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Dr. Kathi Aultman has been a board-certified OB/GYN for over 30 years and completed over 500 abortions.

In this video, Dr. Aultman describes the process of a 2nd-trimester surgical abortion called dilation and evacuation (D&E). She outlines step-by-step what is involved for both the woman and the unborn fetus to ensure the abortion is completed.

FAQs on 2nd Trimester D&E Abortions

Q. When is a 2nd-trimester D&E abortion performed?
D&E abortions are typically performed between 14 to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Q. What prep is involved for a D&E abortion?
Before a D&E abortion can be performed, the cervix must be dilated slowly over one to two days using laminaria or a similar product. This is inserted into the woman’s cervix to help with the dilation process.

Q. What is laminaria?
Laminaria is a type of seaweed that absorbs water and swells to several times it original diameter.

Q. What is involved in the evacuation process of the procedure?
A woman will lie on a table with her legs in stirrups. She may be given local anesthesia. The abortionist uses a speculum to open the vagina, stabilizes the cervix with a long metal instrument, then inserts dilators or long metal tubes that increase in diameter to further open the cervix if needed. A long plastic tube suctions the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus. However, because the fetus is too large to suction out, the abortionist will then take a long metal clamp that has sharp teeth and insert it into the cervix to grasp the fetus. Once the abortionist grasps an arm or leg, he or she pulls forcefully and removes the fetus piece by piece from the womb. At this stage of pregnancy, the abortionist will often have to crush the skull before it can be removed from the uterus. Any remaining parts of the fetus are scraped from the uterus using a curette.

Q. Are they any risks or adverse effects associated with an induction abortion?
All abortions carry risk. With a D&E procedure, some of the risks and adverse effects include uterine perforation, cervical laceration, infection, hemorrhage, maternal death, and future pregnancy complications.

Q. Can a fetus survive if delivered in the 2nd trimester in order to save the mother’s life?
Yes. Thanks to advancements in medical care, babies as young as 20 weeks gestation have survived with proper neonatal care.