Letter to the editor: What is abortion?

 By KAY ZIEGAHN | Richland Center

Ever since the SCOTUS decision to end Roe, discussions of how this affects everyone have been rampant. I began to wonder why these discussions of “abortion” also include necessary emergency treatments after unexpected (and unwelcome) miscarriages. After all, the general public has always used the word “abortion” exclusively to refer to the once-illegal process of ending unwanted pregnancies. 

Curious about this confusion, I realized it all centered around the word itself: abortion. Aware that many medical terms are based on Latin origins, I consulted my old school Latin dictionary and found “aborto” translated as “miscarriage.” So that answered my question about the broader Latin sense usage of “abortion” by medical personnel. Unfortunately, the general public tends to understand “abortion” only with its accepted narrower sense only of ending unplanned pregnancies.

Since other terms such as D & C (dilatation and curettage) exist for the emergency procedure needed after unwanted natural miscarriages, I can’t figure out why people equate this with deliberate abortions. Delaying this emergency procedure after a natural miscarriage risks the life of the woman, and treatment in these cases should be clearly spelled out in the law, without confusion due to terminology. 

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