Well hello! I'm Rae. I'm currently going to school for costume design in Washington state. I'm into comics, movies, fashion, feminism, and other random artistic pursuits. Also, I'm pretty into my crazy beautiful girlfriend.
Time for some education! Or, an explanation (courtesy of some of my textbooks) on how abortions are actually performed and why fetuses cannot feel pain!
Hello tumblr-world! Today, I’m going to educate you on something that is overlooked in the Hilter-ing and hyperbole of today’s abortion debates- how an abortion is actually performed. I will be pulling information from three sources- Basic Gynecology and Obstetrics, published by Lange’s Medical Books, 1st edition, 2010 Handbook of Obstetric and Gynecologic Emergencies, 4th edition, and Hacker & Moore’s Essentials of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 3rd edition.
First of all, there are two types of abortion- your run of the mill abortion performed before 18 weeks, and your late term abortions. I’ll come back to the latter later. Before 18 weeks, you have two choices- medical or surgical (clinical term being a vacuum aspiration).
For a medical abortion, you will be given a pill. It will be either a Mifepristone–misoprostol combination or a methotrexate–misoprostol combination, though the former is more effective than the later. That pill will trigger the shedding of the endometrium, and thereby a miscarriage, disposing of the fetus naturally.
For a vacuum aspiration, or surgical abortion, the doctor will first numb the cervix. Then it will be dilated, either with surgical instruments or drugs, and a sterile cannula is inserted into the uterus and attached via tubing to the pump. The pump creates a vacuum which empties uterine contents. This method, by the by, is also used to dispose of the remains after an incomplete miscarriage.
Now onto the big bad, the late term abortions, or abortions after 18 weeks. 13 states prohibit abortion after a certain number of weeks’ gestation (usually 24 weeks). There are at least three medical procedures associated with late-term abortions:
- Dilation and evacuation (D&E)
- Early labour induction
- Intact dilation and extraction (IDX or D&X), sometimes referred to as “partial-birth abortion”, which is no longer legal in most US states- but more on that later
Abortions done for fetal abnormality are usually performed with induction of labor; Elective late-term abortions are usually performed with D&E.
A labor induction forces the woman to birth prematurely, and is usually done only if the fetus is already dead or dying. Like a full term induction, the woman is given medication to induce labor (usually dinoprostone, Pitocin or misoprostol) or has her membranes stripped. She will then go into labor and deliver the fetus.
Dilation and evacuation literally refers to the dilation of the cervix and surgical evacuation of the contents of the uterus. It is a method of abortion as well as a therapeutic procedure used after miscarriage to prevent infection by ensuring that the uterus is fully evacuated. The first step is to dilate the cervix. This is often begun about a day before the surgical procedure, and often involves the insertion of multiple laminaria sticks into the cervix. Enlarging the opening of the cervix enables surgical instruments such as a curette or forceps to be inserted into the uterus. Like the vacuum aspiration, or surgical abortion, the contents of the uterus are then vacuumed out. Forceps are then inserted into the uterus through the vagina and used to extract any remaining tissue. A curette is used to scrape the lining of the uterus and remove tissue in the uterus. Lastly, the vacuum is used to ensure no fetal tissue remains in the uterus (such tissue can cause serious infections in the woman). The pieces are also examined to ensure that the entire fetus was removed.
Now, onto the final taboo: Intact D&X, also known as “partial birth abortion”. In the United States, intact dilation and extraction was made illegal in most circumstances by the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003. The procedure has had a low rate of use, representing 0.17% of all American abortions. Under the Intact D&X method, the largest part of the fetus (the head) is reduced in diameter to allow vaginal passage. Once the cervix is sufficiently dilated, the doctor uses an ultrasound and forceps to grasp the fetus’s leg. The fetus is turned to a breech position, if necessary, and the doctor pulls one or both legs out of the cervix, which some refer to as ‘partial birth’ of the fetus. The doctor subsequently extracts the rest of the fetus, leaving only the head still inside the uterus. An incision is made at the base of the skull, a blunt dissector (such as a Kelly clamp) is inserted into the incision and opened to widen the opening, and then a suction catheter is inserted into the opening. The brain is suctioned out, which causes the skull to collapse and allows the fetus to pass more easily through the cervix. The placenta is removed and the uterine wall is vacuum aspirated using a cannula.
