Glossary of Terms Relating to Abortion and Human Reproduction

Author: A.L.L.


American Life League

If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things.


Confucius was entirely correct when he said thousands of years ago that "If language is incorrect, then what is said is not meant. If what is said is not meant, then what ought to be done remains undone."[1]

In order to avoid confusion and even more controversy than already exists regarding the abortion issue, we must be certain that the terms we use are as precisely and clearly defined as possible.

Confusion is a weapon used by pro-abortionists to cover their bloody tracks. Hence, they refer to the early preborn with the entirely unscientific term "pre-embryo" in order to dehumanize them and blur the line between true contraception and abortifacient action. They also refer to the abortion pill RU-486 and to the injectable abortifacient NORPLANT as "contraceptives" and aggressively try to confuse the public as to when human life begins by defining such at the point of implantation or nidation.

It is our duty to educate the public regarding abortion and related issues. We can only accomplish this mission by using correct terms.

This appendix provides definitions for more than 200 medical terms that are often cause for confusion and are often used in discussions about abortion and related topics. These terms should be clear in a person's mind before he speaks or writes on the abortion issue.


ABORTIFACIENT: An agent whose sole or primary purpose is to cause abortions. Such agents include low-dose birth control pills, minipills, 'morning-after' pills, NORPLANT, Depo-Provera, true abortion pills such as RU-486, and intra-uterine devices (IUDs).

ABORTION: Defined by Williams Obstetrics as "The interruption of pregnancy before viability at the request of the woman, but not for reasons of impaired maternal health or fetal disease. The great majority of abortions now being done belong in this category." This definition by an authoritative source confirms that most abortions are performed for reasons that are considerably less than compelling; i.e., basically convenience.
There are many different terms applied to abortion, most of which overlap to some degree and are confusing to most members of the public unless explained clearly. These terms are listed among others below.

ABORTION RATE: The number of abortions obtained by women of childbearing age (15 to 44) over a given period. This rate is usually expressed in terms of abortions per 1,000 women annually.

ABORTION RATIO: The number of abortions obtained by women of childbearing age (15 to 44) over a given period compared to the number of live births to the same population of women. This rate is usually expressed in terms of abortions per 1,000 live births annually.

ACCIDENTAL ABORTION: An unintentional abortion (usually termed a miscarriage) caused by a fall, blow, or any other accidental injury.

ACOG: Acronym for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the national group of certified specialists in this field.

ACROSOME: The large head of the sperm cell that contains DNA and releases enzymes to dissolve the protective surface of the ovum.

AFEBRILE ABORTION: A natural or spontaneous abortion resulting from a tubal or abdominal pregnancy. Does not refer to a procedure designed to remove the fetus from the Fallopian tube or abdomen.

ALPHAFETOPROTEIN (AFP) TEST: Maternal serum blood test performed during pregnancy to detect various fetal abnormalities. For more information on the AFP test, see Chapter 40 of Volume II, Tests for Birth Defects.

AMENORRHEA: Absence or extreme modification of the usual menstrual cycle. Amenorrhea is a generally temporary condition that may be caused by disease, excessive exercise, or breastfeeding. Not related to menopause.

AMNIOCENTESIS: This test is performed after the 16th week of pregnancy on women who have abnormal alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) concentrations, have a genetic history of birth defects, or who are more than 35 years old. A needle is inserted through the abdominal wall into the uterus, and amniotic fluid is withdrawn and tested. Cells from the fluid are grown under laboratory conditions for about two weeks, and the cell DNA and chromosomes are tested for abnormalities. Abortions occur, on the average, 32 to 45 days following the test. The risks to the baby range from 0.5 percent to 2.0 percent miscarriages.

The major risks of amniocentesis include maternal hemorrhage and infection, fetal puncture wounds, pneumothorax (injection of gas into the mother's pleural cavity), laceration of the baby's spleen, damage to the placenta and/or umbilical cord, and the baby's death from exsanguination (loss of blood).

This test is described in more detail in Chapter 38 of Volume II, Tests for Birth Defects.

AMNION: A thin membrane enclosing the preborn child, containing the amniotic fluid in which the child is immersed. This is the gossamer membrane depicted surrounding the preborn baby in some photographs of midterm pregnancy development. This is often referred to as "the bag of waters."

AMNIOTIC FLUID: The serous (thin and watery) fluid in which the preborn baby swims and rests.

AMNIOTOMY: The rupture of the bag of waters by a physician for the purpose of facilitating childbirth or late abortion.

