The First Trimester
The most common first trimester abortions are vacuum aspiration and suction curettage. Vacuum aspiration is performed with a machine that uses a vacuum to suck the baby out of the uterus. The vacuum is created by a hand held pump (manual vacuum aspiration) or by electricity (electric vacuum aspiration). The electric machine is far more common in the US. Generally, the manual pump is only used to kill children who are less than 6 weeks old. Except in the very earliest abortions, the mom’s cervix will be dilated large enough to allow a cannula to be inserted into her uterus. The cannula is a hollow plastic tube that is connected to either the hand or electric pump by a flexible hose. As a vacuum is created, the abortionist runs the tip of the cannula along the surface of the uterus causing the baby to be dislodged and sucked into the tube – either whole or in pieces. Suction curettage is a variation of vacuum aspiration in which the suction machine is used to get the baby out, with any remaining parts being scraped out of the uterus with a surgical instrument called a curette. Following that, another pass is made through the mom’s uterus with the suction machine to help insure that none of the baby’s body parts have been left behind.
Another form of first trimester abortion is the D&C (dilation and curettage). During this procedure, the mother’s cervix is dilated and a curette is scraped along the sides of the uterus to dislodge the baby. Suction is not used for this type of abortion, but since the mother is usually asleep the abortionist can dilate the cervix large enough that many passes with the curette are possible.
Some first trimester abortions are not accomplished using surgery, but chemicals. This procedure begins when the mom is given either mifepristone (Mifeprex; RU486) or methotrexate. Mifepristone causes the baby to become detached from its mother’s uterus while methotrexate is actually toxic to the baby and, therefore, kills it directly. Once the child is either detached or dead, the mom is given a labor-inducing drug which causes the uterus to cramp and expel her dead baby. This type of abortion only works up to about the 9th week of pregnancy.