How Abortions are Done
If you are considering abortion, it's important to get as much information as possible before undertaking this procedure.
The following describes the most popular methods of elective abortion.
Vacuum Aspiration (6 to 9 weeks): The cervix is pried open and a powerful suction tube is inserted
into the uterus. The fetus is torn apart
by the force of the suction and sucked into a collection bottle, along
with the placenta and amniotic sac. Since the doctor cannot actually
see what he is doing, several possible complications can occur,
including infection (if any portion of the fetus or placenta remains in
the womb), uterine perforation (if the tube punctures the womb) and
cervical laceration (damage to the opening of the womb).
Medical Abortion (5 to 7 weeks):
The drug mifepristone (RU-486) is administered orally. The drug blocks the action of
progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone which sustains the nutritive
uterine lining. As this lining withers, the embryo starves to
death. Administration of mifepristone is followed 36-48 hours later by
misoprostol, a synthetic prostaglandin, which causes uterine
contractions that expel the unborn child. Some women will deliver while still
at the clinic, while others will do so later, at home or at work.
Bleeding can be quite heavy and lasts for an average of nine days.
This method of abortion fails 5-10% of the time, and must then be
followed by a surgical abortion.
Dilation and Curettage (8 to 16 weeks): The cervix is pried open and a steel loop-shaped blade is
introduced into the uterus. The blade is used to scrape clean the walls of the
uterus, removing the fetus and placenta. As with the aspiration method
described above, the doctor is working blind, and this procedure may be followed by
suction aspiration. It carries an increased risk of uterine
puncture, infection, and serious blood loss.
Methotrexate or "M&M" (5 to 9 weeks): Methotrexate is normally used for
treatment of cancers, arthritis, and certain
dermatological conditions. It is not approved for abortions by the FDA, although it is sometimes used for this purpose.
This drug is given by injection; it interferes with the growth process
of rapidly dividing cells. Like RU-486, it is followed by misoprostol
(hence the "M&M" nickname) to expel the fetus. This method fails at
least 4% of the time. Methotrexate can potentially cause serious side
effects, including severe anemia, ulcers and bone marrow depression.
Herbal abortifacients can be toxic.|
Though seen by many as a natural way to do-it-yourself,
such herbs are powerful drugs with potentially fatal consequences.
Unregulated by the FDA, herbal abortifacients can vary in potency and
effect. Pennyroyal, Black or Blue Cohosh and other similar herbs are
toxic in excess and can easily overtax the liver and kidneys, causing
headaches, extreme nausea, bleeding, or even death. Learn more about herbal abortion...
D&E (13 to 20+ weeks): In this late term abortion
the cervix is dilated, either mechanically or
with laminaria. The physician uses forceps to dismember the fetus,
which must then be reassembled to
confirm that no parts have been left inside. Possible
complications include infection, cervical laceration and uterine perforation.
D&X (20 to 32+ weeks): This late in the pregnancy it is very
difficult to dismember the fetus in the womb. Therefore the physician
begins, but does not complete, a breech (feet first) delivery, while leaving the head inside the uterus. The physician then
punctures the base of the skull and suctions out the brains. The child
dies, the head collapses, and the delivery is completed. This unsafe
procedure has been denounced by the American Medical Association as "bad medicine".
© Epigee.org, 2005-2009. Adapted with permission.