Intact D&X were most commonly performed on dead or dying wanted late-term fetuses so that the parents could hold it. The methods used allowed the incision in the head to be covered, and the fetus to be wrapped in such a way that the parents could look at it- unlike the D&E procedure, where it is dismembered. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that intact D&X remains legal as long as there is first an “injection that kills the fetus.”
Onto my final point… fetal pain. This is another big bad. But the pro-life points made in films like “silent scream” are completely false. No fetus before 28 weeks gestation can actually feel pain. The myelin sheath isn’t developed around the nerves in the spinal cord until 28 weeks, far after the most liberal general cutoff date, and not developed around nerves in the cerebral cortex until after birth.
So there you have it! The facts laid bare about how abortions are actually performed!
Reblogging myself… because people need to hear this
(trigger warning for depression, substance abuse, suicide, and for just being really fucking sad)
I was inspired to post this because of the submission about the girl who aborted her child with Tay-Sachs. I wish I could have been so lucky.
My husband Alan and I found out that I was pregnant in late April of 2009. This was a complete accident. Due to the fact that we were both Tay-Sachs carriers, we were going to have a child via IVF. But what was done was done. I scheduled an appointment for a Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) for as early as possible (10 weeks). Words cannot describe how relieved we were when the doctor told us that our child was fine.
My pregnancy was an easy one. No complications, plenty of happiness. My husband, my in-laws, my daughter Sophia (from a previous relationship), and the rest of my friends and family were overjoyed. My parents had passed away years before that, but I know they would have been happy too.
I gave birth to my son Elijah on January 15th, 2010. Everything was perfect until Elijah was six months old. He wasn’t reaching the developmental milestones he should have been. My husband became concerned. His brother died at the age of four from Tay-Sachs. Alan remembered watching the disease progress. He said that this watching Elijah was like “deja vu”. I didn’t think much of it, but I figured it was better to err on the side of caution. I made an appointment with an opthamologist to look at Elijah’s eyes, which is a way of diagnosing Tay-Sachs.
My world came crashing down around me when the opthamologist told me that Elijah had “cherry-red spots” in the back of his eyes. That meant that the doctor was wrong. My son did have Tay-Sachs. Furious, I went back to the first doctor and told him what I had found out. I know he was pro-life, and I’m pretty sure he lied to me so I didn’t have an abortion. It’s also possible that he made a mistake. All I know is that he no longer can practice medicine and I recieved a lot of monetary compensation. However, it’s not worth it.
Alan had a lot of issues in his past. After the death of his brother, he started using drugs. He got into methamphetamines by the time he was 15. He got clean when he was 21. Upon hearing of Elijah’s illness, he began using again at the age of 30. I tried to get him help. I wanted to send him to rehab, but he wouldn’t listen to me. He purposely overdosed about a month after Elijah’s diagnosis. His suicide note read “Watching my baby brother die was too much. I can’t watch my son. I’m sorry.” My husband, the love of my life, is dead.
His in-laws are incredibly distraught. They had to bury both of their children, and now they’re going to have to help me bury their first and last biological grandchild. Their depression caused them to lose their jobs, which lead to them losing their house. They live in my house now, but I hardly see them. They only leave their room to eat.
My seven-year-old daughter is so confused. She knows what’s happening, but she wants to know why. I wish I could tell her, but I don’t even know myself. Every night, she holds Elijah in her arms and weeps. She begs him not to leave and tells him how much she loves him. She showers him with kisses and won’t let him go until I put her to bed. She was too depressed to be in school, so I have teachers coming to our house so she can be homeschooled. She’s in therapy three times per week. I’m doing everything I can for her, but it doesn’t seem like enough.
