Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death. An abortion can occur spontaneously due to complications during pregnancy or can be induced in humans and other species. In the context of human pregnancies, an abortion induced to preserve thehealth of the gravida (pregnant female) is termed a therapeutic abortion, while an abortion induced for any other reason is termed an elective abortion. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy, while spontaneous abortions are usually termed miscarriages.
Abortion has a low risk of maternal mortality except for abortions performed unsafely, which result in70,000 deaths and 5 million disabilities per year globally. Abortions are unsafe when performed by persons without the proper skills or outside of a medically safe environment. An estimated 42 million abortions are performed annually with 20 million of those abortions done unsafely around the world. Forty percent of the world's women are able to access therapeutic and elective abortions withingestational limits.
Abortion has a long history and has been induced by various methods including herbal abortifacients, the use of sharpened tools, physical trauma, and other traditional methods. Contemporary medicine utilizes medications and surgical procedures to induce abortion. The legality, prevalence, cultural status, and religious status of abortion vary substantially around the world. Inmany parts of the world there is prominent and divisive public controversy over the ethical and legal issues of abortion. Abortion and abortion-related issues feature prominently in the national politics in many nations, often involving the opposing pro-life and pro-choice worldwide social movements (both self-named). Incidence of abortion has declined worldwide as access to family planningeducation and contraceptive services has increased.
A pregnancy can be intentionally aborted in many ways. The manner selected depends chiefly upon the gestational age of the embryo or fetus, which increases in size as the pregnancy progresses. Specific procedures may also be selected due to legality, regional availability, and doctor-patient preference. Reasons for procuringinduced abortions are typically characterized as either therapeutic or elective. An abortion is medically referred to as a therapeutic abortion when it is performed to:
save the life of the pregnant woman;
preserve the woman's physical or mental health;
terminate pregnancy that would result in a child born with a congenital disorder that would be fatal or associated with significantmorbidity;or
selectively reduce the number of fetuses to lessen health risks associated with multiple pregnancy.
An abortion is referred to as elective when it is performed at the request of the woman "for reasons other than maternal health or fetal disease
Spontaneous abortion (also known as miscarriage) is the expulsion of an embryo or fetus due to accidental trauma ornatural causes before approximately the 22nd week of gestation; the definition by gestational age varies by country. Most miscarriages are due to incorrect replication of chromosomes; they can also be caused by environmental factors. A pregnancy that ends before 37 weeks of gestation resulting in a live-born infant is known as a "premature birth". When a fetus dies in utero after about 22 weeks, orduring delivery, it is usually termed "stillborn". Premature births and stillbirths are generally not considered to be miscarriages although usage of these terms can sometimes overlap.
Between 10% and 50% of pregnancies end in clinically apparent miscarriage, depending upon the age and health of the pregnant woman. Most miscarriages occur very early in pregnancy, in most cases, they occur so...