Is A Miscarriage the Same as an Abortion?

Pregnancy loss is a difficult and traumatic experience.  There are physical, emotional, and mental side effects that a woman may face after losing her baby.  Recent statistics tell us that 10-20% of pregnancies may end with a miscarriage, which is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week.1 On the other hand, an abortion is a medical procedure that ends a pregnancy.2 They are NOT the same.  It’s important to know the truth, and the difference between these two medical terms.

A miscarriage is a diagnosis that starts with symptoms and ends with a treatment plan.  It is spontaneous, and in most cases, a woman has no control over the loss of her baby.  Some women may require a treatment plan that includes a surgical procedure known as a dilation and curettage (D&C).  This procedure is sometimes necessary for the woman’s health if their miscarriage involved heavy bleeding, or she is showing signs of infection.3 This procedure can be misinterpreted as an abortion, as it is the same procedure that a doctor will perform on a woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy.  The difference is that a D&C procedure for an abortion is an intentional choice for an assumed viable pregnancy (meaning that the pregnancy would move forward in a healthy manner assuming no unforeseen complications in the future), whereas a miscarriage is unintentional, and the pregnancy is no longer viable.

A woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy before the gestational age of 10 weeks may be offered the abortion pill, also known as a medical abortion.4 Some may have heard that taking the abortion pill is the same as having a miscarriage.  While the body may experience some of the same symptoms, a medical abortion is an unnatural ending of a pregnancy by choice.  If you are considering a medical abortion, please know that there are several serious risks involved. Visit our blog post, Facts and Myths About the Abortion Pill — Align Pregnancy Services for more information on a medical abortion.

The truth is, treating a miscarriage is not the same thing as an abortion. The intent of a doctor performing an abortion is to terminate a pregnancy, and that is not the intent of a doctor who may need to intervene to treat a woman who has already lost her baby, or even who may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.  In a normal pregnancy, a fertilized egg will attach itself to the lining of the uterus.  In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants and grows outside the main cavity of the uterus.  This most often occurs in the fallopian tube.  It’s important to know that this is not a viable pregnancy, and that the fertilized egg cannot survive and proceed to develop normally.5 While science and technology are constantly advancing- there have not been any treatments or procedures developed that will change the outcome of an ectopic pregnancy.  Some women may feel that terminating their ectopic pregnancy is the same as an abortion, but it is not, as this is not a viable pregnancy to begin with.

We recognize that 1 in 4 women have had an abortion, and many have experienced a miscarriage.  If you’ve lost your baby in either situation and are struggling from your experience, please know that you are not alone.  You are seen, loved, and deserve to receive healing from a past abortion decision or a previous miscarriage.  Contact us today to speak to our Post Abortion Services Director.


1 Miscarriage – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

2 Abortion | Medical Abortion | MedlinePlus

3 Dilation and curettage (D&C) – Mayo Clinic

4 Medical vs. Surgical Abortion | UCLA Health

5 Ectopic pregnancy – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic