Designs of devices: The vacuum aspirator and American abortion technology

Tunc T. E.

DYNAMIS, vol.28, pp.353-376, 2008 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 28
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Title of Journal : DYNAMIS
  • Page Numbers: pp.353-376


In 1965, 71% of legal abortions in the United States were performed using the surgical procedure of dilation and curettage. By 1972, a mere seven years later, approximately the same percentage (72.6%) of legal abortions in the United States were performed using a completely new abortion technology: the electrical vacuum aspirator. This article examines why, in less than a decade, electric vacuum suction became American physicians' abortion technology of choice. It focuses on factors such as political and professional feasibility (the technology was able to complement the decriminalization of abortion in the US, and the interests, abilities, commitments, and personal beliefs of physicians); clinical compatibility (it met physician/patient criteria such as safety, simplicity and effectiveness); and economic viability (it was able to adapt to market factors such as production, cost, supply/demand, availability, and distribution).