Health A-Z

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What Is It?

Abortion is the removal of pregnancy tissue, products of conception or the fetus and placenta (afterbirth) from the uterus. The terms fetus and placenta usually are used after eight weeks of pregnancy, while the other terms describe tissue produced by the union of an egg and sperm before eight weeks. Each year approximately 1.2 million women in the United States choose to end a pregnancy. Other terms for an abortion include elective abortion, induced abortion, termination of pregnancy and therapeutic abortion.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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