Abortion Methods

Abortion is the intentional killing of an unborn child.  How so-called healthcare providers kill the child is dependent upon the stage of pregnancy at the time of the abortion.  Many abortion methods are surgical; others, becoming increasingly more common, are chemical.

First Trimester

Suction Aspiration (Surgical) 
Suction aspiration, or “vacuum curettage,” is the abortion technique used most often for first-trimester abortions. The woman is usually given a local anesthetic or general anesthesia before the procedure is begun. A powerful suction tube with a sharp cutting edge is inserted into the womb through the dilated cervix. The suction dismembers the body of the developing baby and tears the placenta from the wall of the uterus, sucking blood, amniotic fluid, placental tissue, and fetal parts2 into a collection bottle. Infection can easily develop if any fetal or placental tissue is left behind in the uterus. This is the most frequent post-abortion complication.

Dilatation and Curettage (D&C) (Surgical) 
In this technique, the cervix is dilated or stretched to permit the insertion of a loop-shaped steel knife. The body of the baby is cut into pieces and removed and the placenta is scraped off the uterine wall. Blood loss from D&C, is greater than for suction aspiration, as is the likelihood of uterine perforation and infections. This method should not be confused with routine D&C’s done for reasons other than undesired pregnancy (to treat abnormal uterine bleeding, dysmenorrhea, etc.). D&C’s are routinely performed after a miscarriage.

RU 486 (Chemical)
On Thursday, September 28, 2000, the Food and Drug Administration approved RU-486, [also known as mifepristone]a dangerous chemical abortion drug that causes women to have abortions early in pregnancy. To ensure the abortion pill is “used accurately and safely”, the FDA mandated that women be given special brochures called ”MedGuides” explaining who is eligible for a drug-induced abortion and what dangerous side effects to expect and that they must make three trips to the abortion facility to undergo the abortion. The RU 486 chemical abortion procedure requires the administration of two potent and dangerous drugs, since RU-486 alone may not cause a complete abortion. A second drug, prostaglandin, is used to ensure that the abortion is more likely to be successful. In cases where both chemicals fail to give a complete abortion, a surgical procedure may be needed.

RU 486 and its companion drug are administered between the fifth and ninth weeks of pregnancy after pregnancy has been confirmed. An RU 486/Prostaglandin-induced abortion usually involves three trips to a doctor. About half of the women abort while at the doctor’s office. An additional 26% abort within the next 20 hours – in the shopping mall, grocery store, or in their homes, for example. The remainder aborts sometime in the next few weeks or not at all. A woman who doesn’t abort is advised to have a surgical abortion because the RU 486/Prostaglandin chemicals may have injured the unborn child.

Methotrexate (Chemical)
The procedure with methotrexate is similar to the one using RU 486, though administered by an intramuscular injection instead of a pill.  Originally designed to attack fast growing cells such as cancers by neutralizing the B vitamin folic acid necessary for cell division, methotrexate apparently attacks the fast growing cells of the trophoblast as well, the tissue surrounding the embryo that eventually gives rise to the placenta. The trophoblast not only functions as the “life support system” for the developing child, 9 drawing oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s blood supply and disposing of carbon dioxide and waste products, 10 but also produces the hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone which signals the corpus luteum to continue the production of progesterone necessary to prevent breakdown of the uterine lining and loss of the pregnancy.1 Methotrexate initiates the disintegration of the nutrients and oxygen of the forming placenta and makes the uterus a hostile environment to the growing baby. The baby dies. Methotrexate is a highly toxic drug and must be closely monitored. During normal use, blood tests must be routinely done to prevent possible death or injury to the user.

Second Trimester

Dilatation and Evacuation (D&E) (Surgical)
Used to abort unborn children as old as 24 weeks, this method is similar to the D&C. The difference is that forceps with sharp metal jaws are used to grasp parts of the developing baby, which are then twisted and torn away. This continues until the child’s entire body is removed from the womb. Because the baby’s skull has often hardened to bone by this time, the skull must sometimes be compressed or crushed to facilitate removal. If not carefully removed, sharp edges of the bones may cause a cervical laceration. Bleeding from the procedure may be profuse.  Practitioners of D&E abortions say they can be particularly troubling to clinic staff and that this may have an effect on the quality of care a woman receives.

Prostaglandins (Chemical)
Prostaglandins are naturally produced chemical compounds which normally assist in the birthing process. The injections of concentrations of artificial prostaglandins prematurely into the amniotic sac induce violent labor and the birth of a child usually too young to survive. Often salt or another toxin is first injected to ensure that the baby will be delivered dead since some babies have survived the trauma of a prostaglandin birth and been born alive.  This method is used during the second trimester. In addition to risks of retained placenta, cervical trauma, infection, hemorrhage, hyperthermia, bronchoconstriction, tachycardia, more serious side effects and complications from the use of artificial prostaglandins, including cardiac arrest and rupture of the uterus, can be unpredictable and very severe. The death of the mother is not unheard of.

Second and Third Trimesters

Installation Method Salt Poisoning (Chemical)
These methods involve the injection of drugs or chemicals through the abdomen or cervix into the amniotic sac to cause the death of the child and his or her expulsion from the uterus. Several drugs have been tried, but the most commonly used is a saline solution. This technique is used after 16 weeks of pregnancy when enough fluid has accumulated in the amniotic sac surrounding the baby. A needle is inserted through the mother’s abdomen and 50-250 ml (as much as a cup) of amniotic fluid is withdrawn and replaced with a solution of concentrated salt. The baby breathes in, swallowing the salt, and is poisoned. The chemical solution also causes painful burning and deterioration of the baby’s skin.

Partial-Birth Abortion (Surgical)
Abortionists sometimes refer to these or similar types of abortions using obscure, clinical-sounding euphemisms such as “Dilation and Extraction” (D&X), or “intact D&E” (IDE). This procedure is used to abort women who are 20 to 32 weeks pregnant—or even later into pregnancy. (Many babies born at 23 weeks (gestational age) or more survive. Partial-Birth abortions are designed to limit the “danger” of children who might be able to survive a violent procedure living. Using an ultrasound to target the child, the abortionist reaches into the uterus, grabs the unborn baby’s leg with forceps, and pulls the baby into the birth canal, except for the head, which is deliberately kept just inside the womb. (At this point in a partial-birth abortion, the baby is alive.) Then the abortionist jams scissors into the back of the baby’s skull and spreads the tips of the scissors apart to enlarge the wound. After removing the scissors, a suction catheter is inserted into the skull and the baby’s brains are sucked out. The collapsed head is then removed from the uterus.  Partial-birth abortion is a particularly gruesome procedure. Partial-birth abortion is now prohibited in the United States under federal law but is thought to be common in many of the essentially unregulated abortion clinics in Massachusetts.

Hysterotomy (Surgical)
Similar to the Caesarean Section, this method is generally used if chemical methods such as salt poisoning or prostaglandins fail. Incisions are made in the abdomen and uterus and the baby, placenta, and amniotic sac are removed.  Babies are sometimes born alive during this procedure, raising questions as to how and when these infants are killed and by whom. There are numerous cases of children born alive during these procedures being subsequently murdered–notably by the notorious Kermit Gosnell of Pennsylvania.