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What is a Second Trimester Abortion?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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A second trimester abortion is an abortion that takes place during the second trimester of pregnancy. This trimester includes weeks 13 through 27. Generally, a second trimester abortion will be a surgical abortion, rather than one of the medical abortion options women in their first trimesters of pregnancy can sometimes choose. Abortions performed in the second trimester of pregnancy usually include dilation and curettage, dilation and evacuation, or induction abortions. As with all types of abortion, there are both medical and personal pros and cons of a second trimester abortion.

There are several different methods of abortion for second trimester pregnancies, but the two most commonly performed types are the dilation and curettage (D&C) and the dilation and evacuation (D&E). Generally, D&C procedures are performed in weeks 13 through 15, and D&E procedures are performed beyond that time frame. During a D&C, the physician inserts a scraping or suction instrument in the cervix and uterus to terminate the pregnancy. A D&E procedure is similar to a D&C, though because it takes place farther along in the second trimester, it usually also includes vacuum aspiration and surgical instruments such as forceps. Both D&C and D&E procedures are considered surgical abortions.

Although rare, another option for a second trimester abortion is the induction abortion. An induction abortion is a surgical abortion that involves one of three injections to induce labor. The physician might inject potassium chloride, saline, or urea in the amniotic sac or he might inject prostaglandins in the vagina. As a third option, the pregnant woman might receive an intravenous injection of pitocin. Typically, women who undergo induction abortions experience the same kinds of labor and delivery stages as do women who go through the regular birthing process.

The pros and cons of a second trimester abortion depend on two factors. These are the pregnant woman’s personal situation and the medical and surgical considerations. Some would argue the pros of an abortion during the second trimester include the availability, as each woman’s life circumstances are different and not all pregnancies can be terminated as early as the first trimester. At the same time, the cons of a second trimester abortion might include a riskier and more invasive procedure that can’t be performed medically by taking an abortion pill or having an herbal abortion. In the end, the pregnant woman, her physician, and her personal position determine the exact pros and cons of a second trimester abortion.

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SarahGen
Post 3

I think that at the end of the day, the woman has to decide whether to have an abortion or not. I don't have an opinion either way, but I urge mothers to do their own research about the different abortion procedures for the second trimester. Many people go into it without knowing fully about the procedures.

donasmrs
Post 2

@fBoyle-- I agree with you about the risk and complication part. I read something about this in the paper the other day. A woman had an abortion towards the end of the second trimester. It's usually not done but it was done in her case. She developed complications, severe and excessive bleeding and passed away.

Of course, the risk is not the same for everyone and it also matters which week of the second trimester the mother is in. But it's a good idea to weigh the benefits and risks before deciding.

fBoyle
Post 1

I don't think woman should have a second trimester abortion unless there is some unusual circumstance. For example, if the mother or the fetus has a serious health problem or risk, doctors may suggest a second trimester abortion. In some cases, the fetus may pass away in the womb and an abortion may be required.

When it comes to elective abortion in the second trimester when no risk is present, I don't think that's a good idea. First of all, the abortion at this stage of pregnancy is rather invasive and will cause pain. It may also cause complications. Secondly, the baby is very developed by this stage. It's not just a little bean anymore. It's a full baby, with fingers, ears and everything. So from an ethical or even religious, point of view, I feel that it is wrong.

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