Abortion Summary

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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.[1] An abortion can occur spontaneously due tocomplications during pregnancy or can be induced, in humans and other species. In the context of human pregnancies, an abortion induced to preserve the health 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. Worldwide 42 million abortions are estimated to take place annually with 22 million of these occurring safely and 20 million unsafely.[2] While maternal mortality seldom results from safe abortions, unsafe abortions result in 70,000 deaths and 5 million disabilities per year.[2] One of the main determinants of the availability of safe abortions is the legality of the procedure. Forty percent of the world's women are able to access therapeutic and elective abortions within gestational limits.[3] The frequency of abortions is similar whether or not access is restricted.[2][3] 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, and religious views on abortion vary substantially around the world. In many 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 planning...
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