Talk:Abortion/Lead 2007-10

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Lead archives: 2006 -- 2007-10 -- 2011

LCP, dangling modifiers, and medical definitions

LCP made a BOLD edit to the LEAD which was reverted. Let's discuss and propose changes to the lead. Some of LCP's concerns were basic, grammar things, others are bigger.

LCP modified the word "removal" with "surgical" and "expulsion" with "natural" and "its" with "the embryo's or fetus'" so An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death would read An abortion is the surgical removal or natural expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by the embryo's or fetus' death. About modifying "removal or expulsion". I these words were chosen to make sure to cover nearly all cases of "abortion" from induced to miscarriage. I think that meaning is conveyed. Adding the words "surgical and natural" makes it even clearer, almost to the point of being verbose. However, we have to keep in mind abortoficiences and medical abortion. These are non-surgical methods that some people would clearly not classify as "natural" that cause abortion by expulsion. Therefore, making this dichotomy doesn't account for all case of abortion and therefore I cannot support adding those two words.

Regarding the second change to this sentence, I believe one use of "embryo or fetus" is clunky, and two is even clunkier. It would be nice if there was one nice word we could use (like products of conception), but we can't just use embryo or fetus. 80% of the abortion in the use are embryonic, while fetus is a more generic, commonly used term. I think that keeping "its" is better than repeating "emrbyo or fetus".

One thing that LCP's edit did was completely remove the medical definition. I think because we had around 21 cited source (there is a talk page link), with the majority of them mentioning a gestational age, we are not doing our sources justice by ignoring this very common definition of the word. It is giving undue weight to the non-medical definition by not mentioning something so sourced.

Finally, there was concern about the last part of the sentence being gramatically incorrect, if not awkwardly worded: which is considered nonviable. Does anyone have any suggestions for improvements on how to convey that a fetus before 20 weeks is considered non-viable (while keeping the medical definition intact)? -Andrew c 00:48, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Here is the last sentence in all of its consensus approved glory: “medically, it is defined as miscarriage or induced termination before twenty weeks' gestation, which is considered nonviable.” It is “patent nonsense” for two reasons. First, a reader is left guessing at meaning. What exactly is non-viable? The words don’t state. You yourself state, “I cannot find what part of the sentence the phrase is ambiguously modifying.” Second, “medically, it is defined as miscarriage or induced termination” is incorrect and redundant. “Miscarriage or induced termination” is not a “definition.” It is a label. And “miscarriage” and “induced” are already mentioned in the lead before this point.
Wikipedia:How to copy-edit defines copy-editing much differently than Severa does: “Copy-editing refers to the improvement of prose, including its grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and paragraphing, and the correction of misspellings; it extends to the improvement of tone, style, cohesion and texture, and the removal of redundant wording.” That is exactly what I did.
I said my revision were a “copy-edit,” not a “grammar fix.” Big difference. And I did respect the content of the fist paragraph, including the medical definition. I stated, “An abortion is the surgical removal or natural expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by the embryo's or fetus' death. This can occur spontaneously as a miscarriage or be artificially induced by chemical, surgical, or other means. Commonly, "abortion" refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy.” This version includes everything stated in the current version—except the current dangling modifier. It includes “miscarriage” as well as “induced.” I removed, “medically, it is defined as miscarriage or induced termination” because, as I mentioned, it is incorrect and redundant.
LCP 00:55, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
I think Andrew c raises some good points. I would propose the following:
An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by the embryo's or fetus' death. This can occur spontaneously as a miscarriage or be artificially induced by chemical, surgical, or other means. Commonly, "abortion" refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy. In medical terminology, what is commonly referred to as an abortion is called “miscarriage” or “induced termination.” In 2002, only 1.4% (~18,060) of all abortions in the US (~1,290,000) were carried out after 20 weeks, the point at which a fetus is considered viable.[1]
The Changes I’ve made:
  • I’ve reintroduced a specific ref to “medical terminology.”
  • Although clunky, I propose we have to keep “embryo or fetus death” as the two things are different.
  • I’ve interpreted what I think the dangling modifier is trying to say in the current version and included the text at the end of my version.
LCP 01:15, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it's kosher to say that "abortion" is medically defined as something that only ocurs before 20 weeks, or before viability. There are lots and lots of medical sources that do not make this distinction, such as this one. Some medical sources do make this distinction and some don't. Some of each are listed here among the 21 various definitions mentioned by Andrew c, although I think it would be best to just stick to those of the 21 sources that are freely available online (otherwise a million sources could be cited on both sides of this question, and they could not be easily verified). Even some of the 21 sources that are available online are ambiguous, such as "The Gynecological Sourcebook" which says, "Technically, the word abortion simply refers to pregnancy loss before the twentieth week," but also says “Late abortion is any abortion beyond twenty-one weeks.”
I also agree with LCP that it would be best not to refer to an embryo or fetus in the lead as an "it", but perhaps LCP's solution is a bit clunky (perhaps instead, "resulting in or caused by death of the embryo or fetus").Ferrylodge 01:22, 21 June 2007 (UTC) I would also drop LCP's last sentence regarding the percentage occurring after viability, because it's somewhat arbitrary (i.e. we could just as easily select the percentage after the first trimester or the percentage after an embryo becomes a fetus).Ferrylodge 01:39, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
So, how about this: "An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by death of the embryo or fetus. This can occur spontaneously as in a miscarriage, or be artificially induced by chemical, surgical or other means. Commonly, "abortion" refers to an induced procedure, but medically speaking it need not be induced."Ferrylodge 01:46, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
LCP, this proposal doesn't account for Andrew c's concern, which is preserving both the lay definition of abortion and the medical definition. One of the main points of contention in last year's first paragraph debate, as I recall, was which definition should be presented: the definition of "abortion" as applying to induced termination of pregnancy at any gestational age, or, the definition of "abortion" as only applying to induced termination before 20 weeks. Some editors thought we should opt for the broader, more inclusive definition ("at any stage"), while other editors thought it was giving undue weight to omit the definition preferred in medical literature ("before 20 weeks"). The solution, ultimately, was to present both definitions, but to place them within the context of how these definitions are used and by whom. Removing either of these definitions would reopen the can of worms which the compromise closed and send us right back to square one. We can attempt to rework the definitions to make them clearer, but, given the history of this discussion page, I think they will both need to remain in the article in some form. I also do not see what U.S. statistics would add to the intro, as these are already covered in the "Incidence" section, and, being too country-specific, serve to decrease the global perspective of the intro. The term "nonviable" is wikilinked, so anyone who is unfamiliar with it can click the link and learn what it means in its article. I think it's pretty clear from the immediately preceding text that "which is considered nonviable" refers to "twenty weeks." But anyway, any ambiguity would be better resolved through modifying the wording of the definition, rather than removing the definition entirely. This could be as simple as changing "which is considered nonviable" to "the point at which a fetus is considered viable" (working from LCP's suggested text). So: "medically, it is defined as miscarriage or induced termination before twenty weeks' gestation, the point at which a fetus is considered viable." -Severa (!!!) 02:43, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
The type of revision you suggest is actually what I was shooting for. I added the stats only for the sake of precision as I thought that was what the text was trying to communicate. Before I attempt another version that takes into account your comments and suggestions, can you please comment on Ferrylodge's point that the fetus or embryo should not be referred to as an "it"? Also, I would appreciate your thoughts on the viability statement in its current form since, as the stats show and Ferrylodge points out, abortions after 20 weeks are not unusual.
Also, I am not clear on why you say my version "doesn't account for Andrew c's concern." Here are the two version side by side (minus the text about viability):
MINE: An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by the embryo's or fetus' death. This can occur spontaneously as a miscarriage or be artificially induced by chemical, surgical, or other means. Commonly, "abortion" refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy. In medical terminology, what is commonly referred to as an abortion is called “miscarriage” or “induced termination.”
CURRENT: An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death. This can occur spontaneously as a miscarriage, or be artificially induced by chemical, surgical or other means. Commonly, "abortion" refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; medically, it is defined as miscarriage or induced termination.
Is it just the omission about viability info that you find problematic? Otherwise, I can see no essential semantic difference between the two version.LCP 18:03, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it is the omission about viability info that I find problematic. Dig through the archived discussion. We went through the sources (the 21 list was just compiled by one user, there are more definitions cited throughout the archives), we discussed them, made proposals, and agreed to mention that there is a technical definition of the word that commonly has a cut off point. I believe those discussions were valid, and I agree that it's a good thing to present multiple POVs in the lead (and I also feel that the manner in which we present the POVs is neutral). Anyone is more than welcome to go through the sources again, or present new evidence, or make new proposals. But forgive me for not being eager to go through this process again (it was quite taxing, just look at the size of the archives, but I feel good came out of it in the end). What I've always said is that we should work on the to-do list, and try to get FA status BEFORE tackling the lead again. We literally spend months discussing the lead, and finally reached something the everyone could agree upon.
As for "its", I'm a little confused. FL said I also agree with LCP that it would be best not to refer to an embryo or fetus in the lead as an "it" and LCP said can you please comment on Ferrylodge's point that the fetus or embryo should not be referred to as an "it". I'm confused about who made the original point, and I'm confused as to why, because I have not found a discussion describing WHY we shouldn't use the pronoun "it" in reference to an embryo or fetus. According to the Chicago Manual of Style] Some personal pronouns have special uses ... It eliminates gender even if the noun’s sex could be identified. Using it does not mean that the noun has no sex—only that the sex is unknown or unimportant {the baby is smiling at its mother} {the mockingbird is building its nest}. -Andrew c 02:58, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't have any big objection to keeping "it" in the lede, although I do think it's often improper to refer to a human being as "it," and I would have no problem if the lede were changed to say "resulting in or caused by death of the embryo or fetus."
Regarding the statement in the lede that, medically speaking, "abortion" can be both induced and non-induced, that's 100% correct. But the lede also says that something occurring after 20 weeks cannot be an "abortion", medically speaking. It's that latter assertion that is not uniformly true, and medical sources often discuss "abortion" of viable fetuses, as in late term abortion. I don't see any problem with discussing that fact here on the talk page, regardless of whether a featured article review may be under way or imminent. If this article becomes featured, then mistakes may only become more difficult to correct.
Andrew c mentioned 21 various definitions. Let's briefly consider them. Many of those 21 definitions make no distinction at all about "abortion" only occuring before viability. #1 makes no distinction. #2 is ambiguous, and the contradictory part has not been quoted ("late abortion is any abortion beyond twenty-one weeks"). #3 makes no distinction. #4 and #5 are not available online. #6 makes no distinction. #7 is ambiguous, and the contradictory part has not been quoted ("expulsion of the human fetus prematurely, or before it is capable of sustaining life"). #8 makes no distinction. #9 is is a Medline Plus discussion of "miscarriage", and their definition of abortion (which yet again is not quoted) makes no distinction. #10 is the exact same source as #9 which defines abortion without making this distinction. #11 makes no distinction. #12 makes no distinction. #13 makes no distinction. #14 is again the exact same source as #9 which defines abortion without making this distinction. #15 makes no distinction. #16 makes no distinction. #17 and #18 do make the distinction. #19 is a definition of "therapeutic abortion" that only applies before viability, but there is also a definition of "partial birth abortion" which is defined as a "method of late-term abortion" so again there is no distinction. #20 makes no distinction. And, #21 is not online. So, the vast majority of these sources do not make the distinction in the lead.Ferrylodge 05:03, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

[reset indent] I disagree with your counting. I believe discounting a source because it isn't online is not valid, and I believe discounting a source because the word abortion is later modified by another word or phrase is not any more of a contradiction than defining "threatened" or "incomplete abortion" different from an unmodified "abortion".

To make it clear, the reason why I'd just like to let the lead sit and move on is because I feel that these matters were quite timely and consuming in the past and that it took a lot to build a version that most everyone could agree with and do not want to open that can of worms again. I do not feel right spending a great deal of effort going over the same matters again when there are other areas of this article needing attention. It's like, how many editors at Jesus want to argue AD vs CE again? How many editors at Roman Catholic Church want to argue RCC vs. CC again. These are all top tier articles that are not featured (but should be), but editors always find ways to argue over the same stuff instead of focusing on improving the less talked about areas of the articles. So forgive me if my past experiences makes me jaded. Maybe this discussion can be cleared up in a jiff.

Perhaps the simplest way we could address your concerns is by adding the word "sometimes" to the current version. So the last sentence would read along the lines of Commonly, "abortion" refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; however, it is sometimes medically defined as miscarriage or induced termination before twenty weeks' gestation, which is considered nonviable.

To address LCP's concerns, maybe we could rephrase the final portion to say defined as miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability.-Andrew c 14:28, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Andrew c, I sympathize with the need to put issues to rest. The better the solution is, the more lasting it will be. So, thanks for your suggestion, which is a better solution for the first paragraph. The first paragraph now states:
"An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death. This can occur spontaneously as a miscarriage, or be artificially induced by chemical, surgical or other means. Commonly, 'abortion' refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; medically, it is defined as miscarriage or induced termination before twenty weeks' gestation, which is considered nonviable."
If I understand correctly, you're basically suggesting to write instead the following (I have also gotten rid of the word "it"):
"An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by death of the embryo or fetus. This can occur spontaneously as in a miscarriage, or can be artificially induced by chemical, surgical or other means. Commonly, 'abortion' refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; however, it is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability."
This would be fine with me, and would make the lead more accurate and well-written, in my opinion. What do you think, LCP? Regarding the word "it", please see this article, titled "The Textual Abuse of Children; In the Press and In the Child Protection Community" by Bernadette Saunders and Chris Goddard, Childhood, Volume 8 (2001). Thanks.Ferrylodge 16:00, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
You are correct in summarizing my proposal. I don't like removing "it" though. I can understand the concerns that "it" can be dehumanizing to a gendered, born entity (ignoring the arguments against gender dichotomy briefly). However, the source that your source cites even admits the use of ‘it’ for a baby or infant may be considered acceptable: when the child is not yet born, when his or her sex is not known, or when the child lacks ‘reason and speech’. I think the arguments concerning calling children "it" are more persuasive and may be something to consider on other articles. However, style manuals and even the source you provided recognizes that the pronoun "it" is fine in these instances. I think the phrase "embryo or fetus" is clunky, confusing, and partially inaccurate. However, I don't want to get into a discussion on what it could be replaced with because I feel that we almost have reached a consensus on these few changes. One instance of the clunky "embryo or fetus" is slightly disagreeable to me, but two is too much. I can live with one, and I do not find the arguments for not using "it" persuasive (your source doesn't mention embryos or fetuses at all). I hope we can agree and move on. Thanks for your kind consideration so far.-Andrew c 16:40, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
I can understand your concern about clunkiness of using the term "embryo or fetus" twice in one sentence. This can be easily resolved. The article on pregnancy has long used the term "developing human" in its lead. So:
"An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by the developing human's death. This can occur spontaneously as in a miscarriage, or can be artificially induced by chemical, surgical or other means. Commonly, 'abortion' refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; however, it is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability."
This is a simple and easy way to avoid the whole issue of describing the embryo or fetus by the word "it." The Saunders article discusses the inadvisability of using this word: "Even small words may be powerful." Those authors praise the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and they quote it: "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth..." I'm not advocating that we should refer in the lead to an embryo or fetus as a "him" or a "her", but neither should we refer to the developing human as an "it". There's no need to. You're correct that the Saunders article does mention a study by Wales which suggests that the word "it" is appropriate when the child is not yet born, but Saunders does not endorse that, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (which I have just quoted) also takes a different approach. The more I think about this, the less appropriate it seems for the lead of this article to take a position that a fetus or embryo can be appropriately referred to as "it" while an older human cannot be appropriately referred to in this way. Can we just circumvent this issue by using the term "developing human" as is done in the pregnancy article? Thanks.Ferrylodge 18:04, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
P.S. Here's another option that relies on #18 and #20 of your 21 various definitions (and relies on Andrew c's first comment in this section):
"An abortion is the removal or expulsion of the products of conception from the uterus, resulting in or caused by death of the embryo or fetus. This can occur spontaneously as in a miscarriage, or can be artificially induced by chemical, surgical or other means. Commonly, 'abortion' refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; however, it is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability."
Does anyone have any objection to this? It avoids the problem of referring to the subject of an abortion as "it".Ferrylodge 00:18, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
The fact is that the definition in the introduction was written to take into account all abortions. The term "abortion" applies equally to an animal's miscarriage, or an abortion induced by a veterinarian, so we shouldn't construct the introduction in a manner such as you've suggested. Most dictionary definitions of abortion stick to "embryo" and "fetus," likely because these are open-ended, and apply to any mammal. We also spent time trying to write the introduction in such a way as to accommodate abortion in the case of a multiple pregnancy. This is why the current wording is "an embryo or fetus" and "its death," rather than "the embryo or fetus" and "the embryo or fetus' death," because a definite article precludes other embryos or fetuses. I recall a number of proposals included a clunky caveat to address the first concern ("all mammalian pregnancies can be aborted") and an even clunkier stab at combined singularity/plurality to account for the second ("embryo(s) or "fetus(es)"). It was nothing short of linguistic gymnastics trying to work this all out. However, we eventually arrived at a consensus, and implemented a version that everyone could agree upon (or at least live with) in the article. Someone added a new agenda item, "Expand lead section to something more substantial," to our to-do list a couple of months ago. I don't think we're going to find time to expand the rest of the lead if we dedicate all of our focus to the first paragraph — not to mention all the other portions of the article remaining to be addressed. I think LCP's concern over the ambiguity of "which is considered nonviable" is easily resolved, but per "it," I can only point to "death," which is still included in the article, although several editors have objected to it before for a number of reasons. No one is going ever going to be 100% satisfied with the introduction, but, in last year's first paragraph debate, we came pretty close, and reached a consensus. I agree with Andrew c: don't reopen a closed can of worms. -Severa (!!!) 01:11, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
The following language is no more limited to humans than the existing language in the article, and the following language is no more unaccomodating to multiple pregnancy than the existing language in the article.
"An abortion is the removal or expulsion of the products of conception from the uterus, resulting in or caused by death of an embryo or fetus. This can occur spontaneously as in a miscarriage, or can be artificially induced by chemical, surgical or other means. Commonly, 'abortion' refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; however, it is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability."
We are all in agreement on the changes in the last sentence. The changes in the first sentence are basically what Andrew c suggested in his first comment in this section of the talk page ("products of conception"). The word "death" does not ameliorate use of the word "it" in reference to the subject of an abortion; lots of things die (like bugs and weeds and leeches). This article discusses the problems that one encounters when referring to a human being as "it." One would never say upon the death of an adult that "it died." A neutral solution here is to use neither "it" nor "he" nor "she". There is no can of worms here, because no one has identified any problem with the blockquoted language. It is no more limited to humans than the existing language, and it is no more unaccomodating of multiple pregnancy than the existing language.Ferrylodge 01:29, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

"It" herein is referring to any mammalian fetus — not just human fetuses. My is point is that, although several editors have objected to "death" before, suggesting that it should be removed from the article, formulations which avoided using "death" have not passed the test. I see purposely trying to avoid the word "it" as being the same. The above proposals ("products of conception" and repetition of the phrase "embryo or fetus") remind me of some of the awkward, overly complex constructions that have been designed to sidestep using "death," namely, "An abortion is the termination of an embryo of fetus' gestation in a womb, so as not to result in a live birth." I think, in this case, going out of our way to avoid particular words only serves to decrease the clarity of the text, by making it more complicated than it needs to be.
Does everyone here agree with the idea of changing the last sentence of the first paragraph to, "medically, it is defined as miscarriage or induced termination before twenty weeks' gestation, the point at which a fetus is considered viable?" in order to address LCP's initial concerns? -Severa (!!!) 02:56, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Severa, are you saying that you disagree with Andrew c's proposal to rewrite the last sentence of the first paragraph as follows?
"Commonly, 'abortion' refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; however, it is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability."
I think that Andrew c's proposal here is a good one, and I do not agree to anything else at this point.
Regarding the first sentence of the first paragraph, my understanding is that you object to the following: "An abortion is the removal or expulsion of products of conception from the uterus, resulting in or caused by the death of an embryo or fetus." Is your only objection that the term "products of conception" is awkward? That is a very common term, and I do not agree that it is awkward. Andrew c suggested it in his first comment in this section of the talk page, and I do not see any problem with it.Ferrylodge 03:03, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
According to WP:Consensus, editors should accurately and appropriately describe the different views on the subject, including their own. So, if anyone is opposed to the following proposed last sentence of the first paragraph (which was suggested by Andrew c), then please explain your reasons: "Commonly, 'abortion' refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; however, it is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability." The reasons in favor have been explained above.
Likewise, if anyone is opposed to the following proposed first sentence of the first paragraph then please explain: "An abortion is the removal or expulsion of products of conception from the uterus, resulting in or caused by the death of an embryo or fetus." The reasons in favor have been explained above. The phrase "products of conception" is already used in many Wikipedia articles, and it was suggested in Andrew c's first comment in this section. The proposed first sentence adequately allows for non-human abortion and multiple pregnancy, and it also avoids the problem of referring to the subject of an abortion as "it" (see Saunders article). Many abortion-related articles at Wikipedia have already been edited to remove the word "mother" in connection with a pregnant woman, even though that is a correct use of the word "mother", and it seems like a POV problem to simultaneously insist on the word "it" for a fetus in the first sentence of this article. The fact that the first sentence of this article may allow for other species besides humans does not solve the problem, because the lead does not mention other species, and it surely applies to humans.
Thanks.Ferrylodge 15:31, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Hi Ferrylodge.. your link doesn't prove a woman carrying a foetus should be called a mother.. that is contingent on accepting the POV that the foetus may be called a "child". Zargulon 19:14, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Hi Zargulon. The definition of the word "mother" is a bit tangential to my previous comment, but you're correct that the link I gave leaves the word "child" undefined. However, the very same dictionary clears up any ambiguity here. Other dictionaries agree, as does the Wikipedia article on Mother (and Google turns up quite a few hits for "pregnant mother"). Anyway, even if the word "mother" were not applicable to a pregnant woman (which it is), still it would not be good form to refer to the developing human as "it" when other words are available.Ferrylodge 20:02, 23 June 2007 (UTC)


Hi.. are you saying the phrase "joining mother and fetus" in the definition of "after-birth" proves that carrying a not-just-about-to-be-born fetus makes someone a mother? This is not very a very good argument given the word under definition is *after* - *birth*.. I would at least expect to see something under the definition of "mother" or "fetus". I looked through the other dictionaries link and I couldn't find anything that supported the position that the definition of mother applies in any situation other than immediately surrounding the time of birth and thereafter. Of course many people either casually or deliberately use mother to include any carrier of a foetus, as you noticed with your Wikipedia and google search. Zargulon 20:22, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Zargulon, "joining mother and fetus" was from a definition of "placenta" which is a biological feature that exists well before birth. Regarding the other dictionary definition I gave, it defines a mother as: "A female person who is pregnant with or gives birth to a child" which obviously is not limited to the last few days of pregnancy. I have never seen a definition of "mother" that says motherhood starts at birth or soon before birth. Anyway, like I said, this is tangential to the issue at hand. Cheers.Ferrylodge 22:00, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Hi ferrylodge.. I have never seen an (apolitical) definition of "mother" which says motherhood starts at conception, or that motherhood is generally applicable to a pregnant woman.. "pregnant with a child" presupposes that the pregnancy results in a live birth, since the word "child" is used. Zargulon 22:19, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
Hi Zargulon. No one disagrees that a mother is a female parent. And, no one disagrees that, in a broad sense, a parent is any organism that produces or generates another. Therefore, it is not incorrect to say that a pregnant woman is a mother. It is merely a matter of preference and style whether one does so.
That is disingenuous. I hope you would agree that for someone to say that they were the father of their sperm or the mother of their gut bacteria was so misleading as to be incorrect. It is reasonable to put the foetus in the same category; the only difference is that the (pseudo)parenthood is shared.
You have suggested that a woman can be a mother prior to birth, but only supposing that she ultimately gives birth to a child, and consequently you say there's no way to know if a pregnant woman was a mother until she gives birth. Your suggestion seems odd to me. You can look up the word child in many different dictionaries, and you will see that it is not limited to a human being after birth. But I agree with you that, if you are looking for an apolitical definition of "mother" that explicitly says motherhood starts at “conception”, then it may be difficult to find.Ferrylodge 23:11, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't feel I have suggested this, I think you are extrapolating. Rather it seems to me that the word mother is used for pregnant women in the context of anticipation of a live birth. Outside of this context, and particularly in the context of terminating a pregnancy, I see no evidence that it is not incorrect to give a pregnant woman the label of mother.. unless, for whatever reason, one is seeking to change the context e.g. by recalling her potential to give a live birth. That, however, is begging the question. Zargulon 23:39, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
I don’t think there is any dictionary anywhere that unambiguously says that a pregnant woman is or is not a “mother” depending upon her intentions. Here is just a small sample of evidence that it is not incorrect to give a pregnant woman the label of “mother”, regardless of her intentions: [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]Ferrylodge 02:05, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
This is veering into a general discussion of semantics. The introduction of this article doesn't contain the term "mother," "woman," or "pregnant woman," nor is anyone proposing that it should, so let's try to keep discussion focused on things that are on the table. Thanks! -Severa (!!!) 04:00, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, if we are on a kick to remove anything in the lead that may be POV or controversial, such as the dreaded pronoun, why don't we also remove the word "death". There have been more than a handful of editors who have commented negatively about that word's inclusion for the first sentence (and look at how many sources use the d-word. More sources mention a time limit (20 weeks) or viability than mention death.) So how does the following sound? An abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception from the uterus. We don't say death, we don't say its, and its very close to a couple of the definitions on the list. The reason I have a problem with Ferrylodge's first sentence proposal is because it specifies that the removal or expulsion of the POC is caused by the death of the fetus or embryo. This is technically inaccurate, because some miscarriages are caused by placental problems (i.e. if the placenta dies, then the fetus is going to be expelled). However, if my proposal is disagreeable, then I think the current lead is superior to efforts to try again to come up with a perfect 1st sentence. I believe no one is going to be 100% happy with it, but we can at least agree it is sufficiently good. I also only suggested the new last sentence to try and address LCP and FL's concerns. It isn't something that I want, per se, but an attempt to reach a compromise. I personally think the sentence works without adding "sometimes" (just to clear up where I stand, because I feel I was being misrepresented). Believe me, I am interested in the outcome of this article, but I am not interested in filling up the talk page, so excuse me if I don't respond to everything because I'll be doing (what in my mind) are more important things over the next few days.-Andrew c 20:52, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
I'll go ahead and modify the last sentence of the first paragraph, according to Andrew c's suggested compromise, since no one has given any reason for objecting to it.
Regarding the other (first) sentence, I suggested this: "An abortion is the removal or expulsion of products of conception from the uterus, resulting in or caused by the death of an embryo or fetus." Andrew c objects, because he says it specifies that the removal or expulsion of the POC is caused by the death of the fetus or embryo. That's obviously incorrect, because of the word "or" that I have bolded and italicized. But I will leave the first sentence as it is for now, since he objected (incorrectly).Ferrylodge 22:00, 23 June 2007 (UTC)
I would like to (seriously) suggest changing the word "its" in the first sentence to "his or her or its." This would make it clear right up front that the authors of this article are trying to be even-handed about a very touchy subject. There is no doubt that the word "its" is often used to dehumanize.[9]Ferrylodge 06:13, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Severa has reverted. Take your time to think it over, Severa. Andrew c previously proposed this, and reconfirmed the proposal at 16:40 on 22 June. Then, at 15:31 on 23 June, I asked for people to explain any objections they might have to this edit. Then at 22:00 on 23 June, I said I'd go ahead and make the change. Then at 04:00 on 24 June you visited this page and made a comment on another subject. It was not until 5:58 on 24 June that I finally made the edit. Please don't say that I'm jumping the gun. Okay? Thank you for kind indulgence.Ferrylodge 06:47, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

And she was right to revert. This edit is not an improvement. KillerChihuahua?!? 19:45, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Would you care to explain why?Ferrylodge 20:07, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

(unindent)Sorry to have been so silent. I've been off-line. The current version resolves the main issue that I had with the previous lead. Many thanks to everyone who pitched in!LCP 18:29, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

Consensus

No one replied to this post, where Ferrylodge stated, "I'll go ahead and modify the last sentence of the first paragraph" — probably because the "mother" vs. "pregnant woman" discussion expanded above it and it was easy to miss — but a lack of reply is not the same as an agreement to go ahead. There hasn't been any definitive agreement that any of the proposals put forward should be put into action in the article. I never expressed that I thought this proposal should be enacted. Nor do I interpret the following comment from Andrew c as exactly giving the green light:

"I also only suggested the new last sentence to try and address LCP and FL's concerns. It isn't something that I want, per se, but an attempt to reach a compromise. I personally think the sentence works without adding "sometimes" (just to clear up where I stand, because I feel I was being misrepresented)."

Specifically, Andrew c expressed concerns over the word "sometimes," but this was still included in the intro revision. I also have an issue with the addition of the word "sometimes," which I feel is weasel wording, but also with the removal of the reference to "twenty weeks," which was agreed upon by last year's consensus. At the peak of that discussion, over 10 editors were involved, and the debate proceeded for over a month. In comparison, we have four (maybe five) editors now participating in this discussion, which has been going on for a couple of days, and none of us have agreed conclusively on a course of action. Things are still up in the air. Let's not get hasty and think that we are in any kind of a rush here. The introduction is as stable as it is because people were willing to take the time to cooperate toward finding a solution. Perhaps we can take a page from last year's debate and build a list of proposals on which users can vote. Personally, I would like to know what some of the users who participated in last year's discussion think. -Severa (!!!) 08:27, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

I am in no rush, and am glad to go slowly, as I already emphasized in the previous section of this talk page. The last sentence of the first paragraph is currently this:
"Commonly, ‘abortion’ refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; medically, it is defined as miscarriage or induced termination before twenty weeks' gestation, which is considered nonviable."
There clearly is room for improvement here, such as disambiguating the viability wikilink. Regarding the notion that “abortion” is medically defined as occurring before viability, that is an inaccurate statement.
Most online medical sources do not limit the definition of abortion in this way, and therefore the last sentence in the first paragraph of our article needs to be corrected. I briefly considered 21 various definitions that had also been considered last year. Many of those 21 definitions make no distinction about "abortion" only occurring before viability. #1 makes no distinction. #2 is ambiguous, and the contradictory part has not been quoted ("late abortion is any abortion beyond twenty-one weeks"). #3 makes no distinction. #4 and #5 are not available online. #6 makes no distinction. #7 is ambiguous, and the contradictory part has not been quoted ("expulsion of the human fetus prematurely, or before it is capable of sustaining life"). #8 makes no distinction. #9 is a Medline Plus discussion of "miscarriage", and their definition of abortion (which yet again is not quoted) makes no distinction. #10 is the exact same source as #9 which defines abortion without making this distinction. #11 makes no distinction. #12 makes no distinction. #13 makes no distinction. #14 is again the exact same source as #9 which defines abortion without making this distinction. #15 makes no distinction. #16 makes no distinction. #17 and #18 do make the distinction. #19 is a definition of "therapeutic abortion" that only applies before viability, but there is also a definition of "partial birth abortion" which is defined as a "method of late-term abortion" so again there is no distinction. #20 makes no distinction. And, #21 is not online.
So, the majority of these sources do not make the distinction in the lead regarding viability. Andrew c responded by suggesting the word “sometimes.” If you think the word "sometimes" is weasel wording, then perhaps the best option would be to footnote the lead:
”Commonly, ‘abortion’ refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; however, it is medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination. Some medical sources further specify that abortion refers only to a procedure prior to the point of viability, which occurs after at least twenty weeks' gestation (see Dorland’s Medical Dictionary), whereas other medical sources use a different chronological marker (see Merriam Webster’s Online Medical Dictionary), or use no chronological marker at all (see The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary)."
What do you think about that? My main concern is to correct the notion that medical definitions limit the word "abortion" to procedures prior to 20 weeks. In fact, most do not, and the medical literature is full of references to late term abortions that occur after twenty weeks.Ferrylodge 09:25, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Although this appears to be a straightforward factual matter about the accuracy of the first paragraph, Severa said, "I would like to know what some of the users who participated in last year's discussion think." Therefore, I have invited a bunch of people including RoyBoy, Pro-Lick, GTBacchus, AvB, Isolani, GoodandEvil, Wikicats, Str1977, Homestarmy, patsw, AnnH (now Musical Linguist), and Dominick.Ferrylodge 20:00, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Do you bother to check things? Goodandevil (talk • contribs • deleted contribs • nuke contribs • logs • filter log • block user • block log) has been blocked 7 times for edit warring on Abortion articles to promote a POV, and has not edited since 5 August 2006 - probably a good thing since that's the last person I'd think would help us to reach any kind of consensus; Pro-Lick (talk • contribs • deleted contribs • nuke contribs • logs • filter log • block user • block log) is banned permanently, which surely you saw on his page, why are you inviting banned users?; WikiCats has not edited since 9 December 2006. Why wasn't User:Spaully, User:SOPHIA, or User:SlimVirgin invited? All were active in previous discussions, and all are editing now. KillerChihuahua?!? 21:10, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

I will invite Spaully, Sophia, and SlimVirgin if you wish. I simply invited people who had participated in this poll. I was not trying to invite everyone who has ever edited the abortion article. Please address the accuracy of the last sentence of the first paragraph of the abortion article. It is inaccurate and misleading. Most medical definitions do not limit the word "abortion" to procedures prior to 20 weeks, and the medical literature is full of references to late term abortions that occur after twenty weeks.Ferrylodge 21:28, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

If the medical definition of abortion is only an abortion before 20 weeks, what's the medical definition for the common understanding of abortion after 20 weeks? Also, I (almost) hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the entire lead as a whole seems too short for, say, FA status if that's the ultimate goal, in particular, the health effects sections seem too long for there to be no apparent mention of it at all in the lead. Homestarmy 22:09, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Viability doesn't seem to be part of the definitions that are used in the UK - time limits are the key points as far as I am aware. What about taking some ideas from this definition [10]? Sophia 22:52, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
The MedTerms definition that you cite is yet another medical definition inconsistent with the first paragraph of the abortion article, and I hope we can fix our article.Ferrylodge 00:19, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Homestarmy: You're not really bearing bad news, more highlighting a harsh reality resulting from a contentious lead. The shorter it is, the less there is to disagree about. :"p You're suggestion for inserting health effects is a good one, social issues needs to be put in and the abortion debate could use a little expanding. - RoyBoy 800 02:35, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
  • "mother": As I've stated on Ferrylodge's talk page, I find "mother" more ambiguous and does not improve the lead in a quantifiable way. All that would be accomplished is to remind people mother includes those who are pregnant... *shrug*. - RoyBoy 800 02:35, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
  • As to twenty weeks: My understanding from past discussions and my own opinion is... that there are clear time constraints on abortive procedures in medicine for bio-ethical and/or legal considerations. There needs to be, it not being in the 21 definitions given does not change that. If I'm wrong, I'd be surprised. The medical community deems abortive procedures after that period to be something other than an "abortion". They use "partial-birth abortion", or IDX or "late term abortion" or some other terminology that differentiates this from a non-viable abortion. This isn't just a exercise in semantics to hospitals, they do this to clarify and delineate the procedure from the standards, requirements and health care they would apply to an "abortion". - RoyBoy 800 02:35, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Twenty weeks: The Canadian Medical Association defines induced abortion as, "the active termination of a pregnancy before fetal viability," then later clarifies that "extrauterine viability may be possible if the fetus weighs over 500 g or is past 20 weeks’ gestation, or both." [11]
  • Homestarmy: Expanding the introduction has been an item on this article's to-do list for a couple of months. I, personally, would like to see this done.
-Severa (!!!) 04:42, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
The issue here is whether the first paragraph is accurate or inaccurate when it says: "medically, it is defined as miscarriage or induced termination before twenty weeks' gestation, which is considered nonviable." I have gone through the definitions, and only a small fraction of medical sources deny that a termination after 20 weeks is a type of abortion. The lead is presently giving undue weight to a small fraction of medical sources.
This is a fairly straightforward issue. The simple fact is that the lead is inaccurate, because lots and lots of medical sources use the word "abortion" with reference to a termination of pregnancy after twenty weeks. A "late-term abortion" is still an abortion. An "illegal abortion" is still an abortion. It makes no sense to say that, merely because many medical authorities attach an adjective like "late-term" or "illegal" then somehow the noun "abortion" does not apply, which is what our lead now asserts. Likewise the term "senior citizen" does not imply non-citizenship. This is a very straightforward issue, and I feel like people are dancing around it here. The majority of medical sources say that the word "abortion" is not limited to a previability procedure. That's all that matters here. Many medical dictionaries define abortion without regard to whether it occurs before viability or after. (See here and here and here). They do not restrict when the event occurs. Likewise, numerous medical articles use the term "abortion" after 20 weeks. See [here] and here and here and here. It is simply false and misleading for the lead of this article to say that there's no such thing as an abortion after viability, medically speaking.Ferrylodge 05:43, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
The arguments against "Medically ..." seem convincing to me. We didn't give it much thought last year, and may have overlooked that rare procedures will not generate much by way of literature and (updated) definitions. However, simply removing the sentence would also remove consensus information about fetus viability and/or the 20-week point which underpin or inform abortion laws in many countries. Perhaps something along these lines would solve the "medically" problem:
x% of all induced abortions take place before 20 weeks' gestation, which is considered nonviable.
If this would be adopted, I would also be in favor of adding: See also Late term abortion. As to possible undue weight arguments: I believe that precisely the fact that it is a rare procedure is important/notable.
AvB ÷ talk 09:34, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
The link I gave in my previous post could help avoid these issues in the lead as it defines abortion as the premature loss of a pregnancy. The word "loss" is important as this shows that it was an unsuccessful pregnancy (ie did not end in a live birth) so does not conflict with very premature births that do end in live births. It then covers both spontaneous and induced abortions. Maybe what we need to do is split at that point into the miscarriage and stillbirth articles and then into an Induced abortion article (not as a redirect) that covers all the methods used at the various stages. We still need talk about time limits as is done in the stillbirth article as these are legally defined and vary from country to country. Possibly the problems we have been having are due to trying to cover too much under one word "abortion" so we need to make these difficulties clear in effectively a disambiguation article which indexes and pulls together all the various topics this covers. Thoughts? Sophia 09:55, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
As has been brought up previously we need to be able to cover the dicotomy that in the UK a 23 week termination is an abortion and a 23 week natural live birth is premature. A post 24 week termination is an abortion but a natural birth of a dead fetus is a still birth and must be registered. The laws are a mess which is why the definitions are so difficult. Sophia 09:59, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
Split/rename/etc: Not a bad idea at all. The current article contains very little on spontaneous abortion as it is. A slightly different option: remove any miscarriage/stillbirth info from the current article and add a dab at the top. Something like This article is about induced abortion in humans. For other meanings, see Miscarriage or Stillbirth AvB ÷ talk 10:10, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
For now I would like to keep the 20-week/nonviable info (the article is still rather US-centric in other aspects as well). Perhaps we should qualify the 20 weeks etc. by saying In the US, ...? The time limits problems can be worked out in the article, after which the lead can be updated. AvB ÷ talk 10:19, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

<uindent> I'm not advocating any radical changes just yet - just throwing out ideas. What it seems to be coming to is a confusion of an event and a procedure all mixed up with the differences in medical, legal and common use definitions. Sophia 10:53, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Understood; I think your ideas are going in the right direction. The miscarriage/stillbirth/(induced) abortion one looks uncontroversial to me so perhaps it can be done soon. I also agree about the confusion; losing the "medical" here in the lead looks like a start to me. AvB ÷ talk 11:17, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

This comment is referring to FL's statement A "late-term abortion" is still an abortion. Under that logic, I submit that the lead is inaccurate by saying an abortion is the removal or expulsion because we have "incomplete abortions" and "threatened abortions", both cases of "abortion" where the embryo may not have been removed nor expelled. However, that said, I disagree with the logic. A word is specifically modified by these terms "late-term" or "incomplete" or "threatened" because they do not meet the standard definition of the term "abortion". I also question FL's assertions that Likewise, numerous medical articles use the term "abortion" after 20 weeks. and the medical literature is full of references to late term abortions that occur after twenty weeks. Anyone can do this, do a pubmed search for "abortion". I just got 62577 hits. Then do a search for ("late-term abortions" or "late-term abortion"), and you get 53 hits. That's .085% I wouldn't call that "full of" or even "numerous". But it gets worse. Start reading through the results. 7 of them are popular newspaper articles from places like the New York Times (not part of the "medical literature" by any means). At least 5 are from legal journals, again not part of the medical literature. At least 6 are from partisan publications such as Reproductive freedom news "from the Center for Reproductive Law & Policy", and Conscience which is put out by "Catholics for a Free Choice". So that takes us down from 53 hits to 35. Let's look at these results. The vast majority of the results deal with animals (cows, pigs, horses, sheep, nilgais). And when you look at many of those articles, they make a distinction between a LTA and a stillbirth. (quotes like Two were late-term abortions, two neonates died 1 or 2 days after birth, and one calf survived. No stillbirths or perinatal deaths were observed in other bovids in the zoo that year.[12]) How many of the results deal with humans? and how many of those deal with abortion procedures? I think it's clear how prevalent this usage of "late-term abotion" is in the medical literature.

However, here are two interesting quote from the results:

  • In this article, early second-trimester abortion procedures refer to those performed at 13 through 15 weeks of gestation. Mid second-trimester abortion procedures are those performed at 16 through 19 weeks of gestation. Late second-trimester abortions refer to procedures performed at 20 through 27 weeks of gestation. Late-term abortions refer to procedures performed during the third trimester, defined as 27 weeks of gestation or more. Weeks of gestation are defined in terms of the first day of the last menstrual period. However, gestational age may vary depending on whether the stage of pregnancy is calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period, from the estimated time of fertilization, or from the estimated time of implementation.3-4 Such distinctions are important when regulations or legal provisions refer to weeks of gestation or trimesters ... Viability is presumed to exist after 27 weeks of gestation (assuming an otherwise healthy fetus) and is presumed not to exist prior to 20 weeks.5-7 The time between 20 and 27 weeks is a "gray zone" in which some fetuses may be viable and others are not. The definition of viability used herein is the same as that used by the US Supreme Court: "the capacity for meaningful life outside the womb, albeit with artificial aid," and not just momentary survival.8 The distinction between measuring viability in terms of weeks of gestation vs "meaningful life outside the womb, albeit with artificial aid" is important with respect to late-term abortion. It is not clear whether the proposed federal legislation would ban all third-trimester abortions or all postviability procedures, some of which may occur during the second trimester. Some medical procedures used to induce abortion prior to viability are identical or very similar to postviability abortion procedures.[13]
  • Following US jurisprudence, American commentators often define abortion as the "expulsion of an embryo or fetus before it is viable".14 This makes it difficult to speak of "late-term" abortions, for in the American sense these are not abortions at all, but acts of feticide. From this perspective it is therefore necessary to distinguish between abortion as the termination of a pregnancy and abortion as the termination of a fetus. The former is a constitutionally protected right in the US, while the latter is justified only under rare conditions of fetal best interest ... Abortion in Israel, on the other hand, is broadly defined as termination of pregnancy without regard to gestational age or fetal viability and, at later stages, inevitably includes fetal termination. Abortion at all stages of pregnancy is freely available for any of the following conditions: maternal age (<17 or >40 years of age), premarital pregnancy (or pregnancy resulting from rape or incest), danger to the mother's physical or mental health and/or fetal birth defects. Requests for abortion must be approved by a hospital committee. Abortion law is similar in Denmark while provisions in the UK specify "severe" fetal anomalies. In spite of the flexibility of the law, late-term (third trimester) abortions are generally avoided in the UK and Denmark. Israel, on the other hand, has one of the highest rates of late-term abortion in the world.[14]

So what is all this getting at? I believe the most common medical use of the term "abortion" in the medical literature has a cut off point. They make a distinction between abortion (miscarriage) and stillbirth. The medical literature does not deal with abortion procedures in humans nearly as often. And this is the stumbling block. We are all used to hearing the word "abortion" and thinking of medical procedures that humans use to end their pregnancy. And in our rational minds, we think "the procedure doesn't change just because the fetus is a little older, so why on earth does it stop being an abortion procedure? Those medical definitions must be wrong, and we shouldn't even mention them." However, that's simply disregarding our sources because we don't like what they say. NPOV says we should present all sides, if notable. Sophia brings up a great point that there is a distinction between a medical procedure attached to the word "abortion" and an event. The medical literature that uses the word "abortion" in this manner is rarely talking about the medical procedures that humans use to end their pregnancies. And even some articles dealing with humans keep to the medical usage of the term "abortion" (i.e. this deals with what wikipedia calls late-term abortion, but the word "abortion" isn't used to describe the procedure). Granted, there are also journal articles dealing with humans that do use LTA in the wikipedia sense. But, as noted above, I also contend that the term "late-term abortion" is simply not filling the medical literature by any means. And a last issue to consider is the variations in definitions between different countries. According to the article cited above, and Severa's cited Canadian reference, not all countries agree on the definition of "abortion". To be completely accurate for every case (which I think shouldn't be our goal, but..), we may need some refining. However, completely removing a mention of viability is not an option because we would be ignoring significant POVs.

And finally, I'm going to throw this out here again. It seems like the reason why we are concerned over saying an abortion is medically defined as being before viability, is because not all medical sources say those exact words. Going through the definitions, a good majority of them don't even mention "death" (more mention viability or 20 weeks than mention "death"). I propose removing the ending clause in the lead, and using a definition similar to the one Sophia cited: An abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception from the uterus. I have always thought "products of conception" is more accurate than "embryo or fetus" because more than just the embryo or fetus is removed during an abortion procedure. If a doctor only removed the embryo, and left everything else, the patient would become ill. In the past, a few users were concerned that POC was a euphemism, but I contend that it is a technical term, and that it's meaning is obvious to the lay reader. It also avoids any of the pronoun issues that revolve around calling an embryo an "it".-Andrew c 15:29, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Sorry to write even more. The whole issue that started this back in the day is that there are many definitions that mention viability, or a specific week. According to NPOV, we should include all views. It isn't our place to judge our sources. By removing mention of viability, we are in essence, saying we know more than our sources, that our sources are wrong. Our solution in the past was to include multiple definitions, the common and the medical. Maybe it was too simplistic to think that there were just two definitions of the word "abortion" (false dichotomy), but it was a generalization that worked for the time being. I feel that these discussions are being too nitpicky, and that if we tried to accurately describe every possible scenario, the lead would turn into something quite outrageous. My proposal a few days ago was to temper the phrase "medically, it is defined" with "it is sometimes medically defined". This was an attempt to address FL's concern that "abortion" wasn't ALWAYS medically defined as this. I personally feel that for a lead, we can only be so precise, and that the medical literature uses abortion in this manner more than it uses abortion in the common manner. Others may disagree with this, so hence the "sometimes". But like I said, I could live without the sometimes. It seems like there is enough people concerned about the precision that "sometimes" may be a good solution. (I think we could look at most of the words in the lead and find some instance where the word is inaccurate. "spontaneous" implies something impulsive, or fast, or "without apparent external cause", but some miscarriages take weeks to complete, and some are caused by something external, like a direct blow or injury to the lower abdomen. and "artificially" may not cover someone who takes natural abortifacients to induce abortion. the phrasing "an induced procedure" may imply something who having labor induced because they are post-term, and that results in a livebirth, etc) I'm not bringing up these small inaccuracies to say the lead is poor. I'm bring them up to mention that there is an acceptable level of accuracy in generalized statements for a lead, and efforts to be too precise will only lead to a bloated, verbose lead (which is the opposite purpose of a lead). To sum up, could we all agree on FL's proposal that was introduced and reverted here, and move on to writing a few more paragraphs for the lead?-Andrew c 16:17, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Andrew c that an acceptable compromise would be for the last sentence of the first paragraph to say, "Commonly, 'abortion' refers to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; however, it is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability." If there is a concern that the word "sometimes" is weaselly, then we could simply put a footnote at the end of the sentence to prove that "sometimes" is exactly correct: Dorland’s Medical Dictionary uses viability, Merriam Webster’s Online Medical Dictionary uses a different cutoff, and The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary uses no cutoff at all. Does anyone disagree with this approach, with or without the footnote? If not, then let's do it and move on. Thanks.Ferrylodge 00:39, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
OK, since there's no objection, and since it seems like there are enough people concerned about the precision that "sometimes" may be a good solution, I'll go ahead and try this edit again, but with a footnote so as to eliminate any possible weaseliness.Ferrylodge 04:46, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm ok with "sometimes" as we are not being weasly but indicating that this is not a precise science. The lead mustn't be bloated but we really should say something about how definitions vary by country as this should stop future misunderstandings. Sophia 06:23, 27 June 2007 (UTC)


Neutrality of the first paragraph

With respect to the intense debate and discussion with regards to this introduction, I feel it necessary to say that I believe the first paragraph carries with it a certain undertone, or connotation in describing what an abortion is. I believe that the first sentience of the paragraph makes an assumption, or rather places a certain point of view on the nature of what is and what is not life, which is at the center of the "Choice/Life" debate. My basis for this belief is the use of the word "death".

"An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death."

The section above in bold is specifically what I'm referring to. What I propose is to change the wording, such that it states what is certain rather than what is possible. By this I mean to say that a potential better way of stating it is:

"An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by the unnatural termination of a naturally occurring biological process."

For lack of a better analogy, (and I do feel quite a bit of distaste in using it, but I feel it's never-the-less the best analogy available to me), when a tumor is surgically removed it is not referred to as "resulting in the death of....the tumor".

Rather than getting deeper into the debate about what constitutes life or death, since the terms are arguably wholly subjective and in many cases applied inconsistently See: Afterlife I humbly suggest that we sidestep the entire issue by referring to it with better defined, less subjective, and more widely accepted language. While a great many would argue that a embryo/fetus is either Living or not Living at the time an abortion is performed, I do not see any argument against that it is a "naturally occurring biological process".

While one may further break that statement down such that the word "naturally" need not apply since in the case of Artificial insemination then abortion, I believe that with respect to abortion itself, that is the most neutral way of stating what it is, without taking sides in the great debate.

Edit: After spending some more time reading through the paragraphs above, I've come to realize the my proposed change relies primarily on exchanging the word death for termination, which seems to be less universally accepted than I anticipated when I decided to add this section.

So I'd like to further examine the reasoning behind using death in place of termination. It seemed to me from my reading above that the word death was chosen, because not to include it was perceived as dehumanizing. Well then isn't including it "humanizing" it and thus taking a side? The definition of termination isn't in dispute, but the definition of what is alive (and by proxy what then has a death) is in dispute. Anyone seeking to establish the state of the embryo/fetus as either alive/not is in fact taking a side, since the debate centers around this very issue. The entire discussion above is riddled with contradictions from many users. Use wiki precendent for example: Look up any other medical procedures in WP and point to one that refers to a part as having a "death" after it's been surgically removed.

To say the embryo/fetus has a "death" is directly implicating that it is in fact a separate entity, and thus clearly takes a side on the issue To make the claim that "medically speaking cells have a death after they have been removed" goes against not defining the abortion medically. It's just one example of contradiction after contradiction that has completely sapped any neutrality from the definition of what abortion is. To say it has a "death" for the sake of humanizing the definition is also clearly taking a side.

"Death" is not taken as an absolute (again see: After life), has considerable emotion attached to it, and as such should not be used to clearly define the result. Termination or ended defines the result of the procedure without the emotion or nuance attached to "death".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NPOV_tutorial#Bias_in_attribution:_Mind_your_nuances

Toastysoul 09:16, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

I don't suppose there's any chance we could use a medical dictionary's definition, is there?

In medicine, an abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus. It is the loss of a pregnancy and does not refer to why that pregnancy was lost.

or

abortion /abor·tion/ (ah-bor´shun) 1. expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception before the fetus is viable. 2. premature stoppage of a natural or a pathological process.

I don't know, I just thought I might make the suggestion. Of course, if there's already general consensus on the current wording, I would say leave as is because I'm sure it took a lot of discussion just to choose the current revision. Stanselmdoc 13:51, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Death has always been a sticking point for me, and right now I'd favor something along the lines of An abortion is a termination of a pregnancy resulting in or caused by the premature exit of the products of conception from the uterus. Toastysoul has put a lot of thought into this, and I appreciate that the effort was taken to review some of the past archives. That said, unless there is more significant momentum to change this (which I doubt because the d-word has been so controversial in the past), I think it's better to put energy into improving other parts of the article for now (seeing as not too long ago we got out of a first paragraph discussion). I do not intent to discourage, but I will admit I tire easily from these discussions if they go nowhere.-Andrew c [talk] 16:35, 11 July 2007 (UTC)


I whole-heartedly agree with both of you. From my perspective however, if the former contributors are either not watching the page, or have ceased to care enough to contribute to the on going discussion, then their opinions should not be further considered beyond what has already been stated. In reading above, it was clear to me that the "consensus" was more about satisfying the beliefs of a group rather than objectively presenting the information. "Humanizing" the definition with the inclusion of the word death, which in the context it's presented very clearly infers that wikipedia takes the position the fetus is "alive" prior to being aborted, is in fact taking a stance on the issue, and violates WP's NPOV policy.
The previous contributors claim that "not saying it's has a death is taking a position" is specious reasoning. In fact, not specifying the status of the embryo/fetus, by direct means or inference such as in the case of using the word "death" is the only way to have a neutral statement. The "dehumanizing" effect of the statement should not be a factor in determining how to word it because by humanizing it, you are in fact adding personal bias to the statement. The previous claims against removing the word "death" essentially reads that by not taking a side, you are taking a side (i.e. Absolutes, "If you are not with me, you are against me" mindset). The wording has a very clear message the more I read it, and I think it is pointless to address the content of the article if you can't even objectively describe what it is that you are trying to discuss.
You wanted momentum, you've got it. Toastysoul 18:12, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
I always felt "death" was inaccurate as there is no certainty that the foetus would correctly develop (e.g. molar pregnancy). Miscarriage is usually of a malformed foetus that would never have "lived" so how could it die? Does a tumour die? Sophia 20:36, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

There was extensive discussion previuosly about the word "death" and I support keeping it in there, the way it has been for quite a while. It is technically accurate. If a malformed fetus is born naturally with only a week to live, we ordinarily say it "dies" when it expires. When a bug is swatted with a fly swatter, we ordinarily say it "dies." When a microbe ceases to have biological activity, we ordinarily say it "dies."

If this lede is to be changed from the prior consensus by altering the word "death", then I would urge that the people who particpated in the prior consensus be invited here.

Additionally, I believe that altering the word "death" will open up a can of worms. For example, there has been a consistent and deliberate effort to eliminate the word "mother" from all abortion-related articles, even though that word is technically accurate.Ferrylodge 21:23, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Ferrylodge on those two points (that "death" is accurate and that "mother" is accurate). And in answer to Sophia, I would say that miscarriage is usually of a foetus that could not have continued to live, but it was alive until it died. Otherwise, why would a miscarriage at nine weeks not have happened at seven weeks? Whether the thing that dies is really a human person or not is a separate question, and one which Wikipedia should not take a position on. ElinorD (talk) 21:32, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Did you look at the molar pregnancy article? It's counted as a pregnancy but there is no foetus, just a ball of cells - does anything die? Sophia 23:24, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that Wikipedia article has an external link to medlineplus, which says that a hydatidiform mole results from over-production of the tissue that is supposed to develop into the placenta. In this condition, the tissues develop into an abnormal growth, called a mass. Often, there is no fetus at all. If there is an embryo or fetus, then at some point it dies, and that seems consistent with the first sentence of the present article. Our Wikipedia article on molar pregnancies says, "It consists of a nonviable embryo which implants and proliferates within the uterus." I'm not sure if that is 100% correct, given that medline plus says that sometimes no fetus at all is present. In any event, I don't see a conflict with the first sentence of the present abortion article.Ferrylodge 00:35, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Not quite sure what you are getting at? In the case of a molar pregnancy nothing dies as there never was a foetus - the cells just never stop dividing and can look like a bunch of grapes. It happened to my cousin and she certainly was never told her "baby died" neither did she feel like a mother afterwards - anymore than a cancer patient is when they have a tumour removed. However it does medically count as a pregnancy. It just annoys me that we can't be technically and scientifically accurate. Sophia 06:47, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
No one is suggesting that the lede of the abortion article should say that a "baby died," or that a molar pregnancy is not a "pregnancy." What is it exactly about the current lede that you think inaccurately describes a molar pregnancy? Are you saying that a molar pregnancy ends with an abortion, or does not end with an abortion? I'm glad to discuss this, but I just don't see what it is that you think is inaccurate about the current lede.Ferrylodge 07:00, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
The pregnancy will end in a spontaneous abortion or, as in most modern cases, an induced abortion to prevent possible problems. So yes - this article does need to cover this and the lede should not make sweeping statements. Sophia 07:08, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
The Wikipedia article on a molar pregnancy says that, "It consists of a nonviable embryo which implants and proliferates within the uterus." According to the lede of the present abortion article, that implies a molar pregnancy will end in an abortion. You don't disagree that a molar pregnancy will end in an abortion. So, that leaves me puzzled about where you think the inaccuracy lies. Do you disagree with the statement in the molar pregnancy article that "It consists of a nonviable embryo which implants and proliferates within the uterus"?Ferrylodge 07:35, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
So what "dies"? Sophia 09:57, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
The clump of cells. Death does not imply personhood. If I bite off a hangnail, that bit of flesh will die, but it is not a person. -- Karada 10:42, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
But the wikipedia article (and no other I can find) does not refer to "its death" as if it were a separate entity. You yourself make this point by saying that the cells die - you do not personify the hangnail by saying "its". The cancer article also does not say that the removal of a tumour results in "its death". This is not about forcing agendas - it's about being technically correct. I don't see why describing things in their real terms is seen as a pro-choice agenda. Sophia 10:59, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I disagree that the word "it" personifies anything. Quite the opposite. The word "it" depersonifies.Ferrylodge 16:07, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
This is avoiding the point - does the removal of a tumour result in "its death"? Should we be adding this to the cancer article so as to cover all interrpretations? Sophia 17:03, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Yes, the removal of a tumor results in its death. You can see many medical texts that say that the "tumor will die", the "tumor dies", and the "tumor died". Also see various Wikipedia articles that say: "If the louse falls off a person, it dies within 1-2 days", "When the B cell fails in any step of the maturation process, it will die by a mechanism called apoptosis", "If the egg is not fertilized within about a day of ovulation, it will die and be absorbed by the woman's body."Ferrylodge 17:38, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
P.S. Here's a general Google search result about tumors dying.Ferrylodge 17:52, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
With 89 ghits this shows it is a very narrow usage of the term. Sophia 20:59, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Compare the Google hits for "death of the tumor" to the Google hits for "termination of the tumor".Ferrylodge 23:12, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I see no point in hunting down members of the previous discussion, their position is no more valid than anyone else's. If they are interested, they should be watching the page. The fact of the matter is, there is a significant number of people that disagree with the wording of the statement, and they shouldn't be ignored for the sole purpose of maintaining an agreement between a group of people that aren't currently participating. The fact of the matter is, there is little defense for using the word death other than it was already agreed upon.
The problem isn't if the word "death" is or is not technically accurate. The problem is that the use of the word death unduly attaches emotion to a statement that could be rendered just as accurate in more neutral language. Instead of me trying to further explain why termination should be used, explain why death should be kept, other than because it was already agreed upon. Toastysoul 05:58, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
As far as not addressing the issue simply because it might lead to more debate, if keeping up with the discussion is too much effort feel free not to participate. ;) The issue of whether "Mother" should be used is unrelated to this specific topic. Wikipedia should not be kept static simply for the sake of stifling debate, last time I checked that's not what it's about. Toastysoul 06:06, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
If folks really want to rehash this issue, and really want to replace accurate medical terminology with a euphemism, then I guess it would be appropriate for me to go ahead and invite all the participants from the previous lengthy discussions about this issue (seeing as how you don't want to invite them). I'd really prefer not to, because there are better ways for us to spend our time improving the abortion article and Wikipedia. And no one is trying to stifle debate here. Have you read through all of the archives at the top of this page? A great deal of thought went into this issue. We should use accurate words, without trying to influence the emotional reactions to those words.Ferrylodge 06:34, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
The main problem here is that people equate a medical definition as being "the neutral version". This has led to strong disagreement amongst Wikipedians, as abortion is not just an abstract medical concept but a live social issue. One reason for the use of "death" (as opposed to to the coldly clinical "termination") is to balance out the use of "fetus" (as opposed to the passionately emotive "unborn baby"). You can probably see in the archives others' attempts to replace words to suit their personal agendas. It was agreed that to achieve a balanced point of view, which is the only possible NPOV in a controversial topic, terminology used by both sides should be included, so as to not sway the reader one way or the other. Using clinical terminology throughout could only be contsrued as encouraging a pro-choice agenda, while using words such as "unborn child" and "murder" would be seen as emphasising the "pro-life" perspective. Hence this uncomfortable compromise. If the proposed definition were to be adopted, the pro-choice aspect would be over-represented in the lead. The best compromise is one where neither side is fully satisfied. If the pro-lifers/pro-choicers were to get all the changes they wished, the article would be framed in a certain way that would not be neutral and unbiased. Pro-choicers wish to frame abortion as a mere clinical exercise, while pro-lifers wish to frame it as murder of the unborn. Neither side should get everything they want in this article, and the removal of "death" would tip the balance too far. Brisvegas 09:11, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree. The use of the word "death" seems to me to be objective and uncontroversial and in keeping with the NPOV policy. The death of the fetus or embryo -- immediately or eventually -- as a direct consequence of the event is what distingishes an abortion (natural or otherwise) from a birth. -- Karada 09:19, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
But to imply that every pregnancy would have led to the live birth of a recognisably formed human, unless naturally or artificially interrupted, is inaccurate. Sophia 11:05, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Reading into what something implies is a subjective exercise; to you, using "death" implies that "every pregnancy would have led to the live birth of a recognisably formed human", but this is based on your personal interpretation of the words, which are influenced by your own personal biases and experiences (in the same way as every other Wikipedian, hence why it is difficult to ever be truly neutral). Others may imply something different from the words, or simply take the text at face value and imply nothing at all. But I agree that this is a tricky exercise. Brisvegas 12:03, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Not at all. The personification implied by referring to "its death" is an expression of a strong, if subtly expressed, POV. It has nothing to do with my experiences or interrpretation - it's basic grammar. Sophia 12:10, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't think that's necessarily the case. Things can die without being people: speaking of "its death" about a blob of tissue does not personalize it any more than my speaking of "its surface" about a brick personalizes that. -- Karada 13:04, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Brisvegas, I'm amazed. I really think you couched the issue in the correct light. No one will ever be satisfied about an article on such a controversial topic, and I think that the article itself has come a very long way. I said before that if a previous compromise had been made on the lede, then I think we should stick with it. While I don't want to discourage discussion on this point (for certainly anyone can disagree with the compromise), I don't see how a new discussion is going to bring new results. No matter upon what compromise is agreed, some will always dislike it. Stanselmdoc 14:09, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Whatever we do, we have to watch out to avoid WP:CANVASS. Contacting contributors who voted in the past to support the current version could be seen as stacking the vote in favor of one position. I was involved in those discussion and I have this page on my watch list. If other old editors care enough, we can leave a message at the main Talk:Abortion page. Contacting them individually could be seen as negative canvassing. If we honestly need more opinions, why not start a RfC? However, it doesn't seem like there is momentum for change, so we may not even need to go that far. -Andrew c [talk] 14:17, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Andrew c, I agree. Only inviting contributors who voted one way would be stacking the deck. Therefore, all contributors on both sides would have to be invited. But is it necessary to elevate this matter to that level yet? Apparently, there is no consensus here that the lede is now inaccurate or should be changed.Ferrylodge 16:16, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I stated it before and I'll state it again. If the contributors of the above discussion were sincerely interested in the issue, they would have added the article, the talk page, or this discussion page to their watchlist. When I made the initial proposal on this page, nobody at all responded. I was going to just change the article, but I felt that given the discussion above, it was more prudent to simply leave a note on the main talk page that I made a suggestion here, and hopefully pull more people into the discussion. Obviously there was enough sway with the previous contributors as to form the paragraph the way it is. Actively seeking to draw them back into the discussion serves no purpose other than to add further inertia so as to prevent any change from getting a chance to be debated. Toastysoul 19:42, 12 July 2007 (UTC)


I wish to respond to the above user: Ferrylodge about a previous section, but I am not certain where to place it so I'll start a new paragraph. I again want to point out that the technical accuracy of the word death is not in question. Just as Stanselmdoc believes Ferrylodge has couched the issue for him, I believe Sophia has embodied the issue for me with the following statement: The personification implied by referring to "its death" is an expression of a strong, if subtly expressed, POV. It has nothing to do with my experiences or interrpretation - it's basic grammar.

