Overview of Abortion

If you are pregnant and do not want to continue the pregnancy, then abortion may be an option that is available to you. Abortion is very safe if performed by a trained health professional.

On this page, we’ll cover the two types of abortion — medication abortion and surgical abortion. Please be sure to read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section below.

Medication abortion is offered at Student Health & Counseling Services (SHCS), only to currently registered UC Davis students

Surgical abortions are not provided at SHCS, but we are able to make referrals to another provider close to campus.

Medication Abortion

Medication abortion is offered at Student Health & Counseling Services (SHCS), only to currently registered UC Davis students

If you have been pregnant for 10 or fewer weeks, medication abortion may be an option for you. 

The effectiveness depends on how far along you are in pregnancy when you take the medications. For people who are 8 weeks pregnant or less, the medication works 94-98% of the time.

You can learn more about medication abortion from Planned Parenthood’s website and our FAQs below.
  • How do the risks and benefits for medication abortion compare to those for surgical abortions at 10 or fewer weeks? 
  • These are discussed in detail at your consultation appointment. In brief, surgical abortions involve instruments and suction placed into your vagina and uterus, so there is a small risk of cervical injury or uterine perforation that could require further care, including possibly surgery. There is also a higher risk of infection with surgical abortion, although antibiotics are given to minimize this risk.

    Medication abortions may be less effective, especially later in pregnancy. Also, with medication abortions, the abortion process occurs at home, rather than in the clinic setting, and the bleeding and cramping may be more of a prolonged process than with the surgical procedure.
  • How long does the medication abortion process take? 
  • The length of time from when you take the first pill until you finish passing the pregnancy is usually between 4-48 hours, and will be affected by how you are directed to use the medications.
  • What is the recovery period for a medication abortion? 
  • You’ll have lots of cramping and bleeding on the day the pregnancy comes out at home, and you may expect to continue to feel tired for 1 or 2 days after. Many people can go back to work and school, drive, walk, and do most other usual activities the next day if they feel up to it. It is not recommended that you do hard work or heavy exercise for several days.
  • What are the side effects of medication abortion? 
  • Expected side effects of medication abortion include abdominal/pelvic cramping and aching and heavy vaginal bleeding with large clots. Potential risks of medication abortion commonly include digestive system discomfort (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping) and fatigue.

    Less common risks include heavy, prolonged vaginal bleeding and/or blood clots in the uterus, infection, or an allergic reaction to one of the medications. It is also possible the procedure will not work, which may result in needing a surgical abortion to complete the process.

    If the medication abortion does not work and you decide to continue the pregnancy after taking the medication used in medication abortion, the pregnancy is at higher risk for major complications.
  • Does medication abortion affect my chances of becoming pregnant in the future?
  • Medication abortion has not been shown to affect future pregnancies, unless rare and serious complications develop.
  • Who is not eligible for a medication abortion if they are 10 or fewer weeks into pregnancy? 
  • Not all individuals qualify for medical abortion, even if they are early in pregnancy; reasons may include having an intrauterine device (IUD) in place, having a suspected pregnancy outside the uterus (ectopic pregnancy), or having certain medical conditions, including those which increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Is the medication abortion process painful? If so, how is the pain managed? 
  • How you feel during and after a medication abortion varies from person to person. Cramping and bleeding for several hours are an expected part of the procedure -- like a heavy, crampy period -- and many people manage well with over-the-counter pain medications. You can work with your health care provider to discuss what to expect in terms of pain and management strategies.
  • How do the medications involved in a medication abortion work? 
  • This will depend on the medications used. For the most common regimen, first, you take a pill called mifepristone. This medicine stops the pregnancy from growing. The second medicine is called misoprostol. This medicine causes cramping and bleeding to empty your uterus.
  • Does the medication abortion process interfere with hormonal forms of birth control like the IUD or implant? 
  • You can start a new birth control method immediately after having a medication abortion. You can get pregnant very quickly after your abortion, so it’s a good idea to talk with your medical provider about birth control options before or at your abortion appointment.
  • Does medication abortion affect your menstrual cycle?
  • It’s normal to bleed and have some spotting for several weeks after your abortion. Abortion starts a new menstrual cycle, so your period will generally go back to your baseline normal 4-8 weeks after your abortion.
  • Is there any form of reversal available if someone who takes the medical abortion pills immediately changes their mind?
  • There are claims about treatments that reverse the effects of medication abortion, but these claims have not been proven effective or safe by scientific methods, and are not endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). If someone takes the first medication for medication abortion and then has second thoughts, they need to consult with their abortion provider immediately about the best next steps and what to expect.
  • Can my abortion medication be mailed to me? 
  • Student Health and Counseling Services does not provide mail order prescription services at this time. The regulations vary widely depending on the state you live in, and different abortion providers will have different office procedures. Please check with your provider regarding their ability to mail these medications.
  • How can I be sure that my provider will not try to dissuade me from seeking a medication abortion? 
  • If you seek care at SHCS, our clinicians will offer the full range of sexual health services, including medication abortion. All of our Primary Care and Acute Care providers participated in training through Essential Access Health before medication abortion services were launched.
  • Do I need to prove I am pregnant to receive a medication abortion?
  • In order to help ensure that they are providing the correct medical care, abortion providers generally require the individual to take a pregnancy test -- although not all providers will require proof of that positive pregnancy test, especially some telehealth providers.
  • Would I be able to get a medical excuse for my class?
  • Student Health and Counseling Services, along with other UCs and many college health centers nationwide, does not routinely provide verification of illness forms to students requesting a medical excuse for classes or activities. However, if an academic modification is needed, there is a process through which notes of support may be requested.

