First, the obvious: That fetus isn't going to abort itself. So if you've confirmed that you're pregnant, there's no time like the present to look at your options.
But before we do that, a little big-sisterly lecture is in order. Why the fuck are you pregnant in the first place? Birth control—condoms, Depo-Provera, the pill, IUDs, the patch—is widely available in Seattle, including at student health centers and Planned Parenthood. Oral sex is widely available everywhere. And emergency contraception (aka the morning-after pill, which prevents conception if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse) is available at pharmacies throughout Washington State. And religious fucktards who went into the wrong line of work (pharmacy) can't stop you from getting it—every pharmacy in the state is required to give you emergency contraception if you ask for it. (If you ask and are refused, give us a call.)
Okay, if you are pregnant, here's the good news: Wherever you go to school, whatever views your parents may have, if you decide you want an abortion, Seattle is a large, liberal urban area with numerous options for you to choose from—unlike many rural states, which often lack a single abortion provider. (Seattle also has many adoption services, including open adoption; a good one is Open Adoption and Family Services, online at www.openadopt.org.)
Every abortion provider has its own cost schedule, but you can generally expect to pay between between $300 and $500 if you're in your first trimester, or the first 12 weeks. (Second-trimester abortions are more complicated and thus more expensive, costing between $500 and $5,000.) Some clinics provide payment plans that let you pay for an abortion in installments. Are you a minor? Washington, unlike many states, does not have a parental-notification law, so you won't have to tell your parents (unless, of course, you need to hit them up for money).
Medical abortion refers to a form of early abortion (up to eight or nine weeks gestation) caused by taking two medications, mifepristone (RU-486) and misoprostol. During the first appointment, you'll receive a mifepristone pill to take orally; you'll also be given a misoprostol pill to take 24 to 72 hours later, which will induce contractions of increasing intensity which will lead, within about six hours, to a miscarriage. Side effects of the abortion pill include bleeding, cramping, and clotting; the biggest risk is excessive bleeding. Despite the discomfort, the abortion pill is generally considered a safe and very effective method of early abortion.
If you're further along, surgical abortion is your only option. In the first trimester, most abortions involve what's known as vacuum aspiration; the doctor numbs the cervix, inserts a tube, and uses suction to empty the uterus. Usually, this is done with only local anesthesia (although general anesthesia is often an option) and takes less than five minutes. In later-term pregnancies, doctors typically do a procedure called dilation and extraction (D&E), which is much more complicated than early-term abortions and takes longer. First, you'll get a sonogram to determine how big the fetus is. Then the doctor will numb the cervix and insert dilators, which expand slowly overnight. The next day, the doctor numbs the cervix, removes the dilators, and extracts the fetus, finishing with a vacuum aspiration like that used in early-term abortions.
Sound unpleasant? It is. Which is why you should be using birth control if you're sexually active. It's also why you don't want to wait weeks to decide if you want to have an abortion.
Here are your abortion service options in and around Seattle, listed by neighborhood.
Seattle Medical & Wellness Clinic (1325 Fourth Ave, Suite 1240; 625-0202) offers surgical abortions up to 17 weeks and medical (pill) abortions up to 9 weeks, as well as free emergency contraception; www.smawc.com.
Aurora Medical Services (1001 Broadway, Suite 320; 957-0990) offers surgical abortions up to 18 weeks and medical abortions up to 9 weeks; www.auroramedicalservices.com.
Planned Parenthood of Western Washington (2001 E Madison St; 328-7734; other locations throughout Washington State) offers surgical abortions up to 14 weeks and medical abortions up to 8 weeks; www.ppww.org.
All Women's Health (3711 Pacific Ave, Suite 200, Tacoma; 253-471-3464) provides surgical abortions up to 16 weeks and medical abortions up to 9 weeks; www.allwomenshealth.net.
Cedar River Clinics (1401A Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma; 253-473-6031) offers medical abortions up to 8 weeks and surgical abortions up to 24 weeks; www.cedarriverclinics.org/pages/clinictacoma.html.
Cedar River Clinics are the only abortion providers in Washington State affiliated with the National Network of Abortion Funds, which helps low-income women pay for abortions.
Lacey (near Olympia)
Sound Choice Health Center (8617 Martin Way East Suite 101, Lacey; 360-456-0291) offers surgical abortions up to 22 weeks; no website available.
Cedar River Clinics (4300 Talbot Road S, Suite 403, Renton, 425-255-0471) offers medical abortions up to 8 weeks and surgical abortions up to 24 weeks; www.cedarriverclinics.org/pages/clinicrenton.html.