Abortion, in its most common usage, refers to the voluntary, or induced, termination of pregnancy, generally through the use of surgical procedures or drugs. As a result, birth does not take place. Medically, the term also refers to the early termination of a pregnancy by natural causes (“spontaneous abortion” or miscarriage), which ends one in five of all pregnancies, usually within the first thirteen weeks, or to the cessation of normal growth of a body part or organ. What follows is a discussion of the issues related to deliberately induced abortion.
Since 1972, the medical definition of pregnancy in the U.S. requires that implantation has already occurred so, technically, emergency contraceptives do not interfere with pregnancy. The controversy arises when one considers that conception occurs before implantation. Some believe the zygote is a human being with the same moral standing of an implanted embryo before pregnancy technically starts. It is for this reason some states in the USA consider abortion illegal because it contributes to the murder of an unborn person. This is one of the few most important reasons why some states prohibit abortion (Baird, 2003).
It is interested to point out that “Morning after” or “emergency” contraceptive drugs that are taken within 72 hours of sex interfere with the release of eggs from the ovary or with fertilization, and so are not generally considered to be forms of abortion. However, in some cases eggs will be released anyway; in these cases, if conceptions occurs the zygote will implant successfully regardless of emergency contraception use. There is no fetotoxic ‘backup chemical’ found in current formulations of emergency contraception: if ovulation occurs, conception will probably follow and the emergency contraceptive will have failed. Some studies suggest that emergency contraceptives can thicken the uterine mucus and thus interfere with implantation of a zygote, but, if true, this also happens with normal birth control pills taken regularly as well (Denious, 2003). Some institutions or individuals consider use of the morning after pill to be abortions (notably the Roman Catholic Church) because it prevents a fertilized egg from attaching in the uterus. Many states consider abortion as unethical because it has various effects on woman’s health that will be illustrated further in the essay.
In order to better understand the effects of abortion on mothers please refer to them as expressed below:
The exact risk and type of complications depend on the abortion method as well as the clinical and hygienic conditions. Studies found that the risk of serious physical complications of an abortion is less than 1%. In countries where abortion is illegal and women are forced to go to back-street abortionists serious physical complications such as infections, bleeding, and even fatal injuries are much higher.
The Abortion-Breast Cancer (ABC) debate centers around the fact that during early pregnancy hormone levels increase significantly. This initiates cellular differentiation (growth) in the breast preparing for lactation. The ABC theory is if the pregnancy is aborted prior to full differentiation in the third trimester this could leave more “vulnerable” cells than prior to the pregnancy; resulting in an elevated risk of breast cancer. Regardless of the debate over the Abortion-Breast Cancer Link, as of November 2004, women seeking abortions in Mississippi must first sign a form indicating they’ve been told abortion can increase their risk of breast cancer. I will add here that In Texas, Louisiana, and Kansas, state law requires women receive a pamphlet that suggests a cancer link with abortion. Similar legislation requiring notification has also been introduced, and is pending, in 14 other states. It should be noted, that because abortion is considered as harmful to women’s health, many states that as shown above gradually attempt to educate their females responsible parenthood and prohibit abortion altogether.
Abortion has been associated with increased risk of depression. According to a study of 1,884 women conducted by the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, women who did not carry their first pregnancies to term are 65% more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression around eight years later (De Puv, 2004). However, other studies did not support that depression may be caused by abortion. For example, a study of 2,525 women revealed that women who had an abortion were more likely to report depression or lower satisfaction with their lives. However, they also often reported rape, childhood physical and sexual abuse, and violent partners. After controlling for the history of abuse, partner characteristics, and background variables, abortion was not related to poorer mental health (Alcorn, 2003).
Throughout history abortion has long been a controversial subject due to its moral and ethical implications. It has been regularly banned and otherwise limited, though illegal abortions have continued to be commonplace in many areas regardless of the legal status. Almost 2/3 of the world’s women currently reside in countries where abortion may be obtained on request or for a broad range of social, economic or personal reasons (Baird, 2003). Abortion laws vary widely by country, with some countries allowing nearly total liberalization, and others banning abortion under any circumstances. There are also countries that do not have any laws restricting abortion, such as Canada.
In the USA abortion has been a bitterly-fought battle in politics. Opponents of abortion are usually termed Pro-Life, while proponents of abortion rights are usually termed Pro-Choice. The United States Supreme Court is largely considered the gatekeeper of abortion rights in the United States, and as a result, the possibility of the balance of the Court shifting towards a more conservative body became an issue in the 2004 US Presidential Election.
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