Abortion Photos

Suction Aspiration

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This tissue was produced by a suction aspiration, that is, an early suction abortion. In this case it was done at 8 weeks into the pregnancy.

In this method, the abortionist inserts a hollow plastic tube with a sharp edge -- called a "suction catheter" -- into the womb. The other end of the tube is connected to a suction device, similar in principle to a home vacuum cleaner but 29 times as powerful. The force of the suction tears the fetal tissue apart, and it is then sucked out the tube and disposed of. The abortionist then uses the sharp edge to cut and scrape the placenta from the lining of the uterus.

At this stage the tissue is soft and the result is like running something through a blender. But if you look closely, you can see an arm and a shoulder.

This is a commonly used method for very early abortions.

Note: When this page was originally posted we referred to the procedure as a "menstrual extraction". This terminology appears to be out of date in this context. The term "menstrual extraction" is now generally understood to be limited to a procedure using a simple syringe to produce the suction, thus producting a much weaker suction then you would get from a mechanical pump; and a soft tube (cannula) so that it does not involve scraping the uterus. Menstrual extraction may also be used to remove excess menstrual blood from a non-pregnant woman, so it is not necessarily an abortion procedure.

For more information, see Menstrual Extraction at HLI.

Photo courtesy Dr Jack Willke and Hayes Publishing Company


Posted 30 Sep 2000. Updated 14 Dec 2010.

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