Abortion - termination of pregnancy before birth, resulting in the death of the fetus.
Abortion is one of the most controversial issues of today’s society. Many women feel it is their right to choose, but some feel the exact opposite. Some believe that if a woman has been raped, a victim of incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger, abortion
should be used.
Abortion can be performed for many reasons. The main reason if the woman’s health is at risk. However, some people abuse this right and use it has a form of birth control.
There are a variety of drug-based abortion methods, all of which need to be monitored by a physician. In a method commonly referred to as the “morning-after pill
”, a woman is given large doses of estrogen within 72 hrs of unprotected sexual intercourse and again 12 hrs later. Depending on where a woman is in her menstrual cycle, the estrogen will either inhibit or delay ovulation or it my altar the uterine lining. This will prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. However, several side effects may include, nausea, headache, dizziness, or fluid retention.
There are more dangerous forms of abortion. In one procedure, a drug called Misoprostol is used with an anti-cancer drug called Methotrexate, to induce abortion. First, a physician injects a pregnant woman with methotrexate. About a week later the woman takes misoprostol to induce uterine contractions and expel the fetus. Both of these drugs combined effectively end pregnancy in 95% of women who take them, but the side effects can be deadly.
One of the most controversial types of abortions is the one known as a partial birth abortion
. This procedure has come under fire in many states. This method is usually preformed during the third trimester and requires major surgery. It consists of partially removing the fetus from the uterus through the vaginal canal, feet first, and using suction to remove the brain and spinal fluid from the skull. The skull is then collapsed to allow complete removal of the fetus. Many people feel that this method is barbaric and doctors should not be allowed to perform is type of abortion.
Abortion has been practiced around the world as a cruel and unusual method of birth control. Although many religions forbade the practice, abortion was not considered illegal in most countries until the 19th century. In 1803 England banned all types and forms of abortion. This policy soon spread to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Throughout the middle and late 1800’s many states in the U.S. kept similar laws banning abortions. However in the 20th century many countries began to relax and started observing their abortion laws.
In 1920, the former USSR legalized abortion followed by Japan in 1948, and the several Eastern European countries in the 1950’s. By the 1970’s much of Europe, Asia and the U.S. had all legalized abortion.
Perhaps the most talked about abortion case was the one known as the Roe vs. Wade case. Most of these 19th century statutes were still in effect in 1970, when Norma McCorvey, a pregnant woman from Dallas, Texas, first challenged the constitutionality of a Texas abortion law. Using the alias “Jane Roe,” McCorvey sued Dallas County district attorney Henry Wade to be allowed to have an abortion. The Texas law banned abortions in that state, except when the pregnancy threatened the life of the pregnant woman. Roe’s pregnancy did not threaten her life, but as a poor, single woman she did not want to bear a child she could not afford to raise. In addition, she did not have the money to travel to a state where abortions were legal. Roe and her attorneys asked the federal district court to declare that the Texas abortion statute violated her rights under the Constitution of the United States. They also asked the court to forbid the district attorney from prosecuting anyone else under the Texas abortion law in the future. To the surprise of many legal analysts, a three-judge panel in Texas ruled in favor of Roe, mostly on the grounds that the law violated her constitutional rights to privacy. The court ruled that the 9th Amendment and the 14th Amendment of the Constitution guaranteed privacy rights that were broad enough to protect a woman’s choice to have an abortion. However, because the district court refused to forbid future prosecutions for abortion, Roe and her attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Wade also appealed the decision.
It is estimated that there are at least 50 million abortions performed worldwide every year. However, this issue is so controversial, that there is not much Congress can do. There are so many pro-choice supporters and that number is growing everyday. Many people hope that broadening the dialogue to include wider spectrum of perspectives will improve the chances of an end to the controversy.