Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary


The termination of a pregnancy by the removal, by surgical or other means, of an embryo or fetus from a woman's uterus. Until 1973 abortion was considered a crime unless performed by physicians to protect the life of the mother. The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Roe v. Wade (1973) that a woman had the right to choose abortion to end a pregnancy through the first trimester. In the latter stages of pregnancy, danger to the life of the mother could still justify a legal abortion.