Abortion

This essay has a total of 2027 words and 8 pages.

Abortion


Abortion is defined as the premature expulsion of a fetus so that it does not live.
Abortions can happen as a result of natural occurrences, but the interest of this paper is
abortion that is induced. Abortion has been the topic of heated debates in many places.
Nicole Miller went through an abortion at the age of 18, now 20 and is attempting to talk
about the experance that it put her through. The government has had long difficult battles
over the aspects of abortion. Legal cases have set benchmarks that are somewhat
vulnerable. The church has had to analyze doctrines to decide whether abortion is right or
wrong. There has also been violence in the way of abortion clinic bombings,
assassinations, and political protest.

For over two hundred years, abortion has been apart of the United States culture. During
the 1700's, Americans viewed abortion merely as a means of ridding women of pregnancies
that resulted from illicit relationships. Birthrates in the U.S. were extremely high at
the end of the eighteenth century, so consequently the Americans wanted to lower birth
rates. This social trend is best cited as "induced abortions became such a popular method
of fertility control that it becomes a kind of epidemic" (qtd in Omran). Abortion went
from a marginal practice of the desperate few to being a significant factor in the effort
of American women to regulate their own fertility. In the 1830's the use of new
contraceptive techniques became available, but for a short while, the abortion rate
increases with the new introduction to contraceptives. This is due to the idea that people
thought that they could have more sex, which they did, but most of the general public did
not master the use of contraceptives, so many "mistakes" occurred. Even when
contraceptives were used correctly, the quality of contraceptive devices was not very
good. After contraception devices became more mainstream, the abortion rate
lowered(Sachdev 150-151).

There are two important factors in the 19th centuries that are underlying the increased
practice of abortion. The first is the common law notion of quickening. Most women in
America at this time did not consider a pre-quickened fetus a "distinct human being with a
separate existence of its own." Quicken means a fetus show signs of life. The second was
the legal status of abortion in the U.S. It was never outlawed, only condoned to help slow
the declining birth rates. With ideas about the quickening changing, abortion rates seem
to level themselves for the rest of the century, but many demographers believe this is
inaccurate because lower-class immigrant women in the late 1800's and early 1900's caused
the abortion rate to rise, and not many were ever reported. The legal status of abortion
began to change in the U.S., with stricter advertising laws and a newly founded belief in
scientific research by doctors. The leader of this change was the American Medical
Association. For most of the early 1900's, medical personnel and politicians tried to
destroy abortion, but it only made abortion more of a private procedure and not one that
was often made public(Sachdev 3-7).

During the 1930's, there was an estimated "1abortion for every 4 pregnancies, and 90% of
those abortions were made by married women. This was due to the struggling times of the
Great Depression. Frederick Taussig said "Two of the underlying historical patterns that
would help produce a shift in official policy during the 1960's and 1970's were the
renewed importance of abortion as a method of fertility control and the desire of women to
determine for themselves without the states interference when they wished to carry
pregnancy to term." Taussig was correct about this, and in 1973 came the landmark Supreme
Court case of Roe vs. Wade that decided the legality of abortion and fundamentally started
the groups of either pro-choice or pro-life advocates(Taussig 1936).

"There is much more to abortion than abortion. It has numbed, as if with novocaine, a
respect for life in American society… Once killing of any kind is legal, it becomes
easier, with time, for the harvest of death to increase. And once anything is legal, most
people believe that it is moral... My reason for opposing abortion to a desire to stop
mass killing-is that it is anesthetizing the society"(Nat 2-3,5) Pro-life is essentially
the belief that abortion is the same as murder. With today's modern medicine and
technology we are able to understand what occurs from the time of conception to the actual
birth. The problem with this is the same essential question every time. At what point does
a fertilized egg become a human? According to pro-life activists, the beginning of
conception means the beginning of human life, and therefore abortion is murder.

The anti-abortion view had a very strong backing from many key areas of society. The first
is the political support from the Republican Party and eventually Ronald Reagan in the
early eighties. Reagan was the first president to make abortion a major political topic.
He often used anti-abortion ideas to win votes and the confidence of the general public.
During a speech in 1980, President Reagen said, "We cannot survive as a free nation when
some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion and
infanticide." Another key figure was Surgeon General C. Everett Koop (Whitney 83-5). His
view included the idea that abortion was a new holocaust and would inevitably become a
selective birth process. He also believed abortion was away to eliminate defectives humans
from society and create a master race. I personally believe these views are irrational and
have limited basis.

I believe the backbone of the anti-abortion movement is religion in the United States;
particularly the Catholic Church. The catholic position on aborting, in vitro
fertilization, and embryo experimentation is primarily rooted in its assessment of the
nature of the fetus. The basic view of the church is that since they do not know when
ensoulment takes place, they assume it occurs at conception, so that they do not risk the
chance of murder(Stetson 169). Since Catholicism is the largest denomination in both the
U.S. and the world, there is an obviously a large potential for pro-life supporters.
Religiosity plays an important role in abortion. Religiosity is stated by how involved one
is to a religion, therefore the more dedicated to a religion, and the more likely a person
is to be a pro-life activist. Protestants have a similar view on abortion. In a survey
conveyed in 1996, many interviewees stated that they were against abortion, because "They
believed they must live up to their obligations and standards entailed in their belief."
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