Abortion is defined as ‘…the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy; any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months; any premature expulsion of a human fetus, whether naturally spontaneous, as in a miscarriage, or artificially induced, as in a surgical or chemical abortion.’ Today the most common usage of the term applies to ‘artificially induced abortion.’

Since the 1973 Supreme Court decision in to legalize abortion the public has been steeped in the idea of abortion as a ‘human right’ by advocates who argue that ‘choosing to have an abortion is a personal decision that should not be infringed upon,’ and are called ‘Pro-Choice.’ Those who oppose abortion believe that the ‘inalienable right to life’ includes the ‘pre-born person,’ and that they should have the same legal protection as we enjoy. They are called ‘Pro-Life.’ The debate over the ‘right to choose’ versus the ‘right to life’ has raged on for over 40 years.

To fully understand abortion as it relates to the ‘termination of a pregnancy’ let’s review the typical methods used: Suction Aspiration, Dilatation & Curettage, RU 486/Mifeprex, Methotrexate, Dilatation & Evacuation, Instillation Methods, Salt Poisoning & Urea, Prostaglandins, Partial-Birth Abortion and Hysterotomy. Below is a brief description of each technique (you can find more detailed information at www.nrlc.org/abortion/index.html).

Suction aspiration or ‘vacuum curettage’ is used in most first trimester abortions. A powerful suction tube with a sharp cutting edge is inserted into the womb through the dilated cervix. The suction dismembers the body of the baby and tears the placenta from the wall of the uterus. Great care must be taken to prevent the uterus from being punctured to prevent hemorrhaging. Infection can easily develop if any fetal or placental tissue is left behind in the uterus (the most frequent post-abortion complication).

Dilation and Curettage (D&C) is a technique in which the cervix is dilated or stretched to permit the insertion of a loop shaped steel knife. The body of the baby is cut into pieces and removed, and the placenta is scraped off the uterine wall. Blood loss from D & C, or ‘mechanical’ curettage is greater than for suction aspiration, as is the likelihood of uterine perforation and infection. This method should not be confused with routine D&C’s done for reasons other than undesired pregnancy (to treat abnormal uterine bleeding, dysmenorrhea, etc.).

RU 486, the so-called ‘French abortion pill’ actually uses two powerful synthetic hormones (with the generic names of mifepristone and misoprostol) to chemically induce abortions in women five-to-nine weeks pregnant, and usually requires at least three visits to complete the process. RU 486 blocks the action of progesterone, the natural hormone vital to maintaining the rich nutrient lining of the uterus, and the developing baby starves as the lining disintegrates. There are serious well-documented side effects including severe bleeding, nausea, vomiting, pain, and even death. Although long term effects of the drug have not yet been sufficiently studied there are reasons to believe that RU 486 can affect not only a woman’s current pregnancy, but future pregnancies by potentially inducing miscarriages or causing severe malformations.

Methotrexate is similar to using RU 486, though administered by an intramuscular injection instead of a pill. Originally designed to attack fast growing cells such as cancers by neutralizing the B vitamin folic acid necessary for cell division, methotrexate apparently attacks the fast growing cells of the trophoblast as well, the tissue surrounding the embryo that eventually gives rise to the placenta. The developing baby is deprived of the food, oxygen, and fluids needed to survive because Methotrexate initiates the disintengration of that sustaining, protective, and nourishing environment.

Dilatation (Dilation) and Evacuation (D&E) is similar to the D&C and used to abort unborn children as old as 24 weeks. The difference is that forceps with sharp metal jaws are used to grasp parts of the developing baby, which are then twisted and torn away. This continues until the child’s entire body is removed from the womb. Because the baby’s skull has often hardened to bone by this time, the head must sometimes be compressed or crushed to facilitate removal. If not carefully removed, sharp edges of the bones may cause cervical laceration and bleeding from the procedure may be profuse.

