Surgical Abortion

Surgical Abortions are offered in PEI through Sexual Health, Options & Reproductive Services. A surgical (aspiration) abortion ends a pregnancy by emptying the uterus (or womb) with suction. To access safe, confidential and supportive services, call 1-844-365-8258 (toll-free) to speak with a staff member or to make an appointment.

Medical abortions are offered through the program, for more information visit Medical Abortions

Out-of-province abortion services are also offered at the Moncton Hospital in New Brunswick and the QEII in Halifax, Nova Scotia. To learn more, visit Abortion Services

The below information provides answers to questions you may have about having a surgical abortion in PEI through Sexual Health, Options & Reproductive Services.

When can a surgical abortion be done? 

Depending on provider availability, surgical abortion services can be available up to 15 weeks 6 days pregnant. If a physician is unavailable OR pregnancy is beyond 15 weeks 6 days, Sexual Health, Options & Reproductive Services staff can assist with out-of-province options.

Your pregnancy and dating will be confirmed by staff using information about your last period, as well as, urine or blood tests, and ultrasounds. It is important to have the right dating of your pregnancy to pick the procedure that is right for you. Program staff can work with you to coordinate the testing to reduce the demands on you. 

Will I need a referral?

No. Call 1-844-365-8258 (toll-free) to make an appointment or to speak with a staff member.

If I am under the age of 18, do I need parental/guardian consent?

No. You do not need parental/guardian consent.

Will I have to pay?

No. There is no charge for a surgical abortion through Sexual Health, Options & Reproductive Services. However, you must have a valid PEI Health Card.

How does a surgical abortion work?

A gentle suction is used to remove the pregnancy and blood from inside the uterus.

You may experience mild to strong cramping for a few minutes during the abortion procedure and for several minutes after. Medication, including conscious sedation during the procedure, will be offered to help manage the pain. Milder cramps may continue for several days.

There is often not much bleeding immediately after the procedure. However, you may begin to bleed three to seven days afterwards and can continue for several weeks.

How effective is it?

A surgical abortion has a 99 percent effective rate.

Will it affect future pregnancies?

Research has shown that having an abortion will not make it harder to get pregnant again and will not harm future pregnancies. 

What will I need to bring with me to my appointment?

Identification: All patients and support persons need to provide a photo ID. Patients will also be required to have a valid PEI Health Card

Information: You may also be asked about your personal health history and medications you are currently taking. If you are taking medications, bring them with you or bring an up-to-date list of your medications [PDF | 609 KB], including over-the-counter vitamins or supplements.

Support Person: You can bring a support person who may accompany you to your appointment, but they may be asked to sit in the waiting area in certain circumstances. Please talk to a staff member to learn about your options. 

What can I expect at my first appointment? 

  1. After checking in with reception, you will meet with a counsellor to discuss your options and answer any questions you may have about the procedure. Some people are ready at this time to make a decision and others are not. If you need more time or support before you make a decision, this will be arranged. If you are ready to make a decision and have decided to have a surgical abortion, your next steps will be coordinated at this appointment.
  2. You will be given some instructions on things to do before your next appointment. Each of these is required for your next appointment and if not done, we will not be able to proceed:
    • Blood work
    • Ultrasound
    • Confirming your next appointment
    • Arrange for a drive home 
  3. You will also be given instructions on how to prepare for your next appointment. Please follow these directions and call the program if you have any questions.

What can I expect at my second appointment? 

Your appointment may be up to 3-4 hours.

Before your appointment

You must have made arrangements for someone to bring you to your appointment.

  • Your support person will need to bring a photo ID. They may wait in the waiting room or nearby in the hospital.
  • They should speak to the nurse about the expected time you will be done before leaving the waiting area (childcare is not available).
  • It is recommended you have someone with you for 24 hours after your procedure.

For your safety, please follow the eating and drinking directions carefully:

  • You can have a light breakfast before your appointment and drink only clear liquids.
  • Clear liquids that you can drink include water, ginger ale, Sprite/7 Up, tea with no milk, and clear soup/broth.  

Please take your medications as prescribed unless told otherwise by a staff member. 

  • Do not take any alcohol, drugs, or medications that have not been prescribed by your doctor, herbal supplements, or aspirin 24 hours before your appointment.

Please wear comfortable clothing including full-back underwear, socks, and flat shoes.

  • Please also bring an extra pair of full-back underwear. 
  • The hospital is scent-free, so please do not wear perfumes, scented lotions, colognes, or other scented products. 

Electronic devices, including cell phones, are not allowed in the hospital service area.

During your appointment

Once you check into reception, you will meet with a nurse who will review your health history and provide you with medication(s) for the procedure. You will have a small intravenous (IV) inserted. 

The doctor will review your health history with you, again, and ensure that you are comfortable going ahead with the procedure.

The doctor may do a bedside ultrasound and provide a local anesthetic to the procedure area to numb your cervix. You will also be given medication by IV to help you feel relaxed. Your cervix will be dilated (enlarged). A small suction tube will be used to remove the contents of your uterus. This part of the procedure takes less than 10 minutes.

Once the procedure is over, a nurse will help you to the recovery room where you will rest until you are ready to leave, about 30-60 minutes.

You will be given a small snack while you recover in the recovery room. 

You will be given aftercare instructions. A staff member will get your support person from the waiting room. When your support person arrives, you will be able to leave. 

The medication you receive may temporarily cause:

  • Clumsiness;
  • Poor balance;
  • Poor judgment; or
  • Vomiting.

After your appointment

It is recommended for 24 hours after your procedure:

  • Do not drive a car or operate machinery.
  • Do not care for dependents (children or other family members) – get help if needed.
  • Do not participate in any strenuous sports or exercise.
  • Do not consume alcohol or medications that have not been prescribed by your doctor for 24 hours.
  • If you are taking any medications, ask the doctor when you should restart taking the medication.
  • Do not sign any legal documents, important papers or make critical decisions.
  • Do not do anything that requires you to be alert or coordinated for the rest of the day.
  • Start taking clear fluids and then go to solids as you feel able.

What other support is offered? 

Wherever you choose to seek abortion services, Sexual Health, Options & Reproductive Services can provide support and answer any questions you may have. Individuals are encouraged to contact the program at 1-844-365-8258 (toll-free) to speak with program staff.

For emergency care, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department. 

Who can I contact for more information?

Sexual Health, Options & Reproductive Services
Health PEI
Prince County Hospital
65 Roy Boates Avenue
Summerside, PE   C1N 2A9

Telephone:  1-844-365-8258 (toll-free)

Published date: 
February 2, 2024
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If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.

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