Abortion is the expulsion of a fetus from the uterus before it has reached the stage of viability (in human beings, usually about the 20th week of gestation). An abortion may occur spontaneously, in which case it is also called a miscarriage, or it may be brought on purposefully, in which case it is often called an induced abortion.
Reasons for Abortion
Some societies ban abortion almost completely while others permit it in certain cases. Such societies usually lay down a maximum age after which the fetus must not be aborted, regardless of the circumstances. At various times some of the following have been allowed in some societies:
(1) Abortion for the sake of the mother's health:
- including her mental health
(2) Abortion where a pregnancy is the result of a crime:
- Such as crimes like rape, incest, or child abuse
(3) Abortion where the child of the pregnancy would have an ' unacceptable quality of life' such as cases where the child would have: - Serious physical handicaps,
- Serious genetic problems,
- Serious mental defects
(4) Abortion for social reasons, including:
- Mother unable to cope with a child (or another child),
- Mother being too young to cope with a child
(5) Abortion as a matter of government policy:
- As a way of regulating population size
- As a way of regulating groups within a population
- As a way of improving the population
Most opponents of abortion agree that abortion for the sake of the mother's health can be morally acceptable if there is a real risk of serious damage to the mother. Abortion for social reasons is usually least acceptable to opponents.
Advantages of Abortion
(1) In many cases, abortion helps to safeguard women's health. There are many women, who suffer from various hazardous medical conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, severe hypertension, sickle-cell anemia, severe diabetes, etc. As these diseases can be life-threatening, an abortion often helps to avoid serious medical complications from childbirth. But abortion should be carried out after proper medical advice as it can lead to potential miscarriages in the future.
(2) In some societies, women are considered nothing more than child bearing machines. Therefore, a right to abortion gives her an individual identity, as per which she can decide the fate of her child.
(3) At times, abortion also helps in keeping a check on the size of the family. It can serve as a potent tool to undo mistakes, thereby preventing mothers to be forced for raising a child at a young age.
(4) The convenience of abortion provides the parents with an option of having a wanted child. In its absence, any unwanted pregnancy would lead to the birth of many children, who weren't wanted. This could immensely hamper the social strata of the society, having negative implications especially on child's psyche.
(5) Moreover, in cases where women are raped, getting pregnant with such a child is yet another brutality they would be forced to bear. Thus, the option of abortion is the best for them.
Disadvantages of Abortion
(1) An abortion can be considered a brutality as it does not give the child in the womb, a chance at life. In effect, it is highly condemned by a lot of religions as well.
(2) Abortion is often used as a type of birth control by many women. This in a way promotes infidelity, wherein women can easily have many sexual relationships, which would eventually end up in abortions.
(3) An abortion always lessens the chances of having children later in life. Though it is not a mandatory phenomenon, it can definitely happen, leaving the woman childless forever.
(4) Abortion also promotes an irresponsible behavior amongst people, as they do not want to take responsibility of their own actions. It gives them the freedom of committing careless activities and then getting rid of them easily.
(5) Abortion can lead to many medical complications such as infection, sepsis, recurrent miscarriages, etc.
(6) Abortion can also cause psychological impairments amongst women such as depression and guilt.
Miscarriage is a common term for spontaneous abortion, the unintentional termination of a pregnancy before the fetus is capable of independent life. Spontaneous abortion may be contrasted with induced abortion, in which an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy is intentionally ended. For more information on induced abortion, see Abortion. Physicians estimate that 25 percent of all human pregnancies abort spontaneously, with three out of four miscarriages occurring during the first three months of pregnancy. Some women apparently have a tendency to miscarry, and recurrent miscarriage decreases the probability of subsequent successful childbirth. See Pregnancy and Childbirth. The causes of miscarriage are not clearly established. Abnormal development of the embryo or of the placental tissue, which links the embryo to the mother, or both, is found in about half the cases. These abnormalities may be due to inherent faults in the germ cells (egg or sperm cells) or may be secondary to faulty implantation of the developing fertilized egg or to other characteristics of the maternal environment. Severe vitamin deficiencies have been shown to play a role in miscarriages in experimental animals. Hormone deficiencies also have been found in women who are subject to recurrent miscarriage. Other factors include such maternal abnormalities as acute infectious diseases, systemic diseases such as nephritis (kidney disease) and diabetes, and severe trauma. Uterine malformations, including tumors, are responsible in some instances, and extreme anxiety and other psychological disturbances may contribute to the premature expulsion of the fetus. The most common symptom of threatened miscarriage is vaginal bleeding, with or without intermittent pain. About one-fourth of all pregnant women bleed at some time during early pregnancy, however, and up to 50 percent of these women carry the fetus for the full term. Treatment for threatened miscarriage usually consists of bed rest. Almost continuous bed rest throughout pregnancy is required in some cases of repeated miscarriage; vitamin and hormone therapy also may be given. Surgical correction of uterine abnormalities may be needed in certain of these cases. Miscarriage may result in expulsion of all or part of the contents of the uterus, or the embryo may die and be retained in the uterus for weeks or months in a so-called missed abortion. Most physicians advocate the surgical removal of any residual embryonic or placental tissue in order to avoid possible irritation or infection of the uterine lining.