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Suction Curettage Abortion

A common first trimester abortion procedure is the suction and curettage method. The abortionist begins by dilating the mom's cervix until it is large enough to allow a cannula to be inserted into her uterus. The cannula is a hollow plastic tube that is connected to a vacuum-type pump by a flexible hose. 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. Amniotic fluid and the placenta are likewise suctioned through the tube and, together with the other body parts, end up in a collection jar. Any remaining parts are scraped out of the uterus with a surgical instrument called a curette. Following that, another pass is made through the mom's uterus with the suction machine to help insure that none of the baby's body parts have been left behind. The contents of the collection jar are examined to assure that all fetal parts and an adequate amount of tissue commensurate with gestational age are present.

Click here for a medical diagram of a Suction and Curettage procedure performed on a 9-week baby.  Medical Illustration Copyright © 2013 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.  Individuals and groups have to contact Nucleus Medical Media (www.nucleusinc.com) to enter a contract for permission to print a designated number of copies or to post it on a website.

Click here to see the medical diagram in Spanish [Click here for the explanation in Spanish]

Click here for the D&E procedure

Following is testimony from three abortionists regarding this procedure. This testimony was given in United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on May 27, 1999, Case No. 98-C-0305-S.

Abortionist Dennis Dean-Christensen

Q. Are you aware that we stipulated that during a suction curettage procedure sometimes no fetal parts come out through the cannula during suction and that the doctor then goes in with forceps to remove parts?

A. Yes, I'm aware of that.

Q. At that point when the suction has been used but no fetal parts have come out and the doctor goes in with forceps is the fetus alive?

A. Based on our definition, yes.

Q. And when will the fetus die in that scenario?

A. Well, sometime between that point and when we complete the procedure.

Abortionist Harlan Raymond Giles

THE WITNESS. The fetus in the suction D&C is much smaller, generally less than 12 weeks of gestation, and the fetus either in whole or in part passes through the plastic cannula … and then goes into a suction machine where there's a gauze bag that then traps the fetal structure and the placental structure as well.

Q. What kills the child in the suction curettage abortion?

A. The complete separation of the fetus and the placental tissue from the maternal uterine surface. It totally disrupts the vascular connection and that results in death.

Q. Okay. Can the heart of a fetus or embryo still be beating during a suction curettage abortion as the fetus or embryo comes down the cannula?

A. For a few seconds to a minute, yes.

Click to listen to the heartbeat of an unborn child at 9.5 weeks; 11.5 weeks; 15 weeks; 26 weeks; 32 weeks (All ages noted here are LMP; therefore the baby's age from fertilization is actually two weeks younger than the number. These heart tones were recorded through a Doppler speaker by a pro-life doctor, Dr. David M. Ramsey, III.)

Abortionist Martin Haskell

THE WITNESS: I've performed approximately or greater than 40,000 suction curettage abortions. Roughly, you know, 10,000 D&E abortions. After the 20th week I've performed approximately 5,000 abortions, about 3,000 of them being D&E and about 2,000 of them being the intact variety of D&E.

Q. When you perform an abortion by the suction curettage method does it ever happen that a portion of the fetus is extracted from the uterus while the fetus is still alive?

A. Yes.

Q. And how does that happen?

A. Well, when we do a suction curettage abortion, you know, roughly one of three things is going to happen during the abortion. One would be is that the catheter as it approaches the fetus, you know, tears it and kills it at that instant inside the uterus. The second would be that the fetus is small enough and the catheter is large enough that the fetus passes through the catheter and either dies in transit as it's passing through the catheter or dies in the suction bottle after it's actually all the way out.

Now on any given procedure does a surgeon know precisely which of those three possibilities is going to occur, the answer is no. But is it my intent that one of these three possibilities will happen with each given patient, then the answer is yes.

Q. And when you perform an abortion previability are you concerned with the point in the process when the fetus dies?

A: Generally no, because it doesn't add anything medically to the safety or care of the woman that's being taken care of.

 

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