Review of surgical abortion methods
1st and 2nd Trimester Abortions:
About 90% of abortions are done in the first trimester (three months) of pregnancy. 9% are done in the second trimester. If an abortion has been decided upon, it is best to do it early in pregnancy, because the likelihood of complications is very much reduced.
Rather than risk having the need for an abortion, many women are choosing Emergency Contraception (a.k.a. the Morning After pill) very soon after unprotected intercourse in the off chance that they might otherwise become pregnant. (Unprotected intercourse refers to penile-vaginal sexual activity without birth control, or when a condom broke, or when a diaphragm became dislodged.) If taken immediately, this pill will prevent ovulation and/or conception; thus pregnancy cannot occur. Other women wait for two weeks or so and use a home pregnancy kit to determine if they are pregnant. They can then choose Non-surgical, Medically Induced Abortions including RU-486, or Manual Vacuum Aspiration if these procedures are available in their local clinic.
The alternative is to wait until she reaches the 6 week point in pregnancy and then opt for a surgical abortion. Most physicians are reluctant to perform surgical abortions before the 6th week of pregnancy because the embryo is too small. A few physician will agree to perform abortions during the 5th week of gestation.
At the Orlando Women's Center 1 a surgical abortion typically takes on the order of three hours:
The selection of a surgical abortion technique depends primarily on the stage in pregnancy:
|Saline or prostaglandin abortions: These totaled about 1.5% of all abortions - perhaps 25,000 in a typical year. A needle is fed through the woman's abdomen into the liquid that surrounds the fetus. A saline solution, made of salt and water, is passed through the needle. The fetus dies of salt poisoning. Labor follows, and a dead fetus is delivered. The salt burns the skin of the fetus.|
|Hysterotomies: These are almost identical to a Cesarean section. An incision is made in the woman's abdomen and the fetus is removed.|
|Partial Birth Abortions: These total perhaps 0.2% of all pregnancies. They are normally performed in emergency situations where a delivery is posing an extreme danger to the woman. This might be a threat to her life, or might cause her to be seriously injured, perhaps permanently disabled. 3|
There is a consensus among physicians and researchers that the fetus is unable to feel pain until the 26th week of gestation. A committee in the U.K. has recommended that if the fetus is near or passed the 26 week, that pain killers be used to prevent the fetus from pain.)
Copyright © 1997, 1999, 2000 & 2004 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2004-MAR-16
Author: B.A. Robinson
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