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D&C: Dilation & Curettage (Within 12-15 Weeks)

  • Dilation and curettage is similar to suction aspiration, except that it uses a curette, a long, looped shaped knife that scrapes the lining, placenta and fetus away from the uterus.
  • A cannula may be inserted for a final suctioning.
  • This procedure usually lasts 10 minutes with a possible stay of 5 hours.

D&E: Dilation & Evacuation (Within 15-21 Weeks)

  • In most cases, 24 hours prior to the actual procedure, the abortion provider will insert laminaria or a synthetic dilator inside the patient’s 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 and is usually performed in a hospital setting because of the greater risk for complications.

Risks and Side Effects

  • Nausea, bleeding and cramping may occur for two weeks following the procedure
  • Infection due to retained products of conception or infection caused by an STD or bacteria being introduced to the uterus can cause fever, pain, abdominal tenderness and possibly scar.
  • Although rare, the following are additional risks related to dilation and evacuation:
    • Damage to uterine lining or cervix
    • Perforation of the uterus
    • Infection
    • Blood clots.

Fetal Development:  Week 14-16

  • Fingerprints have developed
  • Baby begins sucking
  • Patient can feel baby start to move (fluttering)

Fetal Development:  Week 17-20

  • Nails growing on fingers and toes
  • Eyebrows and eyelashes grow in
  • Patient feels baby’s movements more strongly


American Pregnancy Association (2004). Medical Abortion Procedures. Retrieved from:

American Pregnancy Association (2006).  Surgical Abortion Procedures. Retrieved from:

Mayo Clinic (2011).  Fetal Development – The second trimester. Retrieved from: