Abortion is a hot topic that makes most of us cringe just by the very meaning of it, and it is a word that never fails to start heated debates, controversy, and endless battles with people who are opposed to it, and then there are the firm believers that women should have the right to make that life changing decision to terminate a pregnancy if they so choose. Using abortion as a form of birth control is exactly what has made this such a sensitive issue over the past decade, and the fact that most abortions are performed in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy leaves anti-abortionists with the controversial issue that a murder has just been committed. No matter how you feel about an abortion, the fact remains that death is imminent when an abortion is performed. Many people feel strongly that there are other ways to terminate a future with a newborn child, and that is where adoptions come into play. Education about safe sex practices, access and use of birth control, and abstinence is the key to stopping unwanted pregnancies, yet there are 1,300,000 abortions performed each year. The statistics on abortions are overwhelming, yet people continue to play Russian Roulette when it comes to not using protection during sex.
The History of Abortions
Abortions have been performed for thousands of years, in every society. It was legal in the United States from the time the earliest settlers arrived, and abortions continued until the mid to late 1800’s, when some states began passing laws that made it illegal. Medical science has attempted to make the procedure safer through the years, despite peoples feelings about the very act itself. Various methods on performing abortions came into light during the nineteenth century, and even then it was a heated debate. In 1859, the American Medical Association unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the procuring of abortion at every period of gestation, with the exception of preserving the life of the mother or child due to health complications. Unfortunately many of these doctors did not have the necessary skills needed to perform abortions, and the women would die along with their unwanted fetus.
Many methods have been tried over the years to end unwanted pregnancies, and the wire hanger was once at the top of the list. Of course the woman risked the chance of bleeding to death or injuring the fetus instead of killing it, which would lead to birth defects in the child, infections to both the child and mother, and other deadly complications. Another popular form of abortion was to have the woman drink various potions, concoctions, and chemicals which would block the progesterone hormone from getting to the fetus, which is vital to its survival. In fact the FDA approved the use of one very extreme chemical drug, often referred to as “The Morning After Drug,” for abortion practices. This chemical abortion process uses a two-drug regimen. RU-486 and misoprostol, a synthetic steroid, were originally manufactured to treat ulcers, but in this chemical abortion process, it is used to force the uterus to contract and expel the dead fetus, and even though the drug manufacturer released warnings about the drugs use, and the complications that could arise from ingesting it, which included a ruptured uterus, vaginal bleeding, and maternal or fetal death, millions of women still opted to try this method.
Health issues and immoral procedures have been addressed throughout time, and abortion has been made illegal by many states and countries. In 1803, Britain first passed anti-abortion laws, which then became stricter throughout the century. The U.S. followed as individual states began to outlaw abortion. By the late1800’s, most abortions were illegal in the U.S., except those necessary to save the life of the woman. The Comstock Law, devised in 1873 was set into place to stop obscene literature, and abortion devices from being so easily available to the general public.
This was the age of self administered abortions, and unsafe practices were at their height of existence during this era. Coat hangers were the favored choice, but they also discovered that catheters placed into the cervix, and filled with turpentine to burn the fetus out not only terminated the pregnancy, but literally cooked the lining of their uterus. These extreme attempts were made to avoid harassment and embarrassment, and the women often suffered from these gruesome attempts at terminating the pregnancy.
The 50’s witnessed an outstanding amount of illegal abortions, in fact millions of them were performed each year in the U.S., and more than a thousand women died each year as a result. Women who were victims of botched or unsanitary abortions came in desperation to hospital emergency wards, where some died of widespread abdominal infections. Many women who recovered from such infections found themselves sterile or chronically and painfully ill.
Skilled doctors would perform illegal abortions for high prices, and promised secrecy. Women were expected to shell out at least a $1,000, and were not guaranteed any type of after care in the event that something went wrong. These women were often hospitalized after botched abortions, infections, and heavy bleeding, but they feared harassment by the legal system, and often lied to hospitals about the state of their sickly condition. With the era of free sexual expression, and sex without marriage came many unplanned pregnancies, and perhaps this is the reason that between 1967 and 1970 sixteen states legalized abortion. Of course it was limited to cases of rape, incest and severe fetal disabilities or deformities, and when the pregnancy jeopardized the life of the mother, and there were two notable exceptions, California in 1967 and New York in 1970 legalized abortion on demand.
The 70’s and early 80,s began to take a different view on abortions, and healthcare centers around the country began to provide low-cost abortions that emphasized on choice and quality care. The main reason for this movement was to stop women from being butchered, maimed, and to have a firm choice about their life and health. In 1973 Congress passed a law allowing for legal abortions after years of debates. The death toll among women having illegal abortions dropped considerably.
The awesome 80’s not only witnessed the issue of abortion emerging again, but the hype of AIDS became an important factor in safe sex practices. The 80’s was rocked by a vast number of movies featuring abortions and the effects that they had on the women, anti-abortionists, and pro-lifers. Despite the many movies showing the various aspects of abortion, critics weren’t buying it, and neither were the public. If anything, this lit a fire under both sides, and the abortion wars were once again in the hot seat, and very personal to a lot of people.
The times had changed, but the majority of people’s thinking had not. Abortion was still a sore subject, and clinics were being targeted by pro-lifers everywhere. Women were feeling the heat of the abortion wars, but still felt strongly that it was their body, their choice. They were accused of murder, and using abortions in the place of safe sex and doctor prescribed birth control. Pro-lifers were getting to the hearts of people through national debate, and the rights of the unborn child firmly came to life in many heated debates. Teens were now making the choice of adoption versus abortion, and teen pregnancy witnessed a decline due to the hype of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS.
The New Millennium Abortions
The start of a new century, and the beginnings of a stronger attitude then we have witnessed in decades from a President that believes that abortion is murder, case closed. President Bush speaks candidly about his views on abortion, and supports a Human Life Amendment to back up his beliefs. The amendment states that “The paramount right to life is vested in each human being from the moment of fertilization without regard to age, health or condition of dependency.” If it is adopted as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, these words would permit states to enact and enforce laws to prohibit abortion. It would also permit Congress to adopt laws that protect the unborn. Currently it is estimated that from 1965 to the present, 600,000,000 have been aborted in the United States.
Types of Abortions:
There are three types of surgical abortion: Manual vacuum aspiration, dilation and suction curettage and dilation and evacuation. The type of surgical abortion you have will depend on how far along in your pregnancy you are, but the average surgical abortion is performed by placing speculum inside your vagina, then it adjusted to hold the sides apart so that the physician can see directly to your cervix. Another instrument is then used to hold your cervix in place throughout the procedure. Your cervix is then numbed with local anesthesia. The abortionist will then dilate the cervix. When the cervix has been dilated to the width appropriate for your stage of pregnancy, the abortionist will insert a small cannula which is attached to a suction machine. The machine’s suction empties the contents of the uterus through the tube. After this procedure, the walls of the uterus are checked with a curetteto ensure that there is no remaining tissue from the fetus. This entire procedure is complete in a matter of minutes. This type of abortion can be done up to 10 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period.
Chemical or Non-Surgical Abortions:
This is a general term that primarily includes abortions induced by pills, such as Mifeprex or RU-486.These drugs poison the developing baby; while others cut off the supply of nutrients to the fetus.
Suction Curettage: This particular abortion dilates the woman’s cervix and inserts a tube with a sharp edge on the tip. The other end of the tube is connected to a suction device, similar to a home vacuum cleaner but much more powerful. Between the sharp edge and the force of the suction, the developing baby is torn apart and the pieces sucked out through the tube. This method is usually used for first-trimester abortions. This type of abortion is performed between six and 14 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period.
