What is abortion? According to the Webster’s 21st Dictionary, abortion reads as the following; pregnancy before full development of the fetus. (1) However, abortion means many different contexts to different individuals. For example, to a single mother on welfare who may already be raising other children, abortion of an unwanted or unexpected pregnancy, may be the only salvation in her eyes to relieve her of her anguish over bringing another unwanted baby into the world. For others on opposing sides, abortion is clearly murder, and any woman or physician willing to perform such an act, is in the eyes of these advocates, a killer of human life.

In researching abortion, One is compelled to feel sympathy for individuals who have had to make such a moral decision. This author does not believe in abortions, however it is the woman’s choice and should be legal so that there are safe abortions performed. In this paper will show some of the statistics involved with abortion and the some of the political issues at hand. It will proceed to also show some of the different arguments that seem to plague both the pro-life partisans and the pro-choice partisans.

Abortion is a deeply private issue, touching the most intimate elements of a woman’s life, and yet it has become such a public concern, that the nation battles to define a national policy enforced by law. It is a moral, ethical, legal, and medical issue that has seared America’s politics for more than four decades. It has brought about debate among the nation’s political parties, divided churches and religious groups, provoked violence and middle–of-the-night firebombing and rallied millions to political involvement in the streets and at the ballot box.

Two days after President Clinton was inaugurated, he signed orders repealing regulations that had been at the core of abortion controversy for the past twelve years. Clinton reversed the course charted by President’s Ronald Reagan and George Bush and executed the support for abortion rights, which in turn, has made abortion opponents vow to renew their efforts to press forward their claims in state legislatures. Interestingly, during the same time of Clinton’s actions, 75,000 abortion opponents marched in Washington to show their support for their belief.

Abortion is usually treated as an isolated political question, “Are you for or against abortion?” The current political fight has taken place in a larger context. It is only part of a long history of political and cultural disputes over the concept of family planning. However, with past Supreme Court rulings, possibly the nation will reach a kind of consensus on this controversial issue, which is in support of the fundamental right to an abortion. Allowing states to discourage abortion by regulating and restricting access to the procedure. It does at best, however, remains an uneasy consensus. Those on both sides remain unsatisfied with legal and policy compromise, and will more than likely be expected to continue their efforts to either expand the right to abortion or narrow its availability and use.

About 6.4 million women become pregnant each year in the United States alone. More than half of these pregnancies are unintended. Out of this half, approximately 1.4 million carry the pregnancy to term and give birth, 400,000 have miscarriages and about 1.6 million terminate their pregnancies through abortion. Since the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade, about 16 million women have had legal abortions.

Public opinion about the abortion debate generates many disputes, however, most polls indicate that a large majority of Americans support access to legal abortion. Notwithstanding their feelings about morality of abortion; an even larger number of people feel the decision should be left up to the mother and her physician, and therefore, in this context, support legal abortion.

Battles about abortion occurred in many developed nations in the early 1990’s. In Germany, unification prompted a fierce fight over reconciling the laws of the former East and West. In Poland, the shift from communist domination precipitated a volatile effort by the Catholic Church to completely ban abortion. On the whole, however, the developed nations have been trying to secure abortion rights. Generally, economic well being, access to high quality medical care, and a variety of reproductive choices have resulted in lower rates of population growth, fertility, and infant mortality in developed countries. Still though, a continued concern to policy makers, women’s advocates and health professionals is the high health risks to women and children, and the lack of

reproductive health choices in the developing world. Here is a list of the different world abortion laws that exist. They are as follows:

-Fifty-two countries, with 25 percent of the world’s population, permit abortion only when a woman’s life is endangered.

-Forty-two countries, with 12 percent of the world’s population, have laws permitting abortions on broader medical grounds. The Case being, a threat to the woman’s general health and sometimes for genetic or judicial reasons, such as incest or rape.

-Twenty-five countries, including the United States, with 40 percent world’s population, permit abortion up to a certain point in gestation without requiring specific reasons.

-In 47 countries with 11 percent of the world’s population (600 million people), abortion is legal on medical grounds, including health risk to the woman or cases of fetal deformity.

-Another 1.3 billion people, 25 percent of the world’s population, live in 23 countries where abortion is on social or economic grounds including Japan, Poland, and India. (Anderson, 74)

One of the main questions that continues to fuel the issues between both pro-life and pro-choice advocates is the question, “is an embryo a person?” Maybe the real question should be, “what is the embryo?” According to Dr. Jack of the National Right to Life Committee, the embryo is a human being from the moment of conception. His definition of a human being depends on the forty-six chromosomes first present in the egg. This advocates their effort to back up religious arguments based on church tradition. Clearly, a fertilized egg has the potential to become a person. Of course, the embryo is always human. That is, it is of human origin, but so is every egg and sperm cell. The problem seems to exist in the definition of the word “human.” It can be either an adjective or a noun. As an adjective it carries no particular moral weight. We have human hair, human fingernails, and the human cells in our saliva all have forty-six chromosomes, however, they have no spec!

ial significance. The noun, however, does have moral dimension. Its synonym “human being” denotes individuality or person hood. It may also be associated with human thoughts and feelings. With respect to

the embryo, then, its use may relate to the development of the brain. The early embryo, before development of the mature human brain, has only one quality to distinguish it from all other living things; it has the potential to become a human being. It is a strange kind of potential because it has no path or blueprint to follow. We all know this potential because of our awareness, thoughts, and feelings. Still we struggle with the philosophical and moral implications by being aware of this potential. There will always be these arguments based on spiritual or ethical beliefs to convince an individual of the rightness or wrongs of abortion.

In closing, abortion not only effects the life of the unborn child but it first effects the mother. In stating this, the tug of war battles that ensue the pro-life partisans have no looking glass into the lives of the individuals who have this very personal decision effects. Abortion will never be a cut and dry issue in the context that other people should simply allow a woman to determine what is best morally and ethically for her situation. It is expected that people mind their own business everyday, but become involved in a person’s business when we stand to become the heroes in the public eye with issues such as abortions. Women the world over will somehow find a way to get an abortion if they chose the pregnancy is not wanted, whether or not it be legal, or, sad to say, illegal.

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