Abortion Procedure

There are 2 major types of abortion procedure. These are generally referred to as surgical or medical.

Surgical abortions require the use of surgical instruments primarily to kill the unborn child and then remove him or her from his or her mother's womb.

  • Vacuum/Suction aspiration abortion
  • Dilation and Extraction/Evacuation (D&E)
  • Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
  • Hysterectomy
  • Intact Dilation and Extraction (Partial Birth Abortion)

Medical abortions use drugs to kill the unborn child (although surgical procedures are sometimes required to complete the abortion.)

  • Early Medical abortions (9 weeks or less) and morning after pill
  • Late medical abortions (13+ weeks)

The type of abortion used will largely depend on the age of the unborn child and the circumstances of the mother. According to the Department of Health, the majority of medical abortions are performed using a chemical called RU-486.


  • Medical abortions account for 35% of the total number of abortions.
  • RU486 is only used up to the 9th week of pregnancy in the UK (7 weeks in the U.S,).  
  • In late term pregnancies (22 weeks and beyond) drugs are recommended (though not enforced) to kill the fetus. The chemicals either poison, crush or cause a heart attack.
  • Up to 15 weeks vacuum aspiration is recommended.
  • Over 15 weeks D&E abortions combined with vacuum are used.