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Abortion: It's Implications, Interventions and Issues

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Its Issues, Implications, and Interventions

Ashley Sidley

University of Valley Forge

Introduction to Social Sciences

Professor MacCadam

November 21, 2015


This paper will explore the topic of abortion. We will look at the arguments for and against it, the history behind it, and the science involved in it to further our understanding of this practice that has recently become an overwhelmingly controversial part of society. Some of the questions we will delve into include what impact race or nationality has on abortions, what age group would be most likely to have abortions, how financial standing or upbringing can affect the outlook or viewpoint on abortions, and what moral issues do we face when considering abortion. An important point that we will touch on is whose rights are more important when looking at abortion? Is there a way to look at this issue in which no one’s rights would be being denied? This paper examines every point of view on abortion and highlights the benefits, downfalls, ethical arguments and scientific views of the subject.

Keywords: termination, pro-life, pro-choice, (UDHR) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (ICCPR) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Roe v Wade, Webster v Reproductive Health Services, amicus curiae (friend of the court).


Its Issues, Implications, and Interventions.

        Abortion is defined as, “ the intentional removal of an embryo or fetus from a mother’s womb for purposes other than that of either producing a live birth or disposing of a dead embryo.” (Langley, 1999) This method has been used as an effective method of birth control for as far back as five thousand years in China, but has been protested in certain areas such as the West during the Middle Ages, due to the argument that the embryo or fetus has a right to life. (Langley, 1999) After World War II many international debates began with the intention of settling the disagreement between whose rights were to be respected more, the fetus or embryo’s right to live, or the mother’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. (Langley 1999)

        In the early nineteenth century abortion was mainly regarded as a way to help women wronged by a cheating man, or conceived due to rape or un-consensual relationships. For this reason abortion was legal under Colonial Common Law, as well as American Common Law as long as the procedure was performed before the first “quickening,” or feeling of the baby moving in the womb, which was said to generally occur about halfway through the pregnancy. (Foner & Garraty, 2014) The practice later became more widespread, not as a medically necessary practice, but as a recreational practice in an effort for married women to lower their fertility rates around and after the 1830’s. (Foner & Garraty, 2014)

        In the 1860’s and 70’s, as well as the 1960’s and 70’s it has been reported that there was one abortion for every four live births. (Foner & Garraty, 2014)  Because of these staggering statistics, in the middle decades of the nineteenth century many state legislatures began to restrict the practice of abortion for several different reasons. These reasons spanned from health issues, such as the safety of the women undergoing the procedures due to a lack of safe and sanitary practice,  unfavorable reaction to the nonchalant advertising of such a serious and life-altering decision, the emotional implications of abortion for the mother, a quickly falling birthrate due to this and other types of fertility control, and the moral or ethical questions that the practice raised. (Foner & Garraty, 2014)

        In 1847 the American Medical Association (AMA), led by Boston physician Horatio Robinson Storer, worked with state governments in their capitals during the 1860’s and 1870’s to impose a ban on abortions unless requested as medically necessary from a doctor. He made sure to raise ethical, scientific, and social issues of abortion in an effort to help his case, but many states were more worried about upgrading and progressing America that they disregarded his pleas. (Foner & Garraty, 2014) Several state legislatures did alter their antiabortion laws in the sense of who was allowed to perform the procedure, but those laws were seldom enforced, and ultimately led to many abortion practices taking place underground. This therefore caused the abortions to not be as sterile or thoroughly performed, leading to further complications and illnesses due to the procedure. (Foner & Garraty, 2014)

        In modern times, it has been reported that some 46 million women have abortions every year. Of these, only about half are legal, meaning that they take place in medically safe conditions where neither the doctor nor the mother could face criminal prosecution. (Parrillo, 2008) Due to the many abortions that do take place in unsafe conditions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) around 78,000 or thirteen percent of all pregnancy-related deaths annually are due to complications resulting from unsafe or botched abortions. This is just counting the mothers, not the unborn fetus or embryos being aborted. (Parrillo, 2008)

        After the bans and legislation put into place to restrict abortions in the nineteenth century, a high-profile supreme court case now referred to as Roe v Wade legalized abortion in the United States, causing the statistics of annual abortions to increase rapidly. They then steadily declined to about 21 abortions for every 1,000 women, ranging from ages 15 to 44, which ended up being about 1.3 million abortions annually. (Parrillo, 2008) This is the normal rate among developed nations, but is higher than Western Europe, where in the Netherlands we find the lowest abortion rate, counting in at about 8 abortions for every 1,000 pregnancies, ranging from ages 15 to 44.  (Parrillo, 2008) Reports indicate that 6 out of 10 women that have abortions are already mothers, and that the majority of abortions (about 90 percent) take place within the first trimester (12 weeks) of the pregnancy. As widespread of an issue as abortion is, only about 13 percent of all counties in the United States have one or more abortion providers in them. (Parrillo, 2008)

Who is at risk for abortions?

        While every women in America who is sexually active is technically at risk for an abortion, specifically speaking, poor women, women of color, and young women beginning college age and younger are more likely to have an abortion than women who are in a better position to prevent unplanned pregnancy with the help of contraceptives or cope with an unplanned pregnancy and raising the unplanned child. (Parrillo, 2008).

Problems of Abortion

        Abortions are seen to be problematic to religious and non-religious people alike for several different reasons. With that being said, abortion is mainly broken up into three main types of problems: medical problems, a problem of woman’s rights, and a moral problem. (Parrillo, 2008)



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