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Abortion Facts Essay, Research Paper

Abortion, the ending of pregnancy, has been a very controversial topic for

decades. Is abortion moral or immoral? People all over the world have different

opinions. There are different ways that abortion can be performed: surgically or

medicinally. The 1973 Supreme Court decision known as Roe vs. Wade marked an

important turning point in abortion. This decision made it legal to have

abortions. Different states have various laws on abortion. Abortion continues to

be debated worldwide. Abortion Controversy Abortion is the ending of a

pregnancy. It is the removal of a fetus from the uterus before the fetus is

mature enough to live on its own. Abortion has been around for decades. Each

year, more than 50% of all pregnancies among young woman are unintended. Half of

the unintended pregnancies will end in abortion, which is 1.5 million each year.

There are no specifications on who will have an abortion. Women who have

abortions come from all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious

backgrounds. Calculating abortion rates, older teenagers and young adults have

the highest abortion rates. Young women between the ages of 11 and 19 account

for about 21% of all abortions; women 20 to 24 account for another 34 %; and

about 22% of abortions are brought about by women who are 30 or older. Over half

of all abortions are obtained within the first eight weeks (Women who?, 1995).

Is abortion moral or immoral? People who favor abortion most invoke the ?right

to choose? of woman who conceived the child. The people who oppose abortion

focus on the ?right to life? of the fetus. John Paul II, the pope of the

Roman Catholic Church, contends that abortion is a particularly heinous crime

because it kills an innocent human being who has yet to be born. He feels that

every human being has a sacred and inviolable right to life. New York Archbishop

John J. O?Connor linked abortion with the Nazi Holocaust. He stated ?Now

Hitler tried to solve a problem, the Jewish question. So kill them, shove them

in the ovens, burn them. Well, we claim that unborn babies are a problem, so

kill them. To me it really precisely the same? (Roleff, 1997, p.. 33). There

are two ways to obtain an abortion: surgically and medicinally. A medical

abortion is brought about by taking medications that will end pregnancy; it?s

done without entering the uterus. There are two well known medications that will

end pregnancy: Methotrexate and Mifepristone also known as the RU 486 Pill. An

alternative to this method is surgical abortion. This ends the pregnancy by

emptying the uterus (or womb) with special instruments (What is medical

abortion, 1995). Methotrexate has been used in the United States since 1953,

which is when it was approved by the FDA to treat certain kinds of cancer. The

FDA did not intend for this drug to be used to end pregnancies. There are some

clinicians prescribing Methotrexate for early abortion. This drug is given to

pregnant women in the form of an injection, or shot. Methotrexate stops

embryonic or fetal cells from dividing. The pregnancy stops once these cells can

no longer divide (What is medical abortion, 1995). This procedure involves three

visits to the doctor for complete process and the woman will abort the baby at

home ( How abortions?, 1998). Another medication that might be used is

Mifepristone, also known as RU 486. It is a newer medication that was developed

and tested specifically as an abortion-inducing agent. RU 486 was invented in

1980 by Dr. Etienne-Emile Baulieu. It is the first of a new generation of birth

control drugs called ?antiprogestins,? which is considered to be a

breakthrough in birth control technology. RU 486 works by binding to the

progesterone receptors in a women?s uterus and blocking the progesterone. The

lining of the woman?s body breaks down and sheds (like normal period) without

progesterone. RU 486 also opens up the cervix and leads to contractions that

help dislodge and expel the embryo. This procedure will only work during the

first 9 weeks of pregnancy, or up to 63 days of last menstrual cycle.

Apparently, the women?s own progesterone level is too high to be affected by

the drug if it?s done later. It is administered through several clinic visits;

