Updated: DECEMBER 19, 2016
Abortion is the deliberate ending of a pregnancy. An abortion is a legal process that some pregnant women choose if they do not wish to give birth. Studies show that 30% of American women will have an abortion by the age of 45.
Abortions fall under two key categories: in-clinic abortions and abortions caused by an abortion pill. In-clinic abortions remove the fetus from the body. An abortion pill causes a miscarriage.
An abortion is sometimes called a termination.
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The abortion pill is a non-surgical, non-invasive abortion method. Up to the ninth week of pregnancy, the pill brings on an early miscarriage. Between nine and 24 weeks, the abortion pill also causes the womb to contract to expel the fetus. An injection to the womb is required in addition to the pills from the 22nd week.
In-clinic abortions take two forms: vacuum aspiration and dilation and evacuation. Vacuum aspiration abortions are suitable for pregnancies up to 15 weeks. Gentle suction is used to remove the fetus from the womb. The procedure may be completed under a local or general anesthetic. Between 15 and 24 weeks, a dilation and evacuation abortion may be performed. While the woman is under general anesthetic, a doctor uses forceps to remove the fetus from the womb. In-clinic abortions do not typically require an overnight stay.
Abortions are considered simple and safe procedures. As with any medical procedures, complications can occur. An abortion does not jeopardize a woman's chance of having healthy babies later in life.
While abortion is legal in many parts of the world, some countries and American states require parental consent before granting abortions to minors. A judge may excuse a pregnant girl under the age of 18 from these requirements.
Despite being legal in the United States since 1973, abortion continues to be a controversial procedure. Many critics object to the practice because they feel it robs the fetus of its chance at life. Questions also surround whether parents and the fathers of the fetus should be notified of the abortion.