In the state of North Carolina for the year 2002 (the most recent year that statistics are available at this time), 46.1% of abortions were performed using this method. It is typically used for pregnancies that are less than 12 weeks along. The opening of the uterus (cervix) is manually dilated with either a metal rod or rods or a seaweed product called laminaria that is placed in the cervix and left there to absorb moisture and expand the opening. When the cervix is opened sufficiently for the size of the suction tubing that is needed, the tubing (which is attached to a suction machine), is inserted into the uterus. The uterine lining and baby are suctioned through the tubing and out of the uterus into a container outside of the body. Sometimes a curette, a loop shaped knife, is necessary to scrape any remaining uterine lining or fetal body parts out of the uterus.
Anesthesia used for this type of abortion is typically local, meaning an injection of numbing medication into the cervix itself. Other short acting sedative medications may also be available.