Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy done by either removal or expulsion of the foetus before it attains the viability. The word viability sets restrictions and comprehensively defines the time period of safe abortion. A pregnancy terminated in first trimester is called as abortion. It stretches up to 20th week of pregnancy. After this if the foetus dies it is called as ‘still born’.

An abortion can occur naturally or it can be optional. The spontaneously caused abortion is called as ‘miscarriage’ while the opted out is called as ‘induced abortion’. Though, abortion has been legalised in most of the countries of the world with specific guidelines. Yet there are various parts of the world where lack of facilities or social taboo lead to maternal deaths. This generally occurs in places where access to modern medical facilities is denied. This forces a woman to go to untrained workers to get her abortion done.

The modern procedure of abortion is absolutely safe and results in negligible number of maternal deaths or complications. But on the other hand the abortion did by unskilled and untrained professionals result in significant maternal deaths and disabilities. In some cases this even lead to secondary pregnancy caused as a result of retained conception contents inside the womb.

There are various reasons that lead a woman to take the decision of abortion. Highest number is however of unplanned pregnancies. Despite ample contraceptive measures available in the market, unplanned pregnancies are the major reason that results in abortion. Besides, various socioeconomic factors, maternal health etc play significant factors. Medical viability of the foetus and any chromosomal defect or any other kind of medical anomaly also results in abortion.


Most of the abortions that occur naturally in the earliest weeks of pregnancy are a result of body’s mechanism to expel the unviable foetus. In some cases, a medical anomaly is detected in later stages of pregnancy when sonography or amniocentesis is done. A medical abortion is recommended in those cases.

Broadly abortion is done either by administering medicines or by surgical removal of the foetus. A ‘Mifepristone’ and ‘prostaglandin analog’ is the best available medical combination of drugs that is practiced globally for carrying out abortion. There are several other drugs prescribed by the professionals depending upon the patient’s condition and local relevant factors. But generally an abortion by medicine is safest up to 9 weeks of pregnancy. After this period, surgical abortion is recommended. ‘Dilatation and curettage’ is the most commonly practiced surgical procedure for terminating the pregnancy. Depending upon the stage of pregnancy and condition of the patient, various other procedures like dilatation and evacuation; intact dilatation and extraction are carried out. Surgical abortions can be carried out by trained professionals in primary care offices, abortion clinics and hospital settings.

It is a medical boon if carried out properly. But in many countries sex selective abortions have been noticed. This has led to altered sex ratio and vulnerability towards an unbalanced society. There are various cultures and religious group all over the world who opine against abortion. This has even led to create social taboos and resulted in a wrong perception of abortion. But in countries where it has been legalised under specified guidelines a decrease in maternal mortality rate has been noticed.

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