Several British medical institutions have recently adopted the phrase ‘termination of pregnancy’ as a preferred descriptor of induced abortion. It is unclear how abortion care providers use the term, although the ongoing stigmatization of abortion may play a role.

The present study is a mixed-methods study of the views of abortion care providers in Scotland, UK. The researchers provided self-administered anonymous questionnaires to abortion care providers at a national conference. The primary outcomes measured were the proportion of respondents reporting that they found the terms ‘abortion’ and ‘termination of pregnancy’ to be distressing and their preferred terminology for women consultations. Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 19 providers from a single clinic in Scotland to contextualize the language’s use.

90/118 delegates completed the questionnaire. More respondents indicated they found the term ‘abortion’ distressing than those who saw ‘termination of pregnancy’ distressing. Interview participants reported that ‘termination of pregnancy’ was the default phrase used in consultations. Some respondents stated that they occasionally used ‘abortion’ in talks to emphasize the procedure’s seriousness.

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The study concluded that the ‘Termination of pregnancy’ is the most commonly used term to describe induced abortion.