Abortion, in its most common usage, refers to the deliberate premature termination of a pregnancy resulting in the killing of any or all carried unborn infants. The ethics, morality, and legality of abortion is the subject of intense debate throughout the world.
- 1 Methods
- 2 The law around the world
- 3 Analysis of Arguments
- 3.1 For Abortion
- 3.2 Against Abortion
- 4 Discussion Points
- 5 Eugenics through Abortion
- 6 External Links
Methods[edit | edit source]
1. Suction Aspiration: This is the procedure most often used in the first trimester of pregnancy (the first three months). The abortionist inserts a suction tube (similar to a vacuum hose with an extremely sharp end) into the mother's womb. The suction and cutting edge dismember the baby while the hose sucks the body parts into a collection bottle.
2. Dilation and Curettage (D & C): In this procedure, the abortionist uses a loop shaped knife to cut the baby into pieces and scrape the uterine wall. The baby's body parts are then removed and checked to make sure that no pieces were left in the mother's womb.
3. Dilation and Evacuation (D & E): This form of abortion is used to kill babies in the second trimester (24+ weeks). The abortionist uses a forceps to grab parts of the baby (arms and legs) and then tears the baby apart. The baby's head must be crushed in order to remove it because the skull bone has hardened by this stage in the baby's growth.
4. Dilation and Extraction (also known as D & X or Partial-Birth Abortion): Used to kill babies well into the third trimester (as late as 32 weeks old), the abortionist reaches into the mother's womb, grabs the baby's feet with a forceps and pulls the baby out of the mother, except for the head. The abortionist then jams a pair of scissors into the back of the baby's head and spreads the scissors apart to make a hole in the baby's skull. The abortionist removes the scissors and sticks a suction tube into the skull to suck the baby's brain out. The forceps are then used to crush the baby's head and the abortionist pulls the baby's body out the rest of the way.
5. Salt Poisoning: This technique is used in the second and third trimester. The abortionist sticks a long needle into the mother's womb. The needle contains salt which is then injected into the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. The baby breathes in, swallows the salt and dies from salt poisoning, dehydration, brain hemorrhage and convulsions. Taking nearly an hour to die, the baby's skin is completely burned, turns red and deteriorates. The baby is in pain the entire time. The mother goes into labor 24 - 48 hours later and delivers a dead baby.
6. Prostaglandins: Used during the second and third trimester, prostaglandin abortions involve the injection of naturally produced hormones into the amniotic sac, causing violent premature labor. During these convulsions the baby is often crushed to death or is born too early to have any chance of surviving.
7. Hysterotomy: Performed in the third trimester, this is basically an abortive Cesarean section (C-section). The abortionist makes in an incision in the mother's abdomen and removes the baby. The baby is then either placed to the side to die or is killed by the abortionist or nurse.
Chemical abortion[edit | edit source]
a. RU-486: RU-486 blocks the hormone that helps develop the lining of the uterus during pregnancy (progesterone). This lining is the source of nutrition and protection for the developing baby. The tiny boy or girl is starved to death and then a second drug, misoprostol, causes contractions so that the dead baby is expelled from the womb.
b. Methotrexate: Highly toxic, this chemical directly attacks and breaks down the baby's fast-growing cells. It also attacks the life-support systems the baby needs to survive. When the systems fail, the baby dies. Misoprostol is then used to cause contractions and push the dead baby out of the womb.
c. Abortifacient birth control (the Pill, Depo-Provera, Norplant, the IUD, Emergency Contraception). These abortion-causing chemicals and devices can act to kill preborn children in the earliest days of life. It is well known that abortifacient methods of birth control may act to inhibit ovulation and prevent conception. However, most women don't know they also act to alter the lining of the womb so that the implantation of a newly conceived child cannot occur. If the child cannot implant in the lining of the womb to receive nourishment, he or she dies.
