What Happens During an Abortion?
This abortion is performed within 6-14 weeks after last menstrual period
a) A dilator (metal rod) is used to open the cervix; or b) laminaria are used which are thin sticks derived from plants that are inserted hours before the procedure. Tubing is then inserted into the uterus and connected to a suction machine. The fetus’ body is then pulled apart and sucked out of the uterus. The doctor may use an alternative procedure called Dilation and Curettage (D & C) in which he uses a loop-shaped knife to scrape the fetal parts out of the uterus. This is the procedure most commonly used.
Manual Vacuum Aspiration
Performed within 7 weeks after last monthly period
Dilators are used to stretch the cervical muscle until the opening is wide enough for the abortion instruments to enter the uterus. The fetus is suctioned out by a hand held syringe which is attached to tubing inserted into the uterus.
Dilation and Evacuation (D & E)
Performed within 13-24 weeks after last monthly period
Due to the fetus doubling in size between the 11th and 12th weeks of pregnancy, the body is too large to be broken up by suction. Laminaria are inserted a day or two before the abortion. The doctor uses forceps to pull out the fetal parts. The skull of the fetus is crushed to ease removal.
Dilation and Extraction (D & X, partial birth abortion)
From 20 weeks after last monthly period to full-term
Three days are used for this procedure. The cervix is dilated and medication is given for cramping the first two days. Medication to start labor is given the third day. Once labor begins the doctor uses ultrasound to locate the legs of the baby. He grasps a leg with forceps and delivers up to the baby’s head. Scissors are then inserted into the base of the skull to make an opening. The skull contents are then removed by a suction catheter which is inserted into the opening. After the skull collapses the baby is removed.
Abortion Pill (RU486, Mifepristone)
Within 4-7 weeks after last monthly period
Two medications, mifepristone and misprostol, are given over a three day period.
The combination of the two causes the uterus to expel the fetus.
Risks of Abortion
May include heavy bleeding, infection, perforation of the uterus, allergic reaction to drugs, tearing of the cervix, incomplete abortion, scarring of the uterine lining, damage to internal organs, Post-Abortion Stress (PAS), and death.