Abortion by Trimester

Before 14 weeks

Medical Abortions

-RU-486, or the Abortion Pill

RU-486 is a medical abortion that is used very early in pregnancy, no later than nine weeks after your last period. Your doctor would either give you an oral dose or inject you with Mifepristone. This drug stops the natural function of your body. The lining of your uterus softens and breaks down. Two days later you would return to the clinic for a checkup. If the baby hasn’t been expelled, you would be given another drug (Cytotec or Misoprostol) to make your cervix dilate, and your uterus contract to push the baby from your body, similar to labor. This procedure can cause cramping, bleeding, nausea and diarrhea. In some cases, the procedure results in a failed abortion. If so, the doctor will want to surgically extract the fetus.


This drug was invented to fight cancer. It attacks cells that are growing rapidly and prevents them from multiplying which kills the embryo. Methotrexate is usually given as an injection. About a week later you insert vaginal suppositories of Misoprostol that causes contractions. This method is used up to seven weeks from the date of your last period. This drug has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for abortions. The procedure can cause excessive bleeding and cramping. If abortion is not complete, you will be scheduled for a surgical abortion.

Surgical Abortions


For this procedure you lie on your back with your feet in stirrups and the doctor applies a shot of anesthetic to your cervix to reduce pain. Your cervical muscle is stretched with cone-shaped rods until the opening is wide enough to allow the abortion tools to pass into your uterus. Then the doctor guides the suction device through the cervix and into your uterus. When the suction machine is turned on you feel the strong force of the vacuum which is used to pull the placenta and fetus into parts small enough to pass out of your body through the suction tube.


The doctor opens your cervix, as described above, but in this case the abortion is done with a loop-shaped knife which is used to scrape the wall of your uterus, cutting the fetus and placenta into smaller parts and pulling them out of your body through the cervix. There is a higher risk of perforating your uterus with this procedure. A general anesthesia is usually required.



Because the bones of the fetus are larger and stronger by this time, the doctor uses a medical instrument resembling pliers to pull the fetus into smaller parts and removes those parts from your body through the cervix. This procedure requires that your cervix is opened wider than with “Suction” or “D and C” methods, and there is greater risk of harm to your reproductive organs.



Laminaria (a type of seaweed that expands when moist) is used to dilate the cervix over a two-day period. On the third day, the membranes are ruptured. An ultrasound is used to locate the lower extremities. The doctor then uses large forceps to grasp a leg, and pull it down into the vagina. After the body is delivered, the skull is lodged at the cervical opening. The doctor makes an incision in the base of the fetal skull, inserts a suction catheter and empties the contents of the baby’s skull. Damage may occur due to extensive stretching of the cervix during the procedure.

“Making an Informed Decision About Pregnancy,” Frontlines Publishing 2005