Updated: 2019, Aug 19

Abortion: What Is It?

Abortion: What Is It?

The term ‘abortion’ is defined as the voluntary or involuntary termination of pregnancy usually before the 28th week of pregnancy. The most common reason for abortion is a postponement of childbearing followed by the inability of the parents to care and sustain the needs of the baby.

In 2012, 42.4% of abortion cases in New York City were black babies, surpassing the number of babies born. According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortion cases are decreasing among high-income women (28%) but increasing among women in poor countries (18%).

Why Women Need Abortion?

There are many reasons why pregnant mothers (and their partners) decide to discontinue or terminate a pregnancy before the viable age. The reasons are categorized into personal, societal and medical.

1. Personal: The main personal reason for abortion is termination of an unplanned pregnancy. Majority of the teen pregnancy cases are unplanned. Teens are still immature and cannot afford legitimate support, thus sometimes lead to unsafe abortion method decision.

2. Society: Prevalence of abortion is higher in poor countries. Women who are unable to support or care their child may consider abortion. On the other hand, women who are victims of incest or rape experience social stigma which sometimes leads to the abortion decision.

3. Maternal or Fetal Health: Abortion can be performed due to medical reasons. Children with birth defects and serious medical problems can be subject to medical abortion. Certain illness such as cancer can endanger woman’s health, thus termination of pregnancy may be needed.

Types of Abortion

Abortion Can Be Spontaneous Or Induced.

1. Spontaneous Abortion:

Spontaneous abortion is the involuntary termination of pregnancy before 20th week of pregnancy. Spontaneous abortion is another term for a miscarriage. It has been known that 50% of pregnancies experience spontaneous abortion but do not recognize them. Most of the spontaneous abortion cases are mainly due to unsuccessful implantation and chromosomal abnormalities. Risk factors of spontaneous abortion include chronic smoking, consumption of illicit drugs and history of genetic disease. Spontaneous abortion rarely happens during the second trimester of pregnancy.

2. Induced Abortion:

This is the voluntary termination of pregnancy using artificial methods. Induced abortion can be done by administration of abortifacients, suctioning and curettage. There is a term called self-induced abortion which is abortion performed without the knowledge and assistance of a medical professional through self-consumption of controlled drugs such as misoprostol. Self-induced abortion is strongly not recommended due to greater risks of severe bleeding, infection or even death.

Methods of Abortion

Termination of pregnancy is possible by consumption of abortifacients or utilization of instruments.

1. Medical procedure

Medical abortion is the termination of pregnancy through the use of drugs. This method of abortion is performed during the first three months of pregnancy. Sonogram is done prior to the procedure to determine the fetus viability. Methotrexate, mifepristone, misoprostol and morning-after pill are the most common drugs used in a medical abortion procedure.

2. Surgical Procedure

Surgical abortion is the termination of pregnancy through the employment of manual or operative procedures. Surgical abortion procedures are aspiration (vacuum aspiration or suction curettage, D & C (Dilatation and Curettage), partial birth abortion and D & E (Dilatation and Evacuation).

Safety Concerns Regarding Abortions

Abortion (particularly induced abortion) has not always been totally safe. It is associated with health risks that can harm both the health of the baby and the mother. Unsuccessful abortion not only leaves physical scars but also long-term emotional stress in mothers. The following are the side effects and health concerns of abortion.

Impact to The Mother Impact to The Baby
Infection Abnormalities in the limbs (Mobius Syndrome)
Severe hemorrhage Fetal malformation
Depression Skull defects
Sleep problems Cranial nerve defect
Sexual difficulties Cleft lip, cleft palate
Eating problem Fetal vascular disruption
Suicidal tendencies
Increased cancer risk
Succeeding pregnancy complications such as premature birth, sterility, tubal pregnancy
Drug and alcohol tendencies

Reasons for abortion are many and varied which can be personal, societal or medical. Abortion can be spontaneous or induced and medical or surgical. Due to serious health risks, termination of pregnancy especially without the assistance of a professional can lead to severe hemorrhage or even death. Failed

You Can Also Check – Alcohol & Drug-Related Birth Defects Awareness Week: On 8-14 May


Peony C Echavez

Peony is a registered nurse and former Director of Nursing services for a large nursing facility. She has written web content for a lar

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