Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What is abortion?

People talk about abortion all the time, but for many the word has lost its meaning. What does an abortion entail?

Abortion is the "induced termination of pregnancy, involving destruction of the embryo or fetus," according to the 2002 American Heritage Science Dictionary.

Suction curettage or suction aspiration is the procedure used in most first-trimester abortions. It is typically used to abort unborn children between 7 and 14 weeks gestation. The abortionist inserts a powerful suction tube with a sharp cutting edge into the mother’s womb through the dilated cervix. The suction and cutting edge dismember the tiny human while the vacuum sucks the body parts into a collection jar.

The state of Michigan’s Department of Community Health describes the procedure as follows:
After dilation, a plastic tube about the diameter of a pencil is then inserted into the uterus through the enlarged cervix. The tube is attached to a pump which then suctions out the fetus, the placenta and other uterine contents. After the suctioning, the physician may find it necessary to use a curette (a sharp, spoon-like instrument) to gently scrape the walls of the uterus to make sure all the fragments of the fetus and placenta have been removed from the uterus.
Dr. Warren Hern, an abortion provider and physician, explains that during the suction process "the physician will usually first notice a quantity of amniotic fluid, followed by placenta and fetal parts, which are more or less identifiable." The collection jar is examined to make sure that all fetal parts are accounted for.

Dilation and evacuation (D & E) is the primary second-trimester abortion method, typically used to abort children at 14 weeks gestation and older. Forceps are used to grasp parts of the child (such as arms and legs) and extract them from the womb, tearing the child into pieces. It may be necessary to crush the baby’s head in order to pull it through the vaginal canal. The placenta and any remaining uterine contents are then suctioned out through a tube.

Dr. Hern notes that "the procedure changes significantly at 21 weeks because the fetal tissues become much more cohesive and difficult to dismember. ... A long curved Mayo scissors may be necessary to decapitate and dismember the fetus."

Afterward, the dismembered fetal body parts are reassembled on a tray in order to determine if any parts are left in the uterus. Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortionist, describes performing the D & E procedure as follows:
Imagine for a moment that you are a "pro-choice" obstetrician-gynecologist as I once was. Your patient today is seventeen years old and she is twenty weeks pregnant. At twenty weeks, her uterus is up to her umbilicus and she has been feeling her baby kick for the last two weeks. If you could see her baby, she would be as long as your hand from the top of her head to the bottom of her rump not counting the legs. Your patient is now asleep on an operating room table with her legs in stirrups. Upon entering the room after scrubbing, you dry your hands with a sterile towel and are gowned and gloved by the scrub nurse.

The first task is remove the laminaria that had earlier been placed in the cervix to dilate it sufficiently to allow the procedure you are about to perform. With that accomplished, direct your attention to the surgical instruments arranged on a small table to your right. The first instrument you reach for is a 14-French suction catheter. It is clear plastic and about nine inches long. It has a bore through the center approximately 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Picture yourself introducing the catheter through the cervix and instructing the circulating nurse to turn on the suction machine which is connected through clear plastic tubing to the catheter. What you will see is a pale yellow fluid the looks a lot like urine coming through the catheter into a glass bottle on the suction machine. This amniotic fluid surrounded the baby to protect her.

With suction complete, look for your Sopher clamp. This instrument is about thirteen inches long and made of stainless steel. At one end are located jaws about two-and-a-half inches long and about three-quarters of an inch wide with rows of sharp ridges or teeth. This instrument is for grasping and crushing tissue. When it gets hold of something, it does not let go.

A second trimester D & E abortion is a blind procedure. The baby can be in any orientation or position inside the uterus. Picture yourself reaching in with the Sopher clamp and grasping anything you can. At 20 weeks gestation, the uterus is thin and soft so be careful not to perforate or puncture the walls. Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard—really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about 4 to 5 inches long. Reach in again and grasp whatever you can. Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length. Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.

The toughest part of a D & E abortion is extracting the baby’s head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. You can be pretty sure you have hold of it if the Sopher clamp is spread about as far as your fingers will allow. You will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see a pure white gelatinous material issue from the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. If you have a really bad day like I often did, a little face may come out and stare back at you.
Read about more abortion methods.