Tools Used for Abortion

There’s no denying that abortion is a huge money-making business. But there’s also no denying that it’s a gruesome business, for in every abortion a preborn baby is killed.

Over the last couple hundred years, people have come up with a myriad of ways to not only kill the baby, but to extract him from his mother’s body. This article examines some of the modern tools and methods used today to kill these innocent children. And it concludes with a brief list of tools that were used in the past to kill and extract babies.

These methods and tools prove that human beings will go to terrible lengths to rid themselves of a baby they do not want. That is why we must shed light on these practices and on the humanity of the preborn baby. We hope that, one day, people will wake up to the reality of abortion.

Warning: the following videos explaining abortion procedures contain graphic content.

A doctor holds gynecological instruments in his hand. Examination by a gynecologist.


First Trimester Abortion Tools

Most abortions are performed within the first trimester. That includes the time of the baby’s creation until 12 weeks.


The Abortion Pill

Growing in popularity today is the abortion pill. This two-pill regimen is given to a mother within the first nine weeks (up to 63 days after the mother’s last menstrual period) to kill her child. The first pill, usually taken in the abortionist’s office, is a drug called mifepristone. This drug blocks progesterone, which causes the uterine lining to thin. This makes the uterus uninhabitable for the baby, who cannot stay implanted. He then dies. Several hours or a day or so later, the woman will take the second pill—likely at home alone. This drug is called misoprostol. It causes uterine contractions which expel the dead embryo.


Dilation and Curettage (D&C) Abortion

If, however, the mother chooses not to take the abortion pill, or if she’s too far along, the abortionist will often perform a D&C abortion. This stands for dilation and curettage and can be done from 5 to 13 weeks. In this type of abortion, the abortionist will insert a tool called a speculum into the woman’s vagina to open it. Then, tools called dilators—which come in various sizes—will allow the abortionist to enlarge the cervix. He needs to enlarge the cervix so he can gain access to the baby in the uterus.

Next, the abortionist inserts what is called a suction catheter into the opening and then turns on the suction machine. According to Dr. Anthony Levatino, an OBGYN who performed over 1,200 abortions early in his career before becoming pro-life, the force of the suction is 10 to 20 times that of a normal house vacuum cleaner. The baby is then sucked out piece by piece into the suction machine.

In order to make sure all the pieces of the baby are removed, the abortionist then uses a curette (a long-handled curved blade) to scrape the uterus.




Manual Vacuum Aspiration

There is also an abortion method called manual vacuum aspiration that can be done in the first trimester. In this method, an abortionist uses the suction of a syringe to remove the baby from the mother’s uterus. This method is not available everywhere and may be more common in poorer countries. According to the Grantham Collection, “The major problem with the MVA is that it has a very weak vacuum. This means that the child is ripped apart slowly.”


In both of the above surgical abortion methods, there is great danger to the mother, especially if pieces of the baby are left inside her uterus, the doctor accidentally scrapes too hard with the curette, or if the woman ends up with an infection.


Second Trimester Abortion Tools

Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) Abortion

In the video below, Dr. Levatino describes in gruesomely vivid detail what happens in a second trimester abortion. A second trimester surgical abortion, usually done between 13 and 24 weeks, is called a D&E abortion, or a dilation and evacuation abortion. This abortion usually takes two to three days from start to finish.


First, somewhere between 24-48 hours before the abortion procedure, the abortionist inserts something called laminaria into the cervix. Laminaria is sterilized seaweed that absorbs water and swells, enlarging the cervix, necessary as the baby is so big at this point. When the abortionist deems that the mother’s body is ready, he will give her anesthesia to block the pain. He then inserts a weighted speculum inside her vagina to open the cervix so that he has access to the uterus. He must use a weighted speculum because the baby is so large.

If the mother has not dilated enough—if the opening of the cervix is not large enough for the baby to pass through—the abortionist will then use a dilator to further open the cervix.

He then uses a suction tube to suck out the amniotic fluid. However, the baby has grown quite a bit and is no longer small enough to fit through the suction tube. So the abortionist must use what is called a Sopher clamp. A Sopher clamp is a grasping instrument that looks somewhat like tongs. But in the grasping part at the top it has teeth to help grasp onto something—in this case, parts of the baby. The abortionist uses the clamp to grasp an arm, a leg, or other body parts. Then he removes them from the mother.

According to Levatino, the most difficult part to extract is the head. He states, “A head in a baby that size is about the size of a large plum. You can’t see it…. You know you did it right if you crush down on the instrument [the Sopher clamp] and white material runs out of the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. Then you can pull out skull pieces.”

Once all of the baby’s parts are removed, the abortionist uses a curette to scrape out the uterus. He does this to make sure he has gotten all of the baby’s parts.

The abortionist must then assemble the baby’s parts on a tray to make sure nothing is left in the mother.


Third Trimester Abortion Tools

Intracardiac Injection Abortion

In the following video, Dr. Levatino vividly describes a third trimester abortion. This is called an intracardiac injection abortion. This abortion is performed from 25 weeks to term. Remember that, though tiny, babies can survive if born this early.

A third trimester abortion usually takes three to four days because the baby is so large. On the first day, the abortionist uses a syringe to inject the baby with digoxin. Digoxin is a medicine used to treat heart failure, but when given to a preborn baby in high enough doses, it will cause cardiac arrest, usually killing him. Then the abortionist inserts laminaria into the cervix to open it so the baby can be delivered.

On the second day, the abortionist replaces the laminaria with more of it to continue opening the cervix. He also does an ultrasound. If the baby is still alive, he will administer another dose of digoxin to ensure his death.

At some point, the woman will begin having contractions just like she would if she were in labor. But she will deliver a dead baby instead of a live one.

