Abortion Procedures  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Below you will find descriptions of different abortion procedures

Manual Vacuum Aspiration:
             Up to 7 weeks after last menstrual period  (LMP)

This surgical abortion is done early in the pregnancy up until 7 weeks after the woman's last menstrual period. A long, thin tube is inserted into the uterus. A large syringe is attached to the tube and the embryo is suctioned out.

Suction Curettage:
             Between 6 to 14 weeks after LMP

This is the most common surgical abortion procedure.  Because the fetus is larger, the doctor must first stretch open the cervix using metal rods. Opening the cervix may be painful, so local or general anesthesia is typically needed. After the cervix is stretched open, the doctor inserts a hard plastic tube into the uterus, then connects this tube to a suction machine.  The suction pulls the fetus' body apart and out of the uterus. The doctor may also use a loop-shaped knife called a curette to scrape the fetus and fetal parts out of the uterus.  

Dilation and Evacuation (D&E):
                     between 13 to 24 weeks after LMP

This surgical abortion is done during the second trimester of pregnancy. At this point in pregnancy, the fetus is too large to be broken up by suction alone and will not pass through the suction tubing. In this procedure, the cervix must be opened wider than in a first trimester abortion. This is done by inserting numerous thin rods made of seaweed a day or two before the abortion. Once the cervix is stretched open the doctor pulls out the fetal parts with forceps. The fetus' skull is crushed to ease removal. A sharp tool (called a curette) is also used to scrape out the contents of the uterus, removing any remaining tissue.

Dilation and Extraction (D&X):
                      from 20 weeks after LMP to full-term

These procedures typically take place over three days, use local anesthesia, and are associated with increased risk to life and health of the mother. On the first day, under ultrasound guidance, the fetal heart is injected with a medication that stops the heart and causes the fetus to die. Also over the first two days, the cervix is gradually stretched open using laminaria. On the third day, the amniotic sac is burst and drained. The remainder of the procedure is similar to the D&E procedure described earlier.

RU486, Mifepristone (Abortion Pill):
                                          Within 10 weeks after LMP

This medical abortion is used for women who are within 70 days after their last menstrual period.  This procedure usually requires three office visits.  The RU 486 or mifepristone pills are given to the woman who returns two days later for a second medication called misprostol.  The combination of these medications causes the uterus to expel the fetus.



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Pregnancy Resource Center of Marion County        304-363-0003