The term "abortion" actually refers to any premature expulsion of a human foetus, whether naturally spontaneous, as in a miscarriage, or artificially induced, as in a surgical or chemical abortion. Today, the most common usage of the term "abortion" applies to artificially induced abortion.
How Are Abortions Performed?
Medical Abortions - RU-486
RU-486 is a medical abortion that is used very early in pregnancy, no later than nine weeks after the woman's last period. The doctor will give an oral dose or inject the woman with Mifepristone. This drug stops the natural functions of the body by softening and breaking down the uterus.
Two days after taking the drug the woman returns for a checkup. If the baby hasn't been expelled then the woman is given another drug (Cytotec or Misoprostol) to make the cervix dilate and the uterus contract to push the baby from the woman's body.
This procedure can cause cramping, bleeding, nausea and diarrhoea. In some cases, this method results in a failed abortion and the woman is forced to have a surgical abortion.
A video with information on the risks of the abortion pill is available at http://youtu.be/WtLe2PR5j54.
The woman must lie back with her feet in stirrups. The doctor applies anaesthetic to the cervix to reduce pain. The cervical muscle is stretched with cone shaped rods until the opening is wide enough to allow the abortion tools to pass into the uterus. The doctor then guides the suction device into the uterus. The suction machine is turned on and the strong force of the vacuum is used to pull the placenta and the foetus into parts small enough to pass out of the woman's body and through the suction tube.
Dilation and Curettage (D & C)
The doctor opens the cervix, as in a suction procedure, but in this case the abortion is done with a loop shaped knife which is used to scrape the wall of the uterus, cutting the foetus and placental into smaller parts – which are pulled out of the woman's body through the cervix. There is a higher risk of the woman's uterus being perforated with this procedure. A general anaesthesia is usually required.
After 14 weeks gestation - Dilation and Evacuation (D & E)
Because the bones of the foetus are larger and stronger by this time, the doctor uses a medical instrument resembling pliers to pull the foetus into smaller parts and removes these parts from the woman's body through the cervix. This procedure requires the cervix to be opened wider than with a suction or a D&C procedure, and there is a greater risk to the reproductive organs.
After 22 weeks gestation - Dilation and Extraction (D & X or Partial Birth Abortion)
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 a 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 foetal skull, inserts a suction catheter and empties the contents of the baby's skull. Once this is done the remainder of the baby is delivered.
Damage to the woman's body may occur due to extensive stretching of the cervix during the procedure.
Possible Physical Side Effects of Abortion
Hemorrhage, Infection, Perforation of uterus, effects on later pregnancy, Ectopic pregnancy, breast cancer, death.
Post Abortion Stress
Some women report feeling an immediate feeling of relief following an abortion, but many find themselves later coping with feelings they did not expect and were never warned about. They may have a hard time talking about, acknowledging or even relating these feelings to the abortion.
Some of the symptoms of post abortion stress are:
Sadness, long-term grief, anger, sexual dysfunction, guilt, flashbacks, memory repression, anniversary reactions, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, increased alcohol and drug use, and difficulty maintaining close relationships.
Post abortion stress can be treated so if you know of someone who is going through this then please offer them help right away. There are many places that offer post abortion counselling and support.