ANENCEPHALY: Total lack of the cortex (upper brain), accompanied by lack of skull closure. Usually, the hypothalamus is malformed and the cerebellum is rudimentary or absent. This condition includes the exposure of the cranial matter to the air and is almost always fatal within hours or days (about 75 percent stillborn, with mortality of birth survivors at 90 percent in the first week), although some anencephalic babies live several years. For example, Andrew Vandal of Richmond, Virginia, who was born with only a brain stem, celebrated his fifth birthday in 1989 and, according to his mother, has an "outgoing, bubbly personality that really draws people to him." This condition is present in about 1 out of 1,000 pregnancies in the United States, and parents who have given birth to an anencephalic baby have a five percent chance of giving birth to another such baby. This condition can be detected by the AFP test or by amniocentesis.

ANOVULATORY: The absence of ovulation.

ANTENATAL: A term used to describe any event before birth.

ANTEPARTUM: A term used to describe any event that occurs approximately at the time of birth. It is often used to describe the labor and delivery strategy used by doctors, nurses, or midwives.

ARTIFICIAL EMBRYONATION: The procedure where a woman is artificially inseminated and, five to seven days later, her fertilized egg is flushed out of her body ("lavage"), then transferred to another woman's uterus. May also refer to the transfer of a fertilized egg or embryo from an infertile woman to a fertile one. A portion of this procedure is called in-vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (SET). For more information on in-vitro fertilization and SET, see Chapter 55 of Volume II.

ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION: Procedure by which the sperm donor masturbates to collect sperm, which is then introduced into the woman's vagina. AI is usually classified as AIH (artificial insemination-husband, or homologous insemination) or AID (artificial insemination-donor, or heterologous insemination). This is the method of choice for some lesbian organizations. For more information on artificial insemination and other reproductive technologies, see Chapter 55 of Volume II, "In-Vitro Fertilization."

ARTIFICIAL PLACENTATION: The process of providing for a preborn baby's needs outside of his or her mother's uterus.

BAG OF WATERS: The double-walled fluid-filled sac that encloses and protects the preborn baby in the uterus. The bag of waters is frequently mechanically ruptured at the end of pregnancy to induce hard labor.

BASAL TEMPERATURE: The body temperature of a person who has been at complete rest long enough for the temperature to stabilize at a low point.

BIOPSY: The surgical removal of a tissue sample for analysis.

BIRTH CONTROL: Abortion. Since methods of contraception by definition prevent conception, the only means of preventing birth if contraception is not used or fails is birth control and the only means of eliminating a preborn baby that already exists is by surgical or chemical abortion.

BIRTH RATE: The number of births during a given time (usually a year) expressed as a percentage of the total population or the total number of women of childbearing age in an area.

BLASTOCYST: Early stage in the development of the embryo. The post-morula stage which consists of an inner cell mass and a thin layer of cells enclosing a cavity called the blastocoel.

BRAIN STEM: The lower portion of the brain, located at the upper end of the spinal column, that handles primarily involuntary bodily functions, including respiration, swallowing, circulation, digestion, and reaction to pain.

CANNULA: A hollow tube.

CEREBELLUM: A portion of the brain located forward of and above the medulla, consisting of two lateral lobes and a median lobe. The cerebellum coordinates the muscles and maintains balance.

CEREBRAL CORTEX: The surface layer of grey matter of the cerebral hemisphere that functions chiefly to coordinate higher nervous system activity.

CEREBRUM: The forebrain and midbrain with their derivatives. The expanded anterior portion of the brain that, in higher mammals, overlies the rest of the brain, consists of two cerebral hemispheres, and is considered to be the source of conscious mental functions.

CERVIX: The narrow outer end of the uterus. The position and condition of the cervix is one of the three prime indicators of fertility used in the sympto-thermal method of natural family planning.

CESARIAN SECTION ('C-SECTION'): The surgical removal of a baby though the mother's abdomen and uterine wall. When this procedure is performed in order to abort and discard a preborn baby during a late-term abortion, it is referred to as hysterotomy.

CHORION: The outer embryonic membrane associated with the allantois, which is the vascular fetal membrane that is initially formed in the shape of a pouch.

CHORIONIC VILLI: Small hair-like projections extending from the surface of the chorion that secrete human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).

CHORIONIC VILLI SAMPLING (CVS): Thisprocedure is physically similar to amniocentesis, but can be performed about eight weeks earlier. A plastic catheter is used to clip villi (hairlike structures) from the placenta, and the results of chromosomal tests are available within a week. The risks to the baby are greater than with amnio, however: from one to five percent miscarriages. For more information on CVS, see Chapter 40 of Volume II, Tests For Birth Defects.

