No later than 7 weeks after last mentrual period - In this early abortion procedure, local anesthesia is typically given and a long, thin tube is inserted into the uterus. A syringe connected to the end of the tube suctions out the embryo. Vacuum Aspiration may be performed manually or with a machine.
Dilation and Curettage (D and C) - Most Common
Within 6-14 weeks after last menstrual period - The doctor opens the cervix with a dilator or laminaria, inserts tubing into the uterus and connects the tubing to a suction machine. The suction pulls the fetus's body apart and out of the uterus. The doctor then uses a curette, a loop-shaped knife, to scrape the fetal parts out of the uterus.
Dilation and Evacuation (D and E)
Within 13-24 weeks after last menstrual period - Because the fetus doubles in size between the eleventh and twelfth weeks of pregnancy, its body is too large to be broken up by suction and will not pass through the suction tubing. Therefore, the cervix must be opened wider. This is done by inserting laminaria a day or two before the abortion. The doctor then pulls out the fetal parts with forceps. The fetus' skull is crushed to ease removal.
Late Term Abortion
From about 20 weeks after last menstrual period to full term - These procedures typically take place over three days, use local anesthesia, and are associated with increased risk to life and health of the mother. On the first day, under ultrasound guidance, the fetal heart is injected with a medication that stops the heart and causes the fetus to die. On the third day, the amniotic sac is burst and drained. The remainder of the procedure is similar to the D and E procedure described earlier.
Dilation and Extraction (D and X), Partial-Birth Abortion
From about 20 weeks after last menstrual period to full term - During the first two days of this three day procedure, the cervix is stretched using laminaria and medicine is given for pain. On the third day, a doctor will use an ultrasound to locate the fetus's legs and turn it to a breech position. Using forceps, the doctor will then pull the fetus out up to its head. Here, the physician will then cut into the fetus' skull and suction out its brain. This causes the skull to crush and the fetus is extracted completely.