If, for some reason, the baby doesn’t come out whole, the abortionist will then have to do a D&E procedure to remove the baby piece by piece. He does this using clamps and forceps.

He will then have to assemble the baby’s parts to make sure he retrieved all the pieces.


Instruments of the Past

As if the abortion procedures mentioned above were not gruesome enough, a look at instruments of the past will further sicken you.

Below are just a few of the tools used to crush the skull to make the baby easier to remove, illustrating the horrifying reality of abortion. Many of these tools were originally used to remove a stillborn child from his mother’s uterus. But as we see in this history, abortionists also used them.

Cranioclast: The abortionist used this tool to crush the baby’s skull. This made it easier to remove him from his mother’s uterus. It was first invented in the mid-19th century by a doctor named James Simpson. Others later redesigned and updated it. In essence, the tool is a really strong pair of forceps “with heavy blades that could be pulled together through the use of a wingnut clamp.”

Tire-tete: This instrument had spiked ends. With it, the abortionist could hold the baby’s head to keep it steady. Then he would insert a long probe into the baby’s skull that would, in essence, decapitate the baby. The tire-tete would hold the baby’s head in place so it wouldn’t move around the uterus.

Jacquemier’s Decapitator: This was used to decapitate the baby.

Luer Cranial Perforator: The abortionist used this instrument to drill a hole in the baby’s head. This would cause the skull to collapse and make it easier to extract.

Blot’s Cranial Perforators: The abortionist would push this instrument into the baby’s skull. He would then open the tool, which would cause the skull to be cut into pieces.


Final Thoughts

Abortion is an immense tragedy. It is one of the most egregious threats to our families and our communities that has ever existed.

Every human being is a unique and unrepeatable person. From the time a baby is created when the sperm fertilizes the egg until a person dies a natural death, he is and remains a human being created in the image and likeness of God.

It is our hope that, when people see these abortion tools and read about these methods, they will come to understand that every abortion kills a tiny preborn baby. And it is our hope that this knowledge will help people realize that we all have a part to play in giving these babies a voice and in protecting them.

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. Since 2003, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials, and website content. Fourteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of its Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program, an educational nonprofit program for k-12 students.


  1. tyson on November 10, 2023 at 1:14 AM

    I’ll be honest here, i was looking for information on a paper I’m writing but it seems as if these comments were more useful than the link. don’t get me wrong the information is verry helpful but your comments definitely helped as well.

  2. Tony Injeian on January 3, 2023 at 5:37 PM

    Abortion has become too easy in this country, like you’re going to get a tooth pulled. It should never be done to a healthy baby, that should be a crime. I have personally saved thousands of premature babies’ lives by designing the best incubators in the world. We can save a baby that weighs less than 1 lb. My fellow engineers and I are proud of what we designed.
    Are abortion doctors and technicians proud of what they do?

  3. Marianne on July 3, 2022 at 3:11 PM

    Melissa, perhaps you are trolling, but don’t you think that’s a little simple-minded?

    I was an unwed mother. The father of my son was abusive, so I kicked him out soon after the birth of my kid. According to your theory, my kid would turn out a murderer and should better be killed to prevent that.

    But I was not only an unwed mother, also one who decided to go against my society and all the professionals who wanted to push abortion on me. Because I loved my child and it was not for me to decide over his life.

    My child is a teen now. He is one of the most empathic kids I know. He is joyful, conscientious, peaceful and bringing happiness to many around him. He is (tested as) highly gifted and about to go pre-university schooling. He literally wouldn’t kill a fly, let alone a human being. He might do good things for humanity instead, who knows?

    Could you perhaps explain to me, why you wish death on this beautiful child of mine? What makes you think he will turn out to be a murderer? And what does wanting innocent little babies dead for no fault of their own makes you?

  4. Rick on June 3, 2022 at 11:08 AM

    Thank you for putting this together. I think everyone on earth should see this, especially here in the United States among the left who are protesting in the streets over Roe vs Wade being overturned and their right to kill a child is in jeopardy. But some of these same people will show up at the mass shooting in Uvalde TX and want guns banned. The gun didn’t kill, the human holding the gun did the killings. The same with abortion, the human doctors. Such hippocracy. Thanks for your work.

    • Melissa Johnson on June 25, 2022 at 2:51 AM

      Are you a professional comedian? You crack me up. Unwanted babies are most often born to unwed mothers who are not able to support them and the “fathers” are deadbeats who are MIA. These are the children who grow up to be gun-wielding mass murderers of innocent (wanted) children.

      • Linda L Muhammad on June 28, 2022 at 5:40 PM

        So what! They don’t deserve a chance because the parents are inept? Plenty of people love to adopt. You are missing the whole point of true humanity. I’m going to pray for you…

      • Belinda on August 9, 2022 at 6:40 AM

        Completely ridiculous comment. FYI Children do just fine with a single mother. Women are not inept, women can raise a baby alone.

        Most serial killers have emotionless perfection obsessed father that want the kid to bury rage and feelings.

  5. Curious on February 9, 2022 at 5:21 PM

    Why can I not find an actual medical abortion video? Not just a graphic picture.

    • HLI Staff on February 10, 2022 at 12:34 PM

      Curious, you will not find video with abortion procedure footage on our website because of the sensitive nature of what’s happening – the ending of life of a human being. An online search of surgical abortion procedures on YouTube or similar platform should find “viewer discretion advised” content.

  6. Matt on August 16, 2021 at 6:22 PM

    Sick. Sick. Sick. I hope this reaches the people who need to see and understand how terrible this is. I will do my part and share with all my friends.

  7. Ann K. on August 16, 2021 at 2:18 PM

    Thank you for this sad yet eye opening article. How anyone could do this to a baby is beyond me. Heaven have mercy on our souls. You and your ministry are in my daily prayers.

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