CHROMATID: One of the complex paired constituent strands of a chromosome.

CHROMOSOME: One of the roughly linear nucleoprotein-containing basophilic (easily stained with dye) bodies of the cell nucleus, composed of chromatids.

CLEAVAGE: The stage of cell division that occurs immediately after fertilization and that continues until the cells begin to segregate and specialize and develop into a blastocyst.

COMPLETE ABORTION: An abortion in which all of the unborn child's parts have been expelled or removed from the uterus and have been identified.

CONCEPTION: The creation of a new human life through the union of egg and sperm. Sometimes referred to as fertilization. This is not to be confused with implantation or nidation.

CONTRACEPTION: The practice of using drugs, procedures or devices intended to prevent conception by one or more of three modes of action; (1) thickening or altering of the cervical mucus, (2) interference with implantation (an abortifacient action), and (3) suppression or modification of ovulation. Some contraceptives may also interfere with the natural development of ova and sperm.

CONTRAGESTION: The process of inducing an abortion.

CORPUS LUTEUM: The temporary structure that emits hormones from within a ruptured ovarian follicle (after the egg is released during ovulation). The purpose of the hormones is to sustain pregnancy until the placenta matures to the point where it can assume this role.

CRIMINAL ABORTION: An abortion performed without medical or legal justification. This definition varies widely all over the world.

CRYOPRESERVATION: The preservation of embryos, sperm, or other biological matter by freezing at extremely low temperatures.

CYTOTEC: Prostaglandin prescribed for ulcers but under investigation due to its ability to cause miscarriages. Therefore, Cytotec may well become the primary ingredient of an abortion pill in the near future. Cytotec is manufactured by the Searle Corporation. For more information on Cytotec and other abortifacient pills such as RU-486, see Chapter 34 of Volume II, "The Abortion Pill."

DANAZOL: A synthetic derivative of the male hormone testosterone that is sometimes used to treat endometriosis.


DILATION: Sometimes called 'dilatation,' this is the process of opening the cervix by use of laminaria or cannula of progressively larger diameter in order to facilitate abortion.

DILATION AND CURETTAGE (D&C): Most common abortion procedure. Also used for completing or checking miscarriage, it consists of scraping the walls of the uterus with a knife-edged, spoon-shaped instrument. For more information on this procedure, see Chapter 61 of Volume II, "Methodology and Aspects of Abortion."

DILATION AND EVACUATION (D&E): Abortion procedure by which the preborn baby is cut or torn apart by a sharp instrument and withdrawn from the uterus.

DILATION AND EXTRACTION (D&X): A relatively new method of abortion that is becoming more popular. Used from 24 to 36 weeks, it involves delivering all of the preborn baby except for the head, then punching a hole in the back of the baby's head and sucking out his brains. The purpose of this procedure is not to ease delivery but to guarantee the baby's death and avoid legal complications. For more information on this particularly grisly procedure, see Chapter 61 of Volume II, "Methodology and Aspects of Abortion."

DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid. Nucleic acids located in cell nuclei and are the basis of heredity in most mammals. DNA is constructed of a double helix held together by hydrogen bonds between purine and pyrimidine bases which project inward from two chains containing alternate links of deoxyribose and phosphate.

DOUBLE EFFECT: Bioethical theory holding that the death of a developing embryo caused by a procedure designed to clear a tubal pregnancy is allowable even when the death is expected to be inevitable because the primary purpose of the surgery was not to cause the death of the embryo, but to save the life of the mother. This theory also applies to certain cases of sexual sterilization. More information on the double effect is available in Chapter 43 of Volume II, "Catholic Church Position on Abortion."

EARLY ABORTION: Usually defined as the natural expulsion (miscarriage) of a fetus weighing less than 400 grams (14 ounces), measuring less than 28 centimeters (11 inches) in length, and of less than 22 weeks of gestation.

ECMO: Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. The exchange of nutrients, oxygen, and waste products through an external artificial placenta. ECMO is described in more detail in Chapter 55 of Volume II, "In-Vitro Fertilization."

ECTOGENESIS: The process of fertilization outside the body. While in-vitro fertilization strictly meets this definition, the more classical meaning is the production of a blastocyst from a single germ cell through genetic manipulation.

ECTOPIC PREGNANCY: Usually taken to mean the class of pregnancies that occur outside the uterus. Although ectopic pregnancies generally occur inside the Fallopian tube and are life-endangering to the mother, cases have occurred where women have carried healthy babies to term after they have implanted in various locations within her abdomen.

