The terminology of miscarriages can be confusing at times, and many women are shocked to see the word "abortion" on medical forms or to hear the term from doctors.
Although the practice is changing, many medical texts and medical professionals refer to miscarriages as abortions. The term "spontaneous abortion" generally refers to a miscarriage, or naturally occurring loss of a pregnancy (as opposed to the elective surgically or medically induced abortion of an otherwise viable pregnancy). You may also see these terms used:
- Missed abortion (for a missed miscarriage)
- Incomplete abortion (a miscarriage with tissue still left in the uterus)
- Threatened abortion (threatened miscarriage)
- Habitual or recurrent abortion (for recurrent miscarriages)
It can be frustrating and sometimes very upsetting to hear your miscarriage referred to in this way. Regardless of your political leanings on the issue, it's natural to be upset by comparisons between miscarriages and abortions. The elective ending of a pregnancy is a completely different situation than the loss of a wanted pregnancy, both medically and emotionally.
Many doctors respect that patients often feel this way and try to avoid using the term "abortion" in reference to miscarriages, but some still use the term and it can lead to unfortunate misunderstandings at times.