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An abortion can be either spontaneous (also known as a miscarriage) or induced: both result in the ending of the pregnancy.

Spontaneous means that the abortion starts by itself. The woman starts to bleed from the womb, through the vagina, and the dead foetus comes out. If this happens, it usually occurs early in the pregnancy.

An induced abortion is an artificially induced abortion, when a pregnancy is stopped in order to stop the baby being born. Abortions can be induced either medically or surgically. In some countries the pregnant woman has the right to decide if she will have an abortion, this can take place up to the twelfth week of the pregnancy. This is based on the idea that the value of human life increases with age. In certain countries the foetus has no legal rights before twelve weeks. There is no medical or biological change in the twelfth week that would give the foetus more worth, it is just a random number of weeks.

Healthy foetuses get more legal protection over time. In certain countries induced abortions are allowed after the twelfth week, if there is something wrong with the foetus or if the pregnancy, birth or care of the child would lead to an unreasonable burden on the woman’s physical or psychological health.

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