Abortion (Termination Of Pregnancy)

What Is It?

Abortion is the removal of pregnancy tissue, products of conception or the fetus and placenta (afterbirth) from the uterus. The terms fetus and placenta usually are used after eight weeks of pregnancy, while the other terms describe tissue produced by the union of an egg and sperm before eight weeks. Each year approximately 1.2 million women in the United States choose to end a pregnancy. Other terms for an abortion include elective abortion, induced abortion, termination of pregnancy and therapeutic abortion.

What It's Used For

In the United States, abortion is used most often to end an unplanned pregnancy. Unplanned pregnancies happen when birth control is not used, is used incorrectly or fails to prevent a pregnancy. Abortion is also used to end a pregnancy when tests reveal that the fetus is abnormal. Therapeutic abortion refers to an abortion recommended when the mother's health is at risk.

Roughly one-half of all abortions are done during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy and about 88% during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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