Abortion: What Is It?

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Jun 5, 2014 | Last Updated: Sep 28, 2018


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 postponement of childbearing followed by 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 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 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 his child may consider abortion. On the other hand, women who are victims of incest or rape experience social stigma which sometimes lead to 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 miscarriage. It has been known that 50% of pregnancies experience spontaneous abortion but do not recognize them. Most of 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 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 MotherImpact to The Baby
InfectionAbnormalities in the limbs (Mobius Syndrome)
Severe hemorrhageFetal malformation
DepressionSkull defects
Sleep problemsCranial nerve defect
Sexual difficultiesCleft lip, cleft palate
Eating problemFetal 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

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