Abortion, Therapeutic (Encyclopedia of Medicine)
Therapeutic abortion is the intentional termination of a pregnancy before the fetus can live independently. Abortion has been a legal procedure in the United States since 1973.
An abortion may be performed whenever there is some compelling reason to end a pregnancy. Women have abortions because continuing the pregnancy would cause them hardship, endanger their life or health, or because prenatal testing has shown that the fetus will be born with severe abnormalities.
Abortions are safest when performed within the first six to 10 weeks after the last menstrual period. The calculation of this date is referred to as the gestational age and is used in determining the stage of pregnancy. For example, a woman who is two weeks late having her period is said to be six weeks pregnant, because it is six weeks since she last menstruated.
About 90% of women who have abortions do so before 13 weeks and experience few complications. Abortions performed between 13-24 weeks have a higher rate of complications. Abortions after 24 weeks are extremely rare and are usually limited to situations where the life of the mother is in danger.
Most women are able to have abortions at clinics or outpatient facilities if the...
(The entire section is 2394 words.)
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