Other namesInduced miscarriage, termination of pregnancy
SpecialtyObstetrics and gynecology

Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy by removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus before it can survive outside the uterus.[note 1] An abortion that occurs without intervention is known as a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. When deliberate steps are taken to end a pregnancy, it is called an induced abortion, or less frequently "induced miscarriage". The unmodified word abortion generally refers to an induced abortion.[1][2] A similar procedure after the fetus has potential to survive outside the womb is known as a "late termination of pregnancy" or less accurately as a "late term abortion".[3]

When properly done, abortion is one of the safest procedures in medicine,[4][5] but unsafe abortion is a major cause of maternal death, especially in the developing world.[6] Making safe abortion legal and accessible reduces maternal deaths.[7][8] It is safer than childbirth, which has a 14 times higher risk of death in the United States.[9] Modern methods use medication or surgery for abortions.[10] The drug mifepristone in combination with prostaglandin appears to be as safe and effective as surgery during the first and second trimester of pregnancy.[10][11] The most common surgical technique involves dilating the cervix and using a suction device.[12] Birth control, such as the pill or intrauterine devices, can be used immediately following abortion.[11] When performed legally and safely on a woman who desires it, induced abortions do not increase the risk of long-term mental or physical problems.[13] In contrast, unsafe abortions (those performed by unskilled individuals, with hazardous equipment, or in unsanitary facilities) cause 47,000 deaths and 5 million hospital admissions each year.[13][14] The World Health Organization recommends safe and legal abortions be available to all women.[15]

Around 56 million abortions are performed each year in the world,[16] with about 45% done unsafely.[17] Abortion rates changed little between 2003 and 2008,[18] before which they decreased for at least two decades as access to family planning and birth control increased.[19] As of 2008, 40% of the world's women had access to legal abortions without limits as to reason.[20] Countries that permit abortions have different limits on how late in pregnancy abortion is allowed.[20]

Historically, abortions have been attempted using herbal medicines, sharp tools, forceful massage, or through other traditional methods.[21] Abortion laws and cultural or religious views of abortions are different around the world. In some areas abortion is legal only in specific cases such as rape, problems with the fetus, poverty, risk to a woman's health, or incest.[22] There is debate over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of abortion.[23][24] Those who oppose abortion often argue that an embryo or fetus is a human with a right to life, and they may compare abortion to murder.[25][26] Those who support the legality of abortion often hold that it is part of a woman's right to make decisions about her own body.[27] Others favor legal and accessible abortion as a public health measure.[28]



An induced abortion may be classified as therapeutic (done in response to a health condition of the women or fetus) or elective (chosen for other reasons).[29]

Approximately 205 million pregnancies occur each year worldwide. Over a third are unintended and about a fifth end in induced abortion.[18][30] Most abortions result from unintended pregnancies.[31][32] In the United Kingdom, 1 to 2% of abortions are done due to genetic problems in the fetus.[13] A pregnancy can be intentionally aborted in several ways. The manner selected often depends upon the gestational age of the embryo or fetus, which increases in size as the pregnancy progresses.[33][34] Specific procedures may also be selected due to legality, regional availability, and doctor or a woman's personal preference.

Reasons for procuring induced abortions are typically characterized as either therapeutic or elective. An abortion is medically referred to as a therapeutic abortion when it is performed to save the life of the pregnant woman; to prevent harm to the woman's physical or mental health; to terminate a pregnancy where indications are that the child will have a significantly increased chance of mortality or morbidity; or to selectively reduce the number of fetuses to lessen health risks associated with multiple pregnancy.[35][36] An abortion is referred to as an elective or voluntary abortion when it is performed at the request of the woman for non-medical reasons.[36] Confusion sometimes arises over the term "elective" because "elective surgery" generally refers to all scheduled surgery, whether medically necessary or not.[37]


Miscarriage, also known as spontaneous abortion, is the unintentional expulsion of an embryo or fetus before the 24th week of gestation.[38] A pregnancy that ends before 37 weeks of gestation resulting in a live-born infant is a "premature birth" or a "preterm birth".[39] When a fetus dies in utero after viability, or during delivery, it is usually termed "stillborn".[40] Premature births and stillbirths are generally not considered to be miscarriages although usage of these terms can sometimes overlap.[41]