ELECTIVE ABORTION: Generally defined as any abortion done for any reason other than to save the mother's life.

EMBRYO: Preborn baby in the early stages of development that are characterized by the laying down of fundamental tissues, cleavage, and the initial formation of organs and organ systems. Usually taken to mean the preborn child before eight weeks, and not to be confused with the pro-abortion propaganda term "pre-embryo."

EMBRYO TRANSFER: Procedure by which a female volunteer is impregnated by artificial insemination with sperm from an infertile woman's husband. Five days after conception, the embryo is flushed out ("lavage") and transferred to the infertile woman's uterus.

ENDOCRINE SYSTEM: The system of hormone-producing glands in the body, to include the thymus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, ovaries, and testes.

ENDOMETRIAL ASPIRATION: The high-tech name for menstrual extraction, an early abortion technique that is becoming more popular among "abort-it-yourself" Neofeminists. More information on this procedure may be found in Chapter 59 of Volume II, "Maternal Deaths Due to Abortion."

ENDOMETRIOSIS: The growth of endometrial tissue outside the bounds of the endometrium. Often associated with female infertility problems.

ENDOMETRIUM: The inner uterine lining that is built up during the menstrual cycle and is subsequently discharged if implantation has not taken place.

ESTROGEN: A hormone that promotes the development of secondary sexual characteristics in the female. This hormone is used in high-dose, low-dose, and mini-combination contraceptive pills and abortion pills.

EUGENICS: The science of refining the characteristics of the human race by manipulating individuals through enforced abortion, sterilization, infanticide or genocide (negative eugenics) or through a purposeful program of breeding (positive eugenics). Abortion for fetal anomalies would therefore be called eugenic abortion. For further information on eugenics, see Chapter 105.

EXTRACORPOREAL GESTATION: Conception and gestation of a child entirely outside the mother in an artificial uterus. Many scientists and doctors, including Dr. Bernard Nathanson, believe that an artificial womb will be perfected and functioning before the year 2000. For more information on extracorporeal gestation and other extrauterine technologies, see Chapter 55 of Volume II, "In-Vitro Fertilization."

FALLOPIAN TUBE: The small vessels that conduct the egg from the ovary to the uterus. Blockages in these tubes account for most cases of female infertility. Surgical sterilization is usually performed by cutting, burning, or tying off these tubes.

FERTILIZATION: The penetration of an oocyte by a sperm cell and the subsequent process of the combining of maternal and paternal DNA. The beginning of a new human being.

FETUS: The term (literally meaning "little one" in Latin) referring to the preborn baby after eight weeks's gestation.

FOLLICLE: A small baglike structure in the ovary which contains an immature ovum (oocyte).

FSH: Follicle-stimulating hormone. The hormone secreted by the pituitary gland which stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles in women.

GAMETE: A mature germ cell possessing a haploid chromosome set, which is capable of initiating the formation of a human being by combining with a gamete produced by a person of the opposite sex.

GAMETE INTRA-FALLOPIAN TRANSFER (GIFT): In a GIFT procedure, doctors incise the Fallopian tube and, using a laparoscope, place the woman's egg and man's sperm inside the tube. If conception does occur, the pregnancy will proceed in the usual manner the fertilized egg will travel down the Fallopian tube and will hopefully implant in the uterus. For more information on GIFT, see Chapter 54 of Volume II, "In-Vitro Fertilization."

GENE: The portion of a DNA molecule that consists of an ordered sequence of nucleotide bases and constitutes the basic unit of heredity.

GENETICS: The science of examining the basis of heredity.

GENOME: The complete set of genetic material carried within the DNA molecule. The multi-billion dollar Genome Project, headed by Dr. James Watson, is currently seeking to map all of the genes in human DNA.

GENOTYPE: The set of genetic instructions that dictate the characteristics of an individual.

GESTATION: The time period between conception and birth.

GONADOTROPIN: The hormone that stimulates the gonads. Examples are follicle-stimulating hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin, human menopausal gonadotropin, and luteinizing hormone.

GONADOTROPIN RELEASING HORMONE (GnRH): The hormone manufactured by the hypothalamus that causes secretion of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland.

GYNECOLOGY: The branch of medicine dealing with diseases of the female reproductive system. Specialists in this field are referred to as gynecologists.

HABITUAL ABORTION: A condition whereby a woman has three or more consecutive spontaneous, or natural abortions (miscarriages).

HAPLOID: cell body containing half of the genetic information in the chromosomes as the somatic or diploid cells, which contain the full necessary body of information.

