Essay, Research Paper: Abortion Risks


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Abortion is the termination of pregnancy before birth, resulting in, or
accompanied by, 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 a full term. This type of
abortion is commonly known as a miscarriage. Other abortions are induced.
Induced abortions are intentionally brought on, either because a pregnancy is
unwanted or presents a risk to a womanís health. Induced abortion has become
one of the most 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 Congress of the United States, and state
legislatures. It has proven to be spilled over into confrontations, which are
sometimes violent, at clinics where abortions are performed. There are many
different methods in having an abortion. Induced abortions are performed using
one of several methods. The safest and most useful and appropriate method is
determined by the age of the fetus, or the length of pregnancy, which is
calculated from the beginning of the pregnant womanís last menstrual period.
Most pregnancies last an average of 39 to 40 weeks, about 9 months. This period
of time is broken up into three parts known as trimesters. The first trimester
is the first 13 weeks, the second trimester is from the 14 to 24 week and the
third trimester lasts from the 25th week to birth. Abortions in the first
trimester of pregnancy are easier and safer to perform, that is because the
fetus is smaller. Abortions in the second and third trimesters are more
complicated procedures, which present greater risks to a womanís health. In
the United States, a pregnant womanís 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. Although it is so dangerous many women continue to
have abortions. There are even some drug medications used to terminate a
womanís pregnancy. In a method commonly referred to as the morning-after pill,
a woman is given large doses of estrogen which is a female hormone within 72
hours of unprotected sexual intercourse and again 12 hours later. This high dose
stops the fetus from any further development at the earliest stages after
conception. Or the point when a manís sperm fertilizes a womanís egg.
Typical side effects of the morning-after pill may include nausea, headache,
dizziness, breast tenderness, and sometimes fluid retention. During the first
seven weeks of pregnancy a combination of two drugs can be given in pill form to
make a fetus. A pregnant woman first takes a drug which blocks progesterone,
which is a hormone needed to maintain pregnancy. About 48 hours later she takes
another drug which is a hormone like chemical produced by the body that causes
contractions of the uterus, the organ in which the fetus develops. These
contractions expel the fetus. Misoprostol, which is another kind of drug can
also induce abortion when it is mixed with a different drug that interferes with
cell division. A doctor first injects a pregnant woman with one kind of drug and
about a week later the woman takes another drug to induce contractions and to
expel to fetus. When you combine these two kinds of drugs it usually ends
pregnancy effectively according to the 95 percent of the woman who have taken
them. Although, some woman experience cramps, bleeding and nausea. Some of the
cases are more serious, such as pneumonia, edema, arrhythmia and they effect the
heart and lungs which may cause death. After the first 16 weeks of pregnancy ,
abortion becomes more difficult. One method that can be used during this period
is called dilation and evacuation. Which requires greater dilation of the cervix
than other methods. It also requires the use of suction of a large curette and a
grasping tool called a forceps to remove the fetus. Dilation and evacuation are
complicated procedures because of the size of the fetus and the thinner wall,
which usually stretch to accommodate a growing fetus. Bleeding in the uterus
often occurs. Dilation and evacuation must be performed under general anesthesia
in a clinic or hospital. It is typically used in the first weeks of the second
trimester but can be performed up to the 24th week of pregnancy. Intact dilation
and extraction, also referred to as a partial birth abortion, 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 from the
uterus. Abortion has become one of the most widely debated ethical issues. On
one side there are individuals who are for womanís reproductive rights,
including the right to chose to have an abortion. On the other side there are
the pro- life advocates, who oppose abortion except in extreme cases, as when
the motherís life would be threatened by carrying a pregnancy to term. At one
end of this ethical spectrum are pro- choice defenders who believe the fetus is
only a potential human being until it is viable. Until this time the fetus has
no legal rights. The rights belong to the woman carrying the fetus, who can
decide whether or not to bring the pregnancy to a full term. At the other end of
the spectrum are pro-life supporters who believe the fetus is a human being from
the time of conception. The fetus has the legal right to life from the moment
the egg and sperm unite. Between these positions lies a continuum of ethical and
political positions. A variety of ethical arguments have been made on both sides
of the abortion issue, but no consensus or compromise has ever been reached
because, in the public policy debate, the most vocal pro-choice and pro-life
champions have radically different views about the status of a fetus.
