This glossary should be considered a helpful resource of some of the most common terms associated with abortion and pro-life causes. 

ABORTIFACIENT: A drug or device that can be used to kill a preborn child (e.g.,methotrexate).

take_my_hand.jpgABORTION:   An intentional interruption of the developmental process, at anytime from conception to birth; ending the life of a preborn child.

ABORTION MILL  (also abortion facility, abortuary): A place where the act of abortion occurs.

ADOPTION: A loving and unselfish choice of biological parent(s) who are unable to support or nurture their child’s health and well being.

ADULT STEM CELL RESEARCH: The use of umbilical cord blood or of tissue from born human beings to develop cures for disease and ailments. The removal of this tissue does not result in the death of the donor, as occurs when stem cells are removed from embryonic human beings.

AVANCED DIRECTIVE:  A legal document that enables a patient to instruct others about future medical care wishes in the event that the patient is not able to speak for himself. Living wills and health care power of attorney documents are two common types of advance directives

APOLOGETICS:  The discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of information. Early Christians who defended their faith against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called apologists.

ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY: Facility that is used by people who are unable to live on their own, but do not need the level of care that a nursing home offers.

ASSISTED SUICIDE: Providing the means (drugs or other agents) by which a person can take his or her own life.

BIOETHICS: A sub-field of ethics, bioethics stands alongside many other theories of ethics, e.g., egoism, situation ethics and relativism. Bioethics is defined as a normative ethical theory; i.e., it takes a stand of what is right or wrong.

BIRTH CONTROL: A term commonly used to mean contraception, that is, the prevention of conception, although some methods act by producing early term abortions of the lives of prenatal children. Prenatal child-killing is actually the only form of birth control other than Caesarean delivery because that's what it controls, not conception.

BLOB:   A term popular among pro-abortionists to describe prenatal children and thereby dehumanize them in the minds of potential abortion clients to facilitate their destruction.

BORN ALIVE INFANTS PROTECTION ACT: A law to protect infants who are born alive. The law [Public Law107-207] established that in all federal laws and regulations, the words "person," "human being," "child," and "individual" include "every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development." The law also defines "born alive" as meaning "the complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion."

CHEMICAL ABORTION: An act of abortion that involves the use of certain drugs to end the life of a preborn child.

CONCEPTION: The creation of a new human life through the union of egg and sperm; sometimes referred to as fertilization.

CONTRACEPTION: A drug or device designed to be used before, during or after sexual relations to deliberately prevent pregnancy.  True contraception prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation, or making it more difficult for sperm to reach the egg.  However, some more popular “contraceptives” are actually sometimes abortifacient in their action.  That is, they prevent the developing human from implanting by thinning out the womb’s lining (true of the pill, IUD, Norplant, Depo-Provera, the morning-after pill, Plan B), or even attacking an implanted embryo (ella). 

CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTER, Pregnancy Center, Pregnancy Resource Center, CPC:  A prolife service organization designed to help women with untimely pregnancies to choose life for their unborn child and avoid the spiritual, psychological, and physical risks of abortion for themselves.

DILATION: Sometimes called 'dilatation,' this is the process of opening the cervix by use of laminaria or cannula of progressively larger diameter in order to facilitate abortion.

DILATION AND CURETTAGE (D&C): Most common abortion procedure. Also used for completing or checking miscarriage, it consists of scraping the walls of the uterus with a knife-edged, spoon-shaped instrument.

DILATION AND EVACUATION (D&E): Abortion procedure by which the preborn baby is cut or torn apart by a sharp instrument and withdrawn from the uterus.

DILATION AND EXTRACTION (D&X): A relatively new method of abortion that is becoming more popular. Used from 24 to 36 weeks, it involves delivering all of the preborn baby except for the head, then punching a hole in the back of the baby's head and sucking out his brains. The purpose of this procedure is not to ease delivery but to guarantee the baby's death and avoid legal complications.

ECTOPIC PREGNANCY: Usually taken to mean the class of pregnancies that occur outside the uterus. Although ectopic pregnancies generally occur inside the Fallopian tube and are life-endangering to the mother, cases have occurred where women have carried healthy babies to term after they have implanted in various locations within her abdomen.

ELECTIVE ABORTION: Generally defined as any abortion done for any reason other than to save the mother's life.

EMBRYO: The developing human organism from the time of implantation in the uterus until the end of the eighth week after conception.

EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH: These stem cells are obtained by taking a 5-day-old living human embryo, cutting him or her open, and extracting embryonic stem cells from the inside, thus killing a living human embryo.

sanger-negro-population.jpgEUGENICS: The science of refining the characteristics of the human race by manipulating individuals through enforced abortion, sterilization, infanticide or genocide (negative eugenics) or through a purposeful program of breeding (positive eugenics). Abortion for fetal anomalies would therefore be called eugenic abortion.  

EUTHANASIA: The act of imposing death on another; also known as assisted suicide, mercy killing; includes the withholding of nutrition and/or hydration from those deemed unfit to continue living.

