GC: n

S: WHO – http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/unsafe_abortion/en/ (last access: 8 July 2016); NHS – http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Abortion/Pages/Introduction.aspx (last access: 8 July 2016).

N: 1. 1540s, originally of both deliberate and unintended miscarriages; from Latin abortionem (nominative abortio) “miscarriage; abortion,” noun of action from past participle stem of aboriri “to miscarry” (see abortive).
Earlier noun in English was simple abort (early 15c.) “miscarriage.” In 19c. some effort was made to distinguish abortion “expulsion of the fetus between 6 weeks and 6 months” from miscarriage (the same within 6 weeks of conception) and premature labor (delivery after 6 months but before due time). The deliberate miscarriage was criminal abortion. This broke down late 19c. as abortion came to be used principally for intentional miscarriages, probably via phrases such as procure an abortion.
Foeticide (n.) appears 1823 as a forensic medical term for deliberate premature fatal expulsion of the fetus; also compare prolicide. Another 19c. medical term for it was embryoctony, from Latinized form of Greek kteinein “to destroy.” Abortion was a taboo word for much of early 20c., disguised in print as criminal operation (U.S.) or illegal operation (U.K.), and replaced by miscarriage in film versions of novels.
2. Abortion, the expulsion of a fetus from the uterus before it has reached the stage of viability (in human beings, usually about the 20th week of gestation). An abortion may occur spontaneously, in which case it is also called a miscarriage, or it may be brought on purposefully, in which case it is often called an induced abortion.
3. Spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages, occur for many reasons, including disease, trauma, genetic defect, or biochemical incompatibility of mother and fetus. Occasionally a fetus dies in the uterus but fails to be expelled, a condition termed a missed abortion.
4. A therapeutic abortion is the interruption of a pregnancy before the 20th week of gestation because it endangers the mother’s life or health or because the baby presumably would not be normal.
5. Elective abortions are those initiated by personal choice. Roughly 20% of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in elective abortion. It has been reported that since abortion was legalized in 1973 through 2002, over 42 million legal abortions have been performed.

S: 1. OED – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=abortion (last access: 8 July 2016). 2 to 4. EncBrit – https://global.britannica.com/topic/abortion-pregnancy; https://global.britannica.com/topic/therapeutic-abortion (last access: 8 July 2016). 5. NYTIMES – http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/abortion-elective-or-therapeutic/overview.html (last access: 8 July 2016).


CR: bioethics, Cesarean section, embryo, fetus, midwife, pregnancy.