Embryology, which is the study of fetal development, offers little insight about
the fetusís status at the moment of conception, further confounding the issue
for both sides. In addition, the point when a fetus becomes viable is constantly
changing with every passing year medical advances make it possible to keep a
premature baby alive at an earlier stage. The current definition of viability is
generally accepted at about 24 weeks gestation; a small percentage of babies
born at about 22 weeks gestation have been kept alive with intensive medical
care. In the abortion debate, the combination of medical uncertainties and
emotional political confrontations has led to considerable hostility . However,
for many people, the lines between pro-choice and pro-life are blurred. The
issue is also far less polarized. Many women, who consider themselves pro-life
supporters, are concerned about the danger of allowing the government to decide
what medical options are available to them and the possible threats to
reproductive rights. Similarly, many women, who contemplate their view as the
pro-choice view, are deeply saddened by the act of abortion and seek to minimize
its use through more education about abortions, preventionís of pregnancy and
the use of birth control. Many people on all sides of the controversy feel the
political debate has led to a stalemate because it ignores the nuances of the
issue. In response, participants in the abortion debate find common ground in
the admission that the issue is surrounded by complicated, difficult questions
that require more than simplified pro-life or pro-choice supporters. 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
which 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 be lenient about their laws against abortion. The former Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics (USSR) legalized abortion in 1920, followed by Japan in
1948, and several Eastern European countries in the 1950s. In the 1960s and
1970s, much of Europe and Asia, along with Canada and the United States,
legalized abortion. An estimate of about 50 million people have abortions a
year. Of this number a lot of the abortions that are performed are done
illegally which lead to immediate deaths. Illegal abortions are more likely to
be performed by untrained people, in unsanitary conditions, or with unsafe
surgical procedures or drugs. In many European countries it is more likely for
woman to have illegal abortions. In countries where abortion is legal less than
one percent of pregnancy related deaths are caused by abortion. In the United
States. the legalization of abortion became an issue in 1966, when Mississippi
passed a law permitting abortion in cases of rape. In the following four years,
other states started to legalize abortion to include cases in which a pregnancy
threatens a womanís health, the fetus has serious abnormalities, or the
pregnancy is the result of sexual relations between close relatives. The Supreme
court decided in the early 1973 two cases known as Roe v. Wade and Doe v.
Bolton, that abortion was legal for any apparent reason before the 24th week of
pregnancy. The reason for this is because the fetus has not yet become viable.
The ruling of the Supreme Court allowed individual states to change the law by
restricting abortion after viability. Except in certain cases when the pregnancy
presents a threat to the womanís health, abortion is allowed no matter how
many weeks. In 1976 the Supreme Court recognized the right of pregnant girls
under the age of 18, know as a minor, to terminate her pregnancy. The court
ruled three years later that states may require consent of one of the parents of
the minor, who wants a abortion. However, consent is not needed if a
confidential alternative form of review, such as a judicial hearing. A judicial
hearing is made for young women, who had chosen not to involve their parents in
their decision of abortion. The Supreme Court of The United States also ruled
that a judicial court may approve a minorís decision of abortion, in place of
her parents, only if the judge finds that the young girl is capable to make the
decision on her own. If the judge finds the minor not mature enough to make the
decision of abortion on her own, the court can rule whether the termination of
pregnancy is in the minorís best interest. Since these decisions many states
have enforced parental consent, or notification laws. Although some laws have
been argued in courts for years. For Example in 1990, Hodgson v. Minnesota, the
Supreme Court upheld a law requiring that prior notice of the minorís parents
must be provided before and abortion is performed. In a similar case that
happened in Ohio, the Supreme Court upheld a requirement for notice or consent
of only one parent. In 1980 the Supreme Court upheld another ruling restricting
the availability of federal Medicaid funding for abortions that were medically
necessary. After that ruling, abortion payments for the poor women were limited
to cases in which the pregnancy threatened the womanís life. Also in 1977, the
Supreme Court allowed the city of St. Louis, Missouri to exclude elective
abortions from procedures performed in a public hospital. In 1983, the court
found it unconstitutional to require that a woman considering an abortion should
be given information developed by the state, talking about risks and
consequences and that they should wait 24 hours after receiving the information