FERTILIZATION: The process that starts when a sperm contacts an ovum. It ends with the intermingling of chromosomes from both the sperm and ovum to produce a full set of chromosomes (46 in most humans). The result is a zygote, often popularly referred to as a “fertilized ovum”.  If it has two X-chromosomes, then the zygote is a female; if it has a Y & X, it is a male; sometimes referred to as conception.

FETUS: A developing human from the eighth week of gestation to birth.

GENETICS: The science of examining the basis of heredity.

GENOCIDE: Webster's New World Encyclopedia, Prentice Hall General Reference, 1992:
"The deliberate and systematic destruction of a national, racial, religious, political, cultural, ethnic, or other group defined by the exterminators as undesirable." That definition readily applies to abortion.

GESTATION: The time period between conception and birth.

HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY:  A document that lets a patient appoint someone to make medical decisions should the patient become unable to do so.

HEROIC MEASURES: Those relatively serious, unusual, not readily available and/or expensive medical interventions (e.g. brain surgery, etc.) which will not significantly benefit a patient who is likely to die shortly.

HOSPICE: program of humane and supportive care for the terminally ill and their families; the term also applies to a professional facility that provides care to dying patients who can no longer be cared for at home. Hospice is an alternative to hospitalization that emphasizes home care for as long as possible; relief from pain; an attractive, non-institutional environment if the patient can no longer be cared for at home; and personal and family counseling.

HUMAN CLONING:  Human cloning is accomplished by introducing the nucleus from a human somatic (body) cell into an egg cell whose nucleus has been removed, hence the term somatic cell nuclear transfer. This process produces a human embryo who is, genetically, virtually identical to an existing or previously existing human being. Human cloning is immoral and unethical.

HUMAN LIFE AMENDMENT: An amendment to the Constitution of the United States that would require that individuals and society provide protection for the right to life of each human being in existence at fertilization. It would require that State laws conform to the Constitution and provide the same protection.

IMPLANTATION: The exact point in time when the developing blastocyst anchors itself in the uterine wall or, in the case of ectopic pregnancies, in the Fallopian tube or somewhere else in the woman's abdomen.

INFANTICIDE: deliberately causing the death of an infant, a newborn with a handicap, either directly or indirectly by refusing to give the baby food, water, and necessary medical care.

INCOMPLETE ABORTION: An abortion in which portions of the unborn child or the placenta, remain in the uterus for an appreciable period of time after miscarriage or abortion.

INDUCED ABORTION:   An intentional abortion caused by drugs, surgery, or other mechanical means.

INTRA-UTERINE DEVICE (IUD): Device inserted into the uterus for the purpose of preventing pregnancy. Although their exact mode of action is not known, it is believed that they prevent pregnancy by irritating the uterine wall and preventing implantation. Therefore, IUDs are abortifacient.

IN-VITRO FERTILIZATION (IVF): Literally, "in glass" fertilization, this procedure mixes sperm and eggs from a donor and, when fertilization has occurred, the resulting blastocyst(s) are implanted into the women.

LIVING WILL: A written expression of how a patient wants to be treated in various medical situations should he not be able to speak for himself.

MERCY KILLING:  Term loosely used to describe all acts of euthanasia. Best defined as ending another person's life without explicit request in the belief that it is the only compassionate thing to do.

MINIPILL: A low-dosage oral 'contraceptive' that functions more as an abortifacient than as a contraceptive.

MISCARRIAGE: The natural and unintentional loss of a preborn child. Miscarriage is also referred to as "natural" or "spontaneous" abortion. If repeated three or more times within an interval of five years, usually referred to as "habitual" abortion.

MORNING-AFTER PILL: Pill specifically designed to cause early abortion by preventing implantation or nidation.

NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING (NFP): The avoidance of artificial contraceptive means by using the female body's natural fertility signs to avoid or achieve pregnancy.

NEONATE: A newborn baby or a baby less than about a month old.

PALLIATIVE CARE:  Measures which do not attempt to treat the illness but to relieve the pain and other discomfort accompanying it.

PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION: This procedure is used from the fifth month of pregnancy on; it involves pulling a living baby feet-first out of the womb, except for the head, puncturing the skull and suctioning out the brain. The skull is then collapsed and the delivery of a dead baby is completed.

PERSISTANT VEGETATIVE STATE:  A vegetative state is a condition of complete unawareness of the self and the environment, where patients show no evidence of sustained, purposeful, or voluntary behavioral responses to visual, auditory, or tactile stimuli, and where there is no evidence of language comprehension or expression. A persistent vegetative state is defined as a vegetative state present one month after acute traumatic or non-traumatic brain injury or lasting for at least one month in patients with degenerative disorders or abnormal development.

orwell.jpgPOPULATION CONTROL: :  The idea and programs flowing from it that national and world population needs to be controlled to prevent the overuse of natural resources.  Current population control programs place heavy emphasis on contraception and abortion to decrease population, but little emphasis on resource development (e.g. food production) to accommodate current and future populations.

