Do abortion clinics describe abortion accurately on their websites?

Note; This article was written in 2005, and many of the clinics it talks about are no longer in operation so some of the links may not work. Other clinics may have changed their websites. But I wanted to post this anyway, as it is a testament to how dishonest some of these clinics are.  An updated version of this article will be available at some point.

Did you know that many abortion clinics advertise online?  One need only do a search for “abortion clinic” on Google or Yahoo to find many clinics advertising for patients.  Some clinics have fancy websites, often featuring patient testimonials about how fast and easy an abortion is at their clinic.  Graphics shouting things like “New Jersey’s (or insert state here) Best Clinic!” catch the eye.  Smiling, happy women are featured on many of these pages.

Interesting, though, is the way these clinics describe the abortion procedure on their site.  Many of these clinics have information about the procedures ready for possible clients right at the touch of a button. Here are a few examples of how clinics describe their services.

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From one abortion clinic :

“A gynecologist with special expertise in abortions performs the procedure by a method known as suction dilatation and curettage (D&C). We use only sterilized instruments. During this procedure, the cervical canal is very gently dilated with sterile dilators, and the uterine contents are gently suctioned out with sterile, one-use-only, disposable plastic uterine curettes.”

Here is an example of what is “gently suctioned out” in a standard first trimester suction D & C abortion (ten weeks).

abort10w5

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At American Women’s Services, a first trimester abortion is described this way:

“…The procedure begins with the gradual and gentle opening of the cervix by a series of narrow, tapered rods called dilators. The doctor will then insert into the uterus a small plastic tube that is attached to a suction machine, similar to the one dentists use to clear the mouth of saliva. The tube is moved within the uterus for a minute or two to remove all of the pregnancy tissue by gentle suction. During the aspiration, you may experience cramping that is similar to heavy menstrual cramps…”

Here is a pictures of some pregnancy tissue removed by gentle suction (10 weeks)

12c

The same clinic describes a later abortion as follows:

“Surgical abortion between 14-24 weeks:

If you are between 14 and 24 weeks pregnant, your procedure will take two to three days to complete…..When adequate dilation has occurred, the laminaria will be removed and your uterus emptied by the technique the physician feels is best for you. Twilight sleep will be provided for all patients undergoing an abortion procedure in the second trimester. This medication will relax you, reduce the amount of discomfort you may feel and can inhibit memory formation.”

This picture is from an emptied uterus at 20 weeks.

z20w2

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This clinic offers no information about the ‘removal’ procedure at all.  Their website simply says:

“A Choice for Women specializes in second trimester abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. In general, this usually requires a 2- day visit to our clinic. The first day will consist of an Ultrasound, counseling, evaluation by the physician, and a cervical dilator inserted into the cervix to soften and dilate the cervix. You will return to the clinic the next day for the termination procedure. You will be given general anesthesia for the procedure and will not feel the procedure at all.”

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An abortion doctor here describes abortion before twelve weeks in this way:

“Once the cervix has been adequately dilated, the products of conception are removed by inserting a hollow plastic tube called a “vacurette” and applying negative pressure (suction/ vacuum). Generally, the vacurette is moved in a series of in and out strokes or is rotated to enhance the traction forces at the tip of the vacurette. This is sometimes followed by curetting (scraping) the walls of the uterus to ensure that no tissues are remaining that might cause subsequent problems.”

Here are some removed products of conception at nine weeks

abort9w2

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At South Jersey Women’s Center, an abortion is described as follows:

“After completing paper work, a brief informational counseling session, lab work, and ultrasound, she will have the abortion procedure. The D&E procedure is performed through the vagina and involves gently dilating or opening the woman’s cervix, which is the small opening at the top of the vagina and then using an instrument that applies a suction to remove the contents of her uterus. No cutting or incision is necessary and the procedure takes only 5 to 7 minutes.”

Here is a picture of a D & E at fourteen weeks.

z14weeks

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Choices Women’s Medical Health Center describes a late abortion (D&E) as follows:

“…The physician removes the dilators that have been in place since insertion some hours ago. After that he has access to the inner part of your uterus and by use of various instruments, the pregnancy is removed. A hollow tube is inserted into the uterus. This tube is connected to a machine that produces suction and when turned on, whatever material remains in the uterus will be drawn out through the tube and into a bottle. A long thin instrument with a spoonlike end will also be inserted and drawn over the inside surface of your uterus to check that nothing remains. Some of these measures may have to be repeated to be certain that the abortion was done thoroughly….”