With respect to the assertion that termination is a "coldly clinical" term, I completely disagree. Something along the lines of "ceasing to continue biological function" is coldly clinical. The word termination conveys the idea that whatever it was that your were talking about has stopped what it was doing without (not so subtly) hinting that it was also considered "alive". Further, I completely disagree that the use of the word "fetus" instead of unborn baby somehow balances out using the word "death". If you were to represent the POV of P/C (versus P/L) then you would say something along the lines of "collection or mass of cells" or "Developing Organism" instead of fetus. The use of the word fetus is itself a compromise. As in all cases (save molar pregnancy) the clearly accurate technical term is in fact fetus, which STILL has an emotional attachment to it associated with PL views. The use of the word fetus clearly identifies that the object you are trying to describe is in fact a developing human being.

The term "Death" conveys a much more abstract concept than need be applied to the statement to get a basic understanding of what abortion is. That should be the purpose of the leading statement. Your assertion that it must somehow address the fact that abortion is also a social issue is completely false. There are many places in the article that can be completely devoted to the issue of describing how each party views AND defines what an abortion is. Toastysoul 19:42, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Toastysoul, I do not feel that any new arguments are being made here that weren't already made previously, as shown in the archives listed at the top of this page. "Attempts to change consensus must be based on a clear engagement with the reasons behind the previous consensus - not simply on the fact that today more people showed up supporting position A than position B....A good sign that you have not demonstrated a change in consensus, so much as a change in the people showing up, is if few or none of the people involved in the previous discussion show up for the new one."
The idea that the words "its death" convey a strong POV is not self-evident. Entire articles have been written about the fact that referring to a human being as "it" is dehumanizing, rather than humanizing as you assert.[15] Moreover, the word "death" is frequently used in reference to animals, plants, and parts of animals and plants, including tumors.[16] And, even if the phrase "its death" were truly a pro-life, POV term (as you assert) then it would merely counterbalance many of the POV pro-choice terms already used in this abortion article. For example, the word "mother" has been completely and intentionally erased, as has the word "child" and the word "baby."Ferrylodge 20:13, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

The Oxford University Press defines Abortion as the following: Abortion means the end of a pregnancy before the fetus can survive. It may be either spontaneous — when it is also known as miscarriage — or induced, when it is a deliberate termination of pregnancy.

This definition is accurate, neutral, and inclusive of what an Abortion is. It does not cater to P/C or P/L and at least from what I comprehend completely sidesteps usage of controversial terms. Why can't we craft something like it? Toastysoul 20:43, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

I sympathize with your desire to simplify the lede of this article. However, there are many subtle issues involved. For example, the definition you cite (from the Oxford University Press) is not a typical medical definition; it excludes both embryonic abortions and post-viability abortions. The lede currently has a footnote---check it out, because the three cited definitions are from reputable medical dictionaries, and are not consistent with the Oxford University Press definition that you mention.Ferrylodge 20:55, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
In response to why the consensus must be challenged, I submit that the original straw poll leading to the "consensus" was itself biased. In reading over the options in the poll (Options 1-7, 8 does not deal with the leading paragraph and 9 was removed), the options by a majority of 3:1 represented the use of the word death. This includes mentioning "live birth" as use of the word "live" and or "alive" infers death, just as death infers live. This fact was mentioned by one of the voters in the poll.
Further, I want to point out the following section from your quote of WP:Consensus: Once established, consensus is not immutable. .... A small group of editors can reach a consensual decision about an article, but when the article gains wider attention, members of the larger community of interest may then disagree, thus changing the consensus....
I am not declaring the consensus has changed, just that I wish to challenge a specific aspect of it and solicit more opinions from the community at large. So far, I don't think many people even know the discussion is taking place. While a obvious solution to this might be to invite back members of the former consensus that have not already posted, I believe that this would assuredly only have the effect of adding further inertia to the consensus to prevent it from being changed. As difficult as it might be, I think we need a much wider sampling of opinions to decide the issue satisfactorily. A critical number of say at least 15 to 20 people would be enough to settle the issue. While not exactly imperical, I think that this number would still stand a better chance of smoothing out the effect of just a few votes in one direction or another. Simultaneously this also has the secondary effect of generating additional suggestions for alternatives. Toastysoul 21:22, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
One note on "termination": The word "termination" conveys the idea that whatever it was that your were talking about has stopped what it was doing without (not so subtly) hinting that it was also considered "alive" Toastysoul.
In terms of grammar, "death" is defined as "the termination of life." Soooo "death" and "termination" are interchangeable. Meaning that both of them assume the premise that the thing was living in the first place. So if you think the ball of cells isn't living, you shouldn't like either word. "Termination" may have many nuances of meaning, but placed in the context of the abortion article, it must be conceded that abortion is a "termination of whatever the ball of cells was doing to begin with." What WAS the ball of cells doing to begin with? Seeing as it was developing (into whatever, it doesn't matter what it's developing into), it was most definitely living. Even if the language was changed to "resulting in the termination of its development", the phrase still assumes the premise that the ball of cells was, in fact, developing. Meaning that it was, in fact, alive. So the idea of switching "death" to "termination" is a moot point. Stanselmdoc 21:01, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
"Termination" and "Death" are no more interchangeable than "Orange" and "Ball" (as in the case of the fruit orange). Your definition itself proves my point. You define it "Death is the Termination of life" thereby you specify a certain type of termination, thus making termination apply properly to death, but not visa-versa. Just as the concept of death is more abstract, so is the concept of "alive". Wikipedia is developing and can be terminated, it might even be said to have a death, but one would hesitate to use the word death, because that is reserved for something that is attributed as having been alive, which is not asserted by everyone in the debate over abortion. Because that issue is so central to the debate, it should not appear in the leading definition of the article. The point of a "definition" is to specify what is commonly agreed that something is. Everyone agrees that the fetus is terminated, everyone does not agree that it has a "death", BECAUSE death is different than termination. Toastysoul 21:52, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I want to say that I have never supported the use of "termination" as a substitute (euphemism) for "death". Termination has a technical use, and in that use, fetuses are not the ones terminated, it is pregnancies. One thing that I find interesting is that a lot of definitions mention than an abortion ends or terminates a pregnancy, but we don't mention this anywhere in the lead (yet not many mention the d-word, but we do mention it in the lead). We define an abortion based on a side effect, if you will. I think it is important to state the other main purpose/outcome of an abortion: the termination of a pregnancy. This is why I have suggested recently a rewording along the lines of An abortion is a termination of a pregnancy resulting in or caused by the premature exit of the products of conception from the uterus.-Andrew c [talk] 21:12, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I could agree with your posted definition if instead of using "products of conception" you refer to it as a fetus or embryo. the term products of conception gives undue weight to one side of the argument, and while technically accurate is less precise than it could be. Toastysoul 21:34, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I just don't see the need for a change here. The lede is not inaccurate, and it is not slanted. Those of you who would like to insert a euphemism like "termination" should also keep in mind that induced labor can cause a termination of pregnancy, resulting in the premature exit of the products of conception. For example, if your birth was induced, then you are the products of conception. So, that kind of language is overbroad, and covers much more than abortion.Ferrylodge 21:32, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
We are all products of conception. It is a broad statement, and I don't support using it in place of a fetus. Isn't PBA essentially induced labor (another form of abortion)? I don't see the difference, and so don't understand your rejection of using termination based on that claim. We already know you prefer the definition the way it is. Your view that it is not slanted is, frankly, your view. It is not shared by everyone involved in this discussion, and I don't feel that you alone should be convinced before progress on altering the article can continue.Toastysoul 21:42, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Toastysoul, I never remotely suggested that I alone must be convinced before progress can be made. If I am a small minority, then of course my view cannot control the outcome, and the same goes for your view. However, numerous editors already discussed this issue at length, and reached consensus. There don't seem to be many in favor today of overturning that consensus (e.g. see remarks above by ElinorD, Karada, Brisvegas, and Stanselmdoc that have not argued for overturning the consensus).
Additionally, you have not addressed the objections to your proposal to use the Oxford University Press definition. I already said that it excludes both embryonic abortions and post-viability abortions, contrary to the sources already footnoted in the lede. Moreover, if you want to say that abortion is an induced termination of a pregnancy then please address the concern that such a definition is overbroad (e.g. it includes inducing labor to yield a live birth). You also have not explained why the dozens of sources I've cited use the word "death" improperly, or why you think that referring to a fetus as "it" (see the current lede) humanizes rather than dehumanizes the fetus.[17]Ferrylodge 22:17, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
The indents are getting silly, wiki needs threaded discussion. You are taking the oxford definition out of context. The part of the definition you are saying is over broad is an example given in the context of the preceding sentience. Your assertion that it's over broad only applies if (as you have) quote only the latter portion of the definition. When the specific part of the definition is taken in context of the entire definition it makes sense as an example, and is not broad by any means. Toastysoul 22:43, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't understand your claim about "it" and humanization. Can you please quote the section of my posts you are referring to? I don't believe "it" humanizes a developing human, if anything it dehumanizes it. Regardless, I never suggested that fetus should be replaced. My SOLE issue with the leading paragraph, is the use of the word death. It completely removes the neutrality of the part that should be most neutral. Toastysoul 22:46, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Toastysoul, I'll make this as straightforward as possible: do you agree that the Oxford University Press definition (that you prefer) excludes both embryonic abortions and post-viability abortions, contrary to the sources already footnoted in the present article's lede? If you agree, then how would you modify the Oxford University Press definition? And, do you agree that these sources use the word "death" correctly? Thanks.Ferrylodge 22:49, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
Comments to Toastysoul et al.
I too oppose the substitution of "death" with termination. Notice that even if speaking of the “death” of a cancerous tumor is relatively rare, speaking of the "termination" of a tumor is unheard of. The fact of the matter is that the vast, vast, vast majority of induced abortions are carried out on live fetuses. And as a result of the procedure, the fetus dies. A mass of cells also dies. It is never “terminated.”
And in the case of a fetus, it is at least an “it” that does the dying. “It” simply means a thing that has extension in time and space. Would you deny that a fetus has extension in time and space? And above and beyond the simple definition of “it”, in this case the “it” usually looks very human. At ten weeks, “it” has little hands and little feet and it sucks its little thumb. Yes, “it” has a “thumb”--this not POV; it is anatomy 101. And if a thing that sucks its thumb isn't alive, then "alive" has no meaning. Albeit you are unarguably sentient, you yourself are no more alive than such “thing.” And before you go off and suggest that what I am saying is merely POV, I’d ask you to go and look at a picture of a fetus aborted at 10 weeks. Then, if you want, you can tell me that “it” was not alive, that it does not have fingers and toes, that it is not a thing with extension in time and space … but that would defy science and common sense. It would be absolutely ridiculous regardless of whether you are pro-choice or pro-life.LCP 23:27, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Neutral definitions

There is no neutral definition of the word "abortion". The problem, as I understand it, is that people viewing the issue from the pro-life side see abortion as primarily a moral issue, about life and death. The pro-choice side sees abortion as primarily a medical and legal issue, about a medical procedure. If we first present a medical definition, then we say that the moral issues surrounding abortion are somehow secondary to its being a medical procedure. On the other hand, if we first present a definition in terms of life and death (as we now do), we're implying that medical considerations are somehow secondary to moral ones. Either way, we've implicitly taken a side right off the bat.

The solution I propose is to begin the article by addressing the controversy head-on. "An abortion is a type of termination of a pregnancy. Its definition is controversial, with most medical sources defining an abortion as . . ., while others characterize it as . . .".

In case there's any doubt that the medical definition is prejudicial, it's worth checking in the archives for when we looked up the proceeding of the Second International Conference on Interuterine Contraception, where some doctors got together and agreed to define pregnancy as beginning at implantation (instead of conception), for explicitly social reasons, i.e., because the moral leaders would be likely to follow their lead, and use of an IUD would then be classed as contraception, not as abortion.

This example makes it clear that the medical definitions are not necessarily as neutral as we might like them to be, and in some cases were actually crafted to distance people from their moral qualms. -GTBacchus(talk) 23:52, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

FYI, the history of how the words "pregnancy" and "conception" have been redefined is described in this Wikipedia article. It doesn't mention the Second International Conference on Interuterine Contraception, but maybe it should.
Anyway, I think that some people want the present article to be devoid of the word "death," just as it is already devoid of the words "mother" and "child." I'm not sure how the suggestion of GTBacchus would solve that problem.Ferrylodge 00:52, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
I guess I'm still at a loss for understanding why the current definition is SO BAD. "An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death." I mean, I understand that we're all supposed to be open to discussion and such...but come on. There's only so much we can pick at. Rather than worry about the subtle nuances and implications of the word "death" which may or may not actually exist, why not try to divert our attention to other important aspects of the abortion article or Wikipedia in general? Stanselmdoc 03:29, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
Ferrylodge, I guess my suggestion doesn't address an entirely mindless desire to eliminate the word "death", if there really is such a thing. Nevertheless, I believe it obviates some of the current problem by saying from the start that while some people define abortion in a way that death is an important defining characteristic, other people define it in a way that the timing of it is the only defining characteristic. Wikipedia doesn't have to present either of those as our definition; we just note that they both exist, and then get on with the article.

Stanselmdoc, the simple fact that the subject is brought up again and again and again is indication that some problem exists, and simply calling it a non-issue won't actually make it go away, because people on either side feel very strongly about it. One might read the persistent re-asking of the question as an indication that we haven't yet found the best NPOV definition. Ideally, we could come up with something that everyone would agree is neutral.

My suggestion is to present two definitions from the very beginning, and to attribute them both immediately. Both can be sourced, and nobody can really deny that both are in common use, referring to the same procedure, but with entirely different assumptions and agendas. Any definition of abortion that doesn't reflect this fractured nature of the term is going to be biased, by choosing one side's notions of what's important. -GTBacchus(talk) 03:54, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

GTBacchus, it's a little difficult to criticize your proposal before it's been completely spelled out, but I will anyway.  :-) I disagree with your suggestion that the word "death" emphasizes morality over medicine. In fact, leading medical dictionaries define abortion in terms of "death." See here. I do not want to see the language of this article become any more sanitized for political correctness than it already is. The word mother is a perfectly legitimate medical term for the residence of a fetus, but that term is shot down whenever it is inserted into a multitude of Wikipedia articles related to abortion.
If we are going to eliminate the word "death" from our medical definition, then will you at least agree to eliminate the word death from the following Wikipedia articles as well: "If the louse falls off a person, it dies within 1-2 days", "When the B cell fails in any step of the maturation process, it will die by a mechanism called apoptosis", "If the egg is not fertilized within about a day of ovulation, it will die and be absorbed by the woman's body"?
The reason why we keep having to address this issue in the lede over and over again is not because the lead has a POV or is inaccurate. It is because this is a controversial topic. Moreover, I would not like to see a "squeeky wheel gets the grease" approach here. The majority of commenters in this discussion over the past two days have not supported any change to the lede.Ferrylodge 04:32, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
You seem to mistake my meaning. I have no desire to "sanitize" the article, or to do anything for the sake of "political correctness". The only thing I care about here is neutral point of view. If you disagree with me about how to achieve that, super, let's discuss, but I don't see the need to speculate about my motives. If it's move neutral to use the word "death" in blood red letters to define abortion, then I will support that. I have no dog in this fight.

Now, I'm well aware that there are medical sources that use the word "death" when defining abortion. My recollection from many old discussions here is that more medical sources speak in terms of termination, or simply define the term based on timing (twentieth week, for example). If I'm wrong about that, please let me know.

We can talk about wording, but I maintain my point that there is more than one definition of "abortion" in common use, that the different definitions reflect different priorities about what's important, and that the most neutral approach is not to adopt one definition or the other, but to present the controversy as well as we can document it. -GTBacchus(talk) 05:25, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

GTBacchus, I did not mean to imply that you are trying to sanitize the article. You recently said: "One might read the persistent re-asking of the question as an indication that we haven't yet found the best NPOV definition." My position is that you are jumping to conclusions. In my opinion, the re-asking is not because the lede has any POV problem or slant, but rather is because this is simply a very controversial topic, and there are those who would like an article that they would feel more comfortable with.
Let's focus for a moment on the three medical dictionaries that are cited in footnote 1 of the present article. The Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary says:
1 the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus: a : spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation -- compare MISCARRIAGE b : induced expulsion of a human fetus c : expulsion of a fetus of a domestic animal often due to infection at any time before completion of pregnancy -- see CONTAGIOUS ABORTION,medical?book=Medical&va= TRICHOMONIASIS b, VIBRIONIC ABORTION
2 arrest of development of an organ so that it remains imperfect or is absorbed
3 the arrest of a disease in its earliest stage <abortion of a cold>
Dorland’s Medical Dictionary says:
1. expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception before the fetus is viable.
2. premature stoppage of a natural or a pathological process.
And, the American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary says:
1. Induced termination of a pregnancy with destruction of the fetus or embryo;
therapeutic abortion.
2. Any of various procedures that result in such a termination of pregnancy.
3. Spontaneous abortion.
4. Cessation of a normal or abnormal process before completion.
Merriam-Webster’s uses “death.” Dorland’s takes the minority position that there is no such thing as abortion after viability, and so it is implied that the non-viable fetus will not survive. And the American Heritage Stedman’s dictionary uses the word “destruction”. Unless we use the minority approach (i.e. that there is no such thing as a late term abortion), then we must use some word like “death” or “destruction.” I see no reason to switch now from death to destruction. “Fetal death” is a very common term, whereas “fetal destruction” is a very uncommon term.Ferrylodge 05:49, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
I would maintain that the best, most neutral lead would meet the approval of all parties. I realize this is an idealistic position, but it is by holding such positions that great things get done.

I would like it if you would address my point that there are different, incompatible definitions in common use. Do you disagree? I'm not really focused on the word "death", so I feel some of your point is talking past what I'm trying to suggest. I certainly don't advocate using such an uncommon term as "fetal destruction". I simply advocate acknowledging that more than one definition is at work, and standing outside of that conflict by talking about it. Do you disagree with that approach?

Do you think that the opposing sides of the abortion debate aren't working from different assumptions, or that those assumptions don't influence their definitions of terms, or... help me out here. How is presenting a single definition the most neutral thing we can do? One more thing: is there a convenient list of sources you can point to supporting your claim that defining abortion in a way that excludes late-term procedures is the minority position? I recall it being rather common, the last time I looked at an extended list. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:03, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I agree that there are different, incompatible medical definitions in common use. The present lede recognizes this fact: "'Abortion' can refer to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; it is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability."
This schism is reflected in the footnote [1] of the article. You ask me, "How is presenting a single definition the most neutral thing we can do?" I never said it was the most neutral thing we can do. The lede currently bends over backwards to present two incompatible definitions, and footnote [1] links to conflicting medical definitions. I support that approach.
If you would like to revive the discussion about which of the incompatible definitions is the most prevalent one, then I suppose we could start with the 21 various definitions that were in the archived discussion. Many of those 21 definitions make no distinction at all about "abortion" only occuring before viability. #1 makes no distinction. #2 is ambiguous, and the contradictory part has not been quoted ("late abortion is any abortion beyond twenty-one weeks"). #3 makes no distinction. #4 and #5 are not available online. #6 makes no distinction. #7 is ambiguous, and the contradictory part has not been quoted ("expulsion of the human fetus prematurely, or before it is capable of sustaining life"). #8 makes no distinction. #9 is is a Medline Plus discussion of "miscarriage", and their definition of abortion (which yet again is not quoted) makes no distinction. #10 is the exact same source as #9 which defines abortion without making this distinction. #11 makes no distinction. #12 makes no distinction. #13 makes no distinction. #14 is again the exact same source as #9 which defines abortion without making this distinction. #15 makes no distinction. #16 makes no distinction. #17 and #18 do make the distinction. #19 is a definition of "therapeutic abortion" that only applies before viability, but there is also a definition of "partial birth abortion" which is defined as a "method of late-term abortion" so again there is no distinction. #20 makes no distinction. And, #21 is not online. So, the vast majority of these sources do not rule out "abortion" after viability. If you want to go beyond this list of 21 sources, I'd be glad to provide a more detailed analysis.Ferrylodge 06:31, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
"I agree that there are different, incompatible medical definitions in common use." That's funny, you restated my point in a way that changes its meaning, but which is also true. I didn't say "incompatible medical definitions".

Thank you for the analysis of the list from the archives, but please don't think I'm trying to play some kind of numbers game either. I'm kind of thinking aloud, and I don't mind remembering something wrong and being corrected. It doesn't mean I'm trying to resurrect any dead horses, or use numbers to be pushy.

Now, I realize that the incompatible medical definitions are presented in the third sentence. I'm actually trying to address some deeper differences, the kind that reflect different fundamental beliefs about what's important... and I'm allowing for non-medical definitions, because I think some people really don't consider the primary definition of abortion to be a medical one, while other people realy do. I think we should identify that conflict, before speaking with the language of either side of it.

I hope I'm making sense; am I? It's kind of late here... I'll make this my last edit of the evening. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:49, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

I don't mind discussing this. I just hope that doing so might lead to some greater consensus.
It is much more common for the medical definitions to rule out abortion after viability than for non-medical definitions to do so. The non-medical sources (e.g. general dictionaries) very rarely rule out abortion after viability, and even among the medical sources it seems to be a minority view. In any event, the current lede presents both views, without saying which is the majority view and which is the minority view.
If you still want to search for a new lede that will meet the approval of Sophia and Toastysoul, then I think the best thing would be for you to focus on their objections, and determine if those objections have merit. Toastysoul has proposed that we exclusively use an Oxford University Press definition that rules out both embryonic abortions and post-viability abortions, so that an abortion would only be possible during the third, fourth, and fifth months of pregnancy --- I don't know any other source that has such a limited scope for the word "abortion." And, Sophia has argued that we wouldn't say a tumor dies so we shouldn't say that an embryo dies, but actually there are more Google hits for "death of the tumor" than for "termination of the tumor". So, I just don't think these objections to the lede are compelling, although I certainly respect the concern and effort that Toastysoul and Sophia have put into this discussion.Ferrylodge 07:15, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
The distinction I'm interested in is one that I guess I haven't clearly identified. I'll try to do that now.

