Is Abortion Murder?
February 09, 2013
Prevent Abortion Index
Abortion, like war, is a failure of society to come to grips with a much more fundamental problem . . . In this case the fundamental problem is the prevention of unintended pregnancy.
by Peter Kreeft
The personhood of the fetus is clearly the crucial issue for abortion, for if the fetus is not a person, abortion is not the deliberate killing of an innocent person: if it is, it is. All other aspects of the abortion controversy are relative to this one; e.g., women have rights - over their own bodies but not over other persons' bodies. The law must respect a "right to privacy" but killing other persons is not a private but a public deed. Persons have a "right to life" but non-persons (e.g., cells, tissues, organs, and animals) do not.
Pro-choicers make a triple distinction among a human life, a human being and a human person. Each cell in our bodies has human life, and a single cell kept alive in a laboratory could be called "a human life" but certainly not "a human being" or "a human person." "A human being" is a biologically whole individual of the species. Even a human being born with no brain is a human being, not an ape; but it is not a person because it has no brain and cannot do anything distinctively human: think, know, choose, love, feel, desire, commit, relate, aspire, know itself, know God, know its past, know its future, know its environment, or communicate - all of which have, in various combinations, been offered as the marks of a person. The pro-life position seems to confuse the sanctity of the person with the sanctity of life, which is two steps removed from it.
Pro-choicers say the very young product of conception, the zygote, has no ability to perform any of the distinctive activities that anyone associates with personhood (reasoning, choosing, loving, communicating, etc.) - not even feeling pain, for the zygote has no brain or nervous system. At first it is only a single cell. How could anyone call a single cell a person?
Pro-choicers claim that personhood begins not at at conception, but develops gradually, as a matter of degree. Every one of the characteristics we use to identify personhood arises and grows gradually rather than suddenly. The fetus is potentially a person, but it must grow into an actual person.
Pro-choicers will say that personhood is not a clear concept. There is not universal agreement on it. Different philosophers, scientists, religionists, moralists, mothers, and observers define it differently. It is a matter of opinion where the dividing line between persons and non-persons should be located. But what is a matter of opinion should not be decided or enforced by law. Law should express social consensus, and there is no consensus in our society about personhood's beginning or, consequently, about abortion. One opinion should not be forced on all. Pro-choice is not pro-abortion but, precisely, pro-choice.
Thus there are four and only four possibilities: that it is not a person and we know that, that it is a person and we know that, that it is a person but we do not know that, and that it is not a person and we do not know that. Now what is abortion in each of these four cases? In case (1), abortion is perfectly permissible. We do no wrong if we kill what is not a person and we know it is not a person-e.g., if we fry a fish. But no one has ever proved with certainty that a fetus is not a person. If there exists anywhere such a proof, please show it to me and I shall convert to pro-choice on the spot if I cannot refute it.
By Brian Elroy McKinley
How anti-abortion activists misrepresent the biblical record
People don't take time to read their own Bibles.This website talks about the few biblical verses that anti-abortionists cite to demonstrate that abortion is murder. But there are others that would seem to make the case for abortion.
This is one of the verses commonly cited to support the stance the abortion is murder: "For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for Thou art fearfully wonderful (later texts were changed to read "for I am fearfully and wonderfully made"); wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." Psalm 139:13-16
But the Bible also says this:
"And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Exodus 21:22-25
In Leviticus 27:6 a monetary value was placed on children, but not until they reached one month old (any younger had no value). Likewise, in Numbers 3:15 a census was commanded, but the Jews were told only to count those one month old and above - anything less, particularly a fetus, was not counted as a human person. In Ezekiel 37:8-10 we watch as God re-animates dead bones into living soldiers, but the passage makes the interesting note that they were not alive as persons until their first breath. Likewise, in Genesis 2:7, Adam had a human form and a vibrant new body but he only becomes a fully-alive human person after God makes him breathe.
Making a judgment against people in God's name, when God is not behind the judging, is nothing short of claiming that our own beliefs are more important than God's.
U.S.: The Battle Over AbortionNovember 09, 2005 Chicago Tribune
Since Roe vs. Wade turned 30, the battle over abortion has intensified. Anti-abortion advocates are working to chip away at the landmark ruling that affirmed a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy. Abortion supporters are rallying to keep the issue in the public consciousness. In the wake of the Alito nomination, interest groups on both sides revved up their public relations machines. On a state and national level, the status of abortion has seesawed. In the last several years, here are the more relevant events concerning abortion:
U.S.;: Defying Stereotypes on AbortionJune 25, 2006 Baltimore Sun
The profile on the average woman who seeks abortion, drawn from abortion statistics collected by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, contradicts a lot of assumptions out there about the woman who seeks an abortion. She is a mom, in her 20s, she's attended college, earns a manageable living and is either living with the father or in a long-term relationship with him and has a child. She is not someone's careless teenage daughter.
It is surprising that a woman who has given birth would find herself back in this position.
It is educated women in their 20s who are having most abortions.
And while abortion rates have been decreasing for all women there have been only small declines in the rates for women in their 20s.
There were 1.3 million abortions in 2000, one abortion for every three births.
