There are many methods of abortion. The procedure used depends largely upon the stage of pregnancy and the size of the unborn child. Dr. J.C. Willke, in his book, Abortion: Questions and Answers (Hayes Publishing Co. Inc, Cincinnati, 1985), has divided the methods of abortion into three main categories: those that invade the uterus and kill the child by instruments which enter the uterus through the cervix; those that kill the preborn child by administration of drugs and then induce labour and the delivery of a dead baby; and, those that invade the uterus by abdominal surgery.
Dilation of the uterus is required in cervical methods of abortion. The usual method of dilation is to insert a series of instruments of increasing size into the cervix. A set of dilators, metallic curved instruments, are used to open the cervix sufficiently to accommodate the instruments of abortion. In contrast with a normal birth, where the dilation occurs slowly over a period of many hours, the forceful stretching by the abortionist to open the cervix takes a matter of seconds. This premature and unnatural stretching of the cervix can result in permanent physical injury to the mother.
Laminaria (dehydrated material, usually seaweed) is sometimes used to reduce damage to the cervix. Inserted into the cervix the day before the scheduled abortion, it absorbs water and swells, gradually pushing open the cervix in the process.
At Eight Weeks
At eight to nine weeks the eyelids have begun forming and hair appears. By the ninth and tenth weeks the preborn child sucks her thumb, turns somersaults, jumps, can squint to close out light, frown, swallow, and move her tongue.
At this early stage of development, suction abortions are performed using a smaller tube, requiring little dilation of the cervix. This is called “menstrual extraction.” However, if all the fetal remains are not removed, infection results, requiring full dilation of the cervix and a scraping out of the womb.
This is the most common method of abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. General or local anaesthesia is given to the mother and her cervix is quickly dilated. A suction curette (hollow tube with a knife-edged tip) is inserted into the womb. This instrument is then connected to a vacuum machine by a transparent tube. The vacuum suction, 29 times more powerful than a household vacuum cleaner, tears the fetus and placenta into small pieces which are sucked through the tube into a bottle and discarded.
Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
This method is similar to the suction method with the added insertion of a hook shaped knife (curette) which cuts the baby into pieces. The pieces are scraped out through the cervix and discarded [Note: This abortion method should not be confused with a therapeutic D&C done for reasons other than pregancy.]
At Twelve Weeks
By the end of the third month all arteries are present, including the coronary vessels of the heart. Blood is circulating through these vessels to all body parts.
The heart beat ranges during this fetal period from 110 to 160 beats per minute. All blood cells are produced by the liver and spleen, a job soon taken over by the bone marrow. White blood cells, important for immunity, are formed in the lymph nodes and thymus.
Vocal chords are complete, and the child can and does sometimes cry (silently). The brain is fully formed, and the child can feel pain. The fetus may even suck his thumb. The eyelids now cover the eyes, and will remain shut until the seventh month to protect the delicate optical nerve fibers.
14 weeks: Muscles lenghten and become organized. The mother will soon start feeling the first flutters of the baby kicking and moving inside.
15 weeks: The fetus has an adult’s taste buds and may be able to savor the mother’s meals.
16 weeks: Five and a half inches tall and only six ounces in weight, eyebrows, eyelashes and fine hair appear. The child can grasp with his hands, kick, or even somersault.
At Eighteen Weeks
The fetus is now about 5 inches long. The child blinks, grasps, and moves her mouth. Hair grows on the head and body.
20 weeks: The child can hear and recognize mother’s voice. Though still small and fragile, the baby is growing rapidly and could possibly survive if born at this stage. Fingernails and fingerprints appear. Sex organs are visible. Using an ultrasound device, the doctor can tell if the child is a girl or a boy. The one on the left is a baby girl.
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E)
This method is used up to 18 weeks’ gestation. Instead of the loop-shaped knife used in D&C abortions, a pair of forceps is inserted into the womb to grasp part of the fetus. The teeth of the forceps twist and tear the bones of the unborn child. This process is repeated until the fetus is totally dismembered and removed. Usually the spine must be snapped and the skull crushed in order to remove them.
Salt Poisoning (Saline Injection):
Used after 16 weeks (four months) when enough fluid has accumulated. A long needle injects a strong salt solution through the mother’s abdomen into the baby’s sac. The baby swallows this fluid and is poisoned by it. It also acts as a corrosive, burning off the outer layer of skin. It normally takes somewhat over an hour for the baby to die from this. Within 24 hours, labor will usually set in and the mother will give birth to a dead or dying baby. (There have been many cases of these babies being born alive. They are usually left unattended to die. However, a few have survived and later been adopted.)
At Six Months
Seen here at six months, the unborn child is covered with a fine, downy hair called lanugo. Its tender skin is protected by a waxy substance called vernix. Some of this substance may still be on the child’s skin at birth at which time it will be quickly absorbed. The child practices breathing by inhaling amnionic fluid into developing lungs.
Prostaglandin Chemical Abortion
This form of abortion uses chemicals developed by the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Co. which cause the uterus to contract intensely, pushing out the developing baby. The contractions are more violent than normal, natural contractions, so the unborn baby is frequently killed by them — some have even been decapitated. Many, however, have also been born alive.
Hysterotomy or Caesarean Section
Used mainly in the last three months of pregnancy, the womb is entered by surgery through the wall of the abdomen. The technique is similar to a Caesarean delivery, except that the umbilical cord is usually cut while the baby is still in the womb, thus cutting off his oxygen supply and causing him to suffocate. Sometimes the baby is removed alive and simply left in a corner to die of neglect or exposure.
At 30 Weeks
For several months, the umbilical cord has been the baby’s lifeline to the mother. Nourishment is transferred from the mother’s blood, through the placenta, and into the umbilical cord to the fetus. If the mother ingests any toxic substances, such as drugs or alcohol, the baby receives these as well.
32 weeks: The fetus sleeps 90-95% of the day, and sometimes experiences REM sleep, an indication of dreaming.
Five steps to a partial birth abortion:
- Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist grabs the baby’s legs with forceps.
- The baby’s leg is pulled out into the birth canal.
- The abortionist delivers the baby’s entire body, except for the head.
- The abortionist jams scissors into the baby’s skull. The scissors are then opened to enlarge the skull.
- The scissors are removed and a suction catheter is inserted. The child’s brains are sucked out, causing the skull to collapse. The dead baby is then removed.
At 40 Weeks
The baby, now approximately seven and a half pounds, is ready for life outside its mother’s womb. At birth the placenta will detach from the side of the uterus and the umbilical cord will cease working as the child takes his first breaths of air. The child’s breathing will trigger changes in the structure of the heart and bypass arteries which will force all blood to now travel through the lungs.