Induced Abortions

Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy before birth, resulting in the death of the fetus. Some abortions occur naturally because a fetus does not develop normally or because the mother has an injury or disorder that prevents her from carrying the pregnancy to term. This type of spontaneous abortion is commonly known as a miscarriage. Other abortions are induced or intentionally brought on because a pregnancy is unwanted or presents a risk to a woman”s health. Induced abortion has become one of the most intense and diverse ethical and philosophical issues of the late 20th century. Modern medical techniques have made induced abortions simpler and less dangerous. But in the United States, the debate over abortion has led to legal battles in the courts, in the United States Congress, and state legislatures. It has spilled over into confrontations, which are sometimes violent, at clinics where abortions are performed. This paper discusses the most common methods !.

used to induce abortions, the social and ethical issues surrounding abortion, and the history of the regulation of abortion in the United States.

Induced abortions are performed using one of several methods. The age of the fetus, or the length of pregnancy, determine the safest and most appropriate method. Abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy are easier and safer to perform, while the women are at greater risk of death in the second or third. In the United States, a pregnant woman”s risk of death from a first-term abortion is less than 1 in 100,000. The risk increases by about 30 percent with each week of pregnancy after 12 weeks.

Abortion has been practiced around the world since ancient times as a crude method of birth control. Although many religions forbade or restricted the practice, abortion was not considered illegal in most countries until the 19th century. There were laws during this time, however, that banned abortion after quickening-that is, the time that fetal movement can first be felt. In 1803 England banned all abortions, and this policy soon spread to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Throughout the middle and late 1800s, many states in the United States enacted similar laws banning abortion. In the 20th century, however, many nations began to relax their laws against abortion.

An estimated 50 million abortions are performed worldwide each year. Of this number, a large percentage are performed illegally with disastrous consequences, because illegal abortion accounts for an estimated 60,000 to 120,000 deaths worldwide each year, or about one in five pregnancy-related deaths. Illegal abortions are more likely to be performed by untrained people, in unsanitary conditions, or with unsafe surgical procedures or drugs. In countries where abortion is legal, less than 1 percent of pregnancy-related deaths are caused by abortion.

In the United States, the legalization of abortion began in 1966 when Mississippi passed a law permitting abortion in cases of rape. In the following four years, other states expanded the use of abortion to include cases in which a pregnancy threatens a woman”s health, the fetus has serious abnormalities, or the pregnancy is the result of incest. In early 1973 the Supreme Court of the United States decided two cases, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, that effectively legalized abortion for any reason before the 24th week of pregnancy, the point when the fetus becomes viable. The law allowed individual states to enact laws restricting abortion after viability, except in cases when abortion is necessary to preserve the life or health of the woman. In 1976 the Supreme Court recognized the right of pregnant girls under the age of 18, known as mature minors, to have abortions. Three years later the court ruled that states may require the consent of one parent of a minor request!.

ting an abortion. Consent is not necessary if a confidential alternative form of review, such as a judicial hearing, is made available for young women who choose not to involve their parents.

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