But 70% were to women in their 20s and early 30s. 80% were to unmarried women, but only 25% to women living in poverty.
She is almost as likely to be white 4% as she is to be a member of a minority.
60% of abortions are to women who have one child.
Though they make the decision not to give birth to another child they don't take the necessary steps to prevent pregnancy.
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Family Planning Prevents Abortions
U.S. abortions fell 5% during the recession, perhaps because women are more careful to use birth control when times are tough, researchers say. Both the number of abortions and the abortion rate dropped by the same percentage.
Women are "more careful about birth control," said Elizabeth Ananat, a Duke University assistant professor of public policy and economics who has researched abortions.
Not all states send in data on abortions. While experts estimate there are more than 1 million abortions nationwide each year, the CDC counted about 785,000 in 2009 because of incomplete reporting.
Mississippi had the lowest abortion rate reported, at 4 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. The state also had only a couple of abortion providers and has the nation's highest teen birth rate. New York, second to California in number of abortion providers, had the highest abortion rate, roughly eight times Mississippi's.
Nationally since 2000, the number of reported abortions has dropped overall by about 6% and the abortion rate has fallen 7%.
A government study released earlier this year suggested that about 60% of teenage girls who have sex use the most effective kinds of contraception, including the pill and patch. That's up from the mid-1990s, when fewer than half were using the best kinds.
There are also there is an increased use of IUDs, T-shaped plastic sperm-killers that a doctor inserts into the uterus. Earlier this year the Guttmacher Institute reported that IUD use among sexually active women on birth control rose from less than 3% in 2002 to more than 8% in 2009.
IUDs essentially prevent "user error," said Rachel Jones, a Guttmacher researcher.
Also on the increase is the use of the morning-after pill, a form of emergency contraception that in 2006 was approved for non-prescription sale to women 18 and older. In 2009 that was lowered to 17.
The economy, which was in recession from December 2007 until June 2009, is likely another factor. Americans ere still worried about anemic hiring, a depressed housing market and other problems.
John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health, said: "The economy seems to be having a fundamental effect on pregnancies, not abortions."
The majority of abortions are performed by the eighth week of pregnancy, when the fetus is about the size of a lima bean.
Black women have an abortion rate four times that of white women .
"Life begins at conception" is the phrase frequently invoked by anti-choicers seeking to eliminate women's basic right to control over their own bodies, and it is the premise of policies pushed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and fundamentalist evangelicals. It is the cornerstone of the so-called personhood laws attempted in both Colorado and Mississippi, and the basis for the "Sanctity of Life" bill co-sponsored by Congressmen Paul Ryan and Todd Akin. The result of all of these efforts, if they succeeded, would be a total ban on abortion without exception, and bans on many forms of contraception, in vitro fertilization, and health care for women who are or who may be pregnant - in other words, a radical shift in women's lives.
"Life begins at conception," suggests a question: are women people with the same fundamental rights as men, or are they essentially incubators whose ability to participate in society and the economy, and, quite literally, whose ability to live is dependent on whether they are, might be, or might become pregnant.
But the phrase is highly - and purposefully - misleading because it confuses simple biological cell division both with actual pregnancy and with actual, legal personhood, which are all very different things.
Vice President candidate Congressman Paul Ryan said he was pro-life - not simply because of his Catholic faith, but also because of reason and science, giving the example of when he and his wife saw the seven week ultrasound of their child, and when they saw heartbeat, even though the little 'baby' was in the shape of a bean, they were convinced that life begins at conception.
Of course life begins at conception. Having a child requires, as a first step, the successful integration of a sperm and an egg, or fertilization. By "life," we mean the essential starting place of a potential human being; a human being is the end result if the fertilized eggs go through the process of cell division, successfully implant in the uterus and develop into healthy embryos, and subsequently go successfully through the many other phases of development leading to their births.
The fact that life begins at conception is why women and men use birth control to prevent it from happening. Humans don't need modern "reason and science" to tell them they get pregnant from sex; as Homo Sapiens they have been conceiving, carrying, and bearing babies for at least some 160,000 years, and they've been trying to prevent pregnancy and induce abortions for just as long.
Evidence of condom use has been found in cave drawings in France dated between 12,000 and 15,000 years old and in 3,000 year-old illustrations in Egypt. Humans have used pessaries, herbs, and other objects to create barriers to fertilization when having sex, and have used many other more dangerous and less effective means in the hopes of preventing fertilization, a subsequent pregnancy, and later, the birth of a child.
Paul Ryan needed science to believe his wife was pregnant and that his daughter's "life" began with conception, while most of us don't need an ultrasound to know that "life" begins with conception and is a frequent consequence of having sex.
The question is not when life begins, but when does pregnancy begin? Does personhood begin at conception? Is a fertilized egg, blastocyst, embryo, or fetus a person with rights that take priority over those of the woman upon whose body it depends?
Women know that pregnancy leads to having a baby, they don't need 'evidence'.
Do women have the moral agency and fundamental rights to decide whether or not to commit themselves not only to the development of a life within their own bodies, but to a lifelong tie to another human being once a child is born?
