Prof. R. Clarkson
December 3rd, 2012
Abortion: A Woman’s Choice
The controversial debate over abortion laws has been the focus of much political and societal attention over the past century. The term “pro-choice” outlines the belief that a women should have the right to control her own body, and in turn, the right to an induced abortion. The main concern of pro-life supporters is for the health of the unborn fetus in the woman’s womb, regarding it as an individual with rights to life, and that abortion is an extreme violation of these rights. However, this standpoint is extremely flawed. The majority of all abortions take place within the first trimester, while the fetus is attached to the mother through the placenta and umbilical cord, and is completely dependent on her health. At this stage in the pregnancy, a fetus cannot be regarded as an individual entity with rights and reasons. Reflecting the evolving perceptions and moral standards of society, the procedure involving the removal of a fertilized egg from a woman’s cervix has become a topic regarding much social stigma in Western societies. Despite the debate and controversy over this medical treatment, it is crucial that women in contemporary society have access to abortions and the right to choose, specifically because of the imminent dangers in illegal abortion clinics, instances such as rape or incest, and especially the basic human rights that the female population is entitled to. The implications of abortion laws cannot be regarded as insignificant in modern society, and the importance of their abolishment correlates directly with the emotional, physical, and psychological well being of would-be mothers. Throughout history and in many different cultures, women have assisted each other in the process of abortion. Until the late 1800s, female healers performed the medical procedure, without any laws against the practice in North America or Europe. Abortion in Western society and European countries was not prohibited by law until the 19th century, however the revolution of women’s rights was emerging into the public, and even radical abortionists were rarely prosecuted for their beliefs. At this point in time, abortions were often performed in dangerous environments that posed as an increased risk for the patient. However, in the several countries that have since legalized abortion, trained and certified doctors perform the procedure, in a safe and secure atmosphere provided for women receiving the treatment. According to statistics provided by the World Health Organization, it is estimated that one woman dies every seven minutes around the world due to unsafe illegal abortions. In contrast to this startling figure, less that 0.3% of patients who receive abortions experience a complication that results in hospitalization (WHO). Furthermore, the procedure of a safe, medical abortion is not harmful to the health of a woman, nor does it decrease her chances of having a child in the future. Though the risks associated with receiving the procedure after the first trimester is slightly higher (but still virtually insignificant), the legality of abortion and the ability to access this resource is crucial to the health of a woman, no matter where she lives. The act of an unsafe and illegal abortion is the leading cause of maternal death (WHO). This is because such procedures are performed by unqualified “health providers”, who are unskilled in their field and do not provide a safe and hygienic medicinal environment, creating an increased susceptibility for disease in the patient. Additionally, self-induced abortions are extremely dangerous to perform, yet are attempted by women as a last-ditch effort to rid themselves of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, in cultures and societies that prohibit abortion, or place extremely negative stigma on the choice to abort. It would be a rare occurrence to meet a woman who has no opinion on the topic of abortion,...
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