Only 30% to 50% of conceptions progress past the first trimester.[42] The vast majority of those that do not progress are lost before the woman is aware of the conception,[36] and many pregnancies are lost before medical practitioners can detect an embryo.[43] Between 15% and 30% of known pregnancies end in clinically apparent miscarriage, depending upon the age and health of the pregnant woman.[44] 80% of these spontaneous abortions happen in the first trimester.[45]

The most common cause of spontaneous abortion during the first trimester is chromosomal abnormalities of the embryo or fetus,[36][46] accounting for at least 50% of sampled early pregnancy losses.[47] Other causes include vascular disease (such as lupus), diabetes, other hormonal problems, infection, and abnormalities of the uterus.[46] Advancing maternal age and a woman's history of previous spontaneous abortions are the two leading factors associated with a greater risk of spontaneous abortion.[47] A spontaneous abortion can also be caused by accidental trauma; intentional trauma or stress to cause miscarriage is considered induced abortion or feticide.[48]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Aborsie
العربية: إجهاض
aragonés: Alborto
asturianu: Albuertu
Avañe'ẽ: Membykua
azərbaycanca: Abort
বাংলা: গর্ভপাত
Bân-lâm-gú: Jîn-kang liû-sán
башҡортса: Аборт
беларуская: Аборт
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Аборт
български: Аборт
bosanski: Pobačaj
буряад: Аборт
català: Avortament
čeština: Interrupce
Chi-Chewa: Kuchotsa mimba
chiShona: Kubvisa nhumbu
Cymraeg: Erthyliad
dansk: Abort
eesti: Abort
Ελληνικά: Έκτρωση
español: Aborto
Esperanto: Aborto
euskara: Abortu
فارسی: سقط جنین
Fiji Hindi: Abortion
føroyskt: Fosturtøka
français: Avortement
Frysk: Abortus
Gaeilge: Ginmhilleadh
galego: Aborto
한국어: 낙태
հայերեն: Աբորտ
Արեւմտահայերէն: Վիժում
हिन्दी: गर्भपात
hrvatski: Pobačaj
Ilokano: Alis
Bahasa Indonesia: Gugur kandungan
interlingua: Aborto
ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ/inuktitut: ᐃᓄᐃᑎᑦᑐᖅ
íslenska: Fóstureyðing
italiano: Aborto
Jawa: Aborsi
Kabɩyɛ: Hɔɔ lɩzɩɣ
Kapampangan: Abortion
ქართული: აბორტი
қазақша: Аборт
Kiswahili: Utoaji mimba
Кыргызча: Аборт
Latina: Abortus
latviešu: Aborts
Lëtzebuergesch: Ofdreiwung
lietuvių: Abortas
Limburgs: Abortus
lumbaart: Abort
मैथिली: गर्भपतन
македонски: Абортус
Malagasy: Fanalan-jaza
മലയാളം: ഗർഭഛിദ്രം
Malti: Abort
मराठी: गर्भपात
مصرى: اجهاض
Bahasa Melayu: Pengguguran
монгол: Аборт
Nederlands: Abortus
नेपाली: गर्भपतन
日本語: 妊娠中絶
нохчийн: Аборт
norsk: Abort
norsk nynorsk: Abort
occitan: Avortament
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ଗର୍ଭପାତ
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Abort
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਗਰਭਪਾਤ
پنجابی: ابورشن
Patois: Abaashan
Piemontèis: Abòrt
polski: Aborcja
português: Aborto
română: Avort
Runa Simi: Sulluchiy
русиньскый: Аборт
русский: Аборт
සිංහල: ගබ්සාව
Simple English: Abortion
slovenčina: Interrupcia
slovenščina: Splav
کوردی: لەبەرچوون
српски / srpski: Побачај
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Abortus
suomi: Abortti
svenska: Abort
Tagalog: Pagpapalaglag
татарча/tatarça: Аборт
తెలుగు: గర్భస్రావం
Türkçe: Kürtaj
Türkmençe: Abort
українська: Аборт
Tiếng Việt: Phá thai
Winaray: Punit
吴语: 堕胎
ייִדיש: אבארטאציע
Yorùbá: Ìṣẹ́yún
粵語: 落仔
Zazaki: Kurtaj
žemaitėška: Abuorts
中文: 堕胎