Kansas Bans Second-Trimester Abortion Technique

Christine Rousselle
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Posted: Apr 08, 2015 11:00 AM
Kansas Bans Second-Trimester Abortion Technique

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) signed into law yesterday a bill that would ban the use of the dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion technique that is commonly used in the second trimester of pregnancy. Kansas is the first state in the nation to ban this procedure.

According to WebMD, a D&E abortion is as follows:

D&E usually takes 30 minutes. It is usually done in a hospital but does not require an overnight stay. It can also be done at a clinic where doctors are specially trained to perform abortion. During a D&E procedure, your doctor will:

  • Give you a first dose of antibiotic to prevent infection.
  • Position you on the exam table in the same position used for a pelvic exam, with your feet on stirrups while lying on your back.
  • Insert a speculum into the vagina.
  • Clean the vagina and cervix with an antiseptic solution.
  • Give you a pain medicine injection in the cervical area (paracervical block) along with a sedative. If the procedure is done in an operating room, you could receive a spinal anesthesia injection into the fluid around the spinal cord. This numbs the area between your legs. Or your doctor may use general anesthesia, which makes you unconscious.
  • Grasp the cervix with an instrument to hold the uterus in place.
  • Dilate the cervical canal with probes of increasing size. An abortion in the second 12 weeks will need the cervix to be dilated more than required for a vacuum aspiration.
  • Pass a hollow tube (cannula) into the uterus. The cannula is attached by tubing to a bottle and a pump that provides a gentle vacuum to remove tissue in the uterus. Some cramping is felt during the rest of the procedure.
  • Pass a grasping instrument (forceps) into the uterus to grasp larger pieces of tissue. This is more likely in pregnancies of 16 weeks or more and is done before the uterine lining is scraped with a curette.
  • Use a curved instrument (curette) to gently scrape the lining of the uterus and remove tissue in the uterus.
  • Use suction. This may be done as a final step to make sure the uterine contents are completely removed.
  • Give you a medicine to reduce the amount of bleeding from the procedure.

Similar to the coverage of the ban on partial-birth abortion, the Associated Press is refusing to describe what actually occurs during a D&E abortion, instead choosing to say that "critics" refer to the procedure as "dismemberment." Given that "dismemberment" is defined as "to deprive of limbs; divide limb from limb; to divide into parts; cut to pieces; mutilate." Given that forceps are used during a D&E abortion to "grasp larger pieces of tissue" and remove them from the uterus, this would appear to fit the definition of "dismemberment."

It doesn't do anyone favors to try to hide what actually happens during an abortion.