Abortion is Good for America

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Abortion is Good for America

Abortion, termination of pregnancy before the fetus is capable of

independent life. When the expulsion from the womb occurs after the fetus

becomes viable (capable of independent life), usually at the end of six months

of pregnancy, it is technically a premature birth.

The practice of abortion was widespread in ancient times as a method of

birth control. Later it was restricted or forbidden by most world religions, but

it was not considered an offense in secular law until the 19th century. During

that century, first the English Parliament and then American state legislatures

prohibited induced abortion to protect women from surgical procedures that were

at the time unsafe, commonly stipulating a threat to the woman's life as the

sole ("therapeutic") exception to the prohibition. Occasionally the exception

was enlarged to include danger to the mother's health as well.

Legislative action in the 20th century has been aimed at permitting the

termination of unwanted pregnancies for medical, social, or private reasons.

Abortions at the woman's request were first allowed by the Soviet Union in 1920,

followed by Japan and several East European nations after World War II. In the

late 1960s liberalized abortion regulations became widespread. The impetus for

the change was threefold: (1) infanticide and the high maternal death rate

associated with illegal abortions, (2) a rapidly expanding world population, (3)

the growing feminist movement. By 1980, countries where abortions were permitted

only to save a woman's life contained about 20 percent of the world's population.

Countries with moderately restrictive laws-abortions permitted to protect a

woman's health, to end pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, to avoid

genetic or congenital defects, or in response to social problems such as

unmarried status or inadequate income-contained some 40 percent of the world's

population. Abortions at the woman's request, usually with limits based on

physical conditions such as duration of pregnancy, were allowed in countries

with nearly 40 percent of the world's population.1

Under the Criminal Code. R.S.C. !970, c.C-34, abortion constitutes a

criminal offense. Section 159(2)(c) makes it an offense to offer or have for

sale or disposal, to publish or advertise means, instructions or medicine

intended or represented to cause abortion or miscarriage.

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