The medical definition of a pregnancy loss depends upon the gestational age of the pregnancy at the time the loss occurred. A miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week pregnancy. “Among women who know they are pregnant, about 10% to 25% will have a miscarriage.”  A loss occurring after the 20th week of pregnancy is labeled a stillbirth. National Institutes of Health/U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Miscarriage.” MedlinePlus, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001488.htm. A stillbirth is also referred to as fetal death or intrauterine fetal demise.  A late stillbirth occurs after 28 weeks. Weigel, Gabriela et al. “Understanding Pregnancy Loss in the Context of Abortion Restrictions and Fetal Harm Laws.” KFF, Women’s Health Policy, 4 December 2019, https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/issue-brief/understanding-pregnancy-loss-in-the-context-of-abortion-restrictions-and-fetal-harm-laws/.

Additional Information

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Early Pregnancy Loss, FAQs, February 2015, https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/early-pregnancy-loss.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Opposition to Criminalization of Individuals During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period, Statement of Policy, December 2020, https://www.acog.org/clinical-information/policy-and-position-statements/statements-of-policy/2020/opposition-criminalization-of-individuals-pregnancy-and-postpartum-period.


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