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Abortion Poses Moral, Social and Medical Dilemmas

Dec 19, 2001 868 Words
During the past century, abortion has joined race and war as one of the most debatable subjects of controversy in the United States. It discusses human interaction, where ethics, emotions and law are combined. Abortion poses moral, social and medical dilemmas that focus many individuals to create an emotional and violent atmosphere.

There are many points of view toward abortion, but the two most common are "pro-choice" and "pro-life". A pro-choice person would feel that the decision to abort a pregnancy is that of the mother's and the state should have no right to interfere. A pro-life person believes that from the moment of conception, the embryo or fetus is alive. In the United States about 1.6 million pregnancies end in abortion. Women with incomes under eleven thousand are over three times more likely to have an abortion than women with incomes above twenty-five thousand. Recently the United States rate has dropped six percent overall, but the rate of abortion among girls younger than 15 jumped up to 18% and the rate among minorities climbed from 186 per 1,000 to 189 per 1,000.

In 1973, Roe challenged a Texas law that prohibited abortions except to save a woman's life. Justice Harry Blackmun, found the 14th Amendment's guarantees of personal liberty and previous decisions protecting privacy in family matters included a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy. The Supreme Court ruled that in the first trimester (13 weeks) of pregnancy, state laws and regulations couldn't interfere with a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy. During the second trimester (14-24 weeks), state laws and regulations can regulate abortion in order to protect a woman's health. During the last trimester (after 24 weeks) and after the fetus is a viable, state law and regulations may prohibit abortion except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the woman.

Now in force in eleven states, informed consent laws require women to receive state-mandated laws, lectures and booklets on abortion and fetal development and then wait 24 hours having an abortion. In many cases, the doctor or other medical professional must give the lecture. Women are required to make an extra appointment at a clinic for a lecture, even if they are traveling from another city or state. Abortion is the only medical procedure to which informed consent laws currently apply.

Informed consent letters often contain misleading information about a woman' s ability to get welfare and child support, the risks of abortion and when women can safely change their minds or stop a procedure. Biased information on fetal development and viability may also be included in state-prepared booklets.

Several alternatives to abortion include, counseling during the first trimester to help her decide whether to have an abortion or not. Herbal abortions which induce miscarriages are 40-45% effective. They are usually not recommended due to high risk of hemorrhagic shock, which may lead to death and ectopic pregnancies in a future pregnancy. Menstrual extraction, which was developed in the early 70s by Carol Downer and Lorraine Rothman, involves physically removing the fertilized egg and can also move an inconveniently time period. This procedure can only be done before the 8th week of pregnancy. Another alternative is Methotrexate & Mifepristone, RU-486, which blocks implantation of a fertilized fetus in the uterus and stops the growth of the fetus. There are several programs that help a woman with economical needs, care for the baby and parenting skills. Many women choose to go through the whole pregnancy and then later give the child up for adoption due to lack of affordability, career, school, etc. Abortion is an unnecessary procedure, which can be avoided. Of the women today, 47% become pregnant due to lack of contraception, which results in the termination of the life of an innocent being. Besides counseling and booklets 24 hours prior to the abortion, a video on the exact procedure that is going to be performed should be shown to the patient a few days before the fetus is removed. A woman who has had the procedure done before and explain her after-affects should also speak to the patient. Since teenagers do the majority of abortions, states can and should provide confidential reproductive health services and counseling programs that are accessible to teenagers before they become pregnant. These programs should release information about sexuality, reproduction, contraception, and the importance of family support and communication. Such programs could not only reduce the number of unwanted teen pregnancies, but they could also strengthen family bonds and prevent family crises that can lead to teenage pregnancies. A teenager should be given the security of knowing that she can assume the adult role of motherhood if and when she, not the government, chooses. Reproductive freedom -- including the right to confidential contraception, abortion and prenatal care services -- is essential to this goal. Intrusive state laws that claim to encourage family communication, while clearly undermining the best interests of families, wrongfully serve teenagers. Those laws interfere with the right of private decision-making and do nothing to stem the high rate of unwanted teenage pregnancies.

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