Empowering Women for Life
FIRST TRIMESTER ABORTIONS
A first trimester abortion is an abortion done up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. There are two types of abortions that can be performed during the first trimester, a surgical abortion and a chemical abortion.
SURGICAL ABORTIONS - Surgical abortions starting from the very earliest the pregnancy can be seen by ultrasound. A surgical abortion can be done safely only if the pregnancy can be definitely seen inside the uterus on careful ultrasound exam. The lower limit of visualization of a pregnancy by ultrasound is 5 weeks by menstrual age (approximately 3 weeks after conception). The surgical abortion method used for first trimester abortions is known as suction dilatation and curettage (D&C). During the procedure, the cervical canal is very gently dilated with sterile dilators, and the uterine contents are gently suctioned out with sterile, one-use-only, disposable plastic uterine curettes.
CHEMICAL ABORTIONS- Chemical abortions may be done in pregnancies less than 6 weeks by menstrual age. In this method, medications are used to cause the pregnancy to stop growing and be expelled in a manner similar to a miscarriage. The benefits, side effects, and alternatives are extensively discussed with each patient who chooses a non-surgical abortion. While this method may be appealing to some, it is not the ideal choice for every woman.
SECOND TRIMESTER ABORTIONS
A second trimester abortion is done between 12-26 weeks of pregnancy. The procedure sometimes can involve two or three consecutive office visits all depends on ultrasound information and patient medical history, although some patients are able to have the procedure in one visit.
During the first step, sterile, disposable laminaria sticks are gently and expertly inserted into the cervix to dilate or open it. Once the laminaria sticks are in place inside the patient’s cervix, a period of time elapses to allow the laminaria sticks to gradually dilate the cervix. The patient usually returns the following morning for the second step of the second trimester abortion.
During the second step of the procedure, the gynecologist, with special expertise in second trimester abortions, uses a method called dilatation and evacuation (D&E). D&E is the safest method for second trimester abortions. In order to increase the safety for women having a late term abortion, ultrasound guidance is used but there are always risks involved since this procedure is more invasive.
THIRD TRIMESTER ABORTIONS
Often referred to as late term abortions, are legal in a number of states including Maryland and Washington D.C.. The time frame referred to as late term is often based on when a baby is considered “viable” ( meaning able to survive outside the womb). However, the point of “viability” is a grey area in many medical communities. Most medical communities establish 24 weeks gestation, the later part of the second trimester, as the earliest time of viability. Therefore, the availability of any procedure used in the third trimester is based on the laws of that state.
The procedures that can be done in the third trimester include:
Induction Abortion: a rarely done surgical procedure where salt water, urea, or potassium chloride is injected into the amniotic sac; prostaglandins are inserted into the vagina and pitocin is injected intravenously.
Dilation and Extraction: a surgical abortion procedure used to terminate a pregnancy after 21 weeks of gestation. This procedure is also known as D & X, Intact D & X, Intrauterine Cranial Decompression and Partial Birth Abortion. In the latter, there are two possible procedures: 1) severing the brain from the spinal cord using a sharp instrument once the baby's head is delivered; and 2) injecting digitalis into the baby's heart using a long amniocentesis needle which causes a heart attack (monitored by using an ultrasound so that it can be determined that there is no heartbeat in the baby).
ALL ABORTIONS CARRY WITH THEM PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SIDE EFFECTS, SOME OF WHICH REQUIRE EITHER MEDICAL ATTENTION AND/OR PSYCHOLOGICAL COUNSELING. THE FORESTVILLE PREGNANCY CENTER WILL NOT GIVE REFERRALS FOR AN ABORTION BUT INSTEAD WILL PROVIDE ABORTION COUNSELING AND ABORTION ALTERNATIVE REFERRALS, SUCH AS, ADOPTION.