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What is an Illegal Abortion?

By Sarah Sullins
Updated May 17, 2024
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An illegal abortion is defined as the termination of a pregnancy in an unsafe way or a way that is not legal in the country in which it is being performed. Many times, this type of abortion results in serious injury and even death. Before the Roe v. Wade court case, a number of unsafe and illegal abortions took place in the United States and resulted in many women losing their lives.

Women consider having abortions for many reasons. Some girls and women are not yet ready for the responsibility of being mothers, either physically, mentally, or financially. Others may find out that if they carry out the pregnancy, they may lose their lives because of a preexisting complication or illness. If a woman has no other options, she may turn to illegal abortion.

There are many ways that an abortion can be considered illegal. If a woman performs the abortion on herself, or with the help of her partner, it is considered to be illegal. Prior to the legalization of abortion, such items as coat hangers, knitting needles, and other objects were sometimes used to terminate a pregnancy. Poisons and high doses of certain medications have also been used by women or girls who could not or were afraid to legally have an abortion.

It is also considered to be an illegal abortion if a physician performs the pregnancy termination if he is not licensed and qualified to do so. Having an abortion done in an environment that is not up to current medical standards can also be considered illegal. Doing so can also be very unsafe for the woman who is having the abortion because it may result in illness or death.

The legalization of abortion in many countries has resulted in fewer deaths due to the complications of termination. Some complications that could occur with an illegal abortion include sepsis, infection, an incomplete abortion, or hemorrhaging. Abortions that are done correctly and legally are generally safe.

In the US, Roe v. Wade opened the doors for women to have the right to choose whether to keep or terminate a pregnancy. In many countries around the world, though, the act of terminating a pregnancy is still illegal. Women seek out ways to perform an illegal abortion when they know that they will not be able to raise and support a child. As a result, many women die each year.

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