HCG: Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin. This hormone is produced by the chorionic villi and triggers the release of progesterone and estrogen. It is measured during a pregnancy by use of a urine test.

HOMOZYGOUS: arising from the same zygote. Homozygous twins are identical, and fraternal twins are heterozygous.

HUMAN CHORIONIC GONADOTROPIN (hCG): A hormone secreted by the embryo that maintains the corpus luteum when pregnancy occurs.

HUMAN MENOPAUSAL GONADOTROPIN (hMG): A hormone that can be extracted from the urine of menopausal women and injected to stimulate testes and ovaries.

HYDRANENCEPHALY: A purely descriptive term, not related to any particular disease, which means that the cortex (upper brain) is entirely replaced with spinal fluid. There is total or near-total hemispherical destruction. There is great ventricular (brain cavity) enlargement with little or no cerebral mantle. The brain stem, cerebellum, and basal ganglia are present but may be abnormal. The brain stem usually remains functional.

HYDROCEPHALUS: The obstruction of the normal accumulation or drainage of cerebrospinal fluid from its points of production to its areas of absorption. The head will accumulate an increased quantity of this fluid under persistent or intermittent increased pressure.

HYPOTHALAMUS: A structure at the base of the brain that controls, among other functions, the action of the pituitary gland. This gland controls both the male and the female reproductive cycles.

HYSTERECTOMY: The surgical removal of the uterus.

HYSTERO-OOPHORECTOMY: Surgical removal of the uterus and one or both ovaries.

HYSTEROSAPLINGOGRAM: Study of the female reproductive tract via X-rays and the injection of radio-opaque material to make the organs more visible to the operator.

HYSTEROSALPINGO-OOPHORECTOMY: The surgical removal of the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

HYSTEROSCOPY: The inspection of the uterus with a small lighted television device called a hysteroscope.

HYSTEROTOMY: Basically a Cesarean section performed for the purposes of abortion. The abdomen is opened and the baby is simply lifted out and directly killed or allowed to die.

IATROGENIC: Produced or caused by a physician.

IDIOPATHIC: A pre-existing condition.

IMMINENT ABORTION: A threatened miscarriage, in which there may be profuse vaginal bleeding, cramps, and a softened and dilated cervix.

IMPLANTATION: The exact point in time when the developing blastocyst anchors itself in the uterine wall or, in the case of ectopic pregnancies, in the Fallopian tube or somewhere else in the woman's abdomen.

INCOMPLETE ABORTION: An abortion in which portions of the unborn child or the placenta, remain in the uterus for an appreciable period of time after miscarriage or abortion.

INDUCED ABORTION: An intentional abortion caused by drugs, surgery, or other mechanical means.

INEVITABLE ABORTION: An unintentional abortion brought about by the rupturing of membranes (breaking of the bag of waters), in the presence of cervical dilation.

INFECTIOUS ABORTION: An abortion caused by an infectious disease.

INTRA-UTERINE DEVICE (IUD): Device inserted into the uterus for the purpose of preventing pregnancy. Although their exact mode of action is not known, it is believed that they prevent pregnancy by irritating the uterine wall and preventing implantation. Therefore, IUDs are abortifacient. See Chapter 32 of Volume II for more information on intra-uterine devices.

IN-VITRO FERTILIZATION (IVF): Literally, "in glass" fertilization, this procedure mixes sperm and eggs from a donor and, when fertilization has occurred, the resulting blastocyst(s) are implanted into the women. For further information on IVF, see Chapter 55 of Volume II.

IN-VIVO FERTILIZATION: Fertilization inside the human body.

JUSTIFIABLE ABORTION: A term used in the narrow sense by medical authorities to describe an abortion performed to save the life of the mother. Used by other (pro-abort) persons to describe any abortion whatever for any reason.

KARYOTYPE: A photographic display of a person's chromosomes that shows the number, size, and shape of each human chromosome.

LACTATION: The production and expression of milk by the breasts.

LAMINARIA: Sticks of dried seaweed used to dilate the cervix in preparation for abortion through the mechanism of absorption of liquids and expansion.

LAPAROSCOPY: Examination of one or more organs in the pelvic region by means of a small lighted television device known as a laparoscope.

LAPAROTOMY: The surgical incision of the abdomen for any purpose.

LAVAGE: The 'flushing' of a fertilized egg from a woman's body before it implants, usually for the purpose of embryo transfer.

LOW TUBE OVUM TRANSFER (LTOT): A surgical procedure which relocates an infertile woman's egg past the damaged portion of her Fallopian tube so that in-vivo fertilization takes place.

