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termination of pregnancy before the fetus is viable. In the medical sense, this term and the term miscarriage both refer to the termination of pregnancy before the fetus is capable of survival outside the uterus. The term abortion is more commonly used as a synonym for induced abortion, the deliberate interruption of pregnancy, as opposed to miscarriage, which connotes a spontaneous or natural loss of the fetus. Because of this distinction made by the average layperson, care should be exercised in the use of the word abortion when speaking of a spontaneous loss of the fetus.

The technique chosen to terminate pregnancy depends on the stage of pregnancy and the policies of the institution and patient needs. It is rare for a fetus to survive if it weighs less than 500 g, or if the pregnancy is terminated before 20 weeks of gestation. These factors are, however, difficult to determine with a high degree of accuracy while the fetus is still in utero; survival of the fetus delivered near the end of the second trimester often depends to a great extent on the availability of personnel and equipment capable of supporting life until the infant develops sufficiently.

Viability of the fetus outside the uterus is frequently used as the determining factor in deciding the legality and morality of induced abortion. Whether this is a valid criterion is essentially based on whether one believes that the fetus is human from the moment of conception or that it achieves humanity at some point during physical development. Those who oppose abortion on moral grounds believe that the fetus is human or potentially human and that destruction of the fetal body is tantamount to murder. Many others have equally strong beliefs that abortion is a woman's right.

The liberalization of abortion laws has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of abortions performed in physicians' offices, clinics, and hospitals. While this has diminished the occurrence of septic abortions performed at the hands of unscrupulous abortionists and has improved the possibility of safe and uneventful physical recovery from an induced abortion, the issue remains controversial and charged with emotion. The health care provider who strongly objects to abortion is legally and morally free to choose not to participate in the procedure and is advised to avoid situations involving responsibility for the care of patients who have chosen abortion as a means of ending an unwanted pregnancy. Women who have made a decision to have an abortion need a safe, non-judgmental environment to recover physically and emotionally from the procedure.

The patient should know that other alternatives are available and that an abortion after 20 weeks is inadvisable for medical and other reasons. Preabortion counseling in the psychological, religious, and legal aspects of abortion should be readily available, with immediate referral to the proper resources. Although delay in carrying out the procedure may increase the risk of complications, no patient should be encouraged to go through with an abortion until she has had time and sufficient counseling to reach a rational decision. During postabortion counseling there should be a discussion of various methods of contraception. The client will need information on the advantages and disadvantages of each method, her responsibilities in preventing future unwanted pregnancies, and available help in initiating and following through on a program of effective contraception. She should be informed that women who have had two or more abortions run a greatly increased risk of miscarriage or spontaneous abortion in the first six months of subsequent pregnancies.
Patient Care. The type of care required and the complications to be avoided in abortion will depend on the stage of pregnancy at the time of termination and whether the abortion is spontaneous, is induced under sterile conditions, or is performed by an unskilled abortionist or the patient herself. Many women who choose to have an abortion are anxious and confused about the physical and psychological outcomes of the procedure. Therefore both pre- and postabortion counseling are recommended.

