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Maternal death is a death of women while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of the pregnancy. The methods for induced abortion vary depending on the gestational age. Early medical methods for abortion comprised various compounds such as hypertonic saline, urea and naturally occurring prostaglandins. The risks of death from illegal abortion vary according to the skill, experience and facilities of the abortionist.
Syringe aspiration is safe as long as aseptic methods are used. If evacuation is incomplete, products of conception may be left behind. When a criminal abortion is suspected, a careful external examination must be carried out, noting especially abnormal colouration of the skin, signs of injury. Some deaths associated with childbirth or pregnancy are caused by the entry of amniotic fluid into the maternal circulation.