The term abortion refers to the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of the fetus or embryo from the uterus resulting in its death. The term is most commonly used to refer to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy.
Abortions in humans can occur spontaneously where it is carried out due to complications that occur in the duration of the pregnancy; this is also called a miscarriage or it can be induced.
An abortion can either be therapeutic in which case the abortion is induced with the aim of protecting the health of the mother or it can also be termed as an elective abortion in which case the abortion is procured for reasons other than protecting the health of the mother.
Abortion has a long history and whereas modern advancements in the medical world have allowed for the use of medications and relatively safe surgical procedures to induce abortion, the traditional methods included the use of sharp tools to inflict physical trauma. A pregnancy can be intentionally terminated in a number of ways.
The manner selected mainly depends on the gestational age of the embryo or fetus the full gestational age of a full pregnancy being approximately twenty two weeks.
The procedure may also depend on the legality of the procedure in the particular country, the availability of the procedure in terms of the equipment required as well as the skilled personnel to carry it out. It may also depend on the preference of both the doctor and the patient whereby both parties may settle on one procedure in favor of another.
In cases where the decision to undergo elective abortion is based on therapeutic causes, the termination of the pregnancy maybe carried out in an attempt to save the life of the mother.
This is done in cases where medical doctors have determined that to allow the pregnancy to develop further would pose a considerable risk to the life of the mother.
The abortion can also be carried out where medical doctors have ascertained that an abortion of the pregnancy would preserve the physical or mental health of the mother.
A therapeutic abortion can also be carried out to terminate a pregnancy that would result in a child born with a congenital disorder that would be fatal. It can also be carried out in cases associated with multiple pregnancies to selectively reduce the number of fetuses to lessen the health risks.
There are various techniques and procedures that can be used in terminating a pregnancy. One of these methods is medical abortion that uses pharmaceutical drugs to terminate the pregnancy. Medical abortion is a non surgical method.
Surgical methods have a variety of options. In the first twelve weeks, vacuum abortion is the most common method consists of removing the fetus or embryo, placenta and membranes by suction, it can be done manually using a manual syringe or by using an electric pump. Another method of abortion is by dilation and curettage which involves cleaning of the walls of the uterus with a curette.
Where the pregnancy is in the second trimester other techniques must be used to induce premature delivery using other drugs. Another method that can be used to terminate a pregnancy in its latter stages is hysterotomy abortion which is a procedure similar to a caesarean section and is performed under general anesthesia.
Abortion is at times also attempted by causing trauma to the abdomen; however the degree of force if severe can cause serious internal injuries without succeeding in killing the fetus. This kind of abortion can be subject to criminal liability in many countries.
Reported methods of unsafe and self induced abortion by insertion of non surgical implements such as knitting needles and clothes hangers into the uterus have been seen in developing nations but rarely in developed countries where surgical abortion is legal and accessible.
Also in countries where abortion is not legal the pregnant women may seek to terminate the pregnancies in illegal setups which could also lead to the women losing their lives in the process of trying to secure an abortion.
The practice of abortion also comes with various health risks and complications. The risk of complications can increase depending on how far the pregnancy has progressed. Early term surgical abortion is a simple procedure which is safer than abortions carried out much later in the pregnancy.
The risks that come with abortion maybe physical pain or mental anguish for the patient as a result of the emotional attachment that could have been formed with the pregnancy, lack of social support to assist the patient in coping with her decision or even as a result where the woman may have been forced into having an abortion and she would personally have wanted to carry the pregnancy for a full term, presence of pre-existing psychiatric illness whereby the woman may already have been having mental complications that are now compounded by the effects of the abortion.
Also in some cases the woman might suffer from mental anguish as a result of the guilt that the woman may be feeling as a result of the abortion, this is usually the case especially where the woman comes from a strong religious background that does not support abortion.
Women choose to undergo abortion for various reasons. Some women procure abortions due to a sense of immaturity. This is usually the case especially where young women in their teenage and early twenties are concerned.
They feel that they are not yet ready for the responsibilities that accompany motherhood. They may also feel that a child at such a young age will act as a barrier to her chance of advancing in her career or to her chances of pursuing a higher education. Some women may also terminate pregnancies in an attempt to end childbearing.
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