In cases of spontaneous or habitual abortion, patient care is directed toward emotional support of the patient and acceptance of her feelings of bitterness, grief, guilt, relief, and other emotions associated with the loss of the fetus. The patient should be able to express her feelings in an open, nonjudgmental, and nonthreatening environment.
complete abortion complete expulsion of all the products of conception.
criminal abortion termination of pregnancy by illegal interference, usually undertaken when legal induced abortion is unavailable. The most frequent complications are severe hemorrhage and sepsis, and for those who delay seeking medical attention the mortality rate is high.
early abortion abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
elective abortion induced abortion done at the request of the mother for other than therapeutic reasons.
habitual abortion spontaneous abortion in three or more consecutive pregnancies before the 20th week of gestation.
incomplete abortion abortion in which parts of the products of conception are retained in the uterus.
induced abortion abortion brought on intentionally by medication or instrumentation.
inevitable abortion a condition in which vaginal bleeding has been profuse, membranes usually show gross rupturing, the cervix has become dilated, and abortion is almost certain.
infected abortion abortion associated with infection of the genital tract from retained material, with a febrile reaction.
missed abortion retention of dead products of conception in utero for more than 8 weeks.
septic abortion abortion associated with serious infection of the products of conception and endometrial lining of the uterus, leading to generalized infection; it is usually caused by pathogenic organisms of the bowel or vagina.
spontaneous abortion termination of pregnancy before the fetus is sufficiently developed to survive; called miscarriage by laypersons. In the United States this definition is confined to the termination of pregnancy before 20 weeks' gestation (based upon the date of the first day of the last normal menses). Chromosomal abnormalities cause at least half of spontaneous abortions.
therapeutic abortion abortion induced legally by a qualified physician to safeguard the health of the mother.
threatened abortion a condition in which vaginal bleeding is less than in inevitable abortion, the cervix is not dilated, and abortion may or may not occur; this is the presumed diagnosis when any bloody vaginal discharge or vaginal bleeding occurs in the first half of pregnancy.

a·bor·tion (AB),

1. Expulsion from the uterus of an embryo or fetus before viability (20 weeks' gestation [18 weeks after fertilization] or fetal weight less than 500 g). A distinction made between abortion and premature birth is that premature infants are those born after the stage of viability but before 37 weeks' gestation. Abortion may be either spontaneous (occurring from natural causes) or induced (artificially or therapeutically).
2. The arrest of any action or process before its normal completion.


a. Induced termination of a pregnancy with destruction of the embryo or fetus.
b. Any of various procedures that result in the termination of a pregnancy. Also called induced abortion.
3. Cessation of normal growth, especially of an organ or other body part, prior to full development or maturation.
4. Something that is regarded as poorly made or done.


The premature expulsion of the products of conception (POCs) from the uterus of the embryo or of a nonviable foetus. While the term abortion is generic and implies a premature termination of pregnancy for any reason, ‘miscarriage’ is popularly used for involuntary foetal loss or foetal wastage, which occurs naturally when the mother expels a dead foetus that may have genetic or developmental defects, or due to infection or illness in the mother, and abortion for the intentional elimination of gestational products. 
Rate (of women age 15–44): 5% in Netherlands; 1.4% in UK; 2.7% in US; 6% in Cuba; 18% in Russia; where abortions are illegal, the rate of complications are much higher.
Clinical findings
Uterine contractions, uterine haemorrhage, softening and dilatation of cervix, presentation or expulsion of all or part of POCs.


Obstetrics The premature expulsion of the products of conception–POCs from the uterus of the embryo or of a nonviable fetus Clinical Uterine contractions, uterine hemorrhage, softening and dilatation of cervix, presentation or expulsion of all or part of the POCs Statistics Rate—0.5% of ♀ age 15–44 Netherlands; 1.4% in UK; 2.7% US; 6% Cuba; 18% Russia; where abortions are illegal, the rate of complications are much higher. See Complete abortion, Criminal abortion, Early abortion, Elective abortion, Habitual abortion, Incomplete abortion, Induced abortion, Inevitable abortion, Late abortion, Late-term abortion, Medical abortion, Missed abortion, Partial birth abortion, Prostaglandin-induced abortion, Recidive abortion, Recurrent abortion, Saline abortion, Septic abortion, Spontaneous abortion, Threatened abortion, Urea abortion, Vacuum abortion.


1. Expulsion from the uterus of an embryo or fetus before the stage of viability (20 weeks' gestation or fetal weight less than 500 g). A distinction is made between abortion and premature birth: premature infants are those born after the stage of viability but before 37 weeks' gestation. Abortion may be either spontaneous (occurring from natural causes) or induced (artificial or therapeutic).
2. The arrest of any action or process before its normal completion.


