Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo before viability.[note 1] An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is often called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy. After viability, the relevant procedure is referred to as a "late termination of pregnancy".[note 1] Modern medicine utilizes medications and surgical procedures for induced abortion.
Abortion, when induced in the developed world in accordance with local law, is among the safest procedures in medicine. Uncomplicated abortions do not cause either long term psychological or physical problems. Unsafe abortions, however, result in approximately 47,000 maternal deaths and 5 million hospital admissions per year globally.
An estimated 44 million abortions are performed globally each year, with slightly under half of those performed unsafely. The number of abortion has stabilized in recent years, having previously spent decades declining as access to family planning education and contraceptive services increased. Forty percent of the world's women have access to legal induced abortions (within gestational limits).
Induced abortion has a long history and has been performed by various methods, including herbal abortifacients, the use of sharpened tools, physical trauma, and other traditional methods. The legality, prevalence, cultural and religious status of abortion vary substantially around the world. Its legality can depend on specific conditions, such as incest, rape, fetal defects, a high risk of disability, socioeconomic factors or the mother's health being at risk. In many parts of the world there is prominent and divisive public controversy over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of abortion. Those who are against abortion generally posit that an embryo or fetus is a human with the right to life and may equate abortion with homicide, while proponents of abortion rights emphasize a woman's right to decide about matters concerning her own body.Induced Approximately 205 million pregnancies occur each year worldwide. Over a third are unintended and about a fifth end in induced abortion. Most abortions result from unintended pregnancies. In the United Kingdom 1 to 2% of abortions are done due to genetic problems in the fetus. A pregnancy can be intentionally aborted in several ways. The manner selected often depends 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 or patient preference.
Reasons for procuring induced 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; prevent harm to the woman's physical or mental health; terminate a pregnancy where indications are that the child will have a significantly increased chance of premature morbidity or mortality or be otherwise disabled; or to selectively reduce the number of fetuses to lessen health risks associated with multiple pregnancy. An abortion is referred to as an elective or voluntary abortion when it is performed at the request of the woman for non-medical reasons. Confusion sometimes arises over the term "elective" because "elective surgery" generally refers to all scheduled surgery, whether medically necessary or not.
Main article: Miscarriage
Spontaneous abortion, also known as miscarriage, is the unintentional expulsion of an embryo or fetus before the 24th week of gestation. A pregnancy that ends before 37 weeks of gestation resulting in a live-born infant is known as a "premature birth" or a "preterm birth". When a fetus dies in utero after viability,...
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