There are several ways to terminate a pregnancy. The options vary depending upon the stage of pregnancy.
Medical Abortions (otherwise known as “the abortion pill” or “non-surgical abortions)
This option is generally used up to 8 weeks from the last menstrual period (LMP) Specific methods may vary slightly from clinic to clinic but generally the patient is first given Mifepristone in the form of a pill. That pill causes the end of the pregnancy. Then 24-72 hours later, the woman will use Misoprostol to cause the uterus to contract and expel the tissue. A follow-up appointment is generally required to make sure the abortion is complete. Occasionally more than one follow-up appointment is necessary. Some women prefer Medical Abortion because the process feels more natural and private; they can decide where they are when they go through the experience, such as staying home for the weekend. Side effects of the second medication include cramping, bleeding, diarrhea, nausea, etc.
Aspiration (or “Vacuum”) Abortions
This procedure is generally used up to 13 weeks LMP, which is the vast majority of abortions performed in this country. This procedure has three main steps. First, the doctor will numb the cervix with an injection. Then he/she will insert a soft flexible tube through the cervix into the uterus. Finally, the suction machine is used to remove the pregnancy from the uterus. The procedure generally takes less than five minutes.
D&E Abortion (Dilate and Evacuate)
This procedure is used for abortions up through the end of the first trimester and they generally take two-three days. On the first day, an ultrasound is performed to determine the size and position of the fetus. Then, the abortion procedure starts with the numbing of the cervix and the insertion of dilators into the cervix. That night, the dilators will gently expand, opening the entrance to the uterus. When the patient returns the next day, the cervix is again numbed, the dilators are removed, and the doctor uses special instruments (such as forceps) to evacuate the uterus and remove the pregnancy. After that, the doctor will usually use suction to clean our the uterus. In more advanced pregnancies, additional dilators are inserted on the second day and the fetus is removed on the third day.
Some doctors use this procedure in certain circumstances. Below is a useful link that describes the process and the reasons for Labor Induction abortions:
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