POST-ABORTION SYNDROME: Emotional, relational, spiritual and sometimes physical problems. These symptoms parallel those of grief and mourning, yet many women and men may not see the connection with the termination of a pregnancy. (See

PRE-EMBRYOS: Eggs that are fertilized and develop to approximately 2-3 days old in a laboratory (in vitro fertilization) and are ready for implantation for the purposes of human reproduction or removal of stem cells for the purposes of research.

PREGNANCY REDUCTION:  An abortion performed to reduce a multiple pregnancy to only one or two preborn babies.  Also referred to as "selective abortion."

PREMATURITY: Usually refers to the birth of an infant between the limit of viability and nine months.

PRENATAL: The period before birth.

PRO-CHOICE: A deceptive term that disguises a preference for destroying preborn babies by acts of abortion.

PR0-LIFE: A respect for all innocent human beings from conception to natural death, without compromise, exception or apology.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: A category of purported health care, some aspects of which are intended to render men and women sterile and/or preborn children dead.

RESPITE CARE: Refers to short term, temporary care provided to people with disabilities in order that their families can take a break from the daily routine of caregiving. Respite services may sometimes involve overnight care for an extended period of time.

RU-486: (also mifeprex, mifepristone): A chemical regimen that kills human babies in the womb through the ninth week of life; it also is often dangerous to the mother as well.

SALINE ABORTION: This procedure involves either withdrawing a portion of amniotic fluid from the uterine cavity by a needle inserted through the abdominal wall and replacing this fluid with a concentrated salt solution. (known as saline abortion) or injecting prostaglandin--a substance with hormone-like activity- into the uterine cavity through a needle inserted through the abdominal wall . The saline solution process induces labor, which results in the expulsion of the usually dead fetus approximately 24-48 hours later.

SALT POISONING:   Abortion performed by the injection of a salt solution into the amniotic sac. The preborn baby breathes and drinks this solution, and dies within one to two hours from seizures, hemorrhage, and suffocation. The baby is then usually born dead in 24 to 48 hours.

magaret-sanger-eugenics-hitler-planned-parenthood-abortions-negro-project.jpgSELECTIVE ABORTION: Choosing to abort a baby for reasons such as: 1) unborn child has a birth defect or impairment; 2) sex of baby is not preferred by individual; 3) multi-baby pregnancy, such as with pregnancies resulting from use of fertility drugs.  This type of selective abortion is referred to as selective reduction.

SEXUALLY-TRANSMITTED DISEASE (STD): Any one of a cluster of diseases transmitted through various types of intimate sexual contact.

SIDEWALK COUNSELING:  Dialogue, conversation and interaction with a pregnant woman outside of an abortion facility to persuade her to change her heart and mind and save her baby’s LIFE.

SLIPPERY SLOPE:  An argument that an initial action taken will lead to an undesirable event occurring later. In the context of the euthanasia debate, the argument that legalizing voluntary euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide will lead to abuses such as involuntary euthanasia, or killing the person without their knowledge or consent.

SPONTANEOUS ABORTION: A natural abortion, or miscarriage.

STEM CELL: A type of cell found in all human beings (including the umbilical cord of newborn infants). They can reproduce themselves over a long period of time without changing and they have the capability to produce other types of specialized cells, such as brain, muscle and lung cells.

STERILIZATION: A surgical or chemically-induced procedure that permanently or temporarily ends fertility in the male or female.

THERAPEUTIC ABORTION: An abortion done to enhance the woman’s health, as broadly defined (e.g. physical, emotional, social health).  In practice, pro-choice persons tend to see any abortion as “therapeutic.” An abortion done to save the mother’s life would also be considered therapeutic.

VACUUM ASPIRATION:  The induction of abortion using a powerful suction machine to remove the developing preborn baby, the amniotic sac, and the placenta from the uterus.

VIABILITY: The ability for the developing fetus to live on its own if it were delivered by cesarean section or by normal delivery, and given expert medical care. This typically occurs sometime after the 21st week of gestation or the 19th week following fertilization. By about the 23rd week gestational age or the 21st week following fertilization, on the order of 60% of fetuses can survive outside the womb. Abortions are allowed by various state and provincial medical associations only prior to viability. Terminations of pregnancies at or after viability are not usually performed, except for overwhelming medical reasons (threat to the woman's life, a dead fetus, or the need to terminate the pregnancy to avoid a very serious disability to the mother). The US Supreme Court defined viability (Roe v. Wade, 1973) as "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid."  The word “viable” simply means the ability to sustain life.  The unborn human is perfectly able to sustain life as long as it remains where God/Mother Nature intended it to be – in the mother’s womb until birth.  It is only when it is forcibly removed from the womb prematurely that it becomes non-viable.

ZYGOTE: The fertilized ovum, or individual, created by the fusion of the father's sperm cell and the mother's egg cell. This is the earliest stage of human individual development. The zygote is also defined as the diploid cell resulting from the fusion of a sperm cell and an ovum.


Information source:  Knights of Columbus, Religious, Pastors Pro-Life Resource Center, EWTN, Stem Cell Resources.

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