On one hand, some sources define abortion purely in terms of some aspect of the pregnancy - whether it be timing, or the fact that the procedure is induced. On the other hand, some sources define abortion also in terms of its consequences for the embryo or fetus. Defintions specifying that an abortion is "before viability" somewhat straddle the fence.

It seems to me that medical sources - and sources preferred by the pro-choice camp - are more likely to talk about a pregnancy being terminated without really addressing the fate of the fetus. Of the three that we cite, one uses "death" and one uses "destruction", but are those representative of medical definitions in that way? They seem to be the only two medical definitions in the famous list of 21 to do so. Medical definitions are more likely to focus on the pregnancy, and possibly on "viability"; common definitions are more likely to mention the expected death or destruction of the fetus as a defining characteristic.

I don't think we can be neutral without addressing that difference. The current version makes it seem as if it's the norm in medical sources to talk about the fetus' death, which isn't really true, is it?

As to Toastysoul's and Sophia's suggestions, I haven't looked at Toastysoul's source, but I note that he claims below that he's not, in fact, arguing to use that source exclusively. Sophia's objection sounds closer to the mainstream pro-choice position - that the word "death" casts the issue in a moral light in keeping with the priorities of the pro-life side.

I wouldn't say that the fetus doesn't die, nor that a tumor or a fingernail doesn't die... however, I would maintain that using the word "death" in a definition demonstrates a set of priorities different from that of most medical sources. Most of them talk about the pregnancy without saying much about the fetus. I don't think that the sources we cite are representative in this respect. -GTBacchus(talk) 03:15, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

GTBacchus, you posed two questions: (1) "Of the three that we cite, one uses 'death' and one uses 'destruction', but are those representative of medical definitions in that way?" I'd say yes. (2)"The current version makes it seem as if it's the norm in medical sources to talk about the fetus' death, which isn't really true, is it?" I'd say yes it is true.
For starters, the term "fetal death" is a quite common medical term. I'm unclear why you think the three online medical dictionaries cited in our footnote 1 are not representative, or why you think they might have a POV. I'm glad to talk about the 21 sources that other people compiled last year (without my involvement). That's a very incomplete assortment of other medical and non-medical sources that are available both online and offline, in addition to the 3 medical dictionary definitions that are cited in footnote 1 of the present article.
The first of the 21 entries is from an encyclopedia (MedlinePlus), rather than from a dictionary. It says: "An abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy by removing the fetus and placenta from the mother's womb." The medical dictionaries in our footnote 1 wisely chose to avoid such an overbroad definition. After all, it includes induced labor to produce a healthy, live child. Right? Note that this same source (MedlinePlus) does use the word "death" in connection with a viable fetus: "A stillbirth is when a fetus that was expected to survive dies during birth or during the late stages of pregnancy." Also, this same source (MedlinePlus) says this about miscarriage: "It is estimated that up to 50% of all fertilized eggs die...."
The second of the 21 entries is from a WebMd "sourcebook" rather than an encyclopedia or a dictionary. This sourcebook doesn't use the word "death" but it does say this in connection with a late term abortion (D&E): "a woman would birth the fetus after it was injected with a solution that killed it". This use of the word "kill" is not very unusual, since many medical sources refer to killing tumors and so forth. Note that this same source (WebMD) says the following about a viable fetus: "Stillbirth is the delivery of a dead baby after the 20th week of pregnancy and birth." And it says this about miscarriage: "A miscarriage is the loss (death) of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy."
The third of the 21 entries is not a dictionary, and is written by the same people who wrote the second entry (i.e. WebMD). This third entry suffers from the same overbroadness problem as the first entry: "Abortion is the premature ending of a pregnancy." That would cover any premature birth. Right? Note that this same source (WebMD) says the following about a viable fetus: "Stillbirth is the delivery of a dead baby after the 20th week of pregnancy and birth." And it says this about miscarriage: "A miscarriage is the loss (death) of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy."
The fourth and fifth of the 21 entries are not online, so I don't have access to them.
The sixth source is an old general-use encyclopedia (i.e. not a medical source), and it says an abortion is from a Latin word meaning to "perish," which may be caused by "death of the foetus."
The seventh source is an old general-use dictionary (i.e. not a medical source), which refers to "The act of giving premature birth." Again, this is an overbroad, non-medical definition that would include a live birth of a healthy child. It also defines feticide this way: "The act of killing the fetus in the womb; the offense of procuring an abortion."
The eighth source is again an overbroad, non-medical definition from a general-use dictionary (Random House): "the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy". This would include an induced premature birth of a healthy child. Random House also defines stillbirth this way: "a fetus dead at birth."
The ninth source mentions that "It is estimated that up to 50% of all fertilized eggs die...."
The tenth source mentions that "It is estimated that up to 50% of all fertilized eggs die...."
The eleventh source is an article by a veterinarian. It refers to "Death of embryos."
The twelfth source is a non-medical encylclopedia: "Abortion, termination of a pregnancy before birth, resulting in the death of the fetus."
The thirteenth source is the Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary in our footnote 1: "the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus".
The fourteenth source mentions that "It is estimated that up to 50% of all fertilized eggs die...."
The fifteenth source is an article from the Center for Disease Control, and it mentions that "statistics regarding the number of pregnancies ending in abortion are used in conjunction with birth data and fetal death computations to estimate pregnancy rates."
The sixteenth source is a non-medical dictionary that says an abortion is an "operation to end pregnancy: an operation or other intervention to end a pregnancy by removing an embryo or fetus from the womb." This is overbroad, and would include a Caesarian section that produces a healthy, live baby. Note that this source defines stillbirth as "the birth of a dead fetus after the 28th week of pregnancy." So, the word "dead" is plainly okay in connection with at least some fetuses. This source also defines death like so: "1. end of being alive: the ending of all vital functions or processes in an organism or cell."
The seventeenth source is the outdated 1996 edition (not online) of one of the medical dictionaries cited in our footnote 1 (i.e. Stedman's). We cite the 2004 edition. The 1996 edition says that there is no such thing as abortion after viability, and so it is implied that the embryo or fetus will die. The notion that there is no such thing as a late term abortion is a minority view among both medical and non-medical sources. The 2004 edition of Stedman's (which is in our footnote 1) instead says that abortion is "Induced termination of a pregnancy with destruction of the fetus or embryo; therapeutic abortion." In other words, the 2004 edition fixed the overbroadness problem. The 2004 edition also defines stillbirth this way: "The birth of a dead child or fetus" so there is no problem about referring to a fetus as "dead."
The eighteenth source is Dorland's Medical Dictionary cited in our footnote 1. It says that there is no such thing as abortion after viability, which is the minority view. Because it takes this minority view, it is implied that the embryo or fetus will die. This source defines stillbirth as "delivery of a dead child" so there is no problem baout referring to at least some fetuses as "dead."
The nineteenth source is a medical encyclopedia (not a dictionary). This encyclopedia says "Partial birth abortion is a method of late-term abortion that terminates a pregnancy and results in the death and intact removal of a fetus."
The twentieth source is a medical dictionary that says: "In medicine, an abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus. It is the loss of a pregnancy and does not refer to why that pregnancy was lost." This same source also includes this definiton of stillbirth: "Stillbirth: The tragic birth of a dead baby, the delivery of a fetus that has died before birth."
The twenty-first source is not available online, and so I don't have access to it.
So, of all these sources that are online, it appears that the word "death" or "kill" is very acceptable with reference to a fetus or embryo that is destroyed (e.g. by abortion). I didn't compile this list of sources, but it verifies the validity of our lede and of the sources in footnote 1 of our article.Ferrylodge 06:35, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
I'd like to note that someone already analyzed the definitions here and they came to a much different conclusion. 3 explicitly used death in their first sentence definition (another 4 mentioned death elsewhere in the link) and the remaining 14 did not use death. I don't understand why you say The notion that there is no such thing as a late term abortion is a minority view among both medical and non-medical sources. This is like saying "There is no such thing as a California Champagne." By some technical definitions, that is true. While the procedure may be the same, grow a certain grape, ferment it in a certain way, and end up with a sparkling white whine, it still isn't technically a "champagne" under some definitions of the word "champagne". Same thing for LTA. I know the last time I posted about this, I wrote over 10,000 characters about the topic. And maybe not everyone read that. But the use of the term "late term abortion" is very sparse in the medical literature, and the many of the uses contrast the term with stillbirth which in turn is contrasted with neonatal death. And there is confusion over this because "abortion" can be shorthand for "an induced abortion procedure". And in LTAs, the procedure is exactly the same regardless of viability. Anyway, I'd be glad to talk more about how the term LTA is or isn't used in the medical literature, but I don't think hat will get us anywhere regarding the topic at hand. Next, I'm fine with compiling a new list of definitions. We could make a subpage and just add as many as we can find, if you think that is a good idea. I agree that the list of 21 definitions isn't as extensive as it could be. Finally, how many of the cited definitions mention that a pregnancy is ended? How many don't mention anything with the about the pregnancy? Why do we not mention pregnancy in our definition?-Andrew c [talk] 14:30, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
I really don't think we should analyze this thing to death. As to Andrew c's last questions, the word "pregnancy" is on our lede (third sentence); that word is not used too much or too little in our lede.Ferrylodge 16:56, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

<unindent>I think GTBacchus may have something when he suggests we acknowledge the vast spectrum of definitions that are out there. I don't feel the one we currently use is balanced as it does have a pro-life POV with the use of "its death" since I contend that most people would not associate the emotional baggage that goes with a "death" with a potentially cancerous tumour such as a molar pregnancy (89 ghits really isn't a lot for a term and I would vote delete if it were a proposed page due to it being a neologism). If this was balanced with other definitions we can highlight the contradictory situations that are in place around the world, such as in the UK where 23 week birth can be either an abortion or a premature birth. Both can be artificially induced as a 23 week "baby" will be delivered by cesarean if it is having problems. Our current lede does not give any hint of just how subjective these definitions are - someone made the very good point above about a normal birth being an abortion by some definitions. If we have just one in the lede it needs to be as neutral as possibe and for that I prefer Andrew's suggestion as "products of conception" as he rightly points out that a lot more stuff than just a fetus or embryo are removed. We can also cover the fact that medically an abortion is defined as an "event" (ie something happens) wheras in common use most people associate it with a "procedure" (ie something is done). Sophia 08:27, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Sophia, the phrase "kill the tumor" gets 34,800 ghits. And the phrase "fetal death" gets 848,000 ghits. Do you view those as neologisms?
I respectfully feel that you are seeing a pro-life POV in the present lede when there isn't one. If anything, this abortion article has a pro-choice POV, given that the technically accurate words "mother" and "child" have been eliminated, for example.
Do you think that there is a pro-life POV that motivated the following three senetences from three separate Wikipedia articles: "If the louse falls off a person, it dies within 1-2 days", "When the B cell fails in any step of the maturation process, it will die by a mechanism called apoptosis", "If the egg is not fertilized within about a day of ovulation, it will die and be absorbed by the woman's body"?Ferrylodge 08:53, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
A louse is a separate living entity so you would speak of "its death" - as for the others I would say they were poor examples of the use of the word "die" and note with disappointment that they are wikipedia articles. It would have been nice if you had responded to the main thrust of my previous post that we are trying to square a circle as all definitions are subjective - some massively so. As to the "technically correct" terms "mother" and "child" - does this mean every woman who had a very early miscarriage is a "mother" without realising it, and that a "child" died? These also are culturally subjective words which is why the use of them is inadvisable if we are trying to stay NPOV. The current leading paragraph is poor and glosses over the medical and social complexities of this issue - how are we going to fix this? Sophia 10:49, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
Sophia, the words "mother" and "child" and "baby" have been purposely and repeatedly and completely deleted from multiple abortion-related articles no matter whether such terms are used late in pregnancy for a viable fetus, or early in pregnancy when a miscarriage occurs. Even if you are correct that these terms should not be used before an embryo becomes a fetus, that would still not justify the cleansing of these terms from Wikipedia regarding any fetus at any stage of development. As for all definitions being subjective, I disagree with you; that sounds very much like saying all truth is subjective. The fact is, the three medical definitions in footnote 1 of the article collectively and objectively describe what the word "abortion" means in the English langiage, and so does the present lede, IMHO. Words do not become objective just because some people feel more comfortable with them.Ferrylodge 16:06, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Ferrylodge, you amuse me. You use statements people make and ever so subtly alter them such that they mean a different idea than what was trying to be communicated. I will try to spell this out for you again, in clear and certain terms:

  1. My request is not for the word death to be sanitized from the article, my desire does not in anyway involve the use, or lack there-of of the words - mother, child, baby, unborn baby, products of conception, murder, et al. You constantly refer to other's desire to remove the words mother and child, as a sort of defense to keeping death in the definition, one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. My request is that the word death simply be replaced in the first part of the lead.
  2. I do not, nor did I ever propose that we plagiarize the oxford definition. I suggested that we might "come up with something like it". You added so much more to what I said than I did. Thank you, but I can speak for myself. Please keep your words out of my mouth.
  3. There is no great conspiracy to sanitize the article of all emotion, there is only you (ferrylodge) feeling your personal POV is not better represented.
  4. The bottom line: You can't have a "moral abortion", you can only have a "medical abortion". When defining what an abortion is, it should be defined as it is medically. Regardless of how each side views it as an "issue", it is firstly a procedure, then a social issue, and should be addressed in that order. You don't have a social issue which leads to the procedure, you have the procedure and that leads to social issues! The rest of the article can be devoted to properly discussing the different views on what abortion is for pages if need be, I don't care about that. I'm not out to remove other POVs, I simply with the term be defined neutrally, then discussed properly.

Further, arguing over the number of google results for a specific set of terms is utterly pointless. Trying to use the number of hits as a justification for anything is a bad idea for so many reasons. Now, the oxford definition is perhaps not perfect. That being said, I quoted it as an example of a definition that both specifies what and abortion is and does not slant one way or the other. Toastysoul 11:59, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Toastysoul, you say "Regardless of how each side views it as an "issue", it is firstly a procedure, then a social issue, and should be addressed in that order." That sounds to me like a statement of your own perspective. There certainly are people who view it as a soical issue (sin; complacency with killing unborn babies) that leads to a procedure. To say that it's a medical procedure that happens to carry moral implications for some is no more neutral than saying that it's a form of infanticide that happens to be a medical procedure.

The neutral approach would be to say from the start that some define abortion primarily as a medical procedure, and others define it primarily as murder. If we don't point that out up front, then we're adopting one of those positions implicitly. The current solution is an interesting compromise - it defines it as a medical procedure, but it uses one of the minority medical definitions that actually mentions the fetus' death. That may be the best solution, but I'd prefer a version that better reflects how people in the world generally think about abortion. -GTBacchus(talk) 03:29, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

GTBacchus, I think you've misunderstood the point Toastysoul was making: without an actuality or a concept, there can be no moral stance on anything. Consider: before Foo was created or invented or at least conceptualized, there could be no moral stance on Foo, because there was nothing to have a moral stance about. If people have not at least imagined something, it does not exist in their thoughts and therefore no thoughts about moralizing occur. Hence, the actuality or the concept precedes moral stances. The procedure must exist, as a theoretical or actual procedure, first. We have a moral stance on theft; in The Dispossesed, characters struggle with the mere concept of "theft", and are confused by moralizing about it, because their society has no posessions and therefore theft is not a concept easy to comprehend, let alone moralize about. In The Gods Must Be Crazy, theft is likewise a non-intuitive concept for the Bushmen, and they have no moral stance on it at all, because in their world, it doesn't exist, so they can not moralize about it - its a non-thing, even a non-concept, so there is nothing to provoke or inspire moral concepts regarding it. One cannot establish or debate morals about a null concept. KillerChihuahua?!? 08:35, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I think some of us are getting a little heated here. There's no need to accuse Ferrylodge of pushing "his" POV for more representation, when many of us feel the same way as him. (And maybe some of us actually have a different POV than him) Not to mention that some of us feel like the push to remove the word "death" is actually a push INTO POV. And that's the point Ferrylodge is making. Toastysoul, you call it "removing a pro-life POV," and Ferrylodge is calling it "placing in a pro-choice POV."

And to defend myself and my opinion - I have not said I'm against a change in the definition (in fact, I'm pretty sure I was the very first to respond with new suggestions), I'm saying that NO ONE in my opinion has presented an effective argument to make me believe it NEEDS to be changed. Maybe if someone could do that, I would be in favor of it. And what is this about, the very fact that this gets brought up frequently makes it a huge problem? NO, that's not it. It gets brought up frequently because people with strong beliefs on controversial issues continually look for every single little itty bitty syllable that they can take the wrong way. Stanselmdoc 13:04, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Can I remove the incorrect comma?

The lead states, "This can occur spontaneously as a miscarriage, or be artificially induced by chemical, surgical or other means." In short, a comma is not used before a dependant clause. Therefore, the sentence should read, "This can occur spontaneously as a miscarriage or be artificially induced by chemical, surgical or other means." Any objections to this change?LCP 19:33, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Sounds good to me.,-Andrew c [talk] 19:38, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Another suggestion for the lead

My suggestion for the lead:

Most generally, an abortion is the cessation of a process prior to its full completion. As pregnancy is the process of development of a embryo into a viable fetus, a pregnancy abortion is thus the termination of a pregnancy prior to the fetus achieving viability. Abortion is often confused with death of an embryo or fetus; see Birth Control Versus Abortion below. An induced pregnancy abortion is a pregnancy abortion which has been deliberately caused through medical, surgical or other means. A spontaneous pregnancy abortion (often called a miscarriage) is a pregnancy abortion which is not deliberately caused. While in common parlance the term "abortion" is generally used to refer specifically to induced pregnancy abortion, in medical contexts it can refer to either both induced pregnancy abortion and spontaneous pregnancy abortion or just spontaneous pregnancy abortion. For the remainder of this article, "abortion" will be used for both definitions, with its meaning determined by context. Throughout history, abortion has been induced by various methods, and the moral and legal aspects of abortion are subject to intense debate in many parts of the world.

Note that I added a comma to the last sentence. With this lead, the sentence "In common parlance, the term "abortion" is synonymous with induced abortion. However, in medical texts, the word 'abortion' might exclusively refer to, or may also refer to, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage)." under "Definitions" probably should be deleted, as it would be redundant. I would also add another section entitled "Birth Control Versus Abortion". It would say this:

Hormonal birth control works by interfering with the menstrual cycle, preventing conception. However, many groups, such as the Catholic Church, charge that even with hormonal birth control, it is possible for fertilization to occur, and that the resulting embryo may then be expelled. This claim is used to justify labelling hormonal birth control an abortificant rather than contraception. As an abortion terminates a pregancy befor viability, it by definition results in the death of the embryo or fetus. Because of this, the term "abortion" is often used interchangeably with such a death. However, it is the pregancy, not the embryo or fetus, that is aborted. As pregnancy is considered to commence when the embryo implants in the uterine wall, not at conception, an embryo can be expelled without fulfilling the definition of "abortion". Therefore, even if hormonal birth control allows fertilization, "abortificant" is not a correct term.

