Second Trimester Surgical Abortion

We inform, you decide.

There are two abortion procedures commonly used in the second trimester: the D&C, and the D&E.

D&C: Dilation & Curettage


Quick Facts

Gestational Age: within 12-15 weeks after last menstrual period
Cost: $850-$1600


  • Suction aspiration can be used up to 15 weeks. In the second trimester a D&C procedure is typically also required, which uses a curette: a long, looped shaped knife that scrapes the lining, placenta, and baby away from the uterus.
  • This procedure usually lasts 10 minutes, with a possible stay of 5 hours.

Risks and Side Effects

  • Nausea, bleeding and cramping may occur for two weeks following the procedure
  • Infection due to retained remains of the baby and related tissues, an STD, or bacteria, can cause fever, pain, abdominal tenderness, scarring, and in some cases, death.

Fetal Development  Weeks 13-16

The following describes some of the developmental steps of the baby during the time frame when a woman is eligible for a D&C abortion.

  • Baby flexes, kicks and begins sucking thumb
  • Skin begins to form
  • Facial expressions are possible

D&E: Dilation & Evacuation


Quick Facts

Gestational Age: more than 15 weeks after last menstrual period
Cost: $1500-$2100


  • In most cases, 24 hours prior to the actual procedure, the abortion provider will insert laminaria or a synthetic dilator inside the 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.

Risks and Side Effects

The risks and side effects for a D&E are the same as those of a D&C, but more severe. Most D&E procedures are performed in a hospital setting due to the increased risks of severe complications. Although rare, additional risks related to D&E are damage to the uterine lining or cervix, perforation of the uterus, infertility, infection, and blood clots.

Fetal Development  Weeks 17-21

The following describes some of the developmental steps of the baby during the time frame when a woman is eligible for a D&E abortion.

  • Hearing begins to develop
  • Eyebrows and eyelashes grow in
  • Mother feels baby’s movements more strongly

“Given the anatomical evidence, it is possible that the fetus can feel pain from 20 weeks and is caused distress by interventions from as early as 15 or 16 weeks.” 1

Medically Reviewed By:


1 Glover, V., (1999). Fetal pain: implication for research and practice. Br J Obstet Gynaecol; 106(9): 881-886.

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