Essay, Research Paper: Abortion Facts


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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.

BibliographyCelebrating 25 years of reproductive choice. (1995). National Abortion
Federation [online] available: Http://
(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://
(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:// (11/2/99). What is
medical abortion. (1995). National Abortion Federation [online] available:
Http:// (11/2/99). What is surgical abortion.
(1995). National Abortion Federation [online] available: Http://
(11/2/99). Women who have abortions. (1995). National Abortion Federation
[online] available: Http://www/ (11/2/99).
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