Abortion has a long history and has been induced by various methods including herbal abortifacients, the use of sharpened tools, physical trauma, and other traditional methods. Contemporary medicine utilizes medications and surgical procedures to induce abortion. The legality, prevalence, and cultural views on abortion vary substantially around the world. In many parts of the world there is prominent and divisive plublic controversy over the ethical and legal issues of abortion. Abortion and abortion-related issues feature prominently in the national politics in many nations, often involving the opposing "pro-life" and "pro-choice" worldwide social movements. Incidence of abortion has declined worldwide, as access to family planning education and contraceptive services has increased. Abortion incidence in the United States declined 8% from 1996 to 2003.
Abortion is an issue that evokes, on all sides, very strong feelings and judgments and very heated recriminations. The most radical formulation of the anti-abortion or "pro-life" side of the debate views abortion as the murder of unborn children, and so as the equivalent of out and out infanticide, making the legal use of abortion since Roe v. Wade, at a rate of around 1.5 million a year in the United States, into a holocaust of the innocent fully comparable to the Nazi genocide against the Jews. Radical "pro-life" activists who blockade abortion clinics (or who even commit terrorist acts of vandalism, arson, and murder) see what they do as what "good Germans" didn't do in the face of Hitler's atrocities, or what John Brown did do in his attempt at Harper's Ferry to free the slaves through mass rebellion.
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