LUTEAL: Referring to the corpus luteum and its functions.

LUTEINIZING HORMONE (LH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates the production of progesterone in women and of testosterone in men.

MATERNAL SERUM ALPHA-FETOPROTEIN (AFP): AFP is a maternal blood test performed from the 13th to 20th weeks of pregnancy. Neural tube defects in a baby may cause its kidneys to release elevated levels of AFP into the mother's bloodstream, or lower levels, which signal possible Down's Syndrome. The blood test must be confirmed by ultrasound and/or amniocentesis. The risk to the baby or mother is nil for the blood test alone.

MEGALENCEPHALY: The baby's head is enlarged due to abnormal enlargement of the brain. This condition is frequently accompanied by convulsions, retardation, and hypotonia (localized low osmotic pressure). It is usually present in the later stages of Tay-Sachs Disease and Alexander's Disease.

MEIOSIS: Cell division occurring during the development of gametes, lessening the number of chromosomes in each cell.

MENARCHE: First menstruation.

MENOPAUSE: The permanent cessation of the menstrual cycle.

MENSTRUAL EXTRACTION: This procedure is a Neofeminist favorite. They allege that it is used to accelerate the time span of the natural menstrual period from several days to a few minutes. Supposedly, menstrual extraction may also help alleviate the symptoms of a painful menstrual period. However, the real purpose is to produce early abortion. This procedure is also referred to as endometrial aspiration. For more information, see Chapter 59 of Volume II, "Maternal Deaths Due to Abortion."

MENSTRUATION: Beginning of the menstrual cycle, where the oxygen-rich lining of the uterus is sloughed off and discharged.

MICROCEPHALY: Abnormally small head size, usually (but not always) associated with brain disease and/or mental retardation. The baby's head circumference falls into the category of being more than two standard deviations (about the smallest five percent) below normal for all babies. The baby has a small or missing front fontanel (soft spot) and a recessed and/or sloping forehead. This condition is usually present in babies with Trisomy 13-15 and Trisomy 17-18.

MINIPILL: A low-dosage oral 'contraceptive' that functions more as an abortifacient than as a contraceptive.

MISCARRIAGE: The natural and unintentional loss of a preborn child. Miscarriage is also referred to as "natural" or "spontaneous" abortion. If repeated three or more times within an interval of five years, usually referred to as "habitual" abortion.

MISSED ABORTION: An abortion by which the fetus dies but is retained in the uterus for a significant period of time (usually two or more weeks).

MORBIDITY: The state of suffering from illness or disease.

MORNING-AFTER PILL: Pill specifically designed to cause early abortion by preventing implantation or nidation. Usually contains an extremely large dose of estrogen within 24 to 72 hours after intercourse.

MORTALITY: Statistical term referring to death and its causes.

NATAL: Referring to anything having to do with birth.

NATURAL ABORTION: An abortion not artificially induced, i.e., a miscarriage.

NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING (NFP): The avoidance of artificial contraceptive means by using the female body's natural fertility signs to avoid or achieve pregnancy. See Chapter 128 for an explanation of the various aspects of natural family planning.

NEONATE: A newborn baby or a baby less than about a month old.

NEURAL TUBE DEFECT: The failure of the neural tube (the tube formed from the fusion of the neural folds from which the spinal cord and brain are formed) to close during fetal development, sometimes leading to various degrees of spina bifida or anencephaly.

NIDATION: Implantation.

NORPLANT: A Wyeth-Ayerst abortifacient inserted into the arm of a woman inside six matchstick-sized silastic (silicone-rubber) rods. The primary active ingredient is a low-dosage progestin called levonorgestrel. NORPLANT has an effective period of about five years. See Chapter 33 of Volume II for further information on NORPLANT.

OBSTETRICS: The branch of medicine dealing with pregnancy and childbirth. Specialists in this field are referred to as obstetricians.

OLIGOGENICS: The spacing or limitation of childbearing through some use of artificial contraception, natural family planning, or abortion.

OLIGOMENORRHEA: Scanty or infrequent menstruation.

OLIGOSPERMIA: A temporary or permanent deficiency of the sperm level in seminal fluid.

OOCYTE: A female gametocyte, or premature egg.

OOGENESIS: Formation and maturation of the egg.

OOPHORECTOMY: The surgical removal of one or both ovaries.

ORCHIECTOMY: The surgical removal of one or both testicles.

OVA: The woman's egg or gamete. Plural: ovum.