Life begins with conception, but pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg successfully implants in the uterus and develops into a healthy embryo; implantation begins six to 12 days after fertilization. There is no pregnancy until implantation happens, which is why any method that prevents fertilization or implantation can not cause an abortion. 50%-80% of fertilized eggs never successfully impant and end in spontaneous miscarriage (and before a woman even knows she is pregnant) because of insufficient hormone levels or an non-viable egg or for some other reason.
Hormonal contraception, including emergency contraception, works to prevent fertilization in the first place. If you don't like abortion at any stage, you should be a supporter of contraception, and emergency contraception, which needs to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse to prevent fertilization from taking place.
Anti-choicers who support "personhood" legislation intentionally or unintentionally misrepresent the mechanisms of action of contraception and the medical definition of pregnancy to blur the lines between contraception and abortion. There is this lie perpetuated by the USCCB and fundamentalist evangelicals, which is a precursor to promoting their goals of eliminating both contraception and abortion, making abortion the equivalent of murder, and by extension, controlling women's bodies and their economic and social choices. This is exactly the goal of so-called personhood amendments that have been the subject of several ballot initiatives and of the "Sanctity of Human Life" act co-sponsored by Ryan and Akin.
In December 2011, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (who in recent years converted to Catholicism) told a reporter that he believes that human life does not begin at conception but at "implantation and successful implantation" because if you say life begins at conception "you're going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions." Shortly thereafter, however, Gingrich "clarified" his statement. to the global Catholic network, ETWN, and reiterated his belief that "human life begins at conception" and that "every unborn life is precious, no matter how conceived," vowing to support pro-life legislation aimed at the ultimate goal of legally protecting "all unborn human life."
The term "personhood" has no medical or scientific definition. The Vatican teaches that a fertilized egg is a "person" with full rights under the law. However, Jewish law and tradition does not recognize an egg, embryo, or fetus as a person or full human being, but rather "part and parcel of the pregnant women's body," the rights of which are subjugated to the health and well-being of the mother until birth. The United Methodist Church recognizes the primacy of the rights and health of women. Islamic scholars, like Jewish scholars, have debated the issues of "ensoulment" and personhood, and continue to do so with no over-riding consensus.
Roe v. Wade allows abortions up until fetal viability, except that the "viable fetus must yield to the woman's right to have an abortion to protect her health and life."
Women who face unintended and untenable pregnancies and choose abortion overwhelmingly prefer to terminate a pregnancy as early as possible. According to Guttmacher Institute: nearly 62% of women who terminate a pregnancy do so before nine weeks of pregnancy, before any fetus is involved. Nearly 80% of such abortions occur before 10 weeks, and nearly 90% by the end of the first trimester. It should be noted that anti-choice laws and policies such as banning early and safe medication abortion, mandated waiting periods and unnecessary ultrasounds - all serve to push early abortions later than they otherwise would be, and are, in fact, responsible for a large share of such abortions.
Women know what being pregnant means, more than any fetal heartbeat, sonogram, ultrasound, or lecture on pregnancy can show. When considering an abortion, women weigh the responsiblities they have... to themselves and their own futures, to any born children they have or any they may plan to have at a future date. It is about whether or not a woman wants to and is able to make a lifelong emotional, financial, and physical commitment - often at substantial cost to herself and/or to her family - to the person who will exist if a pregnancy is successfully brought to term; it's not just about getting through the "inconvenience" of a pregnancy.
Without recourse to safe abortion care, an unintended pregnancy is a forced pregnancy and a forced birth, and amounts to reproductive slavery. Only one person - the woman in question - has the right to decide whether, when, and under what circumstances to bring a new person into the world. The vast majority of women who have an abortion know they are ending biological life that they can not or do not want to sustain because the commitment to an actual child is a moral commitment they are not able, willing, or ready to make, or can not make for reasons of health or life.
If you have no choice and control over your body, you are less than an actual person in the eyes of the law. If conservatives are so worried about abortion the closer a pregnancy gets to viability, then anti-choicers would be making sure both contraception and early, safe abortion were widely available. And when you reduce a complex reality to a slogan like "personhood", you actually minimize the personhood of women.
August 22 , 2012 Huffington Post
Pro-life advocates should hold fundraisers for family planning providers, such as Planned Parenthood, not lobby to defund them. As the Centers for Disease Control in 2008 said: "providing women with the knowledge and resources necessary to make decisions about their sexual behavior and use of contraception can help them avoid unintended pregnancies and thus reduce the number of women seeking abortion."
According to a 2011 study, 43% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion while Intended pregnancies account for only 4% of abortions.
Access and correct use contraception reduces the percent of unintended pregnancies to 5%, reports the Guttmacher Institute. However, lack of available family planning services disproportionately punishes the poor. Though most women experienced decreases in abortion from 2000 to 2008, the abortion rate among poor women increased by 17.5%, as their rate of unintended pregnancy climbed to more than five times greater than high-income women.
Women who are uninsured or underinsured depend on publicly-funded family planning through Medicaid and the Title X Family Planning program. Mitt Romney claims that slashing Title X is a good way to slash spending. However the annual cost of unintended pregnancies is between $9.6 and $12.6 billion, estