The type of abortion you’re eligible for is determined by how far along you are in your pregnancy. The best way to verify how far along you are in your pregnancy is with an ultrasound. 

Figuring Out When You Got Pregnant

Even if you carefully track your monthly cycle, ovulation (the time you get pregnant) is challenging to determine. If your menstrual cycle is irregular, it can be even more difficult to figure out. That’s why ultrasound is one of the most important tests you can have when learning about your pregnancy. 

During your first trimester (the first 13 weeks of pregnancy), a limited obstetric ultrasound (Mayo Clinic) measures the length of the fetus. 

What Is an Ultrasound?

Ultrasound imaging uses high-frequency sound waves to capture live images from inside your body. In an ultrasound exam, a thin layer of gel is applied to the skin to transmit the ultrasound waves. A medical professional holds a transducer (probe) directly on the skin over the gel. The ultrasound waves are transmitted from the transducer through the gel into the body. An ultrasound may be performed abdominally or transvaginally. 

An image of the fetus appears on an accompanying computer screen. While looking at this image, the medical professional takes some standard measurements from different angles and checks for a heartbeat. 

The Importance Of Ultrasound

According to the Mayo Clinic (Mayo Clinic), up to 20% of known pregnancies end in a natural miscarriage. You can get a positive pregnancy test even though you’ve already miscarried. If the ultrasound doesn’t detect a heartbeat, you’ve may have had a miscarriage. There’s no reason to visit an abortion clinic, as your pregnancy has already ended. 

Ultrasound also pinpoints the location of your pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy happens when the fetus attaches somewhere other than in your uterus. Untreated ectopic pregnancies are dangerous and can be life-threatening. 

Abortion Procedures 

There are two main types of abortion procedures, medical and surgical. Which method you are eligible for is determined by how long you’ve been pregnant. 


Medical abortions (Mayo Clinic) have other names like the abortion pill, RU-486, chemical, and self-managed. You are only eligible for a medical abortion if your pregnancy is less than ten weeks.

This method uses a combination of drugs taken over two different days. The first drug prevents the embryo from staying attached to your uterus because it blocks the hormone progesterone. The second drug causes the uterus to contract and expel the embryo.


Surgical abortions (Mayo Clinic) take place in a clinic or hospital-like setting. You get a surgical abortion between 10 and 22 weeks. The date of your pregnancy determines what type of surgical abortion you have. 

Vacuum aspiration uses a surgical instrument called a curette to remove tissue. Curettes can be sharp or use suction. This type of abortion takes place between 10 and 13 weeks of pregnancy.

Dilation and evacuation procedures require forceps to remove the fetus in small parts before suction because it is larger. A D & E is performed if you are over 13 weeks pregnant but under 20 weeks.

The side effects and risks of abortion can include heavy prolonged bleeding, infection, severe cramping, and possibly an incomplete abortion.

Where Can I Get An Ultrasound?

North Care Women’s Clinic offers free ultrasounds after you’ve taken one of our free pregnancy tests. A nurse and client advocate will determine your eligibility. Contact us today to schedule your free pregnancy test and determine if you’re eligible for a free ultrasound.