Dilation and evaculation abortions occur 13-20 weeks into pregnancy, counted from the first day of a woman's last period. At this point in the pregnancy, the mother had missed several periods and can probably feel the baby moving. The child's heart is beating and this can be seen on a doctor's ultrasound device. Eyebrows, eyelashes and fine hair appear. The child can grasp with his hands, kick, or even somersault.
Dilation and Evacuation (D & E)
What is a dilation and evacuation abortion?
Dilation and evacuation is the most common technique used for second trimester abortion. Typically done 13-16 weeks into pregnancy, doctors who specialize in abortion may use this technique into the 20th week of pregnancy.
How does dilation and evacuation abortion work?
An anesthetic injection is administered to numb the cervix which makes the procedure less painful for the woman, but no anesthetic is administered to the unborn child. Dilating tools are used to stretch open the cervix wide enough to perform the abortion. The doctor uses forceps and other special tools to tear the fetus out of the uterus in pieces. A large vacuum tube is pushed into the uterus and to suction out any remaining pieces. The doctor will then examine the pieces to be sure that the abortion is complete.
Side-effects and health risks of dilation and evacuation abortion:
All abortions involve a degree of post-operative bleeding, which is to be expected. Incomplete abortion may occur if fetal tissue is left inside the uterus. Infection is a fairly common problem after an abortion. Although it is easily treated with antibiotics, the infection can result in impaired fertility. Cervical tearing can occur as a result of the dilating process, which may require stitches. A less common but more serious complication is perforation of the uterine wall; this could require surgical repair in a hospital, depending on the severity. In rare cases, abortion patients may experience a major complication, such as a life-threatening pelvic infection, hemorrhage requiring a blood transfusion, uterine rupture, or unintended major surgery. Long-term health risks may include increased risk of miscarriage for future pregnancies.
Because late abortion is physically painful and often emotionally distressing, many women elect to have general anesthesia for the procedure. Potential anesthetic complications include severe hemorrhage, convulsion, cardiac arrest, and death.
- Abortion as Birth Control: Contraceptive Information Resource (Contracept.org)
- About Abortion: Epigee Women's Health (Epigee.org)
- Abortion Methods: Epigee Women's Health (Epigee.org)