A pregnancy removed from a woman’s uterus in this type of abortion at fourteen to sixteen weeks.

abort14w3

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AAron Women’s Clinic of Houston and Southeast Texas boasts:

“You will find a team of professionals who have specialized in middle and late second trimester pregnancy terminations (16 to 25 weeks) both elective and fetal anomaly (abnormal) indications for more than 30 years with a complication rate less than continuation of a pregnancy to full term and much less than the national average for providers….

D&E has always been the procedure of choice for second trimester pregnancy terminations at our facility. All terminations are preceded by serial multiple laminaria treatment over one to two days to dilate and soften the cervix gradually and sufficiently. After adequate cervical preparation, the evacuation procedure is performed under deep pain free anesthesia administered by our certified anesthesia staff. Gentle currettage is performed to complete all procedures.”

Here is the result of gentle cutterage at one abortion clinic after 16 weeks.

z16weeks2

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At Abortion Advantage an abortion up to thirteen weeks is described this way:

“A sterile speculum will be placed into the vagina to visualize the cervix. The cervix and vagina will be cleansed with betadine or phisohex. The cervix will be anesthetized or numbed with a local anesthetic. Next small sterile dilators are passed through the cervix to gently open the cervix. A small sterile plastic tube is then placed through the cervix and into the uterus. The pregnancy is then removed by vacuum. The speculum is removed and the procedure is completed. The entire surgical procedure will take about ten minutes.”

This is a picture of a removed pregnancy at 12 weeks

abort12w5

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A description of abortion from 5-16 weeks at The Allentown Women’s Center:

“When the cervical opening is large enough, a blunt-tipped tube (a cannula) is inserted into the uterus. The cannula is attached to a vacuum aspirator, and a light suction removes the pregnancy tissue from the uterus. A spoon-shaped instrument (a curette) may be used for a final cleaning of the uterine lining.”

From a cleaned uterine lining at 15 weeks

17b

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From Atlanta SurgiCenter – this description is given for abortions up to 14.5 weeks:

“The procedure involves the gradual widening of the cervix followed by the insertion of a thin flexible tube attached to a vacuum aspirator, which gently removes the uterine contents.”

At the Atlanta SurgiCenter you can be scheduled for a one-day D&E procedure through 20 weeks. Late Second Trimester procedures are performed on two consecutive days. [up to 26 weeks is advertised on the site]

The D&E procedure consists of two parts: dilation and evacuation…Evacuation is the removal of the contents of the uterus. The evacuation procedure is performed with a combination of suction aspiration and surgical instruments.”

From the removed contents of the uterus at 26 weeks

26 wks

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Austin Women’s Center advertises its first trimester abortions as follows:

“The first trimester surgical abortion is an in-office procedure. Your cervix will be gradually opened and the contents of your uterus will be removed through a gentle suction. During the 5 minute procedure we have a guided relaxation CD for you to listen to, as well as soothing lighting in the exam rooms. A female escort may be with you during your procedure.”

What is removed by gentle suction at seven weeks:

abort7w5

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At BuffaloGyn Women’s Services, a first trimester abortion is described:

“This simple and safe procedure usually takes from 5-10 minutes and is usually preformed during the first 5 through 12 weeks of pregnancy. A local anesthetic is used to numb the cervix, which is gently dilated. A small vacurette is inserted into the uterus and suction is used to remove the pregnancy.”

BuffaloGyn also performs second trimester abortions.  In the FAQ section the website says:

“Why are there protesters outside the clinic?
Some people believe that abortion should not be legal, and because of freedom of speech, they can picket outside. These people also believe that women do not have the ability to make their own decisions. Many of the statements they make or signs they hold are not true. They say these things to scare you and stop you from finding out the truth. We have a guard and escorts in front of the clinic to help you. If a protester has harassed you be sure to tell your counselor.”

