Abortion Methods

Although many people may understand the basic concept of what an abortion is, many are unfamiliar with the actual gruesome procedures that end a child's life.  Below are the types of abortions that doctors provide women, which mostly depend on what stage of their pregnancy they are in. 


Abortifacient (5 to 7 weeks):  An abortifacient is a substance that induces an abortion.  Common abortifacients are mifepristone and misoprostol. In addition, there are several herbal mixtures with abortifacient claims, however there is no available data on the efficacy of these plants in humans.

Suction Aspiration Abortion (6 to 9 weeks):  In this procedure the cervical canal is dilated by the successive insertion of instruments of increasing diameter (dilators).  When the cervix is suffciently dilated, a flexible tube (cannula) is inserted into the uterine cavity, and the fetal and placental tissues are then removed using an electric vacuum pump. 

Dilation and Curettage or D&C Abortion (8 to 16 weeks):  Procedure involves the dilation of the cervix as in the suction procedure, althought usually to a larger diameter.  The fetal and placental tissues are then removed with a sharp curette.

Dilation and Evacuation or D&E Abortion (13 to 20 weeks):  This procedure, used most frequently in the second trimester of pregnancy (greater than or equal to 13 weeks gestation) involves opening the cervix (dilation) and primarily using sharp instrument techniques, but also suction and other instrumentation such as forceps for evacuation.

Intrauterine Instillation (saline or prostaglandin)  (16-38 weeks:):  This procedure involves either withdrawing a portion of the amniotic fluid from the uterine cavity by a needle inserted through the abdominal wall and replacing this fluid with a concentrated salt solution (known as saline installation, saline abortion, or saline amniotic fluid exchange) or injecting a prostaglandin - a substance with hormone-like activity-into the cavity through a needle inserted through the abdominal wall (known as intrauterine prostaglandin installation).  The saline installation process induces labor, which results in the expulsion of the fetus approximately 24 to 48 hours later.  The interval between prostaglandin, injection and expulsion tends to be shorter than in a saline abortion. 

D&X or Partial Birth Abortion (20-32 weeks):  is a surgical abortion wherein an intact fetus is removed from the uterus via the cervix. The procedure may also be used to remove a deceased fetus that is developed enough to require dilation of the cervix for its extraction. Though the procedure has had a low rate of usage, representing 0.17% (2,232 of 1,313,000) of all abortions in the United States in 2000 according to voluntary responses to an Alan Guttmacher Institute survey, it has developed into a focal point of the abortion debate. In the United States, intact dilation and extraction was made illegal under some circumstances by the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which the U.S Supreme Court upheld in the case of Gonzales v. Carhart.

Hysterotomy / Hysterectomy (24 to 38 weeks):  Hysterotomy involves surgical entry into the uterus to remove the fetus.  Hysterotomy is usually performed only if other abortion procedures fail or if other abortion procedures are not appropriate.  Hysterectomy is a procedure in which the uterus is removed (with the fetus inside).  It is usually performed only when a pathological condition of the uterus, such as fibroid tumors, warrants its removal or when a woman desires sterilization.

If you would like more information on The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) warning of "At Home Abortion Kits", visit http://www.fda.gov and type in the words "At Home Abortion Kits" in the Search field.  It should be displayed in the search results as the first article on the page.



Abortion Methods excerpts from the Center for Disease Controls "Handbook on the Reporting of Induced Termination Of Pregnancy", Reprinted from 1988, Includes Revised Instructions and Reporting Form, 1997.

Abortifacients and Partial Birth Abortion Definitions from http://www.wikipedia.org/.