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Early Termination of a Pregnancy

Updated July 18, 2017

An early pregnancy termination may be accidental, as happens when you have a miscarriage, or it may be intentional through an abortion. See a medical professional if you choose to terminate your pregnancy, as there are dangerous complications to doing so without assistance.

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Abortion was permitted in many cultures throughout history, often up to when the developing foetus was believed to possess a soul at 40 days, 90 days or at the point that the mother felt movement (quickening). According to SunshineforWomen.com, the oldest writings on contraception and abortion appear in the 11th century B.C. in Egypt.


A spontaneous abortion occurs when your body miscarries a first trimester foetus. According to MedicationAbortion.com a combination of mifepristone and misoprostol can be used to medically induce an abortion through the first 49 days of gestation. Abortion also can be caused through a medical procedure such as D&C.

Time Frame

The complications from terminating a pregnancy are very dependent on what stage of the pregnancy the abortion occurs. Abortion is legal in the United States and many other countries during the first 13 weeks of gestation for any reason. Abortion is also legal in many places during the second and third trimester of pregnancy if the life of the mother or the foetus is at stake.


Most pregnancy terminations are safe if done legally and through respected medical channels. Although complications such as infection, haemorrhage and shock do occur, these effects are no more risky than those of continuing the pregnancy.


Risks to terminating a pregnancy include the possibility of a blood clot forming, a tear in the uterine wall or an infection, according to the National Abortion Federation. There are no major complications in 97 per cent of first trimester abortions, and 2.5 per cent have complications that can be handled in a clinic or doctor's office.

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About the Author

Genevieve Hawkins

Genevieve Hawkins has been a freelance writer and editor for seven years. She graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor's degree in psychology and studied for her master's degree in social psychology. Hawkins has published articles on both the Internet and in print for Valley Scene Magazine, Infosearch Media, Examiner and Investrend, and she edits corporate transcripts for Factset Research.

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