Manual Vacuum aspiration (or Mini-vac) is an abortion technique that is gradually
becoming widely available in North America. It was developed in the 1960's as a technique
that could be used in the third world, because it does not require electricity. A
hand-held syringe creates a tiny, localized vacuum that removes the embryo. It is as
powerful as the suction provided by conventional vacuum pumps, but is more focused. The
amount of cervical dilation is less than with a conventional abortion because of the
smaller size of the instrument. This generally creates less discomfort. It is a simple and
safe procedure that gynecologists can use in their office without a general anesthetic. It
typically takes less than two minutes. This technique seems to be becoming more common in
the US and Canada, but there do not appear to be any available data on the
numbers of abortions performed using this method.
The technique is limited to the interval between 3 to 6 weeks of gestation (as measured
from the day that the last period ended). It is becoming more widely applicable because of
improvements in early pregnancy detection. Home pregnancy tests can now reliably detect a
pregnancy as early as 8 days after conception (perhaps a week before the first missed
period). Women who suspect that they may be pregnant are taking home tests and then asking
for abortions as soon as possible.
A gynecologist at Canadian clinic, who remained anonymous because of threats and a
series of attempted murder of abortion doctors in that country, said: "At four
weeks, the placenta and the entire membranes around the embryo are the size of a lentil...
I don't know that anyone has ever demonstrated objectively that it's less traumatic [than
the conventional suction technique]. But I tell you, it looks less traumatic. It's just
this 50 cc plastic syringe which looks really benign and gentle, compared to a large
vacuum cleaner sized mechanical pump which looks kind of menacing. There's no noise at all
with the syringe."
Sean Fine, "Abortions Obtained Soon After Conception", The Globe and
Mail, Toronto ON, 1997-DEC-23