The site also says:

“Unfortunately, sometimes protesters gather in front of the clinic entrance to try to convince you to change your decision. Remember, although they have the right to be there, they cannot stand directly in front of the clinic entrance, enter our back parking lot, stop your car, or force you to speak with them. Our clinic has a state of the art security system to protect you. Just be strong and ignore their propaganda!”

Back to the FAQ page, there is a question asking why a friend or family member cannot come with the patient to hold her hand or comfort her during the procedure itself. The clinic answers:

“We feel strongly that during surgery only medical personnel should be present in the operating room. Remember, our priority is the patient. Our concern is that your friend or loved one may get nervous or anxious. We do not want anything to divert attention away from your medical needs.”

Might the loved one get anxious or nervous because they see something the clinic desperately does not want anyone to see?

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The Center for Women’s Health  proclaims:

“No one has the right to judge your reason(s) for having an abortion.  If you choose to terminate a pregnancy, an abortion can be safely performed in our office up to 22 weeks after your last period.”

The site then goes on to say:

A woman is considered to be in the first trimester of pregnancy if less than 13-14 weeks have passed since her last menstrual period… This extremely safe procedure is the most common one performed in our office….A small tube (cannula) is inserted into the uterus, and connected by tubing to a suction machine. The uterine contents are suctioned through the tube.  Lastly, the doctor carefully checks the walls of the uterus to be sure no tissue remains.  The entire procedure only takes a minute or so. Women have discomfort like menstrual cramps during the procedure, and sometimes for an hour or so afterward.”

This is what The Center for Women’s Health says about the D & E procedure:

“The D&E procedure requires much more skill on the part of the surgeon, and is an extension of the suction method just described.  To perform this, the doctor uses suction as in first-trimester procedures, but also must use forceps to remove tissue too large to pass through the suction tubing.”

No one really wants to hear that the tissue being removed by forceps actually consists of arms, legs, ribs, organs and heads.

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Upon going to the website of Early Options, one immediately sees the face of a smiling woman with the caption, “I didn’t realize it could be so simple!” The clinic advertises a procedure called menstrual extraction, or as they call it, the aspiration procedure, in which a hand-held pump device is used instead of a suction machine.  This method is advertised for pregnancies up to ten weeks.

“The aspiration procedure is a simple, natural procedure to end an early pregnancy.”

Here is a picture of an aborted baby at 8 weeks.  He or she was torn apart in one of these “simple, natural” procedures.

abort8w6

At this stage, he has a beating heart and a brain already giving off waves as well as tiny organs, and he can move independently of the mother. He will respond if touched. Unborn babies have been observed bringing thumb to mouth at this stage just like an infant. (H. Hamlin, “Life or Death by EEG,” JAMA, Oct. 12, 1964, p. 120,) (W. Liley, The Fetus As Personality, Fetal Therapy, 1986, p. 8-17) (A. Hellgers, M.D., “Fetal Development, 31,” Theological Studies, vol. 3, no. 7, 1970, p. 26)

Describing the procedure:

“The doctor inserts a thin tube into your uterus, through the cervix. (opening to your uterus)  Gentle pressure is applied with a hand-held plastic instrument.  The contents of the uterus come into the plastic instrument.”

Also:

“….An embryo cannot be seen until you have missed two periods.  At that point the embryo is about the size of a pea, and it is not formed.”

At the Hope Clinic, member of the National Abortion Federation, a first trimester abortion is described as follows:

“[After describing dilation] The doctor completes the abortion by slipping a small plastic tube, a vacurette, into the cervix and connecting it to a small machine, called a vacuum aspirator, that creates a gentle suction. At the very end, the doctor inserts a sterile tampon, and the procedure is over.”

Here is a picture owhat that ‘gentle suction’ removed at eleven weeks.

abort11w

This clinic also does abortions in the second trimester. In the FAQ are answers to the following question.

“Q: Will I see the fetus? Can I, if I want to?

A: No, you will not see the fetus. The final decision is up to the physician.”

Also on the site:

“You will be cared for by physicians who have been experts in the field of abortion for over 15 years. Plus, Hope’s caregivers, nurses, counselors, and medical secretaries are hired for their friendliness and warmth as well as their competence.  There may be protestors at any abortion clinic.  At Hope Clinic, they may not come into our parking lot, and a security guard is present… Legally, they can shout anything they can think of – true or not – to stop you from walking into the clinic.”

