What is meant by the word abortion?

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Abortion - Coursework

Section A

i) What is meant by the word abortion?

An abortion is technically any death of a baby in the womb, and its expulsion from the mother's body (when this happens naturally this is sometimes called a miscarriage), however, what most people mean when they talk about "an abortion" is a procured abortion. This is when the life of the foetus is deliberately terminated and removed from the womb. Sometimes the language used to define abortion can be emotive and cause argument. Anti-abortionists (pro-life) will talk about killing babies to evoke guilt; while people who believe abortion should be legal (pro-choice) will say that the foetus is terminated.

Abortion can be carried out in several ways:

The abortion pill - RU 486 is an option up to 8 weeks past the beginning of the last menstrual period. It causes the end of the pregnancy. Depending on which pill is used, the woman takes an tablet orally or inserts a pessary into her vagina, causing the uterus to contract and expel the tissue. A follow-up appointment is typically required to make sure the abortion is complete. Some women prefer the abortion pill because the process feels more natural and private; they can decide where they are when they go through the experience. Side effects of the second medication include cramping, bleeding, diarrhoea, nausea, etc. An abortion carried out in this way can take two or more days, which can make the abortion more traumatic.

Vacuum Aspiration (sometimes referred to as surgical suction) can be carried out from 5-15 weeks of the pregnancy, this is known as the first trimester. The treatment is carried out under local or general anaesthetic, usually with day-care facilities. Vacuum aspiration does not involve any kind of cutting. When using a local anaesthetic, this is injected into the cervix. When having a general anaesthetic it is injected through a fine needle usually into a vein in the back of the hand. Once the anaesthetic is working the cervix is gently stretched open - in some cases a pessary may have been inserted into the vagina to relax and soften the cervix. A thin plastic tube is then eased into the uterus. The contents are carefully sucked into the tube by an electric pump. The whole procedure should only take a few minutes. The gynaecologist can usually tell both from the feel of the tube in the uterus and from the tissue sucked out, when the abortion is complete. Bleeding can occur after the treatment, and is like the end of a period lasting for up to 10 days after the operation.
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Medical Induction the drug prostaglandin is used to soften the cervix and to make the uterus contract. The prostaglandin causes labour that is very like having a miscarriage and which usually lasts from 6 to 12 hours (Sometimes it is necessary to go to theatre to ensure the uterus is empty, this would be done under general anaesthetic). Following treatment there may be some after pain for about an hour or so, and bleeding for 5 to 15 days. Most women are able to go home six to twelve hours after the abortion. This type of abortion is ...

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