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What is an Elective Abortion?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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An elective abortion is a pregnancy termination that a woman chooses to have, as opposed to a spontaneous abortion that is the result of a natural occurrence. A woman may choose to have an elective abortion for many reasons, and abortion clinics throughout the world can perform the pregnancy termination surgery up until a certain point in the pregnancy. The rules for abortion vary by region, and in some places several methods of elective abortion are illegal, as are abortions after a certain period in the pregnancy. The most common methods of elective abortion are medical abortions and surgical abortions.

Medical abortions are a type of elective abortion in which the woman carrying the fetus will take pharmaceutical drugs designed to abort the fetus relatively quickly. A woman may need to take these drugs for several days or weeks before the elective abortion is complete, and in rare cases, the drugs may not work at all and the woman may need to undergo a surgical abortion. A doctor should give the woman guidance on how and when to take the drugs, as well as to monitor the progress of the abortion.

Surgical abortions occur when the fetus is physically removed from the womb. Some surgical methods include the use of a vacuum-type device that essentially sucks the fetus from the womb in pieces. A syringe may be used to complete this procedure, or an electric vacuum may be used. Another method involves curettage, or essentially scraping the fetus out of the womb using a tool called a curette. Both methods are considered relatively safe for the woman, though the World Health Organization recommends curettage over suction. Both methods may be physically traumatic to some degree for the woman, and a recovery time should be expected after the surgery is complete.

Many other unsafe methods of elective abortion exist. Such methods can be dangerous or fatal for the woman, and when performed by people who are not professionals, the surgery can put the woman at risk for infection or permanent damage to the uterus. Elective abortions should always be performed by professionals; a woman considering an elective abortion can visit an abortion clinic or a family planning clinic to find out more information about the abortion procedure, including the recovery time and possible counseling for grief after the procedure takes place.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari , Former Writer
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.

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Dan Cavallari

Dan Cavallari

Former Writer

Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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