Ask a VWC Nurse: Answers to Your Commonly Asked Questions
Once a month, we feature answers to commonly asked questions that our Valley Women’s Clinic medical staff receives. Our nurses provide answers to these questions here on the blog.
Q. Do I need an ultrasound before an abortion?
A. Yes. An ultrasound performed before an abortion serves three important purposes. Additionally, a pregnant woman is required by Virginia law to receive an ultrasound before an abortion procedure.
If you’re pregnant and have already decided on abortion, you may be thinking, “Why would I need an ultrasound first?” However, an ultrasound is a very important step before getting an abortion procedure because there are three things any woman needs to know about her pregnancy before she can make an informed decision about it.
This ultrasound serves three purposes:
1. To determine that the pregnancy is located inside the uterus instead of outside the uterus.
A positive pregnancy test can indicate that you are pregnant, but only an ultrasound can determine if your pregnancy is in the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies occur when the pregnancy implants and grows in a fallopian tube or another location rather than in the uterus. An undiscovered ectopic pregnancy will not be terminated by a typical abortion procedure and can put the life of the mother in danger from a ruptured fallopian tube and internal bleeding.
2. To determine the gestational age of the pregnancy.
An ultrasound calculates (based on fetal measurements) how many weeks pregnant you are. The fetal measurements determine which type of abortion procedure will be offered.
3. To determine if the pregnancy is viable (meaning that it will continue to develop if the woman decides not to abort).
Somewhere between 10 and 25% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage. An ultrasound can determine if a pregnancy is viable (not likely to end in miscarriage). If the pregnancy is not viable, then the woman does not have to go through an abortion and can avoid the associated costs and potential risks of the procedure.
In addition, Virginia state law requires that a woman seeking an abortion have an ultrasound. The clinic must also offer a woman the opportunity to view the ultrasound images and see or hear the heartbeat.
At Valley Women’s Clinic, we can provide you with a free ultrasound to determine the three things mentioned above. Request an appointment at our Blacksburg or Radford clinic to receive any of our free and confidential services.
Valley Women’s Clinic does not perform or refer for abortions; however, our medical staff can explain the different types of abortion, give you an opportunity to ask questions, and provide accurate medical information so you can make an informed decision about your pregnancy. We are here to provide a safe place for you.
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