OVARY: The female reproductive organs that store the ovum, or eggs.

OVARIOTOMY: The surgical incision of an ovary. An ovariectomy is the surgical removal of an ovary.

OVIDUCT: Another name for a Fallopian tube.

OVULATION: The release of an egg from an ovary after the rupture of an ovarian follicle.

PARTHENOGENESIS: Reproduction by direct development of an unfertilized gamete. Some Neofeminist groups hope to someday eliminate even the need for a man's sperm by growing female children only from their own eggs.

PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE (PID): The inflammation of the female reproductive organs, often resulting in inhibited fertility or sterility through scarring of the Fallopian tubes.

PERINATAL: The period from the 28th week of pregnancy to one week after birth.

PERINATOLOGIST: A doctor who specializes in maternal-fetal medicine.

PERITONITIS: Inflammation of the peritoneum, which is the smooth, transparent membrane that lines the abdominal cavity.

PITUITARY GLAND: A gland located at the base of the brain that discharges hormones that control various body functions.

PLACENTA: The temporary organ that acts as a metabolic exchanger between the mother and her preborn baby. The placenta also produces hormones that protect and maintain pregnancy.

POST-ABORTION SYNDROME: A cluster of psychological symptoms associated with the regret caused by having an abortion. See Chapter 45 of Volume II for further information on PAS.

POSTMATURITY: A baby born after full term. Extreme postmaturity may cause a cluster of serious birth defects due to the deterioration of the placenta, and most postmature babies are induced after about two weeks after term.

POSTPARTUM: After birth.

PRE-EMBRYO: This is an entirely unscientific and misleading term created by pro-abortionists specifically for the purposes of dehumanizing the preborn and obscuring the facts in the debate over abortifacients.

PREGNANCY REDUCTION: An abortion performed to reduce a multiple pregnancy to only one or two preborn babies. Also referred to as "selective abortion."

PREMATURITY: Usually refers to the birth of an infant between the limit of viability and nine months.

PRENATAL: The period before birth.

PROGESTERONE: A female steroidal hormone secreted by the corpus luteum, which is the name for an ovarian follicle after it has released its egg (ovum).

PROGESTIN: A progestational (preceding pregnancy) female hormone. Used in high-dose, low-dose, and mini-combination abortion and contraceptive pills. It is also the sole hormonal ingredient in abortifacient 'mini-pills.'

PROLACTIN: A hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates milk production and supports gonadal function.

PROSTAGLANDIN: An artificial hormone injected into the uterine muscle to induce premature labor in later abortions. Also emitted by some intra-uterine devices (IUDs) as part of their mode of action.

PROSTATE GLAND: Male sexual organ that produces the fluid in which sperm are suspended.

REPRODUCTIVE ENDOCRINOLOGIST: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility.

RHYTHM METHOD: Estimating the extent of fertile periods by use of data gathered on the length of previous cycles. 'Rhythm' has been replaced by the more scientific and accurate sympto-thermal method (STM) of natural family planning. However, in order to discredit all methods of natural family planning, no matter how effective, pro-abortionists clump all NFP methods under the contemptuous classification of 'rhythm.'

RNA: Ribonucleic acid. Nucleic acids that contain ribose and uracil as structural components and are associated with the control of cellular chemical reactions.

RU-486: A true abortion pill manufactured by the French firm Roussell-Uclaf. See Chapter 34 of Volume II for more information on RU-486 and other abortion pills.

SALPINGITIS: Inflammation of the Fallopian tubes, sometimes caused by pelvic inflammatory disease.

SALT POISONING: Abortion performed by the injection of a salt solution into the amniotic sac. The preborn baby breathes and drinks this solution, and dies within one to two hours from seizures, hemorrhage, and suffocation. The baby is then usually born dead in 24 to 48 hours.

SELECTIVE ABORTION: An abortion performed to reduce a multiple pregnancy to only one or two preborn babies. Also referred to as "pregnancy reduction."

SEPTIC ABORTION: An abortion caused by or causing infection in and around the uterus; may be complicated by fever, endometriosis, and parametritis.

SEX-LINKED: Any genetic characteristic or disease controlled by the genes in sex chromosomes.

SEX SELECTION ABORTION: An intentional abortion performed solely for the purpose of eliminating an unborn baby because of its gender. Ironically, the vast majority of sex selection abortions are directed against preborn girls.

SEXUALLY-TRANSMITTED DISEASE (STD): Any one of a cluster of diseases transmitted through various types of intimate sexual contact.

SPERM: The male germ cell that combines with the ova to produce a new human being.

