Why we should stop using the term “elective abortion”

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In abortion care, the term “elective” is often used as a moral judgment that determines which patients are entitled to care. Secular health care organizations that attempt to avoid controversy by allowing “therapeutic” but not “elective” abortions are using medical terminology to reinforce regressive social norms concerning motherhood and women’s sexuality because what distinguishes pregnant women with medical indications for abortion is that they originally wanted to become mothers or, in cases of rape, that they did not consent to sex. Secular health care organizations should stop denying the moral agency of patients and physicians who conclude abortion is morally acceptable and should only use the word elective when billing codes require it. Regardless of reason, the proper label for all abortion is health care.




Watson, K. (2018, December 1). Why we should stop using the term “elective abortion.” AMA Journal of Ethics. American Medical Association. https://doi.org/10.1001/amajethics.2018.1175

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