Salt Poisoning, also known as ‘saline amniocentesis’ or a ‘hypertonic saline’ abortion is used after 16 weeks of pregnancy. A needle is inserted through the mother’s abdomen and as much as a cup of amniotic fluid is withdrawn and replaced with a solution of concentrated salt. The baby swallows the salt and is poisoned. The chemical solution also causes painful burning and deterioration of the baby’s skin. The child usually dies after about an hour.

Urea, or hypersomolar urea is often employed because of the dangers associated with saline methods. These are less effective and usually must be supplemented by oxytocin or a prostaglandin in order to achieve the desired result.

Prostaglandins used during the second trimester are naturally produced chemical compounds which normally assist in the birthing process. The injection of concentrations of artificial prostaglandins prematurely into the amniotic sac induces violent labor and the birth of a child usually too young to survive. Salt or another toxin is often first injected to ensure that the baby will be delivered dead, since some babies have survived the trauma of a prostaglandin birth and been born alive.

Partial-Birth Abortion is used on women who are 20 to 32 weeks pregnant – or even later into pregnancy. Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist reaches into the uterus, grabs the unborn baby’s leg with forceps, and pulls the baby into the birth canal except for the head, which is deliberately kept just inside the womb. Scissors are jammed into the base of the baby’s skull and spread so that the tips of the scissors enlarge the wound. After removing the scissors a suction catheter is inserted into the skull. The brains are then sucked out causing the head to collapse. The dead baby is then completely removed from the uterus.

Hysterotomy, similar to the Caesarean Section, is generally used if chemical methods such as salt poisoning or prostaglandins fail. Incisions are made in the abdomen and uterus and the baby, placenta, and amniotic sac are removed. Babies are sometimes born alive during this procedure, raising questions as to how and when these infants are killed, and by whom. This method offers the highest risk to the health of the mother because the potential for rupture during subsequent pregnancies is appreciable.

FACT: Abortion kills more than a million preborn children every year in America alone at nearly 3,500 abortions a day
, so in terms of lives lost it should take precedence over every other issue. Nothing even comes close to this loss—not war, the death penalty, not hunger or even poverty. Furthermore the issue is black and white: You simply cannot kill innocent children. Period. Yet here we are 40 years after the Roe v. Wade Decision, still working hard to change the hearts and minds of the public on an issue that ought to be stunningly obvious.

Those who advocate the ‘necessity’ of abortion will argue that the child would otherwise be unwanted or unhealthy and a burden on society, and that the ‘mother’s health’ and ‘the right to make decisions regarding her body’ trump all else. A June 1999 Wirthlin poll found that 62% of Americans support legal abortion in only three or fewer circumstances; when the pregnancy results from rape or incest, or when it threatens the life of the mother. However, women have cited ‘social reasons,’ not mother’s health or rape/incest as their motivation in approximately 93% of all abortions [view the complete breakdown HERE).

Should anyone have the right to kill a developing child whose only crime was being inconvenient, let alone by the inhumane methods as described above? Partial Birth Abortion, the most grotesquely barbaric of all techniques (view diagrams of the procedure HERE), was permitted by law until banned by President Reagan, reinstated by President Clinton and banned again by President G. W. Bush. The terrible Gosnel case is but one example of the reality of abortion.

The associated physical risks for women range from minor complications to death. There are also psychological side-effects that include low self-esteem, numbness, guilt and regret, emptiness, depression, substance and physical abuse, and suicide. These are typically symptoms of ‘post abortion trauma.’ Rachel’s Vineyard is a post abortion healing ministry that offers counseling and retreats for women and couples suffering as result of the decision to have an abortion (learn more at rachelsvinyard.com).

For over 40 years we have been led to believe that abortion is the only practical solution to unwanted pregnancy and the result is the loss of more than 54 million innocent human lives. Is this the best that we can do—to prescribe death as the solution to life’s problems? We deserve better than that. Women deserve better than that. We have been called to be a voice for those who cannot speak out for themselves and it’s not enough to just hope and wish for it—we need to stand up and demand that the right to life be respected AND protected.

If you know of a pregnant woman who needs help, please encourage her to call Real Alternatives at 888-LIFE-AID. Help is available, and there is always a reason to choose Life!



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