SPERMATOGENESIS: The production of sperm.

SPERMATOZOON: The mature male sex or germ cells formed within the seminiferous tubules of the testes.

SPERMICIDE: Any chemical that kills sperm cells.

SPERM MOTILITY: A measure of the rate of speed of sperm in various media.

SPONTANEOUS ABORTION: A natural abortion, or miscarriage.

STERILIZATION: A surgical or chemically-induced procedure that permanently or temporarily ends fertility in the male or female. For more information on sterilization, see Chapter 102.

STILLBIRTH: Generally refers to fetal death after viability.

SURROGATE EMBRYO TRANSFER (SET): The procedure where a woman is artificially inseminated and, five to seven days later, her fertilized egg is flushed out of her body ("lavage"), then transferred to another woman's uterus. May also refer to the transfer of a fertilized egg or embryo from an infertile woman to a fertile one. A portion of this procedure is called in-vitro fertilization. For more information on in-vitro fertilization and SET, see Chapter 55 of Volume II.

SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD: Procedure in which a woman agrees to carry a baby to term for another woman who may be infertile. This baby may have two mothers and one father or two mothers and two fathers.

TESTES: The male reproductive glands located in the scrotum. These produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone.

TESTOCTOMY: The surgical removal of one or both testicles. Also referred to as castration.

TESTOSTERONE: A steroid hormone, or androgen, produced in the testes that affects sperm production and male sex characteristics.

THERAPEUTIC ABORTION: Usually defined as an abortion performed for any reason other than to save the mother's life, i.e., an elective abortion.

THREATENED ABORTION: An imminent spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) that usually takes place during the first twenty weeks of pregnancy.

TRIMESTER: The division of pregnancy into three roughly equal time periods. The first trimester usually means up to 12 weeks, the second trimester usually means from 13 to 24 weeks, and the third trimester is usually from 25 weeks to the end of the pregnancy at birth.

TROPHOBLAST: A strand of cells ringing the blastocyst that will eventually become the placenta.

TUBAL ABORTION: The termination of a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy through the rupture of the fallopian tube, an extremely serious and life-threatening condition.

TUBAL CAUTERY: Sterilization of the Fallopian tubes by burning them.

TUBAL LIGATION: The tying-off of the Fallopian tubes during a female sterilization procedure. For more information, see Chapter 102.

TUBAL PREGNANCY: When implantation occurs inside the Fallopian tube instead of in the uterus. A type of ectopic pregnancy.

TUBECTOMY: A removal of all or part of a Fallopian tube during the extraction of a tubal pregnancy or female sterilization. For more information, see Chapter 102.

ULTRASONOGRAPHY: Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create an outline of the baby on a sonography screen. Sonograms are sometimes used by abortionists to position the baby for a kill. At the 20th week, ultrasonography can be used to spot various defects in the spine, kidney, heart, and skeleton. The short-term effects of sonograms on unborn babies is unknown, but the long-term effects may be profound. Research into this field is ongoing. Of course, considering the deleterious effects of sonography on a baby slated for extermination is rather pointless.

UTERUS: Muscular female organ within which the preborn child grows. Often referred to as the womb.

VACUUM ASPIRATION: The induction of abortion using a powerful suction machine to remove the developing preborn baby, the amniotic sac, and the placenta from the uterus.

VAS DEFERENS: Tubes that conduct sperm.

VASECTOMY: Male sterilization or neutering consisting of the excision of a portion of the vas deferens, the tube which conveys sperm cells. For more information on male and female sterilization procedures, see Chapter 102.

VIABILITY: Refers to the point in time when a fetus is capable of surviving outside the womb with or without heroic measures. The definition of viability varies from place to place and depends strongly on the mother's health, but is now 90 percent certain at 24 weeks in the United States. See Chapters 69 to 75 of Volume II for more information on fetal development and the status of the unborn.

X-CHROMOSOME: The sex-determining chromosome carried by all ova and about one-half of all sperm.

Y-CHROMOSOME: The sex-determining chromosome that produces a male child and is carried by about one-half of all sperm.

ZYGOTE: The fertilized ovum, or individual, created by the fusion of the father's sperm cell and the mother's egg cell. This is the earliest stage of human individual development. The zygote is also defined as the diploid cell resulting from the fusion of a sperm cell and an ovum.

Reference: Glossary of Abortion-Related Terms.

[1] Confucius, quoted in Henry Fairlie. "The Language of Politics." The Atlantic, January 1975, pages 25 and 28.

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This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist's Encyclopedia published by American Life League.