Types of Abortions You Should Know

There are different types of abortion that you should know about. In addition, there are laws and deadlines for each one. Keep reading to learn more.
Types of Abortions You Should Know
Maricela Jiménez López

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Abortion is ending a pregnancy before 180 days. There are three types of abortions: spontaneous, natural, or induced. Ending a pregnancy, whether natural or induced, might be followed by blood loss through the vagina.

Types of abortions based on the reason

One of the types of abortion you should know is actually a miscarriage.


This is one of the types of abortions where you don’t choose to have it. In fact, most happen during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Additionally, they usually don’t require any type of surgery.

Some of the causes of miscarriages are chromosomal abnormalities, as well as abnormalities of the uterine artery. Additionally, endometriosis and myomas can also cause miscarriages.

On the other hand, smoking, alcohol and drug use, and traumatic situations increase the risk of having a miscarriage. 

Induced abortion

This is one of the types of abortions where women deliberately perform a procedure to end the pregnancy.

Therapeutic abortion

For this abortion, the doctor will end the pregnancy if the mother or the fetus’s health is at risk. This happens when there’s a danger of death or immediate health risks. For example, this includes high-risk pregnancies, psychological health, and more.

Concerned woman holding a pregnancy test.

Illegal abortions

Abortions are illegal when they are performed against the laws of the state or country where it happens. When the law makes abortion illegal, women often get dangerous and risky abortions. Therefore, in countries where they are illegal, maternal mortality rates are higher than in countries where they’re legal.

In fact, even the most progressive laws punish pregnancy women and professionals who perform abortions outside the deadlines. Additionally, they can get fined or even put in jail. In almost every country in the worldabortion is legal in some cases, except in:

  • The Vatican
  • El Salvador
  • Malta
  • Nicaragua
  • Honduras
  • The Dominican Republic

The deadline system allows a specific window where abortion is legal. For example, in Spain, the period is 14 weeks. Also, there’s a 3-day period of reflection. On the other hand, there are lots of different reasons why it’s legal to get an abortion. In the United States, every state can write their own abortion laws.

Types of abortions according to how they’re performed

Worried woman after taking a home pregnancy test.

1. Pharmacological abortion

Until the 7th week of pregnancy, women can get an abortion through pills. First, the patient will take one or more mifepristone tablets. After 24 or 48 hours, misoprostol is administered to get rid of the gestational sac.

However, you can only get these drugs in hospitals and approved health centers.

2. Instrumental abortion

With this abortion, there are a few types, based on the technique:

  • Abortion by dilation and aspiration (the Kaman method). First, the cervix dilates progressively. Then, it’s aspirated. Doctors don’t make cuts or incisions, and there isn’t surgery. However, you need medical professionals and equipment. They can do this until week 17, and it usually lasts between 5 and 10 minutes.
  • Surgical abortion. Gynecologists or surgeons operate.
  • Abortion by dilation and evacuation. This is one of the types of abortion that happens around weeks 16-19. However, there’s more risk because the pregnancy is further along. It always requires general anesthesia or sedation. Also, it requires surgery. The uterus dilates, then the doctor uses surgical tools to remove the fetus. Usually, this takes between 10 and 30 minutes, but the recovery after could take hours.
  • Curettage: This requires scraping the walls of the uterus. In fact, gynecologists use this technique for other procedures. Additionally, they only use it for special reasons when the WHO recommends it.
  • Delayed drug abortion or induced abortion: This mixes the pharmacological method to dilate the uterus with the surgical method to remove the contents by evacuation. However, there are certain risks after weeks 19-20. Therefore, a medical team must assess the case because it requires admission and general anesthesia. Sometimes, you may need to even repeat the induction.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Durán, R. I. B. (2012). ABORTO ESPONTÁNEO. Liberabit. Revista de Psicología.

  • Alejandro Manzur, Y. (2010). Aborto recurrente. Revista Médica Clínica Las Condes. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0716-8640(10)70553-8

  • Martins, E. F., Almeida, P. F. B. de, Paixão, C. de O., Bicalho, P. G., & Errico, L. de S. P. de. (2017). Causas múltiplas de mortalidade materna relacionada ao aborto no Estado de Minas Gerais, Brasil, 2000-2011. Cadernos de Saúde Pública. https://doi.org/10.1590/0102-311×00133116</p>

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.