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Second Trimester Abortion

There are two abortion procedures commonly used in the second trimester: the D&C, and the D&E.

D&C: Dilation & Curettage

Gestational Age

Typical Cost

Within 12-15 Weeks of LMP1

$850-$1650

Procedure

  • Suction aspiration can be used up to 15 weeks. In the second trimester a D&C procedure is typically also required, which uses a curette: a long, looped shaped knife that scrapes the lining, placenta, and baby away from the uterus.
  • This procedure usually lasts 10 minutes, with a possible stay of 5 hours.

Dilation and curettage is done during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. In the case of a pregnancy that's further along a D&E abortion is required. 

Risks and Side Effects

  • Nausea, bleeding and cramping may occur for two weeks following the procedure
  • Infection due to retained remains of the baby and related tissues, an STD, or bacteria, can cause fever, pain, abdominal tenderness, scarring, and in some cases, death.

Some symptoms can indicate an emergency complication stemming from your abortion. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical care:

fever
excessively heavy bleeding (as discussed above)
strong-smelling vaginal discharge
chills
severe abdominal pain

Fetal Development Weeks 13-16

The following describes some of the developmental steps of the baby during the time frame when a woman is eligible for a D&C abortion.

  • Baby flexes, kicks and begins sucking thumb
  • Skin begins to form
  • Facial expressions are possible

D&E: Dilation & Evacuation

Gestational Age

Typical Cost

15 Weeks+ after LMP1

$1650-$2100

Procedure

  • In most cases, 24 hours prior to the actual procedure, the abortion provider will insert laminaria or a synthetic dilator inside the cervix.
  • Cone-shaped rods of increasing size are used to continue the dilation process.
  • The cannula is inserted to begin removing tissue away from the lining. Then using a curette, the lining is scraped to remove any residuals.
  • If needed, forceps may be used to remove larger parts.
  • The procedure normally takes about 30 minutes

Risks and Side Effects

The risks and side effects for a D&E are the same as those of a D&C, but more severe. Most D&E procedures are performed in a hospital setting due to the increased risks of severe complications. Although rare, additional risks related to D&E are damage to the uterine lining or cervix, perforation of the uterus, infertility, infection, and blood clots.

Some symptoms can indicate an emergency complication stemming from your abortion. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical care:

fever
excessively heavy bleeding (as discussed above)
strong-smelling vaginal discharge
chills
severe abdominal pain

Fetal Development Weeks 17-21

The following describes some of the developmental steps of the baby during the time frame when a woman is eligible for a D&E abortion.

  • Hearing begins to develop
  • Eyebrows and eyelashes grow in
  • Mother feels baby’s movements more strongly

“Given the anatomical evidence, it is possible that the fetus can feel pain from 20 weeks and is caused distress by interventions from as early as 15 or 16 weeks.” 2

1 LMP – Last Menstrual Period

2 Glover V, Fisk, NM (1999). “Fetal pain: implication for research and practice.” Br J Obstet Gynaecol, 106(9): 881-6.

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