Abortion Primer for Pro-Lifers

There are a number of medical and legal terms for the different types of abortion, both intentional and unintentional. Listed below are some of those terms.

n Complete abortion: When all of the contents of the uterus (i.e., the pre-born baby and the placenta) have been expelled from the uterus.

n Criminal (illegal) abortion: Any abortion committed outside the parameters set by law. For instance, an abortionist commits a criminal abortion if he aborts a minor without her parent's permission in a state with parental consent laws, or if he commits a D&X abortion on a woman at 28 weeks gestation for convenience purposes in a state where third-trimester abortions are banned except in the case of severe fetal anomalies.

n Early abortion: An abortion within the first trimester (i.e., first 12 weeks) of a pregnancy.

n Habitual abortion: Spontaneous abortion (i.e., miscarriage) occurring in three or more consecutive pregnancies. Women who suffer from habitual abortions account for the majority of miscarriages.

n Incomplete abortion: An intentional or unintentional abortion in which parts of the pre-born child and/or placenta remain within the uterus.

n Induced abortion: An intentional abortion brought on by mechanical (surgical) or chemical (abortifacient) means.

n Inevitable abortion: Acondition marked by vaginal bleeding and cervical dilation that indicates an impending miscarriage that cannot be prevented, and follows a condition of threatened abortion (see below).

n Infected abortion: An abortion associated with, and possibly caused by, an infection of the uterus or the genital tract, such as a venereal disease.

n Missed abortion: When a woman does not miscarry a pre-born child who died more than eight weeks previously.

n Septic abortion: An abortion associated with, and possibly caused by, an infection of the uterus.

n Spontaneous abortion: The medical term for a miscarriage. This term is very important for pro-life activists to remember because many medical statistical categories and subsequent medical treatments (such as delivery of a child) do not distinguish between intentional and spontaneous abortion.

n Therapeutic abortion: The current medical literature equates “legal abortion” with “therapeutic abortion.” However, the definition of the word “therapeutic” means “treatment of disease.” The use of the term “therapeutic” … implies that pregnancy is a disease, an assertion many abortion advocates have made.

n Threatened abortion: A condition that usually includes vaginal bleeding but not cervical dilation, and may or may not lead to a condition of inevitable abortion.

Source: The Facts of Life: An Authoritative Guide to Life and Family Issues, by Brian Clowes PhD (Human Life International, Front Royal, Va.) Reprinted with permission.