The law around the world[edit | edit source]
United States[edit | edit source]
Historical background[edit | edit source]
When the United States broke away from Britain in 1776, abortion subsequent to quickening (approximately 17 weeks) was considered homicide at common law (see II H. Bracton Laws & Customs of England 341 (c.1250); I W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 125 (1769)). Starting with Connecticut in 1821, most states moved to criminalize the procedure. 36 of 38 jurisdictions had banned it prior to the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868. In 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court overturned the laws of the 21 states which had not repealed (or never enacted) bans, declaring that abortion was a fundamental right protected by either the Fourteenth Amendment, the Ninth Amendment, or a generic right to privacy the court had declared to exist eight years previously in Griswold v. Connecticut. The decision ignited a bitterly-fought culture war that continues to date, having a major impact on elections for the Presidency of the United States (due to the nominating process, it has become a de facto requirement for the GOP nominee to be pro life and the Democratic nominee to be pro choice) and which has dominated every Supreme Court nomination since.
Prevailing legal standards[edit | edit source]
The central holding of Roe was that states could not regulate abortion at all during the first trimester, could do so in the second trimester only "to the extent that the regulation reasonably relates to the preservation and protection of maternal health." In 1991, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court dramatically expanded this holding; in Casey, the trimester scheme was rejected, and the state's ability to regulate abortion prior to viability (approximately 23 weeks) all but abolished: "a provision of law is invalid, if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles [i.e. an 'undue burden'] in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability." In 2001, in Stenberg v. Carhart, the Court declared that even viability was no obstacle: states could not ban (or substantially regulate) any abortion procedure carried out before or during birth.
While Roe and its progeny - particularly Casey - remain in effect, the ability of the states to regulate abortion is effectively nil. Controversy continues to swirl, not least because while there is generally considerable public support for availability of abortion in at least some circumstances, there is also overwhelming support for banning partial-birth abortion, and widespread support for parental notification, parental consent, and notification of the father, none of which are permissable under prevailing abortion jurisprudence. Moreoever, the wisdom (and legitimacy) of social policy regarding such an important, emotive, and divisive topic being set by an ever-dwindling majority of a committee of nine unelected lawyers is questioned even by those who support abortion rights as a normative matter (see, e.g., John Hart Ely, Democracy & Distrust).
With recent changes at the Supreme Court, there is considerable optimism that a debate frozen in place in 1973 may yet thaw out. In particular, Stenberg is considered as being very likely to be overruled.
United Kingdom[edit | edit source]
Abortion is legal up to twenty four weeks, although abortion up to the date of birth is allowed on children with disabilities, including conditions such as hair lip or club feet. Although there is currently no right to an abortion in law, and abortions currently need two doctors' signatures, few doctors refuse to sign on either medical or moral grounds. There are currently moves to reduce the upper age limit for abortions.
France[edit | edit source]
Abortion (by the wish of the mother) is legal before the 12th week of amenorrhea. Medical abortion is legal if two doctors attest that either
- there is danger for the life of the mother
- there is a strong probability that the unborn child will have a very serious incurable disease.
Germany[edit | edit source]
In Germany, Abortion is illegal, but there are several conditions under which Abortion may not be punished:
- In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, if the woman can prove, that she went to a counseling service before the abortion
- If the pregnancy resulted from rape
- If the pregnancy endangers life or health of the mother
- Euthanasia is prohibited, so aborting because the probability is high, that the unborn child will have a very serious incurable disease, is illegal and is punished.
Analysis of Arguments[edit | edit source]
For Abortion[edit | edit source]
The Fetus is Part of the Mother's Body[edit | edit source]
Perhaps we should organize discussion based on for and against
Better for Babies to be Aborted Than to be Born Neglected and Poor[edit | edit source]
"Back Alley" Abortions Would Increase if it Were Made Illegal[edit | edit source]
Against Abortion[edit | edit source]
The Unborn Child has Human Rights[edit | edit source]
Also organize based on why
Legislative Remedies[edit | edit source]
Civil Penalty[edit | edit source]
In the aims of both decreasing the number of abortions preformed and making sure pregnant women get proper health care the following legislation is proposed. Since this is a civil law, suits may only be initiated by the mother, thus any medical information turned over to the court will be with her blessing.
"Any physician intentionally terminating the life of a fetus after the first month of gestation without cause shall be subject to civil damages of $250,000. Proper cause shall be defined as a documented physical condition putting the mothers health at risk or a letter of recommendation from a board certified psychiatrist. In the the interest of preventing frivolous litigation the state medical board shall have the power to dismiss any claims under this statute they find without merit. The statute of limitations for filing a claim will be 10 years from the date of fetal termination."