Dilation and Extraction:
The fetus is partially delivered feet first, until just the head remains inside the uterus. Then a hole is punched in the back of the skull with scissors and the brains are suctioned out, causing the brain to collapse. Once the baby is dead, the head is also pulled out of the uterus. This method is usually used for late second-trimester and third-trimester abortions, and this method is the primary target of laws against partial birth abortion. This type of abortion is performed from the thirteenth week of pregnancy and beyond.
This procedure starts with salt water being injected into the womb through the woman’s abdomen. The unborn baby swallows this fluid and is poisoned by it. Within 24 hours the mother goes into labor and delivers the fetus. This method is usually used for second and third trimester abortions.
Hysterotomy or Caesarean Section:
The womb is entered by surgery through the wall of the abdomen. The technique is similar to a Caesarean delivery, except that the umbilical cord is usually cut while the baby is still in the womb, thus cutting off his oxygen supply and causing him to suffocate. Sometimes the baby is removed alive and simply left in a corner to die of neglect or exposure. This method is used mainly in the last three months of pregnancy.
Complications From Abortion
Despite the use of local anesthesia, the majority of women having abortions reported experiencing pain during the procedure, and complications such as cervical injury, uterine perforation, heavy bleeding, hemorrhage, laceration of the cervix, menstrual problems, inflammation of the reproductive organs, bladder or bowel perforation, and serious infection are all potential problems to consider. The various complications depend on the abortionist and the particular abortion method used. Most abortions are performed at abortion clinics rather than by a woman’s regular ob-gyn. An inadequate gynecologic examination prior to the operation, the carelessness of the abortionist, or the retention of fetal and placental tissue can all bring on complications. These kinds of complications can usually be treated and generally subside (though not always), but few women ever return to the clinics for crucial postoperative examinations, and there is now medical evidence that having an abortion increases the risk of breast cancer.
Fact’s & Statistics on Abortions
Thirty two percent of abortions are among women ages 20 to 24. Teenagers account for twenty percent.
4,000 abortions are performed every day in the United States, and 120,000 are performed worldwide on a daily basis.
At only 18 days after conception, the fetus has a heartbeat.
The overwhelming majority of all abortions, (95%), are done as a means of birth control. Only 1% are performed because of rape or incest; 1% because of fetal abnormalities; 3% due to the mother having health problems.
1990 witnessed more than 1.6 million abortions, since then the number of abortions annually performed in the U.S. has begun to drop back to levels of approximately 700,000 per year.
Nearly half of the pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion.
Each year, two out of every 100 women aged 15-44 have an abortion; 48% of them have had at least one previous abortion.
Fifty-four percent of women having abortions claim that they used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users reported using their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users reported correct use.
Thirty-four states currently enforce parental consent or notification laws for minors seeking an abortion: AL, AR, AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI, WV and WY. The Supreme Court ruled that minors must have an alternative, such as the ability to seek a court order authorizing the procedure.
Why Some Women Choose Abortion
When thousands of women were asked why they would consider an abortion, this was their answer: 25.5 % wanted to wait until they were older, 7.9% said they wanted no children, or they already had too many children, 21.3 % claimed that they could not afford a child, 10.8% said that it would disrupt their education or job, 14.1 % said that their partner did not want the baby, 12.2% said that they were too young to become a parent, 2.8% claimed that their health would decline due to pregnancy, and 3.3% said that they were terminating the pregnancy because the baby would be born retarded, or with other complications.
Repercussions From Having An Abortion
Regretting a bad decision for years, feelings of guilt, feelings of loss or self-respect, depression and suicide, ruined relationship from pregnancy or abortion, inability to get pregnant again, medical problems, and fear of not getting forgiveness from God.
Laws on Abortion
In the United States, abortion laws vary from state to state. Depending on your age and which state you live in, there may be laws in place that prevent you from having an abortion or require you to get parental permission if you are under a certain age. There may also be mandatory education or waiting periods before an abortion can be done. Additionally, some clinics may require that you pay them up-front while others offer a payment plan. In some instances, Medicaid covers the cost of an abortion.