Harvey Karman and the super coil fiasco: A forgotten episode in the history of American abortion technology

Tunc T. E.

EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CONTRACEPTION AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE, vol.13, no.1, pp.4-8, 2008 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


In 1971, lay California abortion provider Harvey Karman set out to revolutionize second trimester abortion just as he had done for first trimester abortion with his eponymous suction curette, the Karman cannula. An ardent critic of hypertonic saline instillation and surgical procedures such as hysterotomy, his plan was to introduce a new abortion procedure he had developed - the super coil technique - which, he believed, would finally replace all other methods to become the one and only undisputed second trimester abortion technology. What resulted, however, was a medical fiasco that prompted investigations by American federal agencies, such as the CDC and the FDA. These investigations had the net effect of increasing regulations on the development, testing and implementation of reproductive technologies in the United States.