Father's Rights[edit | edit source]
Personal Responsibility[edit | edit source]
When two consenting adults choose to engage in unprotected sex, an act that knowingly causes pregnancy, they should accept the responsibility of their action, the ensuing pregnancy. If either party does not desire a pregnancy, they should either choose to abstain from vaginal intercourse, or use contraception.
Discussion Points[edit | edit source]
General Discussion[edit | edit source]
This is a complex topic, so I would like to try and start off neutral and just ask some questions.
- When does life begin?
- What constitutes a life?
- What makes a fetus or embryo human or non-human?
- What makes a fetus or embryo a person or non-person?
- Do some people believe that once a zygote was formed from the combination of sperm and egg, that it is a life (even if it doesn't attach inside the uterus)?
- Is a zygote really comparable to something like a skin cell?
- Why should (or shouldn't) a mother have an abortion?
- Should all abortions be legal, regardless of reason (e.g. Mental Retardation, Rape, Because Babies Smell Bad, Don't Fit Someone's Lifestyle).
- Does this debate have anything to do with euthanasia?
- Should governments (like China) be allowed to force citizens to have an abortion?
- Should the Federal Government (Supreme Court) even be meddling in a what is constitutionally a state issue?
Anphanax 07:03, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
- I think these are excellent questions to answer, and they should definitly be answered first because any attempt to give a broad "abortion is ok" or "abortion is not ok" will be met with resistance. Any attempt to legislate morality is, well, an uphill battle to say the least. Personally, I don't think abortion is such a great idea, but I'm not a woman. That means I've made some personal decisions so I never deal with this issue, such as no sex until I'm married. It's quite possibly less popular than abortion, but I think it's important to put my money where my mouth is. If I don't like abortion, I am sure as hell going to avoid any situation that would force me (or whomever) to deal with these consequences. Just a few interesting things to note -
- The fetus is very literally part of the woman's body. I can do anything I want to my own body (except kill myself)
- Abortion puts all the blame / attention / pressure on the woman. It took (at least) two people to get this woman pregnant. Where is the guy in all of this mess?
- As a general rule of thumb, before anyone kills someone else, they dissociate the person from a human; they are "Terrorists", "Enemy Combatants" or even "Collateral Damage". In hateful speech, the targets are refered to as "Animals", "Inferior" and so forth. I find it interesting that the debate centers around if the fetus is a human or not; from there morality and legality are argued.
Mark (July 6, 2006)
- The argument about abortion boils down to whether the fetus is human or not. I believe that it is a human. Here are four arguments that try to disprove four common arguments in favour of abortion
- 1. Many people believe the fetus is not a human because of its size. A fetus is very small so how could it be a human. Well size does not have a bearing on whether it has rights or not. Babies, although small, are not thought of as less human than an adult. Does the fact that something is bigger than you mean that is more human than you? A baby, born prematurely, is bigger that other fetus, yet it is legal to abort the fetus but not the baby. Size does not matter.
- 2. Development is often used as an argument against but this is only an argument about degree not kind. A physically or mentally challenged person outside of the womb is not thought of as less of a person. If this can be said about people outside of the womb, then it can also be said about a fetus.
- 3. The next common argument is based on location. Some say that since the fetus is located in the womb, it is not a human. But, like size and development, this argument is flawed. Where a person lives doesn't have any bearing on the essence of who that person is. Moving from one place to another does not change anything about your humanity. The fetus is certainly dependant on his/her mother, but is not a part of it.
- 4. The final argument, and most popular, arguments against the humanity of a fetus is the without his/her mother the fetus could not survive. Although true this argument of dependancy could cover all of humanity. Humans are dependant beings. We depend on the atmosphere, we depend on the sun, many people depend on things such as resperators, pacemakers, and more, we depend on many things in our life. The argument that a fetus is not human simply because it depends on his/her mother is wrong. In, fact new born babies are dependant on their mothers too. Why isn't it right to kill them too? A newborn is useless and will die if left alone. The ironic thing about this argument is that in other cases humans give the more dependant people higher protection of the law. A child murder incites much more outrage than an adult murder. Why is there a double standard?
