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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

What It's Used For

In the United States, abortion is used most often to end an unplanned pregnancy. Unplanned pregnancies happen when birth control is not used, is used incorrectly or fails to prevent a pregnancy. Abortion is also used to end a pregnancy when tests reveal that the fetus is abnormal. Therapeutic abortion refers to an abortion recommended when the mother's health is at risk.

Roughly one-half of all abortions are done during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy and about 88% during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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