The Methods & Complications of Abortion

  • The Instruments
  • Abortion Methods
  • Risks & Complications

The Instruments

There are a variety of tools used in the abortion procedure. Although each has its own purpose, many of them are used to create a large enough pathway so that other tools have room to remove the baby. The tools that create a pathway will not be described here, only the ones that do the actual killing or removing of the child will be described.

The Cannula

A hollow, plastic tube that is connected to a suction machine by a flexible hose – similar to a vacuum cleaner. In early-term abortions it is used to kill, tear apart, and suck the baby out of the mother’s uterus. In later-term abortions, where other techniques are used to kill the baby, it is simply used as a vacuum and to make sure that no parts of the baby are left behind.

The Curette

A metal rod that has a handle on one end and a sharp loop on the other. This instrument is used to scrape along the wall of the mother’s uterus and to dislodge the baby.

A Syringe With A Spinal Needle

A large syringe with a long needle attached to it, this instrument is used in two different ways. In some procedures it is used to drain off amniotic fluid from the mother’s uterus and replaces the fluid with either a saline or urea solution. The more common use, however, is for injecting chemical agents such as digoxin, potassium chloride, etc. into the heart of the baby. Either way, the chemicals serve two purposes: to greatly reduce the chance that the baby might be born alive, and to soften the baby’s corpse to make it easier to rip apart and/or remove.

Birth Control
& Chemical Abortion

Learn about chemical abortions and the relationship
between contraception (birth control) and abortion.

The Methods

Different abortion procedures are utilized depending on how far-along the pregnancy is.

Watch our non-graphic educational video to learn about the two most common surgical abortion procedures

Or look below to read through the procedures used during each trimester.

(The first trimester is up to 13 weeks of pregnancy, the second trimester is from 14 to 26 weeks of pregnancy, while the third and last trimester takes place from the 27th week of the pregnancy until the date of delivery.)

Vacuum Aspiration

One of the most common first trimester abortions, it is performed with a machine that uses a vacuum to suck the baby out of the uterus. The vacuum is created by a hand-held pump (manual vacuum aspiration) or by using electricity (electric vacuum aspiration). The electric machine is more common in the United States, and generally, the manual pump is only used to kill children who are less than 6-weeks old. Except in the very earliest stages of pregnancy, the mom’s cervix will be dilated large enough to allow a cannula to be inserted into her uterus. As a vacuum is created, the abortionist runs the tip of the cannula along the surface of the uterus, causing the baby to be dislodged and sucked into the tube-either whole or in pieces.

Suction Curettage

A variation of vacuum aspiration, the suction machine is used to get the baby out, with any remaining parts being scraped out of the uterus with a curette. Following the scraping, another pass is made through the mom’s uterus with the suction machine to make sure that none of the baby’s body parts have been left behind.

D&C (Dilation and Curettage)

During this procedure, the mother’s cervix is dilated and a curette is scraped along the sides of the uterus to dislodge the baby. For this type of abortion, suction isn’t used, but since the mother is usually asleep, the abortionist can dilate the cervix large enough so that many passes with the curette are possible.

Chemical Methods

Surgical methods aren’t always used in the first trimester, sometimes chemicals are used instead. A chemical procedure begins when the mom is given either mifepristone (Mifeprex; RU486) or methotrexate. Mifepristone causes the baby to become detached from the mother’s uterus, while methotrexate is toxic to the baby – killing it directly. Once the baby is either detached or dead, the mom is given a labor-inducing drug that causes the uterus to cramp and pushes out the dead baby. This method of abortion only works up to about the 9th week of pregnancy.

D&E (Dilation and Extraction)

This is one of the most common second trimester abortions. The baby is now too large to pull from the uterus by simply using the suction machine, so the mother’s cervix must be dilated much more than in first trimester abortions. After dilation is accomplished, the abortionist begins the procedure by rupturing the amniotic sac (which contains the unborn child), and then begins the process of dismembering the baby and pulling it out of the uterus in pieces.

To pull apart the baby, the abortionist uses suction and a pair of forceps. He or she inserts the forceps into the uterus and starts to open and close it, until a part of the baby or placenta is grasped. The piece that is grasped is then torn off and pulled out. This process is repeated until the abortionist has pulled everything out that can be felt with the forceps. Then, the curette is used to scrape any remaining parts off the sides of the uterus. After that, the suction machine is used to vacuum up whatever debris is still left.

Sometimes the baby’s skull is too large to pull out of the uterus, so the abortionist has to crush it first with the forceps. The ‘calvaria sign’, which is when the baby’s brains flow out of the uterus, signals that the skull has been collapsed and the abortionist can now remove it more easily.

Throughout this whole procedure, all of the extracted baby parts are placed on a tray and reassembled- so the abortionist can make sure that the entire baby is accounted for and that there are no parts that are left behind.

Often, a baby will be killed one or two days before the D&E procedure to make it easier for the abortionist to perform it. This extra step, called a ‘ditch’, is done by inserting a long needle through the mother’s abdomen and into the heart of the baby. A chemical agent (usually digoxin) is injected, causing the baby’s death. The advantage of taking this extra step is that the chemical causes the baby’s body to soften, making the dismemberment and removal much easier. Ditching does have one potential downside though; because the chemical used is toxic, it is crucial for the abortionist to know that he or she has inserted the needle into the baby and not the mother. To make sure, the abortionist will sometimes let go of the needle before injecting the chemical to see if the baby jumps around, independent of the mom’s movements. If the baby does move around, the abortionist knows that he or she has hit the baby and can then inject the chemical.

Intact D&E

This procedure is a variation of the D&E, the major difference being that the baby is removed whole, rather than being pulled out in pieces.

