Methods of abortion have always been available to women, even in the earliest societies, but the methods that are now available are much safer. During the first three months of pregnancy, the abortion is performed by dilating the cervix (the opening of the uterus) with metal rods or other methods, then removing the embryo or fetus and placenta by vacuum aspiration (suction) through a plastic cannula. Later abortions are performed with a variety of techniques. Most of these techniques involve the use of medications that cause the uterus to contract and expel the fetus and placenta or control bleeding after the uterus is empty. The fetus is also removed by the use of instruments (“dilation and evacuation,” or “D & E”) following adequate opening, or ...

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