What can I expect during an abortion?
The following information provides a brief description of the various types of abortion. Please recognize that all abortions involve risk of more or less serious complications. There are two kinds of abortion: medical and surgical.
MYX Abortion: (Up to the first 7 weeks of pregnancy)1 Two chemicals are used. The first is methotrexate, or MTX, an anti-cancer drug that attacks diseased cells, breaks them down, and slows their growth. It acts the same way on a baby in the womb. It attacks the baby’s fast growing cells and the baby’s life support system. Your baby’s life support system fails and your baby dies.
The second chemical used is misoprostol and it is used 4-7 days later at home. It is inserted into your vagina as a suppository and causes contractions, pushing the dead baby out of the womb.
A third visit is made to the abortion clinic for another examination to assure the abortion was complete. If it was not, a surgical abortion is required.
Possible side effects include: MTX is potentially poisonous to your body, and can cause liver damage, kidney destruction, heart muscle damage, pulmonary failure, gastrointestinal problems, stroke and convulsions. The possible side effects from the use of misoprostol suppository are kidney problems, infertility (sterility), cramping, and bleeding. 2
RU-486, also known as The Abortion Pill: (Up the first 7-9 weeks) 1 You are first given an oral steroid drug (mifepristone) consisting of three pills. This drug blocks progesterone, the hormone which develops the lining of the uterus during pregnancy. The lining provides nutrition to the developing baby.
Then a second oral drug called a prostaglandin is taken to induce the uterus to contract and push your baby’s body out through your vagina. An alternative is to vaginally insert 4 tablets of a medication called misoprostol. The tablets will trigger uterine contractions with cramping and bleeding.
This procedure requires two or, as proposed recently, 3 visits to the abortionist. The third visit, which normally takes place two weeks after the first, confirms whether or not the abortion has taken place. The range of failure to abort is between 8% and 23%3. When this procedure does not work, a vacuum aspiration machine must be used.
Possible side effects include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heart attacks, hemorrhage, impaired future fertility, and harm to future children have been reported. The time period between taking the first and second medications varies, sometimes between 48 and 72 hours, or more. The cramping and bleeding normally last about four hours but can extend for longer periods of time. About half of the women abort within four hours.
Saline Solution Method: (4-9 months)2 For this procedure, the abortionist will generally use a saline or salt solution to kill your baby. The abortionist inserts a long needle through the abdomen into the protective bag of water that surrounds your baby. Some of this protective fluid is removed and the saline solution injected. Your baby breathes and swallows the poison salt solution that will slowly kill your baby, destroying his/her organs and burning off your baby’s skin. After several hours your baby dies. You then go into hard labor and deliver your dead baby, usually a day later.
Possible side affects include: The injection of saline causes a sudden and severe drop in the blood clotting ability of the mother. This striking abnormality can cause serious internal bleeding and sometimes death. This procedure has been outlawed in Japan and in other countries because of the potential damage to the mother.
Prostaglandin: Prostaglandins are chemically manufactured hormones that induce labor. These hormones are injected into the sac that surrounds your baby. The chemical causes violent, painful, and long-lasting contractions of the womb until your baby is forced out of the womb. You then go into labor and give birth to a baby who is often capable of living outside the womb. It has been reported, however, that if your baby should live, then he or she is simply placed into a basin, covered with a towel and your baby is allowed to die from neglect.
You may require a D&C to remove the placenta after your baby is born. This procedure and the saline procedure have been discontinued for the most part because of the number of live births that still occurred.
Suction Curettage and Dilation and Curettage D&C: (Up to the first 15 weeks) 1 The suction abortions procedure essentially uses a vacuum device (featuring a hollow tube with a knife-like tip) that is about 29 times more powerful than a home vacuum cleaner. Since the opening to your cervix is closed tightly to hold your baby, the abortionist frequently gives a local anesthetic injection near or into the cervix or neck of the uterus. At the time of labor, your body releases hormones to signal the cervix to open naturally, but to perform an abortion, the cervix must be gradually opened by other means.
The cervix muscle is gradually stretched with a series of thick rods called dilators. Though the local anesthesia numbs the cervix, inserting the rods can cause cramps. These dilators are inserted one after the other, gradually increasing in size. Sometimes this results in damage to the cervix.
When your cervix is sufficiently opened, the doctor will insert a suction tube into your uterus. The suction machine will then be turned on and the baby sucked or torn from your uterus along with the placenta. Because the baby is too large to fit through the suction tube, it is pulled apart and the abortionist finishes the process by using forceps to crush the baby’s skull so it can pass through the narrow suction tube. The baby’s body and limbs are then removed from the suction canister and then reassembled to assure the entire baby has been removed from the uterus and none of the parts are left behind to cause infection. Careful precision is required during the procedure in order to prevent the womb from being torn, and while checking body parts to ensure a complete abortion. Once the suction catheter is removed, a curette (a narrow, loop-shaped tool) may be used to scrape the walls of the uterus to ensure that nothing remains.
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E): (Up to the first 21 weeks)1 A D&E is performed in two parts. The cervix must be dilated even wider than in a first trimester abortion because your baby is older and more fully developed. This may require several hours or you may have to wait over night. You may be given intravenous medication to ease the pain and prevent infection. A local anesthetic is then injected into or near the cervix and the dilators are removed from the cervix.
The abortionist uses a combination of forceps, suction, and curettage to remove the arms and legs off your baby. The abortionist then punctures the soft spot on your baby’s head, suctions out the brain, and crushes your baby’s skull. Then the abortionist removes the remaining parts of your baby with forceps and then reassembles them to make sure that he has all the parts removed from the uterus. Because the cutting is done by feeling along the inside of the womb, there is usually considerable bleeding and there can be damage to the womb.
Hysterotomy: In the last trimester an abortionist may perform a hysterotomy, which is essentially a miniature Caesarian (C-section). This is done by making an incision in your abdomen and then your child is lifted out. Prior to removing your baby, the abortionist clamps the umbilical cord, waits about five minutes, and then delivers your baby, hopefully stillborn. If your baby is still alive he/she is placed in a covered basin and allowed to die from exposure. Since a baby at this stage may take hours or days to die, some abortionists have drowned or choked them to death.
Intercardiac Injection: At about 16 weeks, an ultrasound is used to pinpoint the location of your baby’s heart. A needle then injects a fluid into your baby’s heart causing an immediate heart attack, killing your baby. Your baby is then delivered dead.
1 American Pregnancy Association - www.americanpregnancy.org/unplannedpregnancy/abortionprocedures.html
2 American Life League http://www.all.org/nav/index/heading/OQ/cat/MzQ/id/MjQ1Nw/
3 National Right to Life News, March 2000.
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