Speaking technically, the definition of abortion as written in The American Heritage Dictionary is the, “termination of pregnancy and expulsion of an embryo or of a fetus that is incapable of survival. Any of various procedures that result in such termination and expulsion.” Of course, this is a very stiff definition of abortion, as the topic itself is quite volatile when speaking politically, legally, or morally.
The definition of abortion is not limited to terms of induced abortion, but also can be defined in terms of spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage. Spontaneous abortion happens when the woman’s body rejects the embryo or fetus for any number of reasons. This is an accidental process, over which the mother has no control. Some of the reasons for spontaneous abortion depend on when the miscarriage occurs. Most spontaneous abortions happen within the first two weeks of pregnancy, and are due to abnormalities of the embryo.
Spontaneous abortions during the second and third trimesters are often due to problems with the mother’s body. Some of these problems could be hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, or another disease of the endocrine system; cervical or uterine irregularities; or emotional difficulties. Sometimes, the mother’s immune system won’t recognize the embryo and will expel it believing it is foreign tissue. Only about 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
The most commonly referred to definition of abortion is Induced Abortion. Induced abortion is the willful choice of the woman. This choice can be made for a multitude of reasons, but in general, there are two types of Induced Abortion: Therapeutic Abortion and Elective Abortion. Therapeutic Abortion is done for medical reasons. Often, this definition of abortion is not considered, but it is very prominent. If the woman’s doctor fears that the pregnancy or birth will great endanger the woman’s physical or mental health, the pregnancy can be terminated.
Elective Abortion is when the woman decides for her own personal reasons to terminate the pregnancy. There are many, many reasons that a woman could choose this option, including, but not limited to: financial problems, immaturity, cultural or religious concerns – especially if she is not married or very young – and not being on good terms with the father. Also, victims of sexual assault or abuse often choose to terminate a pregnancy that is the result of this abuse.
There are two basic types of induced abortion procedures: surgical and chemical. Surgical procedures depend on the stage of gestation. The basic surgical abortion procedures are Manual Vacuum Aspiration, Electric Vacuum Aspiration, Dilation and Curettage, Dilation and Evacuation, Intact Dilation and Extraction, and Hysterotomy. Chemical abortions are done by early induction of labor due to the administration of abortifacient drugs.