Something that bother me a bit: if we define abortion as the cessation of a pregnancy prior to viability, isn't that problematic in the face of continuing medical progress? It's quite conceivable that a hundred years from now, doctors will be able to remove an just-implanted embryo from a uterus and raise it to term in an artificial womb. Would abortions then cease to exist, as there would no longer be such a thing as a "nonviable fetus"? Also, doesn't this definition make "late-term abortion" an oxymoron?Heqwm (talk) 21:42, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Lead

Interesting to see much thought has gone into the content of the lead, but seemingly little into its length, or lack of. Everywhere I look I see massive articles with absurdly small leads. I have seen one sentence leads, but this is getting 'up there' with the best. I really wish people who make these assessments, especially GA (and to a lesser extent FA - they seem to have some comprehension of the issue) would take more notice of this problem. Richard001 (talk) 02:41, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

It's number one on the to do list.-Andrew c [talk] 02:58, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
Opps. Spoke too soon. I see you moved it to the top, and you are the one who added it back in April (though I agree with Severa that it should be at the bottom because they are listed chronologically). -Andrew c [talk] 03:00, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
Move it back if you like. But my point is that the article isn't actually a GA (it fails criteria one) so I will delist if it isn't fixed. It's not a criticism of the excellent work that has gone into the article, but of the baffling and continued ignorance about lead sections, even in GA, A and occasionally even FA class articles. The writers of the Britannica could also take the hint, though they don't seem to have any formal standards on introduction length. Richard001 (talk) 03:09, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
The article is currently at WP:GAR, where the lead is one of the issues that has been raised. Geometry guy 17:19, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, just noticed that myself just now. I've also posted a similar message on eBay. People just don't seem to be looking at the leads when they review articles for GA. Richard001 (talk) 00:48, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
I've now closed the GAR and delisted the article. Geometry guy 23:51, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Just started expanding the lead. Anyone want look over it or improve it?Phyesalis (talk) 00:53, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Looks good to me so far, except the # per year - the source is from 1999 I notice, should we hunt for newer? and should we even have that in the lead? And if we do, IMO we should specify "worldwide". Thoughts? KillerChihuahua?!? 00:57, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Added "worldwide". I'm fine with consensus either way on whether or not to include the stats in the lead. And I'm always for up to date stats. Phyesalis (talk) 01:31, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Lead definition

OK, I changed the lead definition because it was long, unwieldy and repetitive. I'm fine with the switch back to "medical" from "medicinal" but I feel like the revert just put the definition back to the old same verbose place. Andrew, I know you just switched it back, but would you mind discussing this? Phyesalis (talk) 01:35, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Changed medicinal to medical but reinstated change. Webster's says nothing about induced abortion and viability. Feel like the inclusion of unref'd material and crediting it to a dictionary is a bit of a POV push. If there is an issue with this, please discuss it here. Thank you. Phyesalis (talk) 17:47, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
It is my understanding, through personal conversation with Phyesalis, that the issue with the lead was simply that of sourcing. I've restored the long standing content, and changed the webster source to one of the sources from the archive from when this phrasing was suggested. -Andrew c [talk] 23:59, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm going to hold off on this edit. I just checked the references in the old verions, and while Webster's doesn't say "viability", the other link to the free dictionary does. So I'm really not sure what the issue was with the old version. -Andrew c [talk] 00:11, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
The problems with "viability" are a) it is not a concrete determination as it is determined on a case by case basis; b) only a few sources define abortion in terms of viability (including one which is a veterinarian medical dictionary) so this seems a bit like cherry-picking; and c)there is no significant discussion of viability in the article, and as such, seems a bit like unique content in the lead (now, this is kind of different as it involves a disputed definition). Perhaps we should add a sub-section discussing the myriad of issues that surround it? Phyesalis (talk) 01:14, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
Oops, and d) it excludes those abortion which occur due to late term diagnosis of genetic defects as well as late term therapeutic abortions for the mother's health. Phyesalis (talk) 01:35, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
a) seems entirely irrelevant. The fact remains that this is a common usage of the term. Whether it is a not concrete or not isn't our fault and that doesn't seem like a valid reason to exclude. b) I disagree about the cherry picked part. The word "viability" perhaps isn't included in every medical definition, but there is a clear trend in the majority of the 20 odd cited medical definitions to have something along the lines of "before the twentieth week" "premature ending" "before a weight of 500g" "before the fetus is viable" "before it is capable of sustaining life" "before the fetus can live independently" or the one that wraps up all the ideas in one "prior to the stage of viability at about 20 weeks of gestation (fetus weighs less than 500 g)". If you'd rather not use the word "viability" but instead use 20 weeks, or 500g, or a phrase like "before capable of sustaining life", I'd be glad to discuss such a change. c) perhaps a section further discussing that is relevant. but I still think this sentence is very important for the lead because it deals with defining the term. Saying "some medical sources define abortion as..." is simply a matter of definition and while we could go into detail later in the article, I believe it can stand on its own in the lead. finally d) this argument has been brought up numerous times in the archives. Under this "medical" definition of abortion, those procedures are technically not "abortions".
The fact of the matter is that a significant number of sources clearly make a differentiation that abortions only occur up to a certain point in a pregnancy. This isn't a fringe view, and I believe it is quite notable. In fact, I think leaving it out of the lead is a matter of ignoring a significant point of view. When we say right out the bat what abortion is, it's right on point to mention conflicting, notable definitions of the term. Hopefully I have made a case (again) why this sentence shouldn't be deleted :)-Andrew c [talk] 02:54, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
Can you summarize with actual numbers, i.e. how many of the 20 definitions specify before a certain time/weight/etc. and how many do not specify that it can't be any time up to the natural end of pregnancy?
How about something general that summarizes any of the criteria, such as "relatively early in the pregnancy," "towards the earlier part of pregnancy," "before a certain stage of development," "before a given criterion is met," "of a younger fetus," etc.? And if there is at least one definition that does not specify, then how about inserting a word or phrase such as "sometimes" or "usually considered to be" or "often considered to be"? --Coppertwig (talk) 14:58, 19 January 2008 (UTC) I wasn't intending to get involved in this debate at this time. --Coppertwig (talk) 19:40, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Note: There is related discussion at Talk:Abortion/First paragraph. --Coppertwig (talk) 14:58, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Sources

OK, going over the recommended list, the discussion centers primarily on death, and I find that a number of sources bear closer scrutiny:

  • 1 no
  • 2 sort of yes, “Technically, the word abortion simply refers to pregnancy loss before the twentieth week." However, link not found, but MebMD (source site) does not define abortion in terms of viability, gestational age or weight, so I’d say this is no but doesn’t count because MebMD is used for #3
  • 3 no
  • 4 yes, 20th week, 500 gm
  • 5 yes viable
  • 6 yes, “otherwise the term "abortion" would ordinarily be used when occurring before the eighth month of gestation” (1911) Really, 1911?
  • 7 yes, (1913) See comment above.
  • 8 no
  • 9 yes 20 weeks – but this is for miscarriage, not abortion, the abortion def does not mention viability. MedlinePlus states, “An abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy by removing the fetus and placenta from the mother's womb. There are many forms of abortion -- sometimes an abortion occurs on its own (spontaneously), and other times a woman chooses (elects) to end the pregnancy.” So this is actually a no.
  • 10Another MedlinePlus def of miscarriage – how to two defs of a term other than abortion from the same source count twice? So again, as it uses the same def for abortion it’s a no but should only count once.
  • 11 A Veterinary definition? Don’t even get me started.
  • 12 No, Encarta
  • 13 No, Merriam Webster
  • 14 Oh, look, it’s another instance of the MedlinePlus miscarriage def – are we getting the picture here? It looks a lot like a collection of the same freaking cherry – not cherries – cherry.
  • 15 Not a definition of abortion but an argument for “death” I guess, no mention of viability in my quick glance – because it’s not relevant to our discussion
  • 16 No, Encarta dictionary (different from number 12)
  • 17 yes, 20 and 500
  • 18 yes and no, nonviable as one of several contexts – 1 – general, 2 – elective/induced induced (no), therapeutic (no), tubal (no), spontaneous (implied but not stated, I’ll take this as a yes)
  • 19 enotes – therapeutic, yes, Selective, no
  • 20 no
  • 21 yes

To address the number of discounted examples I pulled the unique def sources from the first page search for “medical dictionary:

So, I get: 12 for no – 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25b; 4 for yes – 4, 5, 17, 21; 3 for mixed – 18, 19, 25a; and not counting 7 – 2 (not found but source site is #3), 6 (1911), 7 (1913), 10 (repeat of 9), 11 (Vet), 14 (r of 9), 15 (not a def, but argument for death, and not viability). Not much of an argument for a clear trend for viability. Thoughts? Phyesalis (talk) 03:27, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but I'm quite confused after reading the above. (and by my count, there are 10 out of the first 22 which mention something that would fall under the category I've been referring to). But forget those old sources for now. Do a google search for "medical dictionary". On the first hit, type in "abortion" and you get:"The premature expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception of the embryo or of a nonviable foetus.". The second hit you get: "expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception before the fetus is viable.". These are from the top two highest ranking medical dictionaries on google. I also opened up the Oxford Companion to Medicine: The loss of an immature embryo or fetus before viability is an abortion and the Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary: the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus at a stage of pregnancy when it is deemed incapable of independent survival (i.e. at any time between conception and the 24th week of pregnancy). The 20+ definition list (which does have it's issues with some sources being questionable) is just an illustration to further this concept. The usage of abortion in this context clearly exists. I think because of that, we need to say in the lead something along the lines "abortion is sometimes medically defined as..." and mention something having to do with viability/gestational age/weight. Why do you want to ignore this point of view which clearly exists and isn't fringe by any standard (when did Oxford, Stedman's, Dorlands, become unreliable sources)? I thought the beauty of wikipedia was that we didn't take sides, that we were neutral, and that we presented all points of view. It isn't our job to say what is or isn't when it comes to defining terms. We simply report on our sources. And I still feel strongly that it only helps NPOV (and reader understanding) by mentioning a notable (even if not majority) usage of the word in the lead.-Andrew c [talk] 06:00, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
My point is that there is as clear a trend for not mentioning viability as there is for mentioning it, even more so. But more importantly, there seems to be a particular context for which viability is an issue (most notably miscarriage or spontaneous abortion) and others like induced (debated), therapeutic (for the life or the health of the woman done regardless of gestational stage) and selective (for genetic defects that can only be determined in late stages) that don't. What did I write that gave you the impression that I found Oxford, Stedman's or Dorland's unreliable? If they were on the list or on the first page, I counted them. Did I even mention the word "reliability" with respect to those three sources? I'm not saying that the word "viability" shouldn't appear in the lead, but I think that it should be contextualized. I don't think the old wording of viability was clear because it implied that all abortions were subject to definitions of viability. This is demonstrably false (as in selective and therapeutic abortions). Phyesalis (talk) 07:46, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
And how do you get 10? Phyesalis (talk) 12:37, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
When you say I don't think the old wording of viability was clear because it implied that all abortions were subject to definitions of viability. and go on to not want to include the "medical" POV, you are implying that Oxford and Stedman's and those other sources are not reliable. You are basically saying that you know better than Oxford, because you claim their definition is inaccurate by your personal standards. Not to be blunt, but this is simply original research on your behalf. We have sources that you admit are reliable, and which are notable. NPOV states that we therefore have to present their POV. Because a conflicting definition of the term exists, even if it is a minority view, we need to present all notable views from reliable sources. If I am mistaken, and your issue is simply how we phrased the previous version, would you mind suggesting a wording which would address your concerns. I feel that because we said "Abortion" can refer to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; it is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability, we weren't giving any false impressions. The first sense of the word "abortion" which we say can occur at any point during a pregnancy covers those instances you are concerned about. The second "medical" use does not. But that is ok because there are conflicting definitions and we are just presenting multiple POVs. At this point, I really feel like we need more imput. Anyone watching this page care to chime in? IMO, the longstanding version was brought about through a long consensus process on the subpages, and has stood for a long time. I don't believe one editor should be able to delete longstanding content that was brought about through consensus. I strongly suggest that we revert back to the longstanding version, and only delete the content if there is a new consensus to do so.-Andrew c [talk] 15:48, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Quickly, the ones I counted were: 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 17, 18, 19, 21, 21.1 which gets 10 out of 22. Looking at your list, you had "yes" next to all of these, but some of them you discounted for other reasons. If we remove the ones that are defining "miscarriage" and not "abortion" then we remove 1 from my list, and 3 from the total, and I'll also remove #22 as it is the same source as 21, so we get 8 out of 18. We also have to keep in mind that this article is about and titled abortion and isn't exclusively about or titled therapeutic abortion or selective abortion. But I don't think we should focus on the old list anymore because I think we are both in agreement that there are multiple notable, reliable sources that have this usage.-Andrew c [talk] 15:59, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

(undent) Yes, there is a trend. I agree, and I'm certainly up for outside input. But I think we might be able to work this out. Again, not against the word being in the lead, just don't like the way it was used globally so as to exclude forms of selective and therapeutic abortion right off the bat. I'm thinking maybe a little rewording of "Definitions" and maybe a new title like "Types"? You up for letting me take a whack at and then some friendly WP:BRD? Phyesalis (talk) 18:59, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm opposed to going back because you are the only one (so far) who has an issue with it (I think I delineated this on my talk page). 9 other users have edited the article since I made the change. And I don't understand what you mean when you say that I don't want to include the medical definition. Where did I say that? Nor do I have any idea as to what you mean when you say I am engaging in OR. I pulled documented definitions, mostly from a list you provided. What are you talking about? (This isn't rhetoric, truly, if I've somehow inadvertently done so, I'd like to know so as to avoid it in the future.)
The general position that one must gain consensus before making changes to an article that barely survived WP:GAR doesn't seem like a productive policy, nor particularly WPesque. It's not like I'm suggesting that we remove "death" or include gory photos. Which brings me to a side point of creep - this position seems like a by-product of all the ossified instruction at the top of the talk page. Does anyone else think we should summarize some of it - like all the photo commentary? Thoughts? Anyone? Phyesalis (talk) 19:58, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Please, there are surely other users watching this, could someone offer a 3rd opinion?-Andrew c [talk] 15:38, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Based on my limited understanding of what the issue is here, I agree with Andrew c. However, if anyone would like to provide a concise summary of what they think the issue is, then I'd be glad to reconsider.03:29, 25 January 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ferrylodge (talkcontribs)
The previous use of the word "viability" was unclear as it was used globally and did not make distinctions for various selective and therapeutic abortions (many of which are done after "viability"). I am not arguing against the inclusion of the term, just wanting something more accurate. --Phyesalis (talk) 19:43, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

(undent)Okay, as I understand it, the disagreement is as follows. The lead paragraph used to have a sentence like this: "Abortion can refer to an induced procedure at any point during human pregnancy; it is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability" (emphasis added). However, it's been changed to say simply that abortion can occur "at any point during human pregnancy for therapeutic or elective reasons," without mentioning viability. The cited sources remain the same: "Merriam Webster’s Online Medical Dictionary. See also The Free Dictionary which includes definitions from Dorland's Medical Dictionary and from The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary."

Unless I'm mistaken, Phyesalis supports the current wording without "viability" whereas Andrew c thinks "viability" should go back in. It seems clear from the cited sources that "abortion" is often defined without being limited to instances before viability. But "abortion" sometimes is instead defined with that limitation; for example, Dorland's says: "expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception before the fetus is viable." And it seems that Dorland's is very clear about what the word "viability" means: "able to maintain an independent existence; able to live after birth."

So, in my opinion, this article should mention somewhere (either in the lead paragraph or in the footnote of the lead paragraph) that "abortion" is sometimes medically defined as either miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability. And, it could also be mentioned in the footnote that "viability" means "able to maintain an independent existence; able to live after birth."[18] Sound reasonable?Ferrylodge (talk) 20:14, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Incorrect. I am not arguing for the exclusion of viability. I've added the sentence "In some contexts, elective abortion is defined as occurring before the point of viability." How's that for a starting point for compromise?--Phyesalis (talk) 16:45, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Maybe it would help clarify matters if you you would please quote here everything that you think the lead paragraph should say about viability, and also quote here everything that Andrew c thinks the lead should say about viability. Then other people (like me) would be able to compare. Thanks.Ferrylodge (talk) 16:53, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Let's not make this more difficult than it needs to be. Why don't we wait to see what Andrew thinks if the new edit? --Phyesalis (talk) 17:00, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Fine by me. Incidentally, the lead paragraph still needs a huge amount of work. It needs to be readable by lay persons, and that means using words that lay persons can understand. For example, why not insert a parenthetical after the word therapeutic: "therapeutic (i.e. health-related)"?Ferrylodge (talk) 17:16, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
I think it is ok as a compromise. I think the previous version was a bit more clear. Saying "In some contexts" is vague and makes the reader what those contexts are. Perhaps "In some medical contexts" or "In some technical contexts"? Also, I'm not convinced that these sources we have been going through have used the term "elective", or for that matter were even referring to "elective abortion". I would be happier with that word out of the sentence. But I can live with the current version as well. Thanks so far on your working with me on this matter (both of you!)-Andrew c [talk] 21:18, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Thank you, Andrew and Ferrylodge. I've added "medical". I went through the defs and it seems pretty clear that therapeutic abortions are not medically defined or limited by viability as they usually mean significant risk to the woman's life or health - it doesn't matter that the fetus is viable. Also, because the cause for a number of therapeutic and selective abortions isn't actually known until after the point of viability, elective is the only one with any applicable context. I'm glad we could reach a compromise. --Phyesalis (talk) 02:48, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

"Death" again

I know a lot of you are going to grown, but I do not believe that the issue of using the word "death" in the first sentence was fully resolved per the previous discussions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Abortion/First_paragraph#Neutrality_of_the_first_paragraph and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Abortion/First_paragraph/Archive_2#medical_sources

I don't understand why we cannot resolve it now by simply having the first sentence say, "An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in the termination of a pregnancy." I mention this because the suggested terminology is taken Dictionary.com which has changed it's definition to "termination" from one that included the word "death." This seems significant to me. Also, the American Heritage dictionary never used the term "death." The American Heritage definition is: "The ending of pregnancy and expulsion of the embryo or fetus, generally before the embryo or fetus is capable of surviving on its own."

  • HealthLine.com: An abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy by removing the fetus and placenta from the mother's womb.
  • MedTerms.com:In medicine, an abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus.
  • MedlinePlus.com (government website): An abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy.

With these definitions in mind, please look at the previous inventory of definitions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Abortion/First_paragraph/Archive_2#medical_sources

Because prominent sites, including the Miriam-Webster dictionary as well as the majority of medical sources use the "termination" terminology - we should probably change the first sentence. As it stands now, I believe as others have said that "death" carries too many connotations. This is 2008, our sources have changed their definitions.--IronAngelAlice (talk) 05:45, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

This is what I found listed in the Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary;-
Main Entry: abor·tion
Pronunciation: &-'bor-sh&n
Function: noun
1 : "the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus"
My view is that deliberately excluding the word 'death' carries even more connotations. Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 09:37, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
By the way, Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary also defines feticide thus;-
Main Entry: fe·ti·cide
Variant: or chiefly British foe·ti·cide /'fEt-&-"sId/
Function: noun
"the action or process of causing the death of a fetus" Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 09:42, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Take it to the feticide article, please. Don't start that war here. KillerChihuahua?!? 17:34, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Have to agree, I think the death issue is a dead issue. --Phyesalis (talk) 19:50, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
There's a feticide war going on? Hmmmm... - RoyBoy 800 01:58, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Death in surgical abortion

Fishie instructed me to see the talk page in undoing my edit. I'm here, and I don't see a darn thing explaining Fishie's edit. I'm assuming Fishie just hasn't gotten around to posting it here. So Fishie, what's your reasoning? KillerChihuahua?!? 17:34, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Firstly, sorry if it appeared I 'instructed you' to visit the talk page - I had limited words available to explain why I reverted. I tried to post a few minutes ago but you were obviously posting when I tried and I'm having to do it again. I realise that the intro makes a statement that abortion is caused by or leads to the death of the fetus. I was under the impression that articles often restated points made in the intro and then provided more detail of those points. I believe it is one thing to say that 'death of the fetus results from abortion', but something more detailed and worth stating to point out that when an injection is used 'to ensure that a fetus can not be born alive', the death of the fetus is more than just a consequence - it is the deliberate intention. The point I made added detail that I felt was necessary to give a fuller picture if the procedure being discussed, and was supported by reference. I don't really see any reason to remove the point I added. Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 17:45, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
That's covered with "resulting in", also in the lead sentence. Is this your entire argument? Because adding a redundant, poorly sourced, inflammatory phrase to a highly contentious article with the argument of "we need more details" (which if I understand your argument correctly is basically what you're saying) really requires some support on the talk page, and you not only have none you have the clear objection of at least three editors. I'm glad you've begun discussion on this issue rather than continuing to edit war against consensus. Btw, you can delete the text which your "undo" automatically fills in, which gives more space for summary - and "see talk page" usually means "see talk page" not anything else.
I'm missing how its at all unclear that the fetus is supposed to be dead at the end of a surgical abortion. Are you saying that is somehow unclear to you? Please clarify. KillerChihuahua?!? 18:00, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
It's obvious I've touched a raw nerve with this - I'll back off as it is not my intention to start an 'edit wars'. I didn't think I had started an edit war - I put in extra words with a supporting reference, that was then reverted by someone who objected that I had not used a whole quote (if I remember correctly); I therefore added different words in a different point of the same sentence with the same supporting reference, and that was reverted by someone else on the basis that the point had already been made - at that point I reverted so that I could explain my point on the talk page. Is that an edit war? By the way, to suggest that I added 'an inflammatory phrase' is very significant: all I did was make clear that the purpose of the injection was to prevent a fetus being born alive (quoted from medical guidance) and that is viewed as 'inflammatory'? Cheers for now Fishiehelper2 (talk) 19:01, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
The only raw nerve you've touched is by edit warring; no discussion on talk page; directing me to talk page even though there was still no discussion on talk page. Please see WP:BRD, a supplement to WP:BOLD - the order is Bold, Revert, Discuss. If you'd posted on the talk page after the first time you'd been reverted instead of edit warring, we wouldn't be talking about edit warring. After the third editor reverts you, even the densest should be able to figure out they are edit warring against consensus.
Inflammatory: this is inflammatory the same way (although more subtly) that replacing every instance of the word abortion with the word murder in the article is. It over-emphasizes one view (NPOV, anyone?) That used to be a favorite vandal edit. Probably still is, when the article is completely unprotected for any length of time. KillerChihuahua?!? 19:15, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
Apologies one and all - I'll try to learn from my mistakes! Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 19:26, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
-) No worries. It can be hard to learn how things work here at first. KillerChihuahua?!? 20:08, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Abortion definition

hello, recently in my GCSE religious studies class i was told that the correct diffinition of abortion is "the premature expulsion of the foetus or embryo from the womb". i would have edited this my self but as the page is protected i decided to leave up to the experts. please concider changing this if you find it to be appropriate. many thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.150.199.209 (talk) 18:01, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for the suggestion, but "expulsion" only covers spontaneous abortion. We need to include induced abortion as well. - RoyBoy 800 01:18, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

At the risk of offending those who have finely tuned the meaning of abortion offered in the article, it seems to me that part of the current definition should be deprecated to a second level. The common interpretation of the term in contemporary speech and text is “induced” expulsion of the embryo or fetus. The “spontaneous or induced” meaning is archaic and specialized to the medical arts. Deprecating the “spontaneous” aspect of the definition is likely to offend one side or the other of the ongoing abortion debate. The following rewording is an attempt to retain the precision and neutrality of the current definition. Please comment.

