Is It Necessary? Ultrasound Requirement


536841016 | Thomas Andreas |

Do I Need an Ultrasound Before Getting an Abortion?

  • Fetal ultrasound uses sound waves to view your uterus and ovaries.
  • Pre-abortion ultrasounds are required in some, but not all, regions. Getting an ultrasound helps avoid complications.
  • Many pregnancy care centers offer free ultrasounds.

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What Is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound scan or sonogram is an image of structures within your body produced by harmless sound waves. A pregnancy ultrasound provides a view of the uterus and ovaries.

Do I Need an Ultrasound Before Taking the Abortion Pill?

While ultrasound scans are only mandatory in some regions, there are good reasons to have a scan before a termination. The scan results can help you to make the right decisions about your care and will enable your doctor to make better recommendations regarding your treatment.

Click on your country to determine your ultrasound requirements:

    • Ultrasounds are required in eight of the 35 states where abortion is possible and is generally recommended.
    • By law, the sonographer must offer to show the ultrasound images while performing a required ultrasound.
    • States with ultrasound requirements are Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina.
    • Is abortion legal in my state? Go to Until When Can I Get an Abortion?
  • UK

    Ultrasounds are not required in the UK but are recommended for your safety.


    Ultrasound is only required if you are unsure how far along you are or if you are experiencing complications.

  • Ultrasounds are required in Australia. You must have a scan showing you are at least six weeks pregnant before receiving abortion treatments of any kind.

  • Canada

    Ultrasounds are only required when deemed necessary by a medical doctor.

    New Zealand

    Ultrasounds are not required in New Zealand. It is an optional means to confirm pregnancy and determine gestational age and is recommended if there are signs of an ectopic pregnancy.

    South Africa

    Ultrasounds are not required in your region but are recommended for your safety.

Why Have an Ultrasound Before an Abortion?

1. Determine the Length of Your Pregnancy

Ultrasound enables you to get an accurate date for your pregnancy. Determining when you got pregnant can be tricky, especially if it was unplanned. A sonographer can tell how far along you are by measuring the pregnancy sac or embryo's size. Knowing the length of your pregnancy is crucial because the abortion pill can only be safely taken during the first ten weeks of pregnancy.

2. Determine the Location of Your Pregnancy

Ultrasound enables you to determine the location of the pregnancy. Sometimes, the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus. This is known as an ectopic pregnancy. One percent of pregnancies are ectopic, but the likelihood is increased if you get pregnant with an IUD. If you have the abortion procedure with an ectopic pregnancy, the pregnancy will continue and pose serious health risks to the mother. The cramping experienced while undergoing a medical abortion would mask the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, delaying medical intervention.

3. Confirm Viability

Ultrasound shows whether the embryo is alive. Twenty percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. If the scan does not detect a heartbeat, you need not endure the health risks of an abortion and the emotional repercussions it often entails.

4. Avoid Post-Abortion Treatment

Compared to patients with a pre-abortion ultrasound, patients who do not have pre-abortion tests are more likely to need post-treatment care and procedural interventions.

What Happens During the Scan?

There are two types of pre-abortion ultrasound exams:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound. With this type of fetal ultrasound, a wandlike device called a transducer is placed in your vagina.
  • Transabdominal ultrasound. A transabdominal fetal ultrasound is done by moving a transducer over your abdomen.

Transvaginal ultrasounds are commonly used in early pregnancy, as they produce a clearer picture of your uterus.

When you have an internal ultrasound:

  • You will be asked to remove the lower half of your clothing and lie down.
  • You may receive a sheet to cover yourself for privacy.
  • An ultrasound probe will be inserted into your vagina.
  • The probe will send out harmless sound waves, collect the echoes, and turn them into pictures.

Having an internal scan can feel uncomfortable but not painful. Most women find the scan easier than a Pap smear.

Thinking About Having a Pre-Abortion Ultrasound

Perhaps you came across our page while researching abortion options and requirements. Your desire to discern the details reveals that you want to make the best decision possible.

Your body is valuable, and you deserve the highest degree of care available.

If you would feel safer by getting a pre-abortion ultrasound, ask your medical provider or contact your local pregnancy resource center (PRC). Many PRCs offer free ultrasounds.

Maybe your concerns reach beyond the medical field. Your situation is probably anything but easy, and you might feel unsure about how to proceed. You are not alone! We have created a judgment-free zone for considering your options and determining your unique path. Access our free and unbiased life-coaching tools by clicking the links below:

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