Abortion is the termination of an unwanted pregnancy by loss of or destruction of an egg, embryo or fetus before birth. The term of abortion is used to define the termination of a pregnancy before the fetus attains capacity for life outside the uterus. In all societies, women have for many reasons, sought to terminate pregnancies. When a woman tries to self-induce an abortion it can cause serious physical risk to a woman. Today, abortions in the early weeks of a pregnancy, by a trained practitioner and under proper conditions, can be safe medical procedure. (Americana, 1) In no society, either in the present or the past has there been a single dominant attitude toward abortions. The Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle discussed abortion as a useful means of population control. Also under Roman law, abortion primarily reflected family rule by the husband, who on the one hand could order an abortion and on the other hand could punish or divorce his wife if she ended a pregnancy without his consent. (Ameicana, 2)
In the Roman Catholic Church they consider abortion as murder only after the point at which the rational soul became instilled, usually said to be 40 days after conception. In 1930, Pope Pins XI declared even if the life of the mother is threatened by giving birth, abortion is unjustified. The only exception to the abortion prohibition that the church has considered to be morally acceptable has been the destruction of the fetus as an indirect consequence of other surgery that is deemed necessary. In the former Soviet Union abortion was legalized in 1917 after the revolution, then it was restricted in the 1930s due to population concerns, then it was legalized again in the mid 1950s. A strong and worldwide feminist movement during the 1960s heightened the pressure to legalize abortion. In the U.S. this trend culminated in a 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that made abortion legal during the early months on pregnancy. (Americana, 3)
In the early American colonies abortions were permitted. I was not until the mid-1800s that abortion became a widely debated subject. A campaign led by physicians was seeking to maintain professional control over the practice, leading to a strict legal regulation. For almost 100 years after, in most U.S. jurisdictions, abortion was illegal unless performed by a physician. (Americana, 4) In the case of Roe v. Wade the decision allowed states to pass regulations affecting second-trimester abortions and to prohibit third-trimester abortions. In 1989 the Supreme Court permitted further regulation at the state level. The case was Webster v. Reproductive Services. The decision upheld a Missouri law prohibiting the performance of abortions by public employees or in taxpayer-supported facilities. In 1991 a courts decision in the case of Rust v. Sullivan upheld federal regulations forbidding abortion counseling in federally funded clinics. (Americana, 5)
The Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 1997 was introduced to the U.S. Congress in an attempt to outlaw abortions in late pregnancy. The bill defined partial-birth abortion as the partial vaginal delivery of a living fetus, which is then killed before delivery is completed. As of 1999, however, a ban on the procedure had failed to become federal law. (Americana, 4)
Supporters as well as opponents of abortion rights support their arguments with what they consider to be basic moral principles. "Pro-Choice" supporters declare that a woman has a right to determine if she wants to continue a pregnancy or not....