"An abortion is the induced removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in its death. In medicine, abortion can refer to either induced or spontaneous expulsion. The spontaneous expulsion of a fetus or embryo before the 20th week is commonly known as a miscarriage.[1] The more commonly used definition, in reference to induced abortion, is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus by medical, surgical, or other means at any point during human pregnancy for therapeutic or elective reasons” Quampro (talk) 21:48, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Hi. I moved your comment to the end of the section, because that's where new comments belong if they are not responding to other comments. Regarding your proposed change, it might be easier for people to comment if you would indicate (e.g. with strikethroughs) waht you're removing, and also indicate (e.g. with ALLCAPS) what you're inserting.Ferrylodge (talk) 22:06, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Opening section change

I've cut down the opening section considerably. My reasoning is fairly simple. We need a short and concise definition of what abortion is. The remaining sentences reference all of the major abortion subtopics (history, legality, by country, morality). Also, as a matter of precision abortion can be, and is induced in domesticated animals all the time, but as a lone term refers to human abortions

Everything else was cut because its covered in the article itself.--Tznkai (talk) 20:00, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Without putting in the comments of whether abortion is moral or amoral the whole article is put in jeapardy. Although the morality of abortion has been lightly touched upon, this subject cannot be ignored. Abortion cannot be discussed without the fact that the very act of abortion is the murder of a human being. There is no argument against the fact that life begins at conception. Distinguished physicians and scientists all agree that life can begin at no other time. With this being true, to purposely kill a baby while it is still in it's mother's womb is murder. Why abortion can be such a desirable thing has never been explained to me and most people in general. What is the difference between murdering a baby in it's mother's womb and killing your next door neighbor? Or better yet, how is it different from the government going to your city and killing off half the people? All three do the same things. They murder an innocent person that has the right to life. If anyone doubt what I am saying would you please explain how these innocents are not really being murdered. Our country and our whole world are being transformed by the almost 1 billion babies aborted in the last 50 years. Who can step up to the plate and explain why this is such a good thing? If a serial killer goes out and kills 15 people, people will unquestionably call him crazy. Do the people who condone the killing of millions of babies get a reprieve because they might have a university degree. Who dares to say that killing babies is a good and wholesome thing. By what standard of justice to these people speak out? And if they do speak out, why should one who disagrees with them not hold sway.Anathasius (talk) 23:42, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

You fail to understand that the purpose of the opening paragraph is to give a short definition of what is contained in the article, not your personal views on what is in said article. Also, this talk page is not a discussion about abortion, it is about information that may or may not be added to the article. TheXenocide (talk) 12:10, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
It is an important aspect. Whether one likes it or not, there is an argument on that. Are courts correct in (often) holding that human life begins at birth, or are they (perhaps for practical reasons) engaging in a legal fiction? Oh, I think you've heard reasons. They are "desirable" though only if one agrees the fetus isn't human. They are only "expedient" and "tragic" if one recognizes the fetus as human. DeniseMToronto (talk) 06:32, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

First paragraph: unborn offspring, embryo/fetus

What are everyone's concerns with the first paragraph in regards to describing the conceptus. RoyBoy, Ferrylodge, TruthIIPower, Tznkai, and now myself have all made changes to the lead, but there hasn't been any discussion. We have multiple archives and subpages dealing with how to phrase the first paragraph... anyway, I think if we state what we find problematic with the lead and what we would like to change about the lead, we can see where the common ground is and move forward to a new consensus. -Andrew c [talk] 18:09, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps I should start, my last revert mainly dealt with Ferrylodge's add in sentence In humans, the offspring in the uterus is called an embryo for about two months after fertilization, and thereafter is called a fetus. This is a little confusing because, in that revision, it is the sentence that introduced the terms emrbyo/fetus, yet only says those terms are used in humans. I believe the point was to explain when an embryo becomes a fetus in humans, but it doesn't exactly read like that. On top of that, I don't think that the difference between embryos and humans is one of the most defining and important aspects of the topic "abortion". It's trivia or background information at best. Perhaps it could go in a footnote for those who don't want to click the wikilinks?-Andrew c [talk] 18:19, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Right now, the terms "embryo" and "fetus" are used in the lead sentence, without giving the readers any idea what the difference is, or giving them any way to decide which one to click on for more info. Tznkai inserted a slight bit of definition here. That was reverted by Royboy here, and he said: "too many Or's, makes already complex sentence that much worse." I rewrote it, but was reverted here by Andrew c, who said: "rv, per Roy. why not discuss major changes to the lead first. it makes it sound like the terms embryo/fetus are unique to humans. at best, this could go in a footnote, but I think wikilinks are enough." The bit about reverting per Royboy is kind of mystifying, because his edit and rationale were very different (i.e. Andrew c did not remove the word "or" or reduce sentence complexity).
I don't think it's trivial to give readers some clue about what the words mean that we're using. Multiple Wikipedia policies and guidelines urge that we do so. See WP:Jargon and WP:Make technical articles accessible. Abortion is a wrenching decision for many women because they know the facts about what it is they're aborting. If our goal here is to make it a more casual decision, then I agree we should omit all information about what is aborted, but really that's not our job is it?Ferrylodge (talk) 18:42, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Our job is neither to make it casual nor wrenching. That is between them, their doctor, and whatever God, Gods, or principles they hold dear. We provide encyclopedic information here, little else.--Tznkai (talk) 19:03, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Agreed.Ferrylodge (talk) 19:08, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Ok. Can we discuss specific changes to the lead? You believe the words fetus and embryo are jargon and need further explanation. Does everyone agree with that? If so, how do we go about explaining the jargon. Was Tznkai's version sufficient? could we reduce the number of "or"s in that version, thereby addressing Roy's concerns, and then have something that we can all agree upon? The difference between Tznkai's version and Roy's version is basically the phrase "in the earlier stage of gestation" attached to embryo. Adding that onto an already complex sentence was problematic to Roy. Is there another solution that can add that information without making the sentence more complex? -Andrew c [talk] 19:48, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Here's the Tznkai version: "An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus (called an embryo in the earlier stage of gestation) from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death."
Here's a possible new version: "An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of an offspring, resulting in or caused by its death. The offspring is called an embryo in the earlier stage of gestation (which lasts two months in humans), and then a fetus in the subsequent stage."
Ferrylodge (talk) 20:16, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
It really breaks the flow, and I think offspring is the wrong word here. The original sentence is a horrendous run - on however, and the original author should be throttled for it. Oh wait, that was me. In all seriousness, it is a clunky, clunky sentence.--Tznkai (talk) 20:20, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Feel free to try and redeem yourself with a better version.  :-) And note that the word "fetus" is Latin for "offspring."Ferrylodge (talk) 20:25, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the 2nd new sentence breaks the flow. How about putting it in a footnote? Or do we really need to relay that information in the lead? Perhaps we could discuss it in another section, like the pregnancy article. -Andrew c [talk] 21:18, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I'd prefer a modified Tznkai version: "An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the exit from the uterus of a fetus (or embryo in the earlier stage of gestation), resulting in or caused by its death." This sentence structure is better, because it no longer has any connotation that the uterus has died, and occurrence of the word "or" is not excessive. The sentence is still clunky, but better.Ferrylodge (talk) 21:26, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Unfortunately, it has the problem of ambiguity. Is it only an embryo in the earlier stage of gestation (i.e. a 1-20 day old embryo?) The word "called" fixed that problem in Tznkai's version. Part of me (yeah a bad part) feels like "AKA" would work, but I know it is terrible usage :) -Andrew c [talk] 02:38, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
It's not correct to say that a fetus is "called" an embryo during the first two months. The fetal stage comes after the embryonic stage. It's also not correct that a fetus is "also known as" an embryo during the first two months. Again, the fetal stage is after the embryonic stage. Try this: "An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the exit from the uterus of a fetus (or instead an embryo during the earlier stage of gestation), resulting in or caused by its death."Ferrylodge (talk) 02:48, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
How about "An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of the fetus (or, in early stages, embryo) from the uterus, resuling in or caused by its death." TruthIIPower (talk) 03:49, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
That would be an improvement, IMO.Ferrylodge (talk) 20:19, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

(undent) Yuk - multiple problems, largely by trying to do too much in the one sentance.

  1. Choice of "termination" as 5th word is confusing, is it a verb mean "ending" and so includes both spontaneous loss (aka miscarriage) as well as deliberate discontinuation, or imply the noun of "termination proceedure" which excludes spontaneous loss, or indeed imply noun of "termination process" which includes both ?
  2. Leadin can distinuish between spontaneous and willful loss in another sentance. So trying to cover both with "removal or expulsion" can wait for another sentance. Also these two words do not neatly distinguish spontaneous from induced loss: "expulsion" covers both spontaneous miscarriage as well as the use of chemical abortifants, but "removal" really only covers surgical procedures.
  3. Finally "the fetus" implies just the one, but abortion would apply to loss of one out of a twin/triple/quad pregnancy; indeed can have an abortion in such multiple pregnancy and yet the woman remains pregnant. i.e. we should use phrasing of "a fetus" instead.

Can I suggest therefore: "An abortion is the loss in early pregnancy of an embryo, or later of a fetus, either caused by its death or resulting in its demise."

PS as a medic I personally find the second clause redundant and covered by the 2nd sentance, i.e. "An abortion is the loss in early pregnancy of an embryo or later of a fetus." suffices for me, for equally "loss of a limb after an accident" reads as a full-on dramatic tarumatic amputation. But I accept that the wider readership needs the second clause to prevent any implication that the word "loss" on its own is being too euphamistic - and this is not prochoice/prolife POV issue for prochoice concern for gravity of deliberate abortions is just as valid as concerns by all that the phrase is being too oblique to the very real distress following a spontaneous miscarriage. David Ruben Talk 22:14, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

That sounds pretty good, except it may leave people wondering what the difference is between "death" and "demise". How about: "An abortion is the loss of an embryo in early pregnancy, or loss of a fetus later in pregnancy, either caused by or resulting in its death." The word "loss" is already kind of euphemistic, so I don't think we need another new euphemism too (i.e. "demise").Ferrylodge (talk) 22:30, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
Deconstructing for a moment, the peices of information I wrote in and felt were important were 1. The fetus is dead. 2. The abortion refers to the pregnancy terminating in, well, failure. 3. Abortions either cause fetal death, or are caused by it. 4. If we could, I'd avoid using the term embryo at all, but its not accurate. Maybe discard via footnote?--Tznkai (talk) 23:20, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
I would not think that the word "embryo" should be discarded in footnote so that the word "fetus" is used instead. The two words mean two different things, and should not be used interchangeably, unless we want to thoroughly confuse people.Ferrylodge (talk) 18:23, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
I looked it up and it turns out that fetus is broad enough to be accurate even when applied to an embryo. From dictionary.com: "(used chiefly of viviparous mammals) the young of an animal in the womb or egg, esp. in the later stages of development when the body structures are in the recognizable form of its kind, in humans after the end of the second month of gestation." This, if anything, errs on the side of making it sound as if abortions were usually of non-embryos, but I can live with that if we correct it in the lede. TruthIIPower (talk) 19:07, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
The abbreviation "esp." stands for "especially". So, using the word "fetus" to apply also to embryos is not the usual usage of the word. Also, beware the word "womb" that you just quoted; using it even in parentheses has gotten people into big trouble here at Wikipedia.Ferrylodge (talk) 20:18, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

(unindent)

Let me toss out my suggestion, then explain the thinking behind it:

"An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy prior to term by the removal or expulsion of the nonviable fetus or embryo."

1) We want to emphasize that pregnancies are what get aborted. We also want to leave room for spontaneous and induced abortions.

2) What makes it an abortion is that it's being ended before it has run its course, and that this ending is unsuccussful in terms of live issue. The key term is "viable". If you remove a viable fetus, it's an assisted birth. If you remove a nonviable one, you are necessarily killing it, which makes the process an abortion.

3) Depending on timing, either the fetus or embryo is expelled after it dies or it dies as part of the process of expulsion. There is no procedure in which a nonviable embryo or fetus is removed intact and left to die. Even the most extreme (and extremely rare) late-term abortions starts with a saline injection or the equivalent.

4) It is awkward to speak of abortion "resulting in or being caused by" this death, partially because the phrase is trying too hard to show causality, but mostly because it's long and odd. All we really need to get across is the distinction between an abortion and, say, a c-section on a viable fetus. The above does this successfully.

5) Long phrases to explain the difference between a fetus and embryo are out of place here, while putting a slash between them is just awkward. We can be brief and clear, instead.

Comments? TruthIIPower (talk) 03:03, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

I like it, and I follow you, but the problem is it doesn't address the rare but extant situations where there was a viable fetus that was then aborted. That is, a fetus that COULD have survived, but was killed. I think there is something with selective reduction here too. This is good thinking though.--Tznkai (talk) 03:11, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
What makes a fetus (or embryo) nonviable is simply that it cannot be removed without dying. It cannot live on its own; it is effectively an obligate parasite, though I'm sure that notion will offend some people. If it was possible to terminate a pregnancy without killing the embryo or fetus, then this might be a significant difference. In other words, calling a fetus nonviable is a statement about its current status, not whether further development would render it viable. If this is truly unclear, then perhaps we need to toss in another adjective. TruthIIPower (talk) 15:21, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
There's also a problem with saying a "nonviable embryo", given that all embryos are nonviable. And a short phrase (not a long one) would suffice to give the reader a clue as to the difference between embryo and fetus (or an explanation could go later in the lead).Ferrylodge (talk) 03:14, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
I do recognize this distinction, although it's really more a result of current technological limitations than anything inherent in the definitions of the words. However, while we should definitely make it clear early in the article, I don't think it absolutely has to be in the first sentence. TruthIIPower (talk) 15:21, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

Thank you GTBacchus for helping me. I'm glad you or you guys are trying to remain and stay neutral but I feel that only using the words fetus or embryo or other words like that on the Abortion page is biased because, in my opinion anyway, these words seem to favor pro-choicers. For me who so happens to be pro-life I feel insulted and offended that these words that mean "it" or "thing" is unfair and unbalanced so at least lets make the page more fair by not only using fetus or embryo but also unborn child. Thank You. I hope you at least understand. You may still not agree with me but at least try or attempt to understand where I come from and why I feel that only using fetus or embryo is not neutral. Thanks again. --Rcatholic (talk) 05:15, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

I presume by your signature that you're a Roman Catholic, so I'm going to make a couple stabs in the dark here. You believe that Jesus is the Son of God, Christ the Savior. You probably equate the death penalty to murder.
Now, if I were to refer to Jesus somewhere as a "Jewish preacher who was born sometime 4BCE" wouldn't that still be a neutral claim, even though it in a sense, denies His divinity? Likewise, if I refer to capital punishment as "Lawful killing by the state" that is offensive to many beliefs, but is empirically true and neutral. It is lawful, regardless of whether it should be or not.
My point in all that, is that the so called unborn is definitively a fetus. It may or not be "unborn" and scientific, medical, and other reference literature do not refer to it as the unborn. Calling it the unborn definitively makes a moral, and thus non-neutral claim, calling it a fetus does not. The fact that pro-choicers share vocabulary with neutral texts doesn't make vocab any less neutral.--Tznkai (talk) 05:31, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
That all having been said, I'll bring it up again. Is there a neutral way to refer to the concept of the "unborn" in this article?--Tznkai (talk) 05:36, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, the neutral way is medical terminology. The term "unborn" is desperately deceptive, as it rounds the fetus up to a newborn, much as "undeceased" would deceptively round you and me up to corpses. In both cases, the goal would be to change something's moral status by equating it with something it currently isn't. And in the case of the fetus, it may well never go from "unborn" to "undeceased", instead skipping the middle step and going directly to "deceased", so this is even less honest.
While we're talking about honest terminology, how about "mother"? One of the things that impressed me about this article is that it did not make the sloppy language error of equating pregnancy with motherhood. Sure, a pregnancy can indeed lead to motherhood, but that's just another example of rounding up dishonestly. The whole point of an abortion is that having one prevents the woman from becoming a mother (or becoming the mother to another child, if she has one already). This particular naming issue is turning into a conflict on Religion and abortion. TruthIIPower (talk) 15:21, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
"Life of the mother" is a known colloquialism and its quickly become fairly accepted terminology, even in a lot of pro choice circles. I don't think its an issue of dishonestly, because I think the term "the mother" in this context doesn't have the same emotional cache as "unborn". The fact is, no good vocabulary exists except possibly the rather sterile "gravida", we just muck around as best we can.--Tznkai (talk) 16:00, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
And "unborn baby" is also a known colloqialism, and yet we also avoid it because it's just not neutral. The words "mother" and "baby" are highly emotional. TruthIIPower (talk) 16:56, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
The word "abortion" is also highly emotional.Ferrylodge (talk) 18:21, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
No, "baby-killing" is emotional. "Abortion" is just the most neutral and accurate technical term. The round-up terms of "mother" and "baby" are neither neutral nor accurate, so they do not belong here or in any other abortion-related article. TruthIIPower (talk) 19:05, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

(undent)As Tznkai said, the phrase "life of the mother" is a well-known colloquialism that remains accepted terminology, even among pro choice advocates. The Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion uses the word "mother" 43 times with reference to a pregnant woman, and that's just in the majority opinion.

Additionally, dictionaries and other reference books often use the word "mother" prenatally, e.g.:
MedicineNet.com (defining placenta as a "temporary organ joining the mother and fetus");
American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary (placenta permits "metabolic interchage between fetus and mother", and also defining quickening as "signs of fetal life felt by the mother");
Encyclopedia Britannica Concise ("nutrients and oxygen in the mother's blood pass across the placenta to the fetus");
On-Line Medical Dictionary, Department of Medical Oncology, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne ("movement of foetus in the womb perceived by the mother");
Medilexicon (defining quickening as "signs of life felt by the mother as a result of fetal movements");
Wordnet, Princeton University ("mother first feels the movements of the fetus");
Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary ("motion of a fetus in the uterus felt by the mother").

The idea that perfectly normal English words should be banned from this article because they've somehow become contaminated by being used on one side or the other of a political controversy seems misguided to me. Same goes for images.Ferrylodge (talk) 19:18, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

People do all sorts of things, but they're not obligated to follow WP:NPOV. We are. TruthIIPower (talk) 19:24, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
That's right, we should follow WP:NPOV, and that means we should not automatically delete every fact, every word, and every image that happens to have been used by one side in a political debate.
Susan Faludi, in her book "The Undeclared War Against American Women" (1991) said: "The antiabortion iconography in the last decade featured the fetus but never the mother." Note that the very pro-choice Faludi uses the term "mother", whereas removing it from this article would give the deliberate impression that motherhood does not begin until birth or later. Biologists know better. And this Wikipedia abortion article still includes information and iconography about the mother, and even about the embryo, but not about the fetus.Ferrylodge (talk) 19:30, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
You are not addressing my argument. TruthIIPower (talk) 20:08, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
Maybe I'll have time later this weekend to visit Religion and abortion to see more detail of your arguments. I was only replying here to what you said here.Ferrylodge (talk) 20:18, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
The pregnant woman is allowed to round up because it is her choice that will make it become true. In fact, motherhood does not begin at fertilization, else we'd consider many, many more women to be mothers, particularly since the majority of fertilizations do not produce babies. TruthIIPower (talk) 20:37, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
We can discuss this further at Religion and abortion if you would like. The word "mother" (with reference to a pregnant woman) has already been cleansed from the present article (along with various other words and images), and I don't feel like arguing right now to reinsert it.Ferrylodge (talk) 20:48, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
Alright, we will do what we did earlier: appeal to outside neutral reference sources, and simultaneously reliable sources. Ferrylodge has found a number of neutral sources that use the term "life of the mother" in a casual and fairly neutral context. What else do we have?--Tznkai (talk) 21:41, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
I'd really rather discuss this in just one place at a time, so come join us on Religion and abortion. TruthIIPower (talk) 21:55, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

"Fetus" and "embryo"? Hm. Um, I still don't get it. I still don't understand how "fetus" or "embryo" are neutral then again what I may find neutral others may not. I don't think "fetus" nor "embryo" are neutral but many, many, many other people do. I think the words "fetus" and "embryo" are highly emotional and rude and offensive and insulting. For me abortion is just as equal to "baby-killing". I feel almost like I not only believe but know that a women automatically becomes a mother at the moment of conception not after the baby comes out of the mother's womb. For me people are born as soon as they are starting to be created by God and that happens in the mother's womb. I find that calling a baby a fetus or an embryo is just ugly. I think the words "fetus" and "embryo" are definitively moral, and thus non-neutral. I think calling a "fetus" or an "embryo" baby is highly accurate and more honest than "fetus" or "embryo". Besides science has proven that what's located in the mother's womb is a human being. If science is neutral than why can't we use it? I think the words fetus and embryo are issues of dishonesty. Now just because I find the abortion page to be slightly or a little off doesn't mean I can't live without the term baby being used on the Abortion article because I can. All I have to do is change the words "fetus" or "embryo" to child or baby in my mind of course. I know my beliefs and I know what I know and I'm proud of it. Just because I find a FEW mess-ups doesn't mean I'm wrong. Just because a few people don't agree with me doesn't make them wrong either. Thanks you guys and I'm deeply sorry if I offended or insulted anybody. We all have our own beliefs and our own knowledge and without out them this world would just be plane out boring. Have a nice day. --Rcatholic (talk) 17:30, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

It has been my experience that neutral terminology, precisely because of its unwillingness to to bow to the views of partisans, is quite likely to be found offensive by some. I can live with that. TruthIIPower (talk) 17:46, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
We should never support scientific terms that are best replaced with emotional terms that lack any logical cachet. &#0149;Jim62sch&#0149;dissera! 19:27, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Is that what you meant to say? We should never support scientific terms?Ferrylodge (talk) 19:33, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
It was sarcasm. I must remember to tag it as such. <end sarcasm> &#0149;Jim62sch&#0149;dissera! 19:39, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Even as sarcasm, it seems to be faulty syntax. Is the word "terms" the subject or the object in the sentence?Ferrylodge (talk) 19:42, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Ah, a typo. &#0149;Jim62sch&#0149;dissera! 19:48, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Objective Definition should not be changed

The long-standing objective definition was collectively and painstakingly developed by dozens of editors (with diverse viewpoints, backgrounds, and knowledge) over a period of months; in the end, a formulation that includes reference to the death of the fetus was found to be necessary in order to be scientifically and medically accurate and objective.

Lacking this scientifically and medically necessary refence to fetal death, the recently edited version ("termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo" )is inaccurate and subjective (and thus highly un-wikipedia).

While countless hours were spent debating many substantive concerns on all angles of this specific "death of the fetus" topic, one common pregnancy situation exemplifies that there is no abortion unless expulsion or removal of the fetus causes or was caused by fetal death.

