Abortion in America


Abortion considered to be a very
controversial topic in American society, for the first time abortion was made
illegal in 1860. While it was made illegal under false pretenses that were
because of medical professionals’ need to be dominant in the health industry,
the law carried on until the 70’s. Some consider abortion to be a form of
murder while others adopted it in the women’s liberation movement. There are
also those who fall in between and believe that abortion is wrong unless there are
health complications or under circumstances like rape or incest. Statistics
show that abortion rates have gone down since it was legalized in 1973 but in
contrast women who are impoverished have and increasing rate of abortions.

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Because abortion is such a hot topic I have decided to write a research paper
on the topic covering the history, politics, and the social aspect because
abortion has been a universal controversy that has affected the lives of people
in America. 

Before America was founded the law
of England permitted abortions between the 16th and 20th weeks of pregnancy
time known as “quickening”. Abortion, like all medical procedures, was very
high-risk. There weren’t any antiseptics, hospitals were rare and doctors only
had primal medical educations. The mortality rate between the mother and fetus
were both extremely high. Though abortion laws allowed a woman to terminate her
pregnancy, slave women were different. Pregnancies among slave women were seen
as a good way to acquire more workers and slave women were not allowed to
terminate the pregnancy. Then in 1860 twenty states had anti-abortion laws but
were difficult to enforce and many women began to use illegal services or
perform it themselves and even if they survived the abortion they would often
become sterile. The incentives behind banning abortions in these states were
the fear that the population of new immigrants would be larger than native
white women and doctors wanted to prevent untrained practitioners from stealing
their patients by criminalizing abortion and establishing themselves the sole
persons to practice medicine. The American Medical Association (AMA)
accomplished their goal by arguing that abortion was dangerous and immoral and
by 1910 only one state still had abortion as a legal procedure. Finally,
abortion transitioned into a physician’s only practice. In the twentieth
century, women’s groups, lawyers, and doctors put in motion a plan to reform
laws on abortion. The movement cited a woman’s inability to control their
reproductive rights and after the WW2 baby boom many women took advantage of
birth control clinics or limited or postponed their child bearing and even
resorted to overseas, back alley and self-performed abortions. In the 60’s
birth defects caused by drugs such as thalidomide and syndromes such as rubella
brought more attention to the awareness when women not wanting to have a
deformed child were not able to get a legal abortion. The drug thalidomide
which was prescribed to ease morning illness in mothers that cause underdeveloped
limbs and rubella, a syndrome that a baby can catch within the first and second
trimester which can cause a miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects.

Eventually, the National Organization for Women (NOW) had lobbied for abortion
law reform states responded and reformed laws while anti-abortion groups argued
that a woman’s right to reproduce is as equal to a fetus’s right to be born.

The debate went to the supreme court in 1973 and ruled that abortion is legal
and issued guidelines for states, insuring the legality of a women’s right to
have and abortion under the fourteenth amendment.

the 1970s the pro-life movement persisted mostly Catholic but expressed their
view as a rights issue and not a religious one. Before Roe v. Wade, the
pro-life movement was small, non-centralized, and had focused on single state
legislatures. Then the supreme court ruled in favor of reproductive rights and
which worried the state legislators. They pushed the Hyde Amendment which
successfully forbade federal funding of abortions through Medicaid but had and
an unsuccessful passing of an amendment that would ban abortion. Pro-choice
activists began to present their message by focusing on the fetus while
excluding the woman. The strategies that had the greatest impact were showing
pictures of aborted fetuses, most from the John and Barbara Wilke’s Handbook of
abortion. Their work personified the fetus and brought doctors interest in
fetal life. Then in the 70s and 80’s evangelical Christians joined the
movement, radicalizing the pro-life movement. In the past evangelicals would
not agree if abortion was sinful, but their mindset had changed. Groups were
formed, and some joined into pre-existing groups but the most famous of the
evangelical unit fighting to end abortion was Operation Rescue which wanted to
end abortion “by any means necessary”. The group formed human blockades in
front of clinics, getting attention from police and filling jail cells while
making getting an abortion difficult. However, many pro-lifers wanted to make a
difference on the state level. They were successful, and states passed laws
that required informed consent, for the parents to be notified, and waiting
periods between the doctor-patient consultation and the actual abortion. Then
in 1992 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey filed a
lawsuit against the state saying that the abortion control act violated the
supreme court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade while Casey ruled that states should
regulate abortions. The supreme court ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood and
the state could interfere as long as it did not place a burden on the woman
wanting the procedure. The ruling made it difficult for women especially poor
and rural to get and the abortion. The group, whether working on a social level
or a political one both succeeded in making pro-life central to conservatism
and part of the Republican party. In contrast, The pro-choice movement only
started until 1888, when a newspaper brought it to the public’s attention and
in 1916, planned parenthood had opened its doors as America’s first birth
control clinic. Since the Roe v. Wade numerous institutions have been made to
protect women who want to terminate their pregnancy. Before the Supreme Court
ruling however, the movement had no formal organization. When the Hyde
Amendment passed, it led to the pro-choice movement expanding and the national
Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws grew to a more formal structure and
adopted a professional leadership which made connections to several state affiliates.

The NARAL membership expanded to 400,00 by 1990 after the Supreme Court ruled
in favor in the Webster vs. Reproductive Health decision which gave the group
opportunity to give money to local grassroots activities. During 1992 planned
parenthood also saw the election of a pro-choice president who also appointed a
pro-choice Justice to the Supreme Court that same year. The movement has a lot
of decisions to make, on their strategies, whether to appeal to social or
political America but the movement will survive through their organizations.

The CDC began in
1969 abortion service as the goal to document the amount of legal abortions
that were performed. They define a legal abortion as “an
intervention performed by a licensed clinician (e.g., a physician,
nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) that is intended to
terminate an ongoing pregnancy.” The state the report abortion data disclose
whether and abortion was medical or surgical. While medical abortions use
medications and taken during the few weeks of the first trimester, Surgical
abortion are conducted in the end of the first or the middle of the second
trimester. In 2014, Women in their twenties accounted for the majority of
abortions in 2014 while twelve percent of abortions occurred with adolescents
and in that same year 652,639 legal induced abortions were reported to the CDC.

For every one thousand of women, 12.1 abortions were performed making the total
number of reported abortions decreasing 2% from 2013 and the ratio decreasing
7% which is and even smaller jump from 2005, where abortions decreased 22%. The
majority (39%)of abortions are performed among white patients, 28% for black
patients and 25% for Hispanics. Low income household make up 75% of abortions
with the concern of financially raising a child, while other reasons are
concern that the child could interfere with work or school or not wanting to be
a single parent. The census is important because the censuses evaluates
effectiveness of programs for reducing unplanned pregnancies, monitor changes
in clinical practices, and identify characteristics of women who are at risk
for an unwanted pregnancy.

the historical, social, political, and data findings regarding abortion with
the accumulated research it has been a controversial topic for both sides of
the political spectrum. Through anti-abortion to the women’s rights movement
abortion is a topic that will always be prevalent. 






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