While dialoguing with a friend on the topic of abortion, I was asked how I define abortion.  After communicating my own definition of abortion, I thought it would be interesting to see how various dictionaries define it.  Needless to say, I was amazed at how inaccurate and politically correct the definitions were.  Here are a few: 


  1. The removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.
  2. Any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months.

Interestingly, there is no mention of the fate of the unborn baby.  Instead, the focus is on the “pregnancy” and terminating that pregnancy.  

The first six months?  How is that relevant to the definition?  If a child is killed in utero at seven months, that is also called an abortion.  

Merriam Webster

  1. The termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus

Notice that while they do speak of the death of the unborn baby, the focus here is on the ending of the pregnancy.  Abortion is defined as “the termination of a pregnancy.”  According to this definition, the death of the unborn baby is the result of the abortion, not the subject or object of the abortion.

Collins English Dictionary

  1. An operation or other procedure to terminate pregnancy before the fetus is viable
  2. The premature termination of pregnancy by spontaneous or induced expulsion of a nonviable fetus from the uterus

Again, no mention of the fate of the unborn baby and the focus is on the fate of the “pregnancy.”

What does the viability of the fetus have to do with anything?  There are late-term abortions in which the fetus is fully viable.  What makes something an abortion is that the killing takes place in utero.

“Spontaneous” expulsion?  We call that a miscarriage, not an abortion (yes, I am aware that hundreds of years ago the Latin word abortionem referred to both spontaneous and induced death of an unborn child, and that some still call a miscarriage a “spontaneous abortion,” but I think this is misleading in our day and age).

Stedman’s Medical Dictionary

  1. The expulsion of an embryo or fetus before it is viable.

Once again, the irrelevant criterion of viability is mentioned.

American Heritage Science Dictionary

  1. Induced termination of pregnancy, involving destruction of the embryo or fetus.

Finally, someone has the guts to include the purpose and result of abortion in their definition.  Abortion always ends with a dead baby.  This is probably the best dictionary definition I have seen thus far, but I do not think it is the best definition.  

Here is the definition I propose for abortion: Any purposeful act by a human agent that prematurely and artificially takes the life of a human being in utero

What do you think of this definition?  How would you change or improve it?