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An abortion at Camelback Family Planning is described this way:

“Intravenous sedation is given to you through a small needle in your arm. Then Dr. Goodrick will begin the procedure only after the sedation takes effect… The doctor inserts a small tube, or cannula, which is attached to an aspirator machine. The mild suction action of the machine empties the contents of the uterus. You might have mild cramps during the procedure. Many patients do not remember the procedure and have no cramps at all.

After the procedure, you will be observed in a semi-private, cozy recovery room in a comfortable recliner with a heating pad. Our staff will make sure that your blood pressure and heart rate are normal and that bleeding and discomfort are within normal limits. You can then have something to drink and some cookies…”

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Aradia Women’s Health Care Center performs abortions through the fourteenth week.  They feature the following testimonial:

“All of my previous notions of an abortion procedure were dissipated.  The women who worked with me soothed any anxiety I had, which empowered my decision even more.”

After describing how the cervix is numbed and dilated, their website says:

“Depending on where you are in the pregnancy, a hand held silent device (for women less than 9 weeks) or a motorized machine (for women between 9 and 14 weeks) is used to remove the pregnancy tissue from the uterus.”

Here is a picture of pregnancy tissue at 12 weeks after conception.

z12 weeks 2

Here is a picture of what this tissue looks like before it is removed.

12weeks_closeup

Apparently, Aradia Women’s Care Clinic believes that all a woman needs to know when deciding to have an abortion is that the “pregnancy tissue” is “removed.”  In case they may want to seek more information at a crisis pregnancy center, Aradia has this on their website:

“Crisis Pregnancy Centers intend to prevent women with unplanned pregnancies from seeking or getting abortions…They keep women and teens from getting important, medically accurate information about reproductive health care and give incorrect information.
– Crisis Pregnancy Centers in California: The Hidden Threat to Women’s Health, California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League

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Family Planning Associates (which has clinics in California and Illinois) which performs abortions up until 24 weeks has no details of the second trimester procedure on its site.  It describes a first trimester abortion in a typical way:

“IN SURGERY a licensed CRNA will administer anesthesia and a licensed medical doctor specializing in gynecology will perform the abortion by gently removing the contents of the uterus by vacuum aspiration.”

The site also assures clients that “You’re [sic] partner does not need to know.  You’re services are completely confidential…”

They stresses that telling parents is optional too. The clinic also assures patients

“Protesters are not allowed on Family Planning Associates property but they may be in the street or on sidewalks. You need not to speak to any protesters or accept literature from them. [sic]“

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On their national website, Planned Parenthood cautions that:

“Hundreds of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” scare women about abortion. They lie about the medical and emotional effects of abortion.”

They want us to know that:

“Vacuum aspiration empties the uterus with gentle suction of a manual syringe or with machine-operated suction.”

And that:

“D&E is a two-part procedure. The cervix is slowly opened. The procedure is completed by emptying the uterus using a combination of suction and medical instruments.”

Here are some examples of what is left after a uterus is emptied in this type of abortion. Planned Parenthood does not provide this information for women who want to know what a D&E really is.

z20weeks3

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After viewing the websites of scores of clinics, all of which use the same basic words (“gentle,” “removal”, “products of conception” and “tissue”) to describe what they do, one has to wonder how hard some of these places are working to prevent women from facing the reality of what goes on in an abortion. Do women need to be ‘protected’ from the whole story?  Are the very institutions (Planned Parenthood, NOW, etc) that are supposed to improve women’s lives really helping us when they sugarcoat this issue?  Or is the information on this site too subversive, too disturbing, too ‘scary’ to make known?  As one clinic put it:

“Many of the Internet sites about abortion are sponsored by anti-choice organizations that use misinformation intended to frighten you.”

When a mere look in an embryology textbook can verify that the photos shown here are representative of abortions happening today, can sites such as mine be so easily dismissed as ‘misinformation?’   Or is this constant refrain of “Don’t listen to the other side!” merely a technique to keep women (and men) in the dark about the true nature of abortion?

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About Sarah

Sarah Terzo is a freelance writer and journalist who works for Live Action. She is a member of the board of The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians and Consistent Life.
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