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Considering Abortion? : Abortion Questions Answered :
Types of Abortion

Surgical Abortion

Surgical Abortions make up the majority of abortions done in the United States. These procedures all include two steps. The first step is that the cervix (the muscle at the base of the uterus) must be stretched. Once that has happened, the contents of the uterus are removed. These two steps look different based on how far along you are into your pregnancy.

Both surgical abortions and medication abortions have possible risks involved. (Read about the possible risks of abortion.)

Vacuum Aspiration Abortion

Vacuum Aspiration Abortion

The abortion procedure done during very early pregnancy (4 to 7 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period) is referred to as vacuum aspiration. For this procedure, a long thin tube is inserted through the cervix and into the uterus. Once this tube is inserted, a manual suction device or a suction machine is used to vacuum the pregnancy out of the uterus.

Dilation and Curettage Abortion

Dilation and Curettage Abortion

Dilation and curettage is an abortion procedure that occurs between 7 and 13 weeks after the first day of your last period. This procedure is similar to the vacuum aspiration procedure. First, metal dilators are used to stretch the cervix open. Once that is complete, vacuum aspiration is used to suction the contents of the uterus out. Next a curette, which is a loop-shaped tool, is used to break up fetal tissue and scrape the walls of the uterus. 

Dilation and Evacuation Abortion

Dilation and Evacuation Abortion

Once past the first trimester, surgical abortions are more complex and also carry more risk. From 13 to 24 weeks after the last menstrual period, a procedure called dilation and evacuation is used to complete an abortion. This abortion also begins by widening the cervix. Due to the increased size of the pregnancy, the cervix must open further than in a first trimester abortion. This is done by inserting thin rods of sterile seaweed known as laminaria into the cervix. The laminaria then slowly absorbs moisture in order to gradually stretch the opening of the cervix. Sometimes this process is begun 1 to 2 days prior to the abortion procedure in order to give enough time for the cervix to stretch the appropriate amount. Once the cervix is stretched, then a combination of the curette and forceps are used to break apart and remove the fetal parts. 

Labor Induction Abortion

Labor Induction Abortion

An uncommon form of second trimester abortion is known as labor induction abortion. This typically involves a 10 to 24 hour hospital stay. Labor is induced by injecting either a drug into the fetal heart, amniotic fluid, or umbilical cord. This is done before labor to prevent a live fetus from being delivered. Then, similar to the dilation and evacuation procedure, laminaria and medications are used to soften and stretch the cervix. After the cervix is widened, more medications are used to induce labor. Labor will cause the dead fetus and placenta to be delivered.

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