10-20 minutes, not including the preparation of your cervix.

What is the efficacy of a surgical abortion?

Surgical abortion is extremely effective – they work 99% of the time and repeat procedures due to a failed procedure are very rare.

What should you expect?
  • 3 separate visits to the clinic are required for this abortion
    • Counseling/office visit with a law-mandated obstetric ultrasound
    • Medication delivery
    • Follow up appointment to ensure termination
  • You should plan on being at the clinic for 3 total hours on the day of your procedure and directly following your procedure, you will rest in the recovery room for about an hour
  • If you received any kind of sedation, plan on having someone drive you home from the clinic
  • You can return to normal activities the following day if you feel up to it, but refrain from any hard work or heavy exercise for several days and you may can resume sexual activity whenever you feel ready
  • It is normal to experience some bleeding after your abortion so use pads until the heavy bleeding subsides. At this point it is OK to use tampons because you may experience spotting for several weeks. Some people never experience any bleeding.
  • You will receive written information regarding self-care instructions and details about what you can expect after your procedure. Don’t forget to take ALL of your antibiotics, no matter how you are feeling.

Add Your Name

We fight for a future that includes access to all reproductive health care no matter your zip code or employer. Wisconsin must lead the charge. Are you with us?