When a doctor removes a healthy baby from the mother's womb during a C-section and hands it to the father, there has been a "termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo", but no abortion. This and other examples are unassailable reasons that any accurate definition must cover fetal demise (which in plain English is death of the fetus or fetal death)

The fact that all pregnancies terminate renders the euphemism "termination of pregnancy" inadequate to describe the fetal death that is always part of abortion; we can call to mind any pregnancy that ends in a live birth, and also recall that artificially induced labor is one type of induced termination of pregnancy.

When a woman carrying twins experiences the "removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus" via abortion (selective reduction or miscarriage) of 1 of the fetuses at week 12, and 19 weeks later she delivers the other healthy twin; the continued development (aka life) of the first fetal twin was aborted at week 12, but there was certainly no "termination of pregnancy" until the healthy second twin was born at week 31.

71.52.188.76 (talk) 15:42, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Reverted because there was no discussion on the point. Someone correct me if I'm wrong; but was the "selective reduction" argument made in the original Lead debate? Because it is an excellent point. - RoyBoy 18:40, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
The edit was made by HalfDome (talk · contribs). - RoyBoy 18:45, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Removed again by IronAngelAlice (talk · contribs) in agreement. HalfDome was bold and reckless, IronAngelAlice was consciously going against consensus. - RoyBoy 19:02, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
We went over this a long time ago. An abortion involves in something dying. People die, fetuses die, bodies die, organs die, tissue dies, cells die. However you want to think about it, its death. Its an essential part of the process, unless something goes horribly wrong.--Tznkai (talk) 21:32, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
N.B. Not sure how to deal with the multiple fetuses situation presented, but our current defintion seems to be on track. --Tznkai (talk) 21:36, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

The word Death

Sorry to bring up this heated debate once again, But shouldn't we euphemize the word "Death" in the first paragraph to match the article on Miscarriage? This would bring us closer to standardization and a non bias.

BFPIERCE (talk) 04:45, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps we should bring this up on the Miscarriage talk page instead? Death is involved in both procedures. No sense in bringing this article down, for the sake of standardizing a euphemism. -BaronGrackle (talk) 16:35, 4 December 2009 (UTC)
Indeed miscarriage seems to have the issue. And to clarify, termination is also a euphemism; and depending on usage it is moreso than death. - RoyBoy 16:49, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
"terminating a pregnancy" is not a euphemism, IMO, and is a fairly common term, if not a technical term, found in medical literature. Fetuses are never terminated, but pregnancies are. The miscarriage article, IMO, is fine because miscarriage has a specific definition that is related to viability, where after that point is crossed, the loss is called a stillbirth. I don't believe the word "death" would help clarify what a miscarriage is any further. However, editors in the past at this article felt that because abortion did not necessarily relay on time limits such as viability (i.e. late term abortions), the word death was needed so that readers wouldn't accidentally think abortion resulted in a live-birth (not that that was likely in the first place, but who am I to question past consensus). -Andrew c [talk] 16:53, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
Sure, but to focus on the "pregnancy" is euphemistic in nature. Ending a pregnancy is not the hot potato, and to consciously place the "final act" of an abortion in those terms avoids the core issue; and creates a potential for said confusion in the first place. Because "terminating a pregnancy" is technical I preferred it initially, but we came to realize technical terms can be exacting and/or obfuscating. - RoyBoy 03:07, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
@BaronGrackle - Fine with me as long as it doesn't create a bias. Why don't you make the change? BFPIERCE (talk) 11:14, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
What change is that, specifically? I see none actually clearly stated. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 13:06, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
Are we discussing making changes on the miscarriage article on a page other than Talk:miscarriage? -Andrew c [talk] 14:49, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
I certainly hope that is not what is meant. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 22:31, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
Nope, I'm just discussing in general terms for the abortion "topic"; and clarifying a possible guideline based on my understanding of the consensus. So Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Abortion centric, but that page seems slow. - RoyBoy 22:36, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Removal from the lead paragraph

I've reverted this edit [19] as it was made without consensus and apparently without reading either the preceding sentence or the source. Compare the edit summary with the source's summary... In recent years, more countries experienced a decline in legal abortion rates than an increase, among those for which statistics are complete and trend data are available. The most dramatic declines were in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where rates remained among the highest in the world. The highest estimated levels were in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, where surveys indicate that women will have close to three abortions each on average in their lifetimes. The U.S. abortion rate dropped by 8% between 1996 and 2003, but remained higher than rates in many Northern and Western European countries. Rates increased in the Netherlands and New Zealand. The official abortion rate declined by 21% over seven years in China, which accounted for a third of the world's legal abortions in 1996. Trends in the abortion rate differed across age-groups in some countries. I trust that this revert will meet either with consent or discussion, rather than an edit war. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 15:00, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

I removed the phrase because I don't see why it should be in lead. The article is about abortion not abortion in the USA and the lead is meant to introduce and summarise the main points of the article. More fundamentally Wikipedia articles should present a worldwide view, the worldwide trend is mentioned - appropriately - so why single out one country for mention in the lead? If the USA statistic is kept in the lead why not have a sentence describing abortion trends in China or the UK or Slovenia or any other individual country? I am not arguing that the sentence is not reliably sourced or verifiable I just think that it is inappropriately placed. The sentence may have a place in the article (it would almost certainly belong in Abortion in the United States) but not the lead. Guest9999 (talk) 16:32, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
I think the information should be kept, since many countries were mentioned, but it should be updated at least, since the trend has inverted: Among the 46 areas that reported data consistently during 1996--2006, decreases in the total reported number, rate, and ratio of abortions were attributable primarily to reductions before 2001. During 2005--2006, the total number and rate of abortions increased--Nutriveg (talk) 16:50, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
That source is specific to the US. I'm sure I don't need to say anything further :) SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 16:53, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
I've partly self-reverted and removed the sentence that Guest9999 removed. The preceding sentence, and the source, remain. If we agree that other information from that source would make a good addition to the lead, we can re-add something. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 16:56, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
The edit you undid removed not just the example, but more importantly it also removed the reliable source that supported the previous sentence, so I'm bound to agree with your revert. The lead is quite compact for an article this size, and I can't see any problem when summarising incidence to give a worldwide overview followed by a not untypical example citing figures. I'm a native Brit, but I still find using the example of the US quite appropriate for the English Wikipedia. --RexxS (talk) 17:14, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
Afterthought: if the example is dropped, it leaves the lead a little bare on an important topic, perhaps the variation in trends between counties might be briefly noted instead, as a prelude to a more detailed discussion in the Incidence section. --RexxS (talk) 17:27, 15 June 2010 (UTC)
I apologise, it was wrong of me to remove the source, I should have been more careful in checking what it covered. As a general rule the lead usually covers information mentioned - and sourced - later in the article, I assumed this would be the case considering the how much scrutiny this article gets. Still the BRD cycle seems to be working nicely. Guest9999 (talk) 17:38, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

Them Dead, Dead Fetuses

Dylan Flaherty's recent change restored a versions which seems to have been arrived at by consensus, and on that basis was proper. He adds "we should discuss this". The top of this talk page shows where in the archive this discussion has taken place. I have not had time to review 5 whole archives' worth of discussion, but did a quick review of the opening arguments and the 2 proposals in archive 4. I am not happy with the end result.

There does seem to be consensus regarding the POV introduced by the word "death", in that it begs the question of what kind of death we're talking about, which begs the question of whether the fetus is a human being/person/human life (these three terms are not coequal). What I don't see addressed is the matter of focus. The current wording, drawn from a legal text, "expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death" focuses on the precious, precious fetus instead of the entirely irrelevant "meat envelope" that happens to be surrounding the precious, precious fetus. Why not just drop all reminders of the meat envelope and expunge the word "uterus" as well?

An exhaustive list of alternative definitions has already been considered here: [20] Inexplicably, the definition in the lead sentence in the lead paragraph of a general article on abortion is drawn from a legal text. If we scroll down to the bottom of the article, we see that this article is categorized in medical and ethical, but not legal categories. A consensus seems to have been arrived at in the archives to the effect that no specific field, such as medicine, be considered as offering an authoritative definition of abortion in a general article. But the legal definition was chosen anyway. Why?

When I want to gain a general sense of a word's meaning, I look for consensus using a multiDictionary such as alphDictionary, which is capable of searching 1,060 English dictionaries online. A search on abortions returns 29 under General, 7 under Business (law) plus one hack, 2 under art, 11 under Medical, 2 under Science (natural abortifacients), 1 under Tech (veterniarian), 1 for Computers, and 2 under Miscellaneous (philosophy and dreams). Guess how many times the first entry is "termination of pregnancy", "end of pregnancy", "cessation of pregnancy", etc followed by "expulsion of conceptus" as the secondary meaning.

(Remarks withdrawn as they had been written under the impression that "embryo" does not cover the pre-implantation products of conception. Ermadog (talk))

I would suggest we review these definitions from MedLine Plus (US gov't source) "A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. (Pregnancy losses after the 20th week are called preterm deliveries...The term miscarriage is used often in the lay language and refers to spontaneous abortion.)" See, no mention of the inconvenient meat envelope, although it is implied in the term "pregnancy". Or this "An abortion is the spontaneous or induced loss of an early pregnancy. The period of pregnancy prior to fetal viability outside of the uterus is considered early pregnancy." from eMedicine The phrases "loss of a fetus" and "prior to viability" imply that the parasitic growth is indeed dead as a doornail, has shuffled off its mortal coil, has rung up the curtain and joined the choir invisible, and is now up in heaven strumming on a harp with JHWH or Zeus or somebody and generally is a dead parrot and we should all throw a huge humungous wake and celebrate its passage to the Other Side, where it will evade a life of mortal toil on this earthly plane; and we will all one day join him/her/it in singing the eternal praises of the Cosmic Muffin, Cthulhu and the Ghost of Christmas Past. There is no more need to emphasize the death of the fetus any more than there is need to draw attention to the fact that my prize roses came about in part due to a merciless slaughter of countless slugs. If you insisted on doing that in my garden, I'd shove my cane up your nose and chuck you out.

If someone familiar with the archives could point me to the section in the archives addressing the matter of focus, I'd be much obliged.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Ermadog (talkcontribs) 06:07, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but your entire argument is based on a false premise. If you think about it, I'm sure you'll recognize that referring to the death of the fetus (or embryo) does not imply that it is a person.
For example, a pregnant dog is not a person, and the canine embryo inside it is also not a person. If the dog's pregnancy is aborted, the fetus dies, but it was never a person and never would be. No matter what species we're talking about, the fetus is composed of living cells and when an abortion is involved, they wind up dead. If the fetus dies, this leads to an abortion. If it is aborted, this leads to its death. Whether it's a person, non-person, potential person or even a potential pet is irrelevant to whether it was alive and is now dead. Dylan Flaherty (talk) 09:35, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
My argument is not based on a false premise; and this point is made in the archived discussion, where, as I said, my point was actually acknowledged as valid. Context provides meaning; and in this context, we are talking about human life. We are talking about the actual life of the prospective mother, whose body is undergoing a process known as pregnancy, as well as the actual life of a potential human being called the conceptus, which is merely a growth within the prospective mother's uterus. The term "death" here takes on connotations that favour the "pro-life" position which asserts that the fetus is an actual human being. Therefore, the use of the term "death" in this context is a form of logical fallacy known as argument from assertion, specifically argument from implied assertion. Any number of euphemisms could be used to blunt the force of this argument; but, editors here have made a very conscious and deliberate choice to employ a term which pushes POV. There is generally not as much emotional baggage if we use the term "death" in reference to a dog fetus. Most of us dog lovers, while regretting the incident, would just get over it. But most of us also recognize that there is significant difference between dog life and human life. The clinical definitions I have provided manage to make the point that the fetus is dead as a door nail without resorting to emotion-laden verbiage. Why can't Wikipedia?Ermadog (talk) 01:55, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
You did say that the conceptus is actually alive. When something that was alive ceases to be alive, we call that death. Therefore, it is entirely accurate to speak of the death of the fetus or embryo. Now, if we called it a baby, that would be biased terminology. Dylan Flaherty (talk) 02:03, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Yah, I did say that the conceptus is alive. You obviously didn't read what I said after that; so, I guess I'll just repeat it - although that's probably a waste of time since you obviously didn't read it the first time: Context provides meaning; and in this context, we are talking about human life. We are talking about the actual life of the prospective mother, whose body is undergoing a process known as pregnancy, as well as the actual life of a potential human being called the conceptus, which is merely a growth within the prospective mother's uterus. The term "death" here takes on connotations that favour the "pro-life" position which asserts that the fetus is an actual human being. Therefore, the use of the term "death" in this context is a form of logical fallacy known as argument from assertion, specifically argument from implied assertion. The debate is about what kind of life it is, not whether it's alive. Now, what part of that did you fail to understand? Ermadog (talk) 03:54, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Ermadog, your original post was very much damaged by a cut & paste error you made that left an unclosed tag, hiding everything afterwards. I did my best to restore the original, but you're going to want to double-check the words to make sure they are what you wanted to write.
I appreciate your rollback and apologise for the sloppy proofreading. I have no excuse; I must have been tired. Ermadog (talk) 01:55, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Don't worry, I didn't roll back the entire edit, I just corrected the broken part. Dylan Flaherty (talk) 02:03, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Now that I've read your entire message, where you go into the exhaustive list of definitions, I find myself exhausted but unconvinced. Calling a fetus a "parasitic growth" does nothing more than make your bias painfully obvious. And it doesn't help that you don't seem to understand the medical terms you use; for example, you confuse fertilization with pregnancy.
I have a file on my hard drive containing common uses of the term "parasite" It is a compilation of meanings obtained by searching on parasite at alphaDictionary, which is capable of returning entries from 1,060 English dictionaries. The scientific definition requires that an organism be a member of a different species; but, the medical definition does not. The entries from general usage dictionaries are evenly split on this point. Here are two that apply: 2 : an organism living in, with, or on another organism in parasitism; 3 : something that resembles a biological parasite in dependence on something else for existence or support without making a useful or adequate return (Webster's 11th). The fetus is most definitely a parasitic growth. It derives it nutrition directly from the host body's food supply from within that host body; it derives its entire substance (with the exception of a small amount of paternal DNA) directly from the host body's substance; and its metabolism is directly entwined with that of the host body and often has a detrimental effect on the woman's health (the fetal brain doesn't even begin to take over the most basic of bodily functions, breathing, until week 34). It most definitely is living in a relationship of biologic parasitism within the body of the prospective mother. I wouldn't use it in a wiki article, because of the emotional baggage; but, I use it in wiki talk because it is an accurate presentation of my argument. I have withdrawn my remarks about the secondary meaning not applying to early drug induced abortions because I was under the impression that the term "embryo" does not apply to the pre-implantation organism. Ermadog (talk) 01:55, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
A parasite is a son who won't get a summer job, not a fetus that has nowhere else to go. As for drug-induced abortions, whatever the morality of the morning-after pill, it does not technically qualify as an abortion because there is no pregnancy until implantation, which this pill prevents. Dylan Flaherty (talk) 02:03, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
A parasite is also, as I have demonstrated, anything living in biologic parasitism with another organism. If you believe otherwise, you have a lot of dictionaries to correct. As for the morning-after pill, many "pro-lifers" do believe the conceptus is a human being right from the moment of conception and that the pill is therefore an abortifacient. The pre-implantation organism is a product of conception. Ermadog (talk) 02:23, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
As it happens, I am one of those pro-lifers, but I can read a dictionary and I try to be fair and neutral.
As it happens, I read more than one dictionary, for the purpose I have previously described: to gain a consensus of current usage. That's why I use alphaDictionary and look through all the entries from all the relevant dictionaries. For instance, for abortion, I omit the tech dictionary. Ermadog (talk) 03:54, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
If you look at this entry, there are three definitions. Of these, the first and last are metaphorical, based on similarity to a biological parasite. The second references the related term, "parasitism". That entry offers three more definitions. The first and last are circular, but the second is very clear and relevant:
"an intimate association between organisms of two or more kinds; especially : one in which a parasite obtains benefits from a host which it usually injures" - emphasis added
Two or more kinds, as opposed to a human woman and her human fetus. I rest my case.
I addressed your "two or more kinds" point above. Please re-read it. Hint: it has something to do with the consensus that can be obtained at alphaDictionary. You don't get to choose just one out of many listed definitions and claim it is "the" definition. You pick the one that is best for the context. The definition I use has equal currency with the one you chose. The metaphoric sense is quite appropriate when using the adjective "parasitic" as a modifier for a noun when a reference to the relationship of biologic dependence is intended. The relationship of the conceptus to the prospective mother is indeed parasitic, for the reasons I've enumerated. btw the first definition at Merriam-Webster is not metaphoric. It is the historic definition dating back to ancient Greece, where it originally referred to a class of priests officiating at certain religious feasts. The modern scientific meaning originated metaphorically and over time took on the more precise meaning found in science texts today. See also Websters 1828 or 1913, both of which are online. Ermadog (talk) 03:54, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
As for conception, that term has two related meanings: fertilization and implantation. There has been a shift over time from the former to the latter, for reasons both medical and political (and some of this is controversial). Medically, pregnancy is now defined from implantation, so the morning-after pill cannot technically be considered an abortifacient, although you're right that some people jump from "morally equivalent to abortion" directly to "identical to abortion", which is a simple factual error. Dylan Flaherty (talk) 02:39, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Extreme "pro-lifers" are trying to have the conceptus declared a full legal person from the moment of conception Concerns over ‘Personhood’ Physicians, families detail their worries of Amendment 62 These referenda have failed before, but they keep trying. I should note that children do not have full personhood at law until they reach the age when they can enter into legally binding contracts. I take it you are not one of those "pro-lifers". Ermadog (talk) 03:54, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
I think I'm just going to let what I wrote before stand. Dylan Flaherty (talk) 09:50, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Since the point I've made about the term "death" is acknowledged as valid in the archives, where the present formulation is acknowledged as being an unhappy compromise, I will continue to raise this point. I'd like an explanation of why editors think "loss of the fetus" is less neutral than "death of a fetus". I would also like an answer to the question I raised about why we are using a legal definition instead of a general definition. I would also like to know why we are using a definition that focuses on the fetus instead of on the woman in whose body the pregnancy is taking place. Ermadog (talk) 01:55, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
"Loss" is a dishonest euphemism. It's not like we misplaced the fetus; we know exactly where it went. Dylan Flaherty (talk) 02:03, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Then I guess Oxford, American Heritage, and MacMillan are all dishonest dictionaries. These guys all think "loss" means destruction, especially death of a loved one. And that's only the first three of the 31 entries returned with an alphaDictionary search. Ermadog (talk) 02:23, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
It's still a euphemism. I can lose a pen, but an organism actually dies. Pens don't die, except metaphorically. Dylan Flaherty (talk) 02:39, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Destruction, listed as a meaning of loss in many dictionaries, is not a euphemism. "Prolife" however, is a euphemism. "Life" is a general term. Therefore, "pro-life" is a general term. You likely don't defend the lives of the bacteria you slaughter with every breath (there are branches of buddhism that do revere all life forms and offer eternal prayers on their prayer wheels for all life); so, we know that you are really pro- human conceptus. So, don't talk to me about euphemisms when you use them yourself. Ermadog (talk) 03:54, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

At this point, I'm not convinced that the discussion is productive with regard to editing this article, so I'm going to remind us both that this is not a forum and let you have the last word with regard to the earlier discussion. Dylan Flaherty (talk) 04:01, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

I will be producing a Request for Edit, in accord with Wikipedia guidelines for consensus, as soon as I have finished digesting the contents of the archives, unless I can see that my concerns have been addressed there. Ermadog (talk) 04:24, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Most of the discussion concerning the first paragraph, and thus "death" issue can be found in the subpage and 5 archives, found here Talk:Abortion/First paragraph. Hope this helps your archive search. -Andrew c [talk] 04:37, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Andrew, if you've followed this discussion, you know that I am aware of where the archives are, and that I've raised some of the points in that discusssion, some of which you were involved in. You will also see that I have raised some specific questions with regard to that discussion. I would welcome any attempt on your part to direct my attention to specific sections where these questions are addressed in the archives. I am also fully aware that there is no common ground between those who want a total ban on abortion and those with any other position. Either the fetus is a human being, in which case killing it for any reason other than self defence (i.e. the pregnancy itself fatally threatens the mother's life), in which case all the usual sentences for homicide should apply, or it isn't. Where there is no common ground, there is no possibility for meaningfull discussion. All one can do is describe as fully as possible what the points of disagreement are. In civil society, the majority of the discussion takes place in the middle ground, where people don't want a total ban, but neither do they want complete decriminalization. Either the fetus is a part of the woman's body and thus no one's business but her own, or it is a proper object of discussion of civil society at large. There are few points of discussion possible between these latter two camps, either. It's a connundrum. Ermadog (talk) 06:42, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
I apologize, I wasn't sure if you had seen the subpage archives in addition to the regular archives. That said, I have not been following the discussion, sorry. It's a case of TL;DR. What you wrote regarding the debate in the public sector of America and finding "common ground" seems off topic and not relevant to this article. We should be guided by Wikipedia policies and guidelines, not by the greater moral/political debate in society. -Andrew c [talk] 14:20, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Pregnancy can be terminated in several ways. When it is terminated by a live birth, you don't have a successful abortion. When pregnancy terminates because a live fetus dies (naturally or because it is killed) and is then expelled from the uterus, that is an abortion. When the live fetus' is removed (spontaneously or through outside intervention) and dies in the process of removal, that is also an abortion. When one of two twin fetuses dies (naturally or because it is killed) and is expelled from the womb, that is an abortion, but the pregnancy continues. Many abortion definitions in medical dictionaries also do refer to the death of the embryo or fetus. The current line that mentions death is necessary to provide an objectively accurate definition. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.233.28.25 (talk) 19:57, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Andrew, can we archive this in the First paragraph archive? Would help keep track of timeline on the topic cropping up. - RoyBoy 23:58, 21 November 2010 (UTC)