The History of Abortion
A human pregnancy generally lasts nine months, divided into three trimesters, or periods of three months each. There are two types of abortions: spontaneous and induced. A spontaneous abortion is also called a miscarriage. If it occurs later than the first trimester, it may be called a preterm birth. It may occur because something is wrong with the embryo (this is called a genetic abnormality), or it may be due to some kind of trauma such as an auto accident.
An induced abortion is performed for a purpose at any gestational age. It may be done to save the life or mental health of the mother. For instance, after becoming pregnant, a woman may discover that she is suffering from a disease that might result in her death if the pregnancy continues. An induced abortion may stop a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest. Abortions also may be performed when it is known that the child will have a serious physical or mental deformity. Most induced abortions result from social or economic reasons that make women