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Dr. Patti Giebink has been a board-certified OB/GYN for over 25 years.

In this video, Dr. Giebink describes the process of a 3rd-trimester abortion – induction procedure. She outlines what is involved for both the woman and the unborn fetus to ensure it is no longer living by the time the abortion is completed.

FAQs on 3rd Trimester Abortions

Q. When is a 3rd-trimester abortion induction procedure performed?
Abortions performed from 22 weeks to term would be considered a third-trimester abortion.

Q. How long does an induction abortion take?
Typically, an induction abortion takes 2-3 days to complete. The abortion procedure starts with the woman taking mifepristone pills, then the fetus (or sac surrounding the fetus) is injected with digoxin, followed by the woman being given misoprostol to induce labor.

Q. Where is an induction abortion performed?
Due to the procedure’s length and the associated risks, a doctor will perform an induction abortion in a hospital or surgery center.

Q. What does mifepristone do?
Mifepristone blocks the pregnancy hormone progesterone, which causes the lining of the uterus to degenerate and cuts off vital nutrients and oxygen to the fetus.

Q. Are there any shots given during an induction procedure?
Yes. Digoxin is administered using a long needle that is inserted into the fetal sac or fetus via the woman’s stomach.

Q. Why is the fetus given digoxin during an induction abortion?
Digoxin is commonly used to treat heart problems, but in an induction procedure, an overdose of digoxin is given to cause fetal cardiac arrest. The fetus typically dies within 24 hours of digoxin being given. If not, the injection is performed again.

Q. Do you still go through natural birth during an induction abortion?
Yes. Once the fetus is confirmed to no longer have a heart rate, the woman will be given misoprostol to induce labor. This will be repeated every 3 hours up to 5 times. If that is not successful, pitocin will be given to trigger labor. Delivery of the fetus and placenta typically happens within 24 hours.

Q. Are they any risks or adverse effects associated with an induction abortion?
All abortions carry risk. With an induction procedure, some of the risks and adverse effects include an incomplete abortion, where pieces of the fetus and placenta are left behind. If this happens, the doctor will have to remove it surgically. Other complications can include cervical laceration, infection, hemorrhage, uterine rupture, maternal death, and future pregnancy complications.

Q. Can a fetus survive at 22 weeks if a regular induction is medically necessary to save the mother’s life?
Yes. Thanks to advancements in medical care, fetuses as young as 20 weeks gestation have survived a traditional induction or cesarean birth with proper neonatal care.