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"Abortion," in its most commonly used sense, refers to the deliberate early termination of pregnancy, resulting in the death of the embryo or fetus. Medically, the term also refers to the early termination of a pregnancy by natural causes ("spontaneous abortion" or miscarriage, which ends 1 in 5 of all pregnancies, usually within the first 13 weeks) or to the cessation of normal growth of a body part or organ. What follows is a discussion of the issues related to deliberate or "induced" abortion.


Depending on the stage of pregnancy an abortion is performed by a number of different methods. For the earliest terminations (before nine weeks or so) a chemical abortion[?] is the usual method, the drug mifepristone is usually the only legal method although research has uncovered similar effects from methotrexate[?] and misoprostol[?]. Concurrent with chemical abortion and extending up until around the fifteenth week suction-aspiration[?] or vacuum abortion is the most common approach, replacing the more risky dilation and curettage (D & C). From the fifteenth week up until around the eighteenth week a surgical dilation and evacuation[?] (D & E) is used.

As the fetus size increases other techniques must be used to secure abortion in the third trimester, premature expulsion of the fetus can be induced with prostaglandin, this can be coupled with injecting the amniotic fluid with saline or urea solution. Very late abortions can be brought about by the controversal intact dilation and extraction (D & X) or a hysterotomy abortion[?], similar to a caesarian section.

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