Elijah needs constant care, so I had to give up my job. At first I had a nurse taking care of him, but as his disease progressed, I kept having to leave work for emergency visits either at home or at the hospital. I have more than enough money to stay afloat, but what good is that when I’m home pretty much 24/7 watching my son slowly die.
This is the only time in my life that I’m glad my parents aren’t around. I don’t want them to see this. It’s too painful.
Elijah has is the worst of all. He’s blind, deaf, and paralyzed. He cannot eat, so he needs to be tube-fed. He has seizures every day and is severely brain damaged. He cannot laugh or smile. My baby boy has no quality of life. If I was made aware of his illness, I would have had an abortion. At only 12 weeks, he wouldn’t have felt a thing. Now pain is all he knows and feels. I expect him to pass away within the next few months.
So, pro-lifers, tell me, what good came out of Elijah being born? A few months of happiness? Guess what, it wasn’t worth it, especially not for Elijah. How can you justify me being forced to put him through this? The love of my life is dead, my in-laws will never see their family carried on, my daughter is being robbed of a happy childhood, my mental health is deteriorating every passing minute, and my son is in agony. All of this could have been prevented by an abortion, but my “doctor” manipulated me so I wouldn’t have one.
Don’t tell me that Elijah’s birth is a blessing or that this experience will make me stronger. Don’t tell me that fetuses can feel pain. Not at 12 weeks they can’t, and every credible medical professional agrees. And please, for the love of God, do NOT tell me how much you “care”. Usually, you only care about the fetus. Not the mother, not the family, just the fetus. But in my case, you don’t care about any of us, especially my son. You just want me to live MY life based on YOUR “moral” standards.
Many people would say “I hope you get pregnant with a terminally ill child!”, but I’m not going to say that. I hope you never fall pregnant with a child like mine, because you’d opt to put them through years of pain and misery, and only pain and misery.
Half-sobbing in class. I am so so sorry for this family and I’m so angry that they had to be put through this just because one asshole decided that his personal beliefs should dictate how others live (or die).
There are 37 states that currently enforce parental notification or consent laws - find out here if yours is one, or call your local Planned Parenthood. To avoid having to notify or obtain consent from parents or guardians, you must get a judicial bypass, meaning a judge will decide if you can get an abortion. Here are a few resources I’ve found on judicial bypass for minors seeking a safe, legal abortion without parental notification or consent.
Getting a judicial bypass does not cost anything, and you are entitled to a court-appointed lawyer.
- I found a lawyer in Ohio, Christine Baker, who offers free, confidential assistance.
- Texas has a program called Jane’s Due Process that ensures legal representation for pregnant minors.
- Contact your state’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They may have a program that provides legal representation, or give referrals to lawyers.
- Contact the National Abortion Federation’s hotline (1-800-772-9100) for information and referrals in your state.
- Search your local Planned Parenthood’s website (find it here) for information on judicial bypass in your state. They may have a hotline or references for someone who can represent you.
- Be prepared to go out of your county, or even out of your state. Some judges will refuse to handle judicial bypass petitions, or to even hear the proceedings. If you need help getting to a court that will hear your petition, check out or contact the Abortion Assistance Blog or your state’s abortion fund.
I’ll keep updating this post, so any more information is much appreciated.
Abortion was not always illegal before Roe. Into the 19th century, what a woman did with her early pregnancy was considered a purely domestic matter. Until “quickening,” when the fetus was perceived to be alive and kicking, it wasn’t even considered a pregnancy, but a “blocking” or an “imbalance,” and women regularly “restored the menses,” if they so chose, through plants and potions. Abortifacients became commercially available by the mid-1700s.
Quality control was not great, and the earliest abortion legislation, in the 1820s and ’30s, appears to have been an effort to curtail poisoning rather than abortion itself.