- These four points try to show that the fetus is infact a human. Adolf Hitler killed many because he did not believe that the Jews and others were people. How is today's society any better? We kill even more that Hitler. Hitler killed 6 million, but abortions have killed around 40 million within the last 25 years. How can we say this is right?!?! Beside we are shooting ourselves in the foot. How can our population grow if we kill 1.4 million people a year. I don't understand this (aside from the fact that there are 4 millions births in the US per year).
- Why should the population grow ? -- 22.214.171.124 22:36, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Queue says: (7.6.06) The argument is more complicated than whether a fetus constitutes a human person, and yes personhood is the sticking point not humanity. A being is human biologically; personhood is the moral question at stake. Also, if more than Mark's 1.4 million people are born every year than the population grows. More simply, a population grows when the birth rate exceeds the death rate.
But beyond that, if we do for a moment suppose that a fetus is a person that does not mean that it is entitled to life or those things that make sustaining life possible. Consider for a moment Judith Jarvis Thomson's thought experiment. You awaken in a hospital bed aside a violinist who is in a coma. You are told by the Society for Music Lovers that you are the only person who can help him live; you would, however, need to remain attached to him for nine months. It is undeniable in this instance that he is a human and a person, but it is easily arguable that while you would be charitable to stay and help him live it is not your moral (or legal) obligation.
- Why look at your senario, when you have the natural occurrence of it in the real world? The thought process of physical burden is one of a natural process of being pregnant. So is the physical process of being conjoined twins. However, the state does not allow for anybody to kill off one of the twins because of the physical burden they may cause (eg, having someone always attached to you with no privacy)...unless it endangers the life of one of the two. The person "chained" to the other in your senario...is not causing physical harm to the other and while your senario is NOT likely ever to happen in the real world; it would be the state's requirement to protect both persons' lives. The agrument of abortion should not be one of "moral" aspects or obligation of the people, but one of the state.
- Actually conjoined twins can legally be seperated even if it could likley kill one of the parties involved. And I agree that the arguments should be legal but most of the anti-choice arguments are moral.
- --4t0m!k 00:26, 18 July 2006 (UTC) writes, actually they can be legally seperated in which "So One May Live" and that the condition of the twins in the cojoined state threatens one's life. Other than pure consent of the parties involved (the twins themselfs or their gaurdians), this would be the only ethical way doctors could do the surgey. There are things such as ethics and morals. Perhaps, you should read what doctors are sworn to do. The agrument of whether there should be no morals or ethics in law whould defeat the purpose of even creating law.
Diego (12 Jul 2006): In my opinion it's important do put aside (for a moment) the problem of fetus's status and rights and to face the political
and social problem of abortion. I think that everybody agrees that abortion is a tragedy that should be avoided, when possible. So, in this perpective, I think we should first decide what we want to achieve. Do we want to ban abortion or do we want to reduce the number of abortion while keeping it legal? I argue that banning abortion will not reduce the number of abortion. This is because very few (if any) women decide to abort just because abortion is legal. A woman decide to abort for many reasons (like poverty, religious beliefs, social pressure and so on), none of which will
disappears with an abortion ban. So, in my opinion, banning abortion will just result in an increase of clandestine abortion, with all its medical
So I think better results could be achieved trying to reduce abortion while keeping it legal.
First of all, we must understand for what reasons women decide to abort. How many women abortion are due to poverty? How many are due to social pressure? How many for other reasons? It is important to know "how many", because once this is known, specific political actions can be taken. Without these
informations, political actions will be taken based on ideology.
Second, these findings must be acknowledge. This can be obvious, but if poverty results to be the main reason of abortion, than that is: poverty is the main reason of
abortion. Not fiscal irresponsability, not economin recession, not "people laziness". It's important we accept these findings as a base for acting.
Third, actions need to be taken, in order to void the reasons for abortion. Is poverty one of the main reason? Monetary aids need to be allocated to these women. Is religious beliefs an important reason? These beliefs need to be challenged, if we think that avoiding abortion it is
important. Is unwanted pregnacy due to unprotected sex and important reason? Education must kicks in.
