What is abortion? | Living Science

Abortion is the early termination of a pregnancy, which can occur spontaneously, as in the case of an abortion, or can occur when the pregnancy ends through medical or surgical procedures. In the latter case, it depends on the method of abortion stage of pregnancyamong other factors.

How are abortions affected?

There are different ways to influence abortion, depending on the extent of the pregnancy and whether the pregnancy is inside or outside the uterus, said Dr. Deborah Powell, a professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota and a member of the National Academy of Reproductive Health Services.

Powell said most abortions occur in the first trimester, which is the first 12 weeks or so of a very short pregnancy.

The abortion drug Mifepristone, also known as RU486, is available at an abortion clinic in Auckland, New Zealand. (Image credit: Phil Walter / Getty Images)

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The methods are as follows: a 2018 report On the safety of abortion care in the United States, written by the National Academy of Reproductive Health Services Commission:

  • Medication abortion, or “doctor” abortion: This method is approved by the FDA for 10-week pregnancies and involves two medications that take between 24 and 48 hours. The first pill is mifepristone, which blocks the production of progesterone, an important hormone for maintaining pregnancy. The second pill is misoprostol, which causes contractions in the uterus. (Note that in some cases, misoprostol may be prescribed on its own, he says World Health Organization (Opens in new tab)MOE.
  • Aspiration abortion (surgical abortion, absorption placement, or dilation, and curettage (D&C)) is also called: Aspiration is the most widely used method of abortion in the United States, accounting for about 68% of abortions in 2013, and can be used until 16 weeks of pregnancy. This procedure involves enlarging the cervix so that an empty curette or a tube can enter the uterus. At the other end of the tube, a hand-held syringe or electrical device is placed to absorb and empty the uterus. The procedure generally takes less than 10 minutes.
  • Expansion and evacuation (D&E): This type of abortion is usually performed after 14 weeks of pregnancy and involves enlargement of the uterus and emptying of the uterus.
  • Induction abortion (also called “medical” abortion): This method involves the use of medication to cause childbirth and the birth of the fetus. The most effective regimens use higher doses of the same medications used for medical abortions performed earlier in pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol.

Are abortions safe?

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