Before a Suction D&E procedure can be performed, the cervix must first be sufficiently dilated. In my practice, this was accomplished with serial placement of laminaria. Laminaria is a type of sterilized seaweed that absorbs water over several hours and swells to several times its original diameter. Multiple placements of several laminaria at a time are absolutely required prior to attempting a suction D&E.
In the mid second trimester, this requires approximately 36 hours to accomplish. When utilizing the D&X abortion procedure, popularly known as Partial-Birth Abortion, this process requires three days as explained by Dr. Martin Haskell in his 1992 paper that first described this type of abortion.
In cases where a mother’s life is seriously threatened by her pregnancy,
a doctor more often than not doesn’t have 36 hours,
much less 72 hours, to resolve the problem.
Let me illustrate with a real -life case that I managed
while at the Albany Medical Center.
A patient arrived one night at 28 weeks gestation with severe pre-eclampsia or toxemia. Her blood pressure on admission was 220/160. As you are probably aware, a normal blood pressure is approximately 120/80. This patient’s pregnancy was a threat to her life and the life of her unborn child. She could very well be minutes or hours away from a major stroke. This case was managed successfully by rapidly stabilizing the patient’s blood pressure and “terminating” her pregnancy by Cesarean section. She and her baby did well.
This is a typical case in the world of high-risk obstetrics.
In most such cases, any attempt to perform an abortion
“to save the mother’s life”
would entail undue and dangerous delay
in providing appropriate, truly life-saving care.
During my time at Albany Medical Center I managed hundreds of such cases by “terminating”pregnancies to save mother’s lives. In all those hundreds of cases, the number of unborn children that I had to deliberately kill was zero.
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