Normally, the abortionist will use a chemical to kill the baby first or will position the baby so that the skull can be crushed. Sometimes though, the baby will actually survive the procedure and emerge alive. In the abortion industry, when a baby is born alive, it is referred to as the ‘Dreaded Complication’. Since most Intact D&E abortions are performed on babies who are too young to survive once separated from the mother, the usual response to a live birth is to set the child aside and allow it to die on its own. The abortion industry calls this practice ‘comfort care’. In some cases, abortionists have been seen actively killing the baby by: drowning it, crushing the tracheal tube, or snapping the neck.


The abortionist first sticks a long needle through the mother’s abdomen and into the baby’s amniotic fluid sac. Some amniotic fluid is drained from the sac and replaced with either a saline or urea solution. By doing this, it usually kills the baby, but it might take hours; some women have reported feeling the baby violently moving around. Once the process of killing the baby has been started, the woman is given drugs to induce labor – to deliver the dead child.

There have been cases where babies have survived this process, so some abortionists inject a drug into the baby’s heart prior to delivery to make sure that it is dead. Photos of babies killed by the instillation procedure usually show large chemical burns covering their entire bodies.


The woman is given a drug (usually prostaglandin or oxytocin) that causes her to go into labor. Often the abortionist will kill the baby at the same time, in order to avoid the possibility that the mom will deliver a live baby. In some cases, the labor-inducing drug will actually kill the baby; however, it is well established that live births are a possibility with induction procedures.

Just like Intact D&E abortions, Induction is usually performed on babies who are too young to survive outside the womb.

Hysterectomy & Hysterotomy

Out of the more than one million American babies that are killed by abortion each year, approximately 5,000 babies are killed by these procedures. The reason that these two procedures are relatively rare is because they have a higher incidence of complications and death of the woman, than any other second trimester method.

During a hysterectomy abortion, the mother’s entire uterus (including the baby) is removed, in which the baby usually dies.

The hysterotomy abortion is similar to a cesarean section (C-section); the abortionist does not remove the uterus but cuts it open and removes the baby. If the child was not killed prior to the removal, it will be set aside to die.

Abortions performed during the third trimester are generally accomplished using the same procedures as the second trimester; however, because the babies being killed are larger and more likely to survive, modifications are made.

The cervix must be dilated more and the chemicals that are used to soften the baby (to make it easier to pull it apart and be removed) are administered in larger quantities. Also, they are given earlier so that they have a longer time to soak into the baby’s tissues and bones. To help avoid live births, babies killed during the third trimester are more likely to be given feticidal drugs and are given greater dosages of them.

D&X (Dilation and Extraction – A.K.A. Partial Birth Abortion)

A modified version of an intact D&E, this method is one of the most common third trimester procedures.

The abortionist maneuvers the baby into a breech position (feet first) and then pulls the baby out of the uterus up to its head – leaving the baby’s head just inside the uterus. It is not at all uncommon for the baby to still be alive at this point. The abortionist then pushes a long pair of scissors into the base of the baby’s skull and creates a hole. Then he or she inserts a suction tube into the hole and sucks out the baby’s brain. This modification to the intact D&E procedure insures that the baby is not born alive, and it helps make the head smaller so that it is easier to pull the baby out of the uterus.

Birth Control
& Chemical Abortion

Learn about chemical abortions and the relationship
between contraception (birth control) and abortion.

Risks & Complications

This covers the most common injuries resulting from the suction curettage method and the dilation and evacuation (D&E) method.

Watch Now

What Abortion Industry Insiders Have To Say:

“the public is misled into believing that legal abortion is a trivial incident, even a lunch-hour procedure, which can be used as a mere extension of contraceptive practice… It is perhaps significant that some of the more serious complications occurred with the most senior and experienced operators. This emphasizes that termination of pregnancy is neither as simple nor as safe as some advocates of abortion-on-demand would have the public believe.”
J.A. Stallworthy, A.S. Moolgaoker, & J.J. Walsh
“Legal Abortion: A Critical Assessment Of Its Risks,” The Lancet
“The degree of bleeding experienced under general anesthesia is greater, the risk of perforation is greater, and the risk of death due to aspiration of vomit, among other things, appear to be greater. I believe it is preferable to have a patient who is uncomfortable but able to tell me what she is feeling and if she feels a strange abdominal pain than to have a patient who is quite comfortable because she is dead.”
Abortionist Warren Hern
Abortion Practice. J.B. Lippincott. Pg. 119
“Abortion is a simple procedure except for the uterus’ total intolerance to poor technique… In the medical practice, there are few surgical procedures given so little attention and so underrated in its potential hazard as abortion.”
Abortionist Warren Hern
Abortion Practice. J.B. Lippincott. Pg. 101
“On the issue of anesthesia in general, all medications used in anesthesia have the potential for serious risk, Anesthesia complications are an increasing proportion of total abortion morbidity and mortality.”
National Abortion Federation
2006 Clinical Policy Guidelines

Women Betrayed

The abortion picture painted by pro-choice advocates, is that the U.S. Supreme Court and Justice Harry Blackmun’s Roe vs. Wade & Doe vs. Bolton decisions turned abortionists into professional, talented doctors and made abortions safe and legal.

This couldn’t be further from the truth and American women are being butchered because of it.

Click the buttons below to learn about three different women and their “safe and legal” abortions, or view the “pro-choice death list” to see a list containing only a tiny fraction of the women killed by their abortions.

Christi Stiles

Tonya Reaves

Marla Cardamone

The Pro-Choice Death List

Christi Stiles

Tonya Reaves

Marla Cardamone

The Pro-Choice Death List