about abortion. Also in 1986, the court struck down a law in Pennsylvania
requiring that state- developed materials about abortion being offered to woman
that are undergoing the procedure of abortion. In 1989 there was a Supreme Court
decision in Webster v. Reproductive Health services, and since then the court
has permitted several state imposed restrictions to stand. The Webster case
upheld a Missouri law that prohibits the use of public facilities or public
employees for abortion and requires a physician to determine the viability of a
fetus older than 20 weeks before performing an abortion. In 1991, in the case of
Rust v. Sullivan, the court upheld a federal policy that prevented health care
providers who received federal funding from engaging in any activities that
encouraged or promoted abortion as a method of family planning. This policy was
later annulled by President Bill Clinton in 1993. One year earlier in 1992 the
court decided Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, which
was a case in which the court reaffirmed the central ruling of Roe v. Wade, that
no undue burden on access to abortion should exist for a woman over 18 years of
age prior to fetal viability. That case also permitted states more freedom in
regulating abortion. The court overturned rulings which made it possible for
states to once again require that a woman be given information about abortion
risks and consequences and wait 24 hours before actually performing the
procedure. The last bill enacted by the Congress was passed in 1996, banning the
practice of partial birth abortions. President Clinton rejected the law because
it failed to permit use of the procedure when a fetus displays abnormalities, or
when carrying a pregnancy to term presents a serious threat to the womanís
life or health. Since then many states have passed the law banning use of the
procedure. Since the Supreme Court ruling in 1973, pro-life supporters have
worked continuously to reverse the decision. They had state and federal
officials to place restrictions on women seeking abortions or on individuals
providing abortions. In 1994, the Freedom Of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was
enacted, which made it a federal crime to use force, threat of force, or
physical obstruction to injure, intimidate, or interfere with reproductive
health care providers and their patients. During that same year, in a case known
as Madsen v. Womenís health Center, the Supreme Court upheld the basic right
to protest in peaceful, organized demonstrations outside abortion clinics. More
than two decades since the Supreme Court first upheld a womanís right to
abortion, the debate over the morality and the legality of induced abortion
continues in the U.S. Although pro-life and pro-choice supporters still continue
to argue the issue. A growing number of individuals and organizations are kind
of leaving the debate in search of common ground. Many people hope that
broadening the arguments to include a wider spectrum of perspectives will
improve the chances of an end to the issue. The argument for abortion is that
women who accidentally get pregnant have the option to get an abortion. Instead
of just having the baby and leaving it stranded abortion will not leave you in
that situation. In some cases the pregnancy is unwanted and therefore that is
why I think abortion should be legal. I feel that the woman should be able to
decide what happens to their body. Some woman must have the abortion other wise
it is a threat and risk to their lives and to their health. Some parents might
not be understanding and when they find out that their child is about to perform
and abortion, the parents wonít let the child do it. Therefore the child is
forced to have an illegal abortion which is extremely dangerous. On the other
hand, the argument against having abortion is that it can be very risky. Some
abortions are so severe that they can kill you. Most of the abortions donít
necessarily have to protect the mothers health since she wants to kill the baby.
If the mother doesnít want to baby so badly than she should put it up for
adoption. Majority of the abortions performed in the United States are done in
an unskilled way, which leads to either woman dying or having horrendous side
effects such as the inability to have children. The woman who is having the
abortion should be responsible to prevent a pregnancy from the beginning of the
sexual relationship. In conclusion I feel that abortion should be legalized
through out the world. I think an amendment should be passed for all those
unwanted mothers who either canít afford to have a baby or who just donít
want it. Obviously my position on this case is to allow the choice of an
abortion in any case. I hope Iíve proved my arguments for having an abortion.
In the future, I aspire that abortion will be legal in all states and not just
selected states through out the country.

BibliographyAbortion; James, Simon Rita - 1991, New York The Clash of Absolutes; Tribe,
Lawrence H.- 1989. Chicago Abortion and Dialogue- Pro Choice, Pro life and
American law: Colker, Ruth- 1992, Florida Abortion- Facts on file handbooks to
Constitutional issues: Tushnet, Mark V.-1985, New York Abortion: Flanders, Carl
N.- 1984, Illinois Abortion-The Supreme Court decisions: Shapiro, Ian- 1990, New
York -New York
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