Woman's Right to Know - Abortion Procedures - Labor Induction (Medical Induction)

Medical (Nonsurgical) Abortion
Dilatation and Curettage (D&C) with Vacuum Aspiration
Dilatation and Evacuation (D&E)
Abortion by Labor Induction (Medical Induction)
Dilatation and Extraction (D&X)

Abortion by Labor Induction (Medical Induction)

This procedure is generally used after 16 weeks of a pregnancy. The procedure will generally require a hospital stay of one or more days.

Medicines will be used to start labor. These medicines can be put in the vagina, injected in the uterus (womb) or given into the vein (intravenously or by IV). The medicines used cause the uterus to contract and labor to begin. Sometimes more than one medicine will be used. This procedure may take from several hours to several days.

Your doctor may use instruments to scrape the uterus and make sure that the unborn child, placenta, and other contents of the uterus have been completely removed.

Possible side effects and risks

  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fever.
  • Infection.
  • Complications from anesthesia such as respiratory problems, nausea and vomiting, headaches, or drug reactions.
  • Inability to get pregnant due to infection or complication from an operation.
  • A possible hysterectomy as a result of complication or injury during the procedure.
  • Damage or rupture of the uterus (womb).
  • The possibility of a live-born baby. *
  • Incomplete removal of the unborn child, placenta, or contents of the uterus requiring an operation.
  • Hemorrhage (heavy bleeding).
  • Water intoxication.
  • Emergency treatment for any of the above problems, including the possible need to treat with an operation, medicines, or a blood transfusion.
  • Rarely, death.


Who should not have an abortion by medical induction?
Some women should not have a medical induction, such as a woman who has had previous surgery to the uterus or a woman with placenta previa. You should discuss with your doctor if you are one of these women.

*If the unborn child is born alive, the attending physician has the legal obligation to take all reasonable steps necessary to maintain the life and health of the child.

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Last updated December 5, 2012