Glossary of terms

Glossary of Terms

Abortifacient
Substance or drug that causes an abortion.

Abortion on demand / request

When a woman can simply ask for an  abortion, without having to give reasons or fulfil criteria.

Age of consent
Age at which it is legal to have penetrative sex (16 in the UK).

Back-street abortion
Abortion performed illegally and secretly, probably in unhygienic circumstances and  without anaesthetic.

Carrying a pregnancy to term
Completing the 40 weeks of pregnancy and  giving birth.

Cervix
Neck of the uterus.

Conscientious objection
Moral objection (to abortion).

Fallopian tube
Tube from ovary to uterus.

Fertilisation
Conception. When the egg cell meets  the sperm cell.

Fetus
Developing baby.

Gestation
Process of being carried in the uterus from conception to birth. The length of time a pregnancy has been going on.

Implantation
When the fertilised egg settles into the  uterus wall.

Induced abortion
Abortion, the intentional ending of a pregnancy.

Infertility
Inability to produce offspring.

Informed consent
Consent given voluntarily, by a competent  person, able to fully understand the benefits  and potential risks of their decision.

Maternal mortality
Death of a woman due to pregnancy or  birth-related problems

Miscarriage
Natural ending of a pregnancy before the fetus  is viable (see spontaneous abortion).

Obstetrics and gynaecology
Branch of medicine that deals with pregnancy, childbirth and the female reproductive system.

Pessary
Medication inserted into vagina.

Pregnancy
State of having a fetus in uterus.

Quickening
Moment when the woman first feels the fetus move.

Speculum
Device for opening vagina for medical  purposes.

Spontaneous abortion
Miscarriage (see miscarriage). Still-birth Delivery of a baby/fetus that has died in  the uterus.

Termination of pregnancy  
Abortion, the intentional ending of a pregnancy.

Trimester
First, second or third period of three months  of a pregnancy.

Uterus
A hollow muscular organ located in the pelvic cavity of women and female mammals in  which the fertilised egg implants and  develops. Also called womb.

Vagina
Passage leading out from uterus. Birth canal.

Viability
Point at which a fetus could survive outside the woman’s body.