Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability.[note 1] An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy. Abortion, when induced in the developed world in accordance with local law, is among the safest procedures in medicine.
 However, unsafe abortions result in approximately 70,000 maternal deaths and 5 million hospital admissions per year globally.
 An estimated 44 million abortions are performed globally each year, with slightly under half of those performed unsafely.
 The incidence of abortion has stabilized in recent years, having previously spent decades declining as access to family planning education and contraceptive services increased.
 Forty percent of the world’s women have access to legal induced abortions (within gestational limits).
 Induced abortion has a long history and has been performed by various methods, including herbal abortifacients, the use of sharpened tools, physical trauma, and other traditional methods. Contemporary medicine utilizes medications and surgical procedures.
The legality, prevalence, cultural and religious status of abortion vary substantially around the world. Its legality can depend on specific conditions, such as incest, rape, fetal defects, a high risk of disability, socioeconomic factors or the mother’s health being at risk. In many parts of the world there is prominent and divisive public controversy over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of abortion. Those who are against abortion generally posit that an embryo or fetus is a human with the right to life and may equate abortion withhomicide, while proponents of abortion rights emphasize a woman’s right to decide about matters concerning her own body. There are two kinds of abortion in the U.S. — in-clinic abortion and the abortion pill. Abortions are very common. In fact, 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. If you are pregnant, you have options. If you are trying to decide if abortion is the right choice for you, you probably have many things to think about. Learning the facts about abortion may help you in making your decision.
You may also want to learn more about parenting and adoption. If you are under 18, your state may require one or both of your parents to give permission for your abortion or be told of your decision prior to the abortion. However, in most states you can ask a judge to excuse you from these requirements. Learn more about parental consent for abortion. Only you can decide what is best for you. But we are here to help. A staff member at your local Planned Parenthood health center can discuss abortion and all of your options with you and help you find the services you need.
There is more than one kind of in-clinic abortion procedure. The most common is called aspiration. It is also known as vacuum aspiration. Aspiration is usually used up to 16 weeks after a woman’s last period. D&E — dilation and evacuation — is another kind of in-clinic abortion. D&E is usually performed later than 16 weeks after a woman’s last period.
A woman has many decisions to make when considering abortion. If you’rethinking about abortion, your health care provider may talk with you about a few different abortion methods. You may be offered the option to have an in-clinic abortion procedure. Or you may be offered the option to have a medication abortion by taking the abortion pill. Medication abortion is the kind of abortion discussed on this page. Whether you’re thinking about having a medication abortion, you’re concerned about a woman who may be having one, or you’re someone who’s just curious about medication abortion, you may have many questions. Here are some of the most common questions we hear women ask about the abortion pill.
We hope you find the answers helpful. And if you’re thinking of having a medication abortion, we hope they help you decide what is best for you. The abortion pill is a medicine that ends an early pregnancy. In general, it can be used up to 63 days — 9 weeks — after the first day of a woman’s last period. Women who need an abortion and are more than 9 weeks pregnant can have an in-clinic abortion. The name for “the abortion pill” is mifepristone. It was called RU-486 when it was being developed.
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