Forth, the results of these actions must be measured. Are the kind of economic aids lowering abortion number? And Education? This is extremly important, because to measure the results means also challenge our "beliefs" in those action's
effectivness. And since these beliefs are, usually, ideological, it's very important to know if we are doing something
effective (if not right, which is another different problem).
All these four point require us to recognise a very simple truth: we don't know what to do. Almost everybody, on this issue, believe that "the truth is self-evident", and that if you don't see it you're willingly
blind yourself. Some argue that "a fetus is a person", while other argue the contrary. So I think it's important to engage in a debate about the conseguences of these two hypotesis, in order to define exactly
what we are willing to pay. I can give two example, one for each side.
IF A FETUS IS NOT A PERSON, WHY IS A  CHILD A PERSON? Anencephalic is a cephalic disorder that result is the missing of major portion of brain, skull and scalp. In this disorder, the child's brain lack all cerebral structures used for thinking and coordination. Such a child is not
able to think. He has not a mental life like a person does. But while many will abort a fetus (which they believe is not entitled of personhood due to lack of major structures), very
few would kill and anencephalic child. Why is that?
IF A FETUS IS A PERSON, WHEN ABORTION SHOULD BE ALLOWED? If we agree that a fetus is a person, when we are willing to allow abortion to occurs? A good answer could be "never", but I think we should consider the following possibilities: rape, incest, therapeutic abortion to preserve woman's health and therapeutic abortion to preserv woman's life. These two example should let us to define more precisly what we believe and what cost are we willing to pay for our beliefs. --126.96.36.199 16:16, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
- Here is a radical thought: I know a lot of you will call me a monster, but I would argue that an infant is not fully human until it reaches about 2 years of age. A new born baby has cognitive abilities that are far inferior to those of a chimpanzee, yet we allow chimpanzees to be killed, but not babies. Why? Because a baby has the potential to become a fully sentient being? If so, doesn't the same apply to a zygote? Sure, a baby is living, feeling creature with primitive emotions, but it still doesn't become human until reaches a state of self-awareness at the age of about two. I would argue that baby euthanasia under 6 months of age should be legal in exceptional circumstances, for example when the newborn faces a lifetime of pain due to a disease, and both parents consent to it. Child killing isn't always a monstrous act. It is actually quite common in nature (and some human societies) and often in the best interest of the baby. 188.8.131.52 13:57, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
- The problem with potential is that it is an ill-defined concept. Why would you say zygotes have potetial but not egg and sperm? What is so special about moving chromosomes across a cell mebrane that creates the distinction between life and non-life?
- Here are some questions that need to be answered to understand the problem better:
- What is a human? Anti-abortion-ists say that a human is defined by its genes, which implies that a zygote is human since the moment of conception. However, that definition could be used to clasify a cancer or a cell culture in a lab as human.
- What is a person? Pro-abortion-ists argue that not all humans are persons, which they define as being a sentient being: conscious (or self-conscious), capable of feeling pain, with desires and future plans. They say persons have rights and dignity, while humans do not necessarily. This is not far from your posture.
- What is human dignity? Anti-abortion-ists say all humans have an ontological dignity, which is a dignity (and the rights associated to it, such as the right to life) for the simple fact of existing and being human. This case might seem to exclude animals, including beings as intelligent as gorillas or chimpanzees.
- Do only humans have dignity and rights? Pro-abortionists say that it is not the simple fact of being human that gives you rights and dignity (they deny ontological human dignity). They say dignity is associated with a series of properties of a being (mentioned above). This, given the right set of properties, could "give" some animals "dignity", but would imply that not all humans automatically have it.
- The final question is who we give dignity and rights. All humans, because they are humans, or beings that are capable of feeling pain?
- I ignored the concept of potential human for now, since the subject of human dignity and rights also applys to people close to death, like brain-dead terminally ill people or old people who have lost the capacity to communicate and think. --ШΔLÐSΣИ 15:10, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
- Here are some questions that need to be answered to understand the problem better:
Eugenics through Abortion[edit | edit source]
- The use of abortions to assist in eugenics allows those in power to direct "undesirables" toward ending the life of their progeny.