The continued existence of abortion on demand has, for decades, inspired members of Right to Life chapters nationwide to pursue their passionate, relentless efforts to bring that horrific practice to an end.
But there’s a nagging reality that further annoys pro-life advocates about elective abortion: Not only can it be done, but there’s so many ways to do it.
Here, sadly, are some of those ways (generally listed from early- to late-term procedures):
- Suction aspiration. This technique is used in most first-trimester abortions. In this procedure, a strong suction tube with a sharp edge is inserted into the womb through the dilated cervix. The suction dismembers the body of the fetus and tears the placenta from the wall of the uterus. The result: The sucking of blood, amniotic fluid, placental tissue and fetal parts into a collection bottle.
- Dilatation (dilation) and Curettage (D&C). In this procedure, the cervix is dilated or stretched to permit the insertion of a loop-shaped steel knife. The body of the baby is then cut into pieces and removed, and the placenta is scraped off the uterine wall. Blood loss from D&C is greater than in suction aspiration—as is the likelihood of uterine perforation and infection.
- RU 486 (the “abortion pill”). The technique by this name requires at least three trips to an abortion facility. In the first visit, the woman is given a physical, and if she has no obvious contra-indications that could make the drug lethal for her (smoking, asthma, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.), she swallows the RU 486 pills. This serves to disintegrate the nutrient lining, causing the baby to starve. At a second visit 36 to 48 hours later, the woman is given a dose of artificial prostaglandins (usually misoprostol); this initiates uterine contractions and usually causes the baby to be expelled from the uterus. (Most women abort during the 4-hour waiting period at the clinic, but about 30 percent abort as many as five days later A third visit (about two weeks later) determines whether the abortion has occurred, or if a surgical abortion is necessary to complete the procedure (5 to 10 percent of all cases). See video above for detailed information about the this procedure.
- Methotrexate—A procedure which is similar to the one using RU 486, except that it’s administered by an intramuscular injection instead of a pill. Originally designed to attack fast-growing cancer cells, methotrexate apparently attacks the fast-growing cells of the trophoblast, the tissue surrounding the embryo that eventually gives rise to the placenta. The trophoblast functions as the life support system for the developing child, drawing oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s blood supply and disposing of carbon dioxide and waste products. Methotrexate disintegrates the trophoblast and robs the baby of the food, oxygen and fluids he or she needs to survive; without those necessities, the child dies in the womb.
- Dilation and Evacuation (D&E)—Used to abort children as old as 24 weeks. Forceps with sharp metal jaws are used to grasp parts of the developing baby, which are then twisted and torn away. This process continues until the child’s entire body is removed from the womb. Because the baby’s skull has often hardened to bone by the end of the second trimester, the skull sometimes must be compressed or crushed to facilitate removal. Bleeding from the procedure may be profuse. Dr. Warren Hern, a Colorado abortionist who has performed many D&Es, said they can be particularly troubling both to clinic staff members and doctors as well. “There is no possibility of denial of an act of destruction by an operator,” Hern has said. “It is before one’s eyes. The sensation of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current.”
- Instillation methods: Three such methods are often used to facilitate abortions:
- Salt Poisoning. Otherwise known as saline amniocentesis, generally used 16 weeks after conception, in which a needle is inserted through the mother’s abdomen, after which 50-250 ml (as much as a cup) of amniotic fluid is withdrawn and replaced with a solution of concentrated salt. Once the baby breathes in the solution, it dies by poisoning about an hour later. The mother goes into labor within the next 36 hours and delivers a dead, burned, and shriveled baby, usually 36 hours later.
- Urea injections. An alternative to salt poisoning that’s usually considered a less dangerous option. However, incomplete or failed abortion can occur as a result of this method, often precipitating the need for additional surgery. And, it has inherent risks to the mother—particularly cervical injuries, which range from small lacerations to complete detachment s of the anterior or posterior cervix.
- 3. Prostaglandins. Used during the second trimester, they’re naturally produced chemical compounds which normally assist in the birthing process. Induced into the amniotic sac, they induce violent labor and premature birth that often causes the child’s death. Often, salt or another toxin is injected first to ensure that the baby will be delivered dead. Serious side effects and complications can occur to the mother, including cardiac arrest, rupture of the uterus and, at times, death.
- Partial-birth Abortion. Abortion practitioners often use soft terms for this practice such as “dilation and extraction,” or “intact D&E.” Unfortunately, such terms mask the realities of how partial-birth abortions are actually performed to abort women who are 20 to 32 weeks pregnant (in the final trimester). Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist reaches into the uterus, grabs the unborn baby’s leg with forceps, and pulls the baby into the birth canal, except for the head, which is deliberately kept just inside the womb. (The baby is alive at this point.) The abortionist then jams scissors into the back of the baby’s skull and spreads the tips of the scissors apart to enlarge the wound. After removing the scissors, a suction catheter is inserted into the skull and the baby’s brains are sucked out. The collapsed head is then removed from the uterus.
Babies born at 23 weeks or more often survive.
This procedure eliminates that possibility.
- Hysterotomy. Similar to a Caesarean Section, this method is generally used if chemical methods such as salt poisoning or prostaglandins fail. Incisions are made in the abdomen and uterus and the baby, placenta and amniotic sac are removed. Babies are sometimes born alive during this procedure, raising questions as to how and when these infants are killed and by whom. This method poses the greatest risk to the health of the mother since the potential for rupture during subsequent pregnancies is significantly high.