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This is the most common abortion procedure performed. Either local or general anesthetic may be used. In this procedure, the abortion physician opens the cervix with a dilator (a metal rod). When the cervix is dilated, the physician inserts a tube into the uterus which is attached to vacuum aspiration/suction machine. The suction pulls the fetal body apart and the fetal parts and placenta are sucked out of the uterus. A variation of the suction curettage procedure involves a curette, or loop-shaped knife, to scrape the fetal body parts and placenta out of the uterus.
This surgical abortion is done during the second trimester of pregnancy. Because the developing fetus doubles in size between the eleventh and twelfth weeks of pregnancy, the body of the fetus is too large to be broken up by suction and will not pass through the suction tubing. In this procedure, the cervix must be opened wider than in a first trimester abortion. This is done by inserting laminaria (seaweed stick or rod) into the cervix a day or two before the abortion. After opening the cervix, the abortion physician pulls out the fetal parts with forceps. The fetus’ skull is crushed to ease removal. A curette, or loop-shaped knife, is used to scrape out remaining tissues in the uterus.
The Morning After Pill (Plan B) is a large dose of birth control. Plan B is 2 tablets; one taken within 72 hours of intercourse, and the second pill, 12 hours later. Plan B One-Step is taken as a single dose tablet. Plan B is believed to act as an emergency contraceptive by preventing ovulation or fertilization. It may also inhibit implantation, although it is not effective once the process of implantation has begun. It is NOT the same as RU-486.
This medical abortion is commonly referred to as “the abortion pill”. This procedure usually requires repeated office visits. During the first visit, the RU-486 (mifepristone) pills are given to the woman. This medication blocks the action of the hormone progesterone, preventing the embryo from staying implanted and growing. The woman then returns two days later for a second medication called misoprostol. This second medication causes the uterus to contract and to expel the embryo. It is NOT the same as “the morning after pill”/Plan B.
If this method fails, a surgical abortion is required.
Side effects: Bleeding, clotting, cramping, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and possible infection.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Induced Abortion (2001); Warren Hern, Abortion Practice, J.B. Lippencott Company, (1990); F. Gary Cunningham, et. al., Williams Obstetics, McGraw Hill (2001); American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists Practice Bulletin #26, “Medical Management of Abortion” (April, 2001); Martin Haskell, M.D. “Second Trimester Abortion: From Every Angle”, Paper presented at the Fall Risk Management Seminar of the National Abortion Federation, September 13-14, in Dallas Texas (1992).
Robert A. Hatcher, M.D., MPH, et al., Contraceptive Technology, 19th Revised Edition (New York: Ardent Media, Inc. 2007), p. 654; FDA Drug Safety: Mifeprex Questions and Answers; Questions 21-23; fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm111328.htm; FDA Drug Label Information: Mifeprex; pp. 6, 14; accessdata.fda.gov/ drugsatfda_docs/label/2005/020687s013lbl.pdf
FDA Prescribing and Label Information for Plan B One-Step; Rev. July 2009; pp. 13-14; www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda.docs/label/2009/021998lbl.pdf; Watson Pharmaceuticals Receives FDA Approval for Generic PLAN B for Over-the-Counter Use; August 28, 2009: http://ir.watson.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=65778&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1325502; FDA Prescribing and Label Information for Plan B One-Step; Rev. July 2009; p. 13; FDA Prescribing and Label Information for Plan B One-Step; Rev. July 2009; p. 3