Loss of the FETUS before it is able to survive outside the womb (UTERUS). The term abortion covers accidental or spontaneous ending, or MISCARRIAGE, of pregnancy as well as deliberate termination, whether for medical reasons or as a criminal act. At least 1 in 10 pregnancies ends in abortion, the great majority of these being spontaneous. Deliberate termination of pregnancy is called induced abortion. When this is legal it is called ‘therapeutic abortion’. Abortion may be performed legally under certain circumstances and in approved hospitals or clinics. Two doctors, who have seen the patient, must agree that continuation of the pregnancy would be detrimental to her or her baby, or her existing children's, physical or mental health. The term derives from the Latin aborior , to set, as of the sun.


the spontaneous or induced expulsion of a foetus before it becomes viable outside the uterus or womb.


(AB) (ă-bōr'shŭn)
The arrest of any action or process before its completion.

Patient discussion about abortion

Q. What do you know about abortions? How safe is it, are there pills that you can take to avoid the process?

A. I don't want to start a fight or anything here. Please forgive me for saying this. Consider your life when you have aged to 55 plus. Children to help take care of you, family to be with. Holidays are very lonely without family. Your children may be the only ones who care for you. Life is so much more with family. I wish I had a baby to hold. They are all so precious. I will say no more.

Q. I had an abortion which was unexpected.. Could I be pregnant again? Hello, I got married in Aug 2008, when I was 3 weeks pregnant I had an abortion which was unexpected. This happened 2 months back. Now I am using my rest room more often and I am not convenient with the natural disposes. I don’t know if these symptoms are due to any sickness or due to pregnancy. I took a pregnancy test but it came out negative. Could I be pregnant again?

A. Usually symptoms of pregnancy can’t be noticed until 2 weeks. A pregnancy test will become positive only after 2 weeks even if you are pregnant. I am guessing that you are not pregnant now. Repeating the test in one week might be wise if the symptoms persist. I want to know whether you used some birth control meds. If so plz avoid it. Then it could be possible for your pregnancy again.


A. I would have a difficult time trying to keep on living if I had intentionally ended my child's life. It would haunt me all my days wondering what the child would have been like, thinking about where they ended up in the medical waste can somewhere. I could not go through with any of the procedures mentioned here. What if I were to start having dreams of the child calling out to me in the night? I would never be able to sleep soundly again. How could I face anyone in my family after having done something like this.

More discussions about abortion
References in periodicals archive ?
"The reality on the ground is already so desperate," said Rebecca Gomperts, founder of Aid Access, which provides prescriptions for abortion pills by mail.
This social pressure to choose abortion and a lack of information does lead women to regret their medical abortions.
2 Reducing the impact of unsafe abortion worldwide includes: * Adhering to up-to-date clinical guidelines * Providing quality postabortion care * Promoting safer abortion methods in clandestine settings * Combatting stigma * Liberalizing abortion laws * Preventing unintended pregnancy Unintended pregnancy is the main reason for almost all abortions.
The lowest subregional rate worldwide was in Western Europe at 12 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008.
Since the Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone in September 2000, the proportion of medical abortions has increased 243%.
However, the abortion ratio has not changed from 2005 to 2008 (22 abortions per 100 pregnancies).
counties (87%) have no abortion providers; 35% of women of reproductive age live in those counties.
AFTER FOUR DECADES OF FIGHTING OVER ABORTION RIGHTS, we are all tired: advocates, the public, politicians, clinicians....
Rather than trying to ban abortion outright, which most politicians acknowledge the American public does not support, they instead chip away at the right to choose, one restriction at a time.
Wade Supreme Court decision that struck down virtually all state restrictions on abortion. More than 100,000 pro-life demonstrators converged on Washington, D.C., on Monday, January 23, for the annual March for Life.
Cold is what Coral Lopez remembers about the Planned Parenthood clinic where she had her first abortion in 1996.
Pro-life politicians were losing elections, defecting, or assuring voters that abortion was constitutionally untouchable.