• Kurt Benirschke
  • Shirley G. Driscoll


Estimates of the frequency of abortion of human pregnancies vary from 10 to 35% of all conceptions (Hertig, Tietze, Yalaoras, Stevenson). Doubtless much of the wide variation in reported rates of abortion reflects the different methods of ascertainment, not true differences among populations. Recognizing the many sources of inaccuracy in compilation of such statistics, Nesbitt suggests that previable wastage of human lives occurs at an annual rate of 400,000 in the United States alone. It is also probable that a significant number of early spontaneous abortions are not recognized by the patient herself or her physician. The legal interruption of pregnancy by surgical means or intrauterine injections contributes to the early pregnancy losses. Of course, local variation in custom and law influence the latter groups. (See Williams for thoughtful discussion.) Except in countries where social indications permit the legal performance of abortions, “therapeutic abortions” constitute but a small minority of the deliberate or intentional, artificial terminations of gestation. Illegal induced abortions account for an unknown portion of the total “fetal wastage”.


Spontaneous Abortion Therapeutic Abortion Threatened Abortion Repeated Abortion Pathologic Ovum 
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Selected bibliography — Ectopie pregnancy: General

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Intramural, interstitial pregnancy

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Ovarian pregnancy

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Abdominal pregnancy

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Combined intra- and extra-uterine pregnancy

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt Benirschke
    • 1
  • Shirley G. Driscoll
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaUSA
  2. 2.Boston Lying - In HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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