Abortion is one of the issues that has generated the most controversy and differences in the scientific and legal-legal field throughout history. Various reasons have been recognized that justify the interruption of pregnancy, such as that the fetus has deformities or serious illnesses, that the life of the pregnant woman is at risk or that the pregnancy is the result of rape. However, depending on the country, one or the other or even none are recognized, making it illegal to abort.
Not all abortions occur for the same causes or conditions, since they can occur voluntarily or involuntarily . For this reason it is important to know how to differentiate the types of pregnancy interruptions that can be generated during pregnancy.
- See the 7 consequences of abortion (physical and psychological).
1. Definition of abortion according to the WHO
2. The 4 types of abortion according to the WHO
abortion 2.2 Induced
abortion 2.3 Indirect abortion
abortion Definition of abortion according to the WHO
According to the WHO (World Health Organization) abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy when the fetus is not yet viable outside the uterus . It is when the pregnancy is interrupted and ends prematurely and the fetus cannot survive outside the mother’s womb. This interruption can happen naturally, involuntarily, or voluntarily, when deliberate measures are taken to end the pregnancy.
Definitions of abortion vary widely from one source to another and can differ greatly from one country to another. These can reflect political and social opinions and not focus only on scientific knowledge. Some aspects that generate more controversy is the limit of weeks until a loss can be recognized. The WHO considers abortion as the termination of pregnancy before 20 weeks of gestation or the birth of a fetus weighing less than 500g.
Ambiguous definitions can create uncertainty in the medical community. Several countries, such as Ireland and Canada, have expressed concern about confusing definitions of abortion. For this reason, it is very important to focus on a globally recognized and agreed description. Thus, the definition of abortion proposed by the WHO is the most widely recognized and accepted.
The 4 types of abortion
As the WHO explains, there are several types of termination of pregnancy, differentiating between them by whether they occur voluntarily, involuntarily, safely or unsafely. The circumstances in which the abortion is performed, its causes and the conditions. Below we detail the different types taking into account a medical perspective:
Main causes that trigger an abortion. | Assigned.
abortion Spontaneous abortion consists of an interruption that is not provoked intentionally . It is the unwanted death and expulsion of the fetus. It usually occurs before the 20th or 24th week of pregnancy. The WHO adds to the gestational time criterion, in which the fetus must weigh less than 500 grams. However, this concept must be treated with care since there are cases in which a fetus with a lower weight can be resuscitated and survive.
Spontaneous abortion can be classified as early, occurring before week 12, and late, after week 12.and until 20 or 24. Once it happens, it can be retained, when nothing is eliminated, incomplete, when only some products and tissues of pregnancy are expelled, or complete, when everything is expelled.
The symptoms that cause a miscarriage are vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal pain, lumbago or expulsion of blood clots from the vagina. When presenting one of these symptoms, you should go immediately to the gynecologist to be treated. The expelled remains must be analyzed later to determine the cause of the loss and, if possible, treat it to prevent another loss in the future.
The causes that can cause a miscarriage are :
- Chromosomal abnormalities of the fetus
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Hormonal problems of the mother
abortion Induced abortion is when the pregnancy is ended by eliminating the fetus or embryo before it can survive outside the mother’s uterus. They can be classified as therapeutic, when the interruption is performed for medical reasons, or by a personal decision on the part of the pregnant woman and voluntarily. It can be done by medication or surgically.
Depending on the country, there are different laws regarding induced abortion. We can find countries where it is allowed with few restrictions, since it is considered an extension of reproductive rights, and countries where it is prohibited since they consider it a type of homicide.
In countries where induced abortion is allowed, it is performed safely for the pregnant woman. The methods used are medication or specific surgery . When the interruption is carried out in a legal and safe manner, it does not generate any long-term mental or physical risk for the woman. However, unsafe abortions cause 47,000 deaths and 5 million hospital admissions per year.
We can distinguish two types of induced interruption:
- Therapeutic abortion: is the termination of pregnancy for medical reasons . Its objectives are: to save the life of the mother or to protect her health and to avoid the birth of a seriously ill baby with fatal or severe consequences.
- Elective abortion: it is when the woman’s will is not to carry out the pregnancy for personal reasons . The reasons can be very diverse.
abortion Indirect abortion is when the death of the fetus is caused during a medical intervention . This intervention is performed in two circumstances: when the life of the mother has to be saved or when the viability of the fetus is zero. It should not be confused with therapeutic abortion, since indirect abortion is a derivative and unwanted consequence. In the indirect, without medical intervention both the mother and the fetus would end up dead.
In this type of abortion, the termination of the pregnancy occurs as an unwanted consequence of a medical intervention aimed at saving the life of the pregnant woman, in which the death of the fetus or embryo occurs. Therefore, the primary intention is not to end the life of the fetus.
An example would be an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the pregnancy develops in tissues other than the wall of the uterus , such as in the fallopian tubes, in the ovary, in the cervical canal, in the abdomen or in the pelvic cavity. . Without medical intervention, fetal and maternal mortality occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Depending on the conditions, abortion can be very dangerous. | Unsplash.
4. Unsafe abortion
The WHO defines unsafe abortion as the intervention that is intended to interrupt a pregnancy, performed by people who do not have the necessary training and preparationand/or that it is carried out in an environment that does not meet the minimum medical conditions. Studies have shown that there are no post-abortion traumas in practices performed in a safe and legal manner. On the other hand, the dangerous ones, 45% of the total practiced per year, cause the death of millions of people.
The training and medical standards that are considered safe required in the performance of an abortion depend on the type, whether it is performed medically or surgically, and the duration of the pregnancy and on scientific and technical progress. In addition, the countries in which abortion is allowed have different limits on the time of gestation at which an interruption can be performed.
The World Health Organization recommends that allwomen of the world can have legal and safe abortions . Without their availability, women often resort to the dangerous practice. The obstacles that are found to be able to access safe abortion are:
- Restrictive legislation of your country.
- High costs.
- Little availability of services.
- Unnecessary waiting periods
- Mandatory advice.
- Third party authorization
- Unnecessary medical tests.
- Provision of misleading information.
- All about abortion in Spain: legality and the process to follow.
Isla Valdes, A., Velasco Boza, A., Cruz Hernandez, J., Diaz Curbelo, A., & Salas Castillo, L. (2010). Abortion within the social context. Cuban Journal of Comprehensive General Medicine, 26(1), 0-0.
Diniz, D., & Almeida, M.D. (1998). Bioethics and abortion. Introduction to Bioethics. Brasilia: Federal Council of Medicine, 125-138.
Vazquez, R. (2006). Something else about abortion. Feminist Debate, 34, 19-32.
Hessini, L., Brookman-Amissah, E., & Crane, B.B. (2006). Global Policy Change and Women’s Access to safe abortion: The impact of the World Health Organization’s guidance in African. African journal of reproductive health, 10(3), 14-27.