Thursday, January 6, 2011

What is second-trimester abortion?

"The doctor, often guided by ultrasound, inserts grasping forceps through the woman's cervix and into the uterus to grab the fetus. The doctor grips a fetal part with the forceps and pulls it back through the cervix and vagina, continuing to pull even after meeting resistance from the cervix. The friction causes the fetus to tear apart. For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix and out of the woman. The process of evacuating the fetus piece by piece continues until it has been completely removed. A doctor may make 10 to 15 passes with the forceps to evacuate the fetus in its entirety, though sometimes removal is completed with fewer passes. Once the fetus has been evacuated, the placenta and any remaining fetal material are suctioned or scraped out of the uterus. The doctor examines the different parts to ensure the entire fetal body has been removed."

-- The U.S. Supreme Court in its 2007 Gonzales v. Carhart decision, describing the (entirely legal) dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure, the most common abortion method used after the first trimester of pregnancy. A total of 753 D&E abortions were performed in Minnesota in 2009, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.