Manual Vacuum Aspiration
This surgical abortion is done early in the pregnancy up until 7 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period (LMP). A long, thin tube is inserted into the uterus. A large syringe is attached to the tube and the embryo is suctioned out.
This is the most common surgical abortion procedure done 6 to 14 weeks after LMP. 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 tool called a curette to scrape the fetus and fetal parts out of the uterus. (The doctor may refer to the fetus and fetal parts as the “products of conception”)
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E)
This surgical abortion is done during the second trimester of pregnancy (about 13-24 weeks after LMP). 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 (called laminaria) a day or two before the abortion. Once the cervix is stretched open, the doctor pulls out the fetal parts with forceps. The fetal skull is often crushed to ease removal. A loop-shaped tool called a curette is also used to scrape out the contents of the uterus, removing any remaining tissue.
Late Term Abortions
These procedures, performed about 20 weeks after LMP to full-term, 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 2 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.
Abortion pill and Mifepristone are only approved for use in women up to the 49th day after their last menstrual period. The procedure usually requires 3 office visits. On the first visit, the woman is given pills to cause the death of the embryo. Two days later, if the abortion has not occurred, she is given a second drug which causes cramps to expel the embryo. The last visit is to determine if the procedure has been completed. The abortion pill will not work in the case of an ectopic pregnancy.
An etopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition in which the embryo lodges outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. If not diagnosed early the tube may burst, causing internal bleeding and in some cases, the death of the woman.
RAPCC does not offer abortion services or referrals for abortion servcies.
Source material; "Before You Decide"; CareNet