According to China’s Health and Family Planning Statistical Yearbook, more than 9 million women had abortions in 2017, and compared to many Western countries, abortions at any stage of pregnancy are a fairly routine procedure in Chinese hospitals. While that might make them easy to get, it does not necessarily lessen the stress of seeking one out in a foreign country.

Here’s what you can expect and how to go about getting an abortion in China.

What are abortions like in China?

Patients seeking to terminate a pregnancy are not required to attend counseling sessions or seek parental consent. Following normal intake procedures, you will select your termination method between the two types of abortion available in China: medical (药流 yàoliú) and surgical (人工流产手术 réngōng liúchǎn shǒushù, abbreviated as 人流 rénliú). Which procedure should be used depends on the stage of the pregnancy. To help you understand the differences and how they fit into the Chinese medical system, here are some tips and general information:

Medical abortion: Chinese doctors will generally recommend medical abortions, which means that you will take a termination pill with a doctor’s supervision. The pill is generally advisable for women in the early stages of pregnancy. Misoprostol is a standard drug for those at less than eight weeks and will generally be administrated in two rounds.

  • Pros: Medical abortion is relatively inexpensive, with prices as low as RMB 500.
  • Cons: Medical abortions are less effective than surgical abortions. You should also expect a longer recovery period and some side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and bleeding. As there is a risk of an incomplete abortion, you will need to see a doctor for follow up monitoring.

Surgical abortion: Surgical abortions performed under general anesthesia are more common in Western countries but can also be done in China. The procedure will take about ten minutes, with additional time needed for observation.

  • Pros: You should feel very little pain and experience minimal side effects.
  • Cons: Surgical abortions are more expensive and invasive. Repeated surgical abortions can also cause a build-up of scar tissue that can result in infertility.

Following either type of abortion, your doctor will generally prescribe an antibiotic and will require a follow-up visit.

Where can I get an abortion in Beijing?

Getting an early-term abortion in Beijing is quite simple (although pricier) when visiting an international hospital such as Beijing United Family and Raffles. You can make an appointment with any gynecologist without much notice or other requirements.

If you speak Chinese or can bring a Chinese-speaking friend with you, the following are also good options:

It’s best to look for hospitals that include or specialize in “women’s and children’s services” (妇幼保健医院 fùyòu bǎojiàn yīyuàn). These types of hospitals will specialize in a range of gynecological and pediatric care.

How much should I expect to pay?

As with many medical procedures in China, prices differ drastically between private and public medical institutions. Typical costs could range anywhere from RMB 500-20,000 including consultation fees and follow up, depending on the type of hospital and abortion. Specialized Chinese hospitals or those with an international wing will often be a middle ground price rise. Recent reports price an abortion at Mary’s Hospital (plus testing and associated follow up) at around RMB 6,000.

What can I expect afterward?

Getting an abortion is a big decision, regardless of your personal choices or the circumstances that led to you making the decision. Click here for more information about possible physical and psychological side-effects, and if possible, reach out to trusted friends, family, or a significant other for support. For more information about mental health support and resources in Beijing, click here.