it is not a do-it-yourself pill (RU 486, 1996). This method takes place over a

span of several days. There are two methods that can be used to induce surgical

abortion. The most common method is to open the cervix slightly (entrance to

uterus) and remove the contents of the uterus (this includes the placenta and

fetus). They may use a small suction machine to empty contents of uterus or

dilation. . A woman is considered to be in her first trimester if less than 13

to 15 weeks have passed since her last menstrual period, this is when this

method takes place. The second method is used less frequently, mainly when

pregnancies are over 22 weeks. This method involves inducing labor so that the

fetus and placenta are expelled as in childbirth. The entire surgical procedure

of emptying uterus takes 5 to 10 minutes. There are some women that experience

pain, sort of like the menstrual-type cramping, but nothing that is that painful

(What is surgical abortion, 1995). The Roe vs. Wade court case arose out of a

Texas law that prohibited legal abortion except to save a woman?s life. Jane

Roe, a 21-year-old pregnant woman, represented all women who wanted abortions

but couldn?t obtain them legally and safely. The Texas Attorney General, Henry

Wade, defended the law that made abortions illegal. The Supreme Court made their

decision to make abortion legal. This ruling on January 22, 1973 opened the way

to more than thirty-one million legal abortions. The Supreme Court ruled that

American?s right to privacy included the right of a woman and her doctor to

make that decision without state interference, at least in the first trimester

of pregnancy. They wanted to balance a woman?s rights and the states?

interest to protect the woman and the life of the fetus. They did this in the

following way: (a) For about the first 13 weeks, state laws and regulations may

not interfere with woman?s right to end pregnancy through abortion. (b) For 14

to 24 weeks, state laws may regulate abortion procedures in order to protect

woman?s health. (c) After 24 weeks, when fetus is viable, state laws may

prohibit abortion except when it is necessary to preserve the health or life of

a woman (Celebrating 25 years, 1995). The Roe vs. Wade had a deep impact on the

daily lives of women. Without legal abortion, all women?s health was

threatened. Thousands of women died in back alleys from illegal abortion, and

thousands more suffered serious medical complications. After Roe, access to

legal abortion turned a dangerous experience into a safe and legitimate health

care option (Cozic & Petrikin, 1995). American Civil Liberties Union stated

that ?The movement to newly restrict reproductive choice is?.a grave threat

to all Americans? cherished right to privacy, bodily integrity and religious

liberty? (Roleff, 1997, p. 66) In the early 1970?s many women had to travel

outside their states of residence to obtain abortion. Traveling outside the

state hurt the women who were poor. Before Roe vs. Wade there were 3 states that

prohibited all abortions, and there were 4 states that permitted abortion for

any reason (Craig & O?Briem, 1993). Today, abortion is legal but the

states have put restrictions on abortions such as: mandatory waiting periods,

?informed consent? requirements, parental consent regulations, and weakening

the standard which further constraints will be judged. These restrictions hit

the low-income women hardest, along with any women who depend on the state for

their health care (Cozic & Petrikin, 1995). In. conclusion, the decision

made in the case Roe vs. Wade launched the debate that modern society still

deals with everyday. The House, Senate, and even the President are face with

bills and laws pertaining to abortion almost everyday. These people have helped

set standards in this issue such as parental notification, parental consent, and

they have made late-term abortions illegal unless the mother?s physical or

emotional health are at risk. They have also approved some standards in some

states such as a mandatory waiting period and two visitations to the clinic

before having the abortion. There are many different types of abortion ranging

from a simple pill to sucking out the contents of the uterus. In my own personal

opinion, I think abortion is murder. Whether the fetus can live outside of its

mother or not, it is still a human being; taking its life is no different than

taking an adults life. I do agree, however, that there are extenuating

circumstances such as the risk of the mothers health or high risk of birth

defects in which abortion is one of the options. I do not honestly think the

debate of abortion will ever die down because if they make it illegal, they

punish some that haven?t done anything wrong. On the other hand, if they keep

it legal they stir up a lot of anger in people who think it is murder.

Celebrating 25 years of reproductive choice. (1995). National Abortion

Federation [online] available: Http://www.prochoice.org/facts/historyfs.htm

(11/2/99). Craig, B., & O?Brien, D. (1993). Abortion and american

politics. New Jersey: Chatham House Publishers, Inc. Cozic, C., & Petrikin,

J. (Eds.). (1995). The abortion controversy. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc.

How abortions are done. (1998). [online] available: Http://w-cpc.org/abortion/methods.html

(11/11/99). Roleff, T. (Ed.). (1997). Abortion: opposing viewpoints. San Diego:

Greenhaven Press, Inc. RU-486 the abortion pill. (1996). Childbirth by Choice

Trust [online] available: Http://www.cbctrust.com/ru486.html (11/2/99). What is

medical abortion. (1995). National Abortion Federation [online] available:

Http://www.prochoice.org/facts/medab.htm (11/2/99). What is surgical abortion.

(1995). National Abortion Federation [online] available: Http://procoice.org/facts/whatis.htm

(11/2/99). Women who have abortions. (1995). National Abortion Federation

[online] available: Http://www/prochoice.org/facts/womenwho.htm (11/2/99).

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