Surgical Abortion

Surgical abortions are not provided at the Student Health & Wellness Center, but we are able to make referrals to another provider close to campus.

There are two types of Surgical Abortions — Aspiration, and Dilation and Evacuation (D&E).

If you have been pregnant for 5-14 weeks, Aspiration may be an option for you.

If you have been pregnant for more than 14 weeks, Dilation and Evacuation may be an option for you.

Learn more about surgical abortion options at Planned Parenthood’s website.

Cost of Abortion Care

The UC Davis Health Equity Fund provides financial assistance to students who are unable to pay for healthcare services out of pocket; this includes abortion services.

If you are considering any type of abortion and have an insurance plan, we recommend that you call the number on the back of your insurance card to ask about cost and how to access services. 

Medication abortions at SHCS are covered for students who have SHIP, meaning they pay nothing out-of-pocket. 

For students who do not have SHIP, the cost of a medication abortion at SHCS is $450 plus the cost of medication – which can range from $65-$100 depending on their clinical need.

If you do not have insurance, you can contact Planned Parenthood in either Woodland or Sacramento (Capitol Avenue or B Street) to learn about costs for their medication abortion services.

Surgical abortions are not provided at SHCS, but are covered by UC SHIP with a referral from one of our healthcare providers. 

You can visit Planned Parenthood’s Abortion Costs FAQ page to learn more about typical pricing for both medication and surgical abortion, including payment assistance programs.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Visit our Navigating Privacy and Confidentiality in Healthcare page to learn about keeping your health information private – including information about who has access to your medical records and how charges will show up on MyBill.

If you seek medication abortion services at SHCS, rest assured that only the professionals involved in your healthcare will know the reason for your appointment. People seek many different types of services at SHCS, and we do not have a specific room in which we only discuss abortion care with patients.

If you are a student who is under the age of 18 and are in California, there is no parental involvement or consent required to receive an abortion.

The state of California may not deny or interfere with a person’s right to choose or obtain an abortion prior to viability of the fetus (the ability of a fetus to survive outside of the uterus, determined by physician, generally after 23 weeks of gestation or more), or after viability when the abortion is necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant person.

Where can I get an abortion near Davis or Sacramento?

Medication abortions are provided at the Student Health & Wellness Center, only for currently registered UC Davis students. 

Surgical abortions are not provided at the Student Health & Wellness Center, but we are able to make referrals to another provider close to campus.

You can contact Planned Parenthood in either Woodland or Sacramento (Capitol Avenue or B Street) to learn about their medication abortion services and how to access surgical abortion. They can also help you navigate getting transportation to and from the clinic.

Who can support me before, during, or after my abortion?

If you would like to talk to the SHCS Advice Nurse, a registered nurse who can help you make informed decisions about your health situation, call (530) 752-2349 and follow the prompts. 

For mental health support, you can be connected with a counselor from Counseling Services the same day you are here (if needed) – regardless of insurance – or a referral can be made if you are not interested in connecting with a counselor that same day. Counseling Services is available to all registered UC Davis students at no cost.

For other forms of support, a doula is most commonly known as someone who provides emotional and informational support during pregnancy. However, there are also full-spectrum doulas who can provide support during other points in a person’s life. For information about doulas who can provide support in the Sacramento area, visit Welcome Home Doulas.

If you would like to talk to someone over the phone, you can contact All Options – an organization that promotes unconditional, judgment-free support for people in all of their decisions relating to pregnancy, abortion, parenting and adoption.

Exhale is a non-profit organization that runs a post-abortion support hotline (617-749-2948).