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Religious Tolerance logo

Abortion access

Diversity of definitions of the word "abortion"

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Most people have a favorite definition of the term "abortion" that they believe to be true. Unfortunately, a consensus has never been reached as to its precise meaning:

bulletSome define abortion as occurring only during certain stages of pregnancy;

bulletOthers use the term at any stage.

bulletSome restrict the term to medical terminations of pregnancy;

bulletOthers also use it to refer to what are commonly called miscarriages.

A Google search using the search string define: abortion returned the following definitions of abortion on the Web.

bullet"Medical termination of a pregnancy before the fetus has developed enough to survive outside the uterus." Holy Name Hospital at:  1
bullet"Purposeful termination of pregnancy with intention other than to produce a live born infant or to remove a dead fetus." South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, at: 1
bullet "Premature expulsion or loss of embryo, may be induced or spontaneous (miscarriage)." The University of New South Wales, Australia, at:
bullet "Termination or end of pregnancy. Giving birth to an embryo or fetus before it can live outside the womb, usually defined as before 20 weeks of gestation. Abortion may be spontaneous, often called a miscarriage, or induced as in a medical or therapeutic abortion performed to terminate a pregnancy." A Child to Love -- adoption information and resources, at:  1 [20 weeks gestational age is approximately equal to 18 weeks after fertilization]
bullet"The spontaneous or induced termination of pregnancy." Fertility UK, at:

"The loss of a pregnancy by artificial or natural means. The lay public often refers to "abortion" as any artificial means to induce the loss of a pregnancy. Physicians and midwives refer to this type of abortion as "therapeutic abortion" or "elective abortion". Physicians and midwives also refer to miscarriages as "spontaneous", "threatened" or "incomplete" abortions." AbcBirth, at: 1

bullet"a. Termination of pregnancy and expulsion of an embryo or of a fetus that is incapable of survival. b. Any of various procedures that result in such termination and expulsion. Also called induced abortion." Field of Daisies, at:
bullet"Pregnancy lost before the fetus can survive independently." IVF-Infertility, at:
bulletThe termination of a pregnancy and expulsion of the contents of the uterus. This can occur either by induction or spontaneously (when it is known as a miscarriage)." Sexual Pleasure Information Center, at:
bullet"Any pregnancy that ends before 20 weeks, though the term miscarriage is now used more to differentiate between a termination, and a pregnancy that ended by itself." Huggies® at:
bullet "The expulsion of the fotus before the seventh month of utero-gestation, or before it is viable." Bouviers Law Dictionary, 1856 edition at:
bullet"Expulsion or removal of an embryo or fetus before it is capable of independent life." McGraw-Hill Higher Education, at:
bullet "The premature ending of a pregnancy before the twenty-fourth week, either spontaneously or because of operative intervention. The medical profession also use the term "abortion" as a description of miscarriage." at:  1
bulletThe termination of a pregnancy at any time after implantation in the uterus and before viability (ability to survive outside the uterus) of the fetus. For the purposes of this website, abortion refers to a medical procedure performed by a licensed physician, intended to terminate an intrauterine pregnancy, producing a non-viable fetus at any gestational age." Public Health, State of Alaska, at:
bullet"Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy associated with the death and expulsion of the embryo or fetus from the womb. In medicine, all terminations of pregnancy not resulting in live birth are defined as abortions. In common parlance, the terms miscarriage or stillbirth are applied to spontaneous (non-induced) abortions." Wikipedia, at:


  1. These dictionaries were offline as of 2011-AUG-16

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Abortion > Facts > here

Copyright © 2007 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-AUG-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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