As I mentioned in my last post, it wasnâ€™t until I was nearly 20 years old that I started to really understand what abortion was all about. One of the most compelling arguments for life is a simple explanation of what happens during an abortion. So the following is a description of the most commonly used abortion procedures. This is also one of the Life Topics in the GFL Curriculum. Common Methods of Abortion D & C (Dilation and Curettage)/ Suction Aspiration 6-12 weeks First trimester abortions make up approximately 90% of all abortions. One of the most common procedures is the D & C/suction aspiration. To perform this abortion, the cervix is opened using an osmotic dilator and a curette (a thin metal rod with a sharp loop at the end) is inserted into the uterus. The curette is used to dismember the fetus. Then a cannula (a hollow plastic tube), attached to a suction aspirator, is inserted to forcible remove the fetus, placenta and uterine lining. A stockinet, which is attached to the end of the suction tube, catches and solid matter. In order to avoid the risk of infection or hemorrhaging, the contents of the stockinet are examined to be sure all fetal parts have been removed. D & E (Dilation and Evacuation) 12-24 weeks A dilation and evacuation abortion is performed in the second trimester and is usually a 2-3 day procedure. At this stage of pregnancy, the fetusâ€™ tendons and muscles are more developed, and the bones have begun to calcify. The cervix has closed more tightly and must be dilated enough to removed the larger fetus. To aid in cervical dilation, laminaria (dried seaweed sticks) are inserted into the cervix. The dilation process can take 1-2 days depending of the size of the fetus. Once the cervix is sufficiently dilated, the laminaria are removed. Forceps are inserted into the uterus to forcibly dismember the fetus. The skull is then crushed and removed. A suction aspiration is then introduced to remove any remaining fetal parts, the placenta and uterine lining. D & X (Partial Birth Abortion) 24-36 weeks Partial Birth Abortion is primarily used in the third trimester. As with the D & E, the cervix must be dilated using laminaria. Forceps are then introduced into the uterus to grasp the babyâ€™s legs. The baby is delivered breech while the head remains inside the birth canal. Using blunt-tipped surgical scissors, the base of the skull is pierced and a suction catheter is inserted to extract the brains. This causes the skull to collapse and the dead baby is then fully delivered. Many times, while the child is partially delivered and still alive, the organs are removed and sold â€“ often illegally â€“ for fetal tissue experimentation. Prostaglandin or Live Birth Abortion 20-28 weeks A prostaglandin abortion is done in the second or early third trimester. Prostaglandins are naturally occurring chemical compounds which assist in the birthing process. For this abortion procedure, artificial prostaglandins are injected into the amniotic sac, which induces violent labor and leads to the birth of a child usually too young to survive without medical assistance. Since some babies have survived the trauma of a prostaglandin abortion and been born alive, salt or another toxin is first injected into the heart to ensure then baby will be delivered dead. RU486 Up to 56 days RU-486 is a chemical abortion that requires a least three visits to a clinic. At the first visit, the woman is given a physical exam and is administered RU-486 9 (also known as Mifeprex or mifepristone). RU-486 blocks the action of progesterone, the natural hormone vital to maintaining the uterus during pregnancy. The embryo starves as the nutrient lining disintegrates. At a second visit, 36-48 hours later, the woman is given a dose of artificial prostaglandins â€“ usually misoprostol â€“ which initiates uterine contractions and usually causes the embryo to be expelled from the uterus. Most women abort during the 4-hour waiting period, but about 30% abort as many as five days later â€“ at home, work, etc. A third visit about 2 weeks later determines whether the abortion was actually complete or whether a D & C/suction aspiration is necessary.