Abortion Methods

Medical Abortion

The “Morning after Pill,” must be taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse. Also known as “Plan B,” the medication prevents ovulation, fertilization, and implantation. In order to take the morning after pill, the woman must first take a pregnancy test and receive a negative result. Upon a negative reading the woman is given the first dose to take as soon as possible, but not more than 72 hours after intercourse. The woman takes a second dose 12 hours after the first dose. If conception already occurred within the 72 hour time frame, the life is expelled.

RU 486, also known as the “Abortion Pill,” is used up to 49 days after a woman’s last menstrual period. This procedure uses two medications to terminate the pregnancy. The first medication, Mifeprex, must be taken in a medical office in the presence of a doctor. Mifeprex works to stop the growth of the pregnancy by blocking the action of progesterone, the pregnancy hormone. The second medication, misoprostol, consists of four pills that are inserted vaginally at home, between 6 and 72 hours after taking the Mifeprex. Once inserted, the misoprostol causes the uterus to being contracting to expel the fetus over a period of several hours.

Surgical Abortions

Vacuum Aspiration, is a surgical abortion performed early in the pregnancy up until 7 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. The cervical muscle is stretched with dilators (metal rods) until the opening is wide enough to allow the abortion instruments to pass into the uterus. A hand held syringe is attached to tubing that is inserted into the uterus and the fetus is suctioned out.

Suction Curettage (Dilation and Curettage (D&C)) is a surgical abortion performed within 6 to 14 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. The cervical muscle is stretched with dilators (metal rods) or laminaria (dilators made from natural seaweed that expands as they absorb moisture). The doctor inserts tubing into the uterus and connects the tubing to a suction machine. The suction pulls the fetus’ body apart and out of the uterus. D&C is a variation of suction curettage in which the doctor uses a curette (a loop-shaped knife, to scrape the fetal parts out of the uterus.

Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) is a surgical abortion performed during the second trimester of pregnancy starting at about 14 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. The cervix is dilated wider than in a first trimester abortion by inserting laminaria (dilators made from natural seaweed that expands as they absorb moisture) a day or two before the abortion. Because the developing fetus doubles in size between the eleventh and twelfth weeks of pregnancy, the body of the fetus is too large to be broken up by suction and will not pass through the suction tubing. The doctor opens the cervix and pulls out the fetal parts with forceps. The fetus’ skull is crushed to ease removal.

Dilation and Extraction (D&X), also known as Partial-birth Abortion, is a surgical abortion performed from within 20 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period to full-term. This procedure takes about three days. During the first two days, the cervix is dilated and medication is given for cramping. On the third day, the woman receives medication to start labor. After labor begins, the doctor uses ultrasound to locate the baby’s legs. Grasping a leg with forceps, the doctor delivers the baby up to the baby’s head. Next, scissors are inserted into the base of the skull to create an opening. A suction catheter is placed into the opening to remove the skull contents. The skull collapse and the baby is removed.