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Types of induced abortion

An abortionist has a variety of methods available, including surgical and chemical. The choice of abortion method depends upon the age of the foetus, the physical condition of the mother, and the environment, country and culture in which the abortion is undertaken.

Vacuum Aspiration Abortions

Vacuum Aspiration (also called Suction Curettage) is the most commonly used method of abortion in first trimester abortions in New Zealand. The abortionist begins by dilating (widening) the cervix. He inserts a suction curette (a hollow suction tube with a sharp tip) into the woman's uterus which tears the fœtus apart and sucks the pieces through the tube into a container.The body parts are then checked to ensure a complete abortion.

Surgical D & C

A Dilation & Curettage (D & C) abortion is used most often in first trimester abortions. The abortionist inserts a sharp looped knife (curette) into the uterus to scrape the walls. The fœtus is then cut apart, suctioned out and checked for completeness.

Sometimes a D & C is performed after a miscarriage to "clean" the uterus from tissue that could cause an infection. In some cases the woman is still pregnant with a "twin" and has an unintentional abortion. Many doctors require an ultrasound before performing a D & C for this reason.

Surgical D & E

Dilation & Evacuation (D & E) abortions are most commonly used during the first half of the second trimester, but can be performed up to around 28 weeks. The fœtus is dismembered and removed piece-by-piece. A larger fœtus must have the head crushed to enable the pieces to pass through the cervix.

Partial-Birth Abortion

A Dilation & Extraction (D & X), also known as a Partial-Birth Abortion is a method used in the USA and Australia in the seventh & eighth months. Since it is impossible to dismember the fœtus at this stage without harming the mother, and to avoid the birth of a live baby, the abortionist uses forceps to find and pull a leg into the birth canal. The foetus is delivered except for the head. The back of the head is then punctured with scissors, the brains of the foetus are vacuumed out, the skull is collapsed and the delivery is then completed.

Prostaglandin Abortions

Prostaglandin abortions are used in late second trimester and third trimester abortions. The abortionist usually injects a fluid such as potassium chloride into the heart of the fœtus which causes an immediate heart attack. Prostaglandin is then injected into the uterine muscle to expel the fœtus in an extremely violent labour. Labour can take about 20 hours to complete.

The Abortion Pill

RU-486 (the abortion pill) is typically used between the 5th and 7th week of pregnancy. The first pill blocks the hormone that helps develop the lining of the uterus during pregnancy (progesterone). The embryo, denied nutrition and oxygen starves to death. A second drug, misoprostol, causes contractions. The embryo is expelled after several days.

Menstrual Extraction

Overtime Treatment/Menstrual Extraction is an early suction procedure (see vacuum aspiration) is used to circumvent abortion restrictions, allow women to avoid knowing whether they are pregnant or not.

Hysterotomy Abortion

A Hysterotomy abortion (caesarian section) is done during the last trimester when any other type of abortion may be too dangerous for the mother. The uterus is surgically opened and the fœtus removed. An injection of poison may be administered into the heart of the fœtus prior to the surgery.

Saline Abortion

Saline Abortions were performed largely in the 70-80s, but are rare now due to some babies being born alive. 200 mls of amniotic fluid are removed and replaced with saline or urea solution. The fœtus dies over a period of hours from salt poisoning, dehydration, brain haemorrhage and convulsions. Fœtal movement during this period may be felt by the woman.

Selective Reduction

"Selective reduction" is the term often used after IVF procedures and fertility treatments, to abort "surplus" embryos. The most common method involves injecting potassium chloride through the mother's abdominal wall into the hearts of the most accessible embryos. Ultrasound is used to locate the heart/s. Selective reduction is also suggested following the natural conception of twins, triplets etc...