Abortion is the expulsion of a fetus from the uterus before it has reached the stage of viability, which is from about the 24th week of gestation on. In the Netherlands termination of pregnancy is allowed till 24 weeks. An abortion may occur spontaneously, in which case it is called a miscarriage or it may be brought on purposefully, in which case it is called induced abortion.
In induced, artificial abortion, the content of the uterus is removed by curettage. This method is very safe and successful, but requires a visit to the clinic. Relatively new is pharmacological abortion, effective for women who are pregnant less than 49 days. Although this method is less successful than removal by curettage, it can be performed outside the clinic. Two drugs (mifepristone and misoprostol) together stimulate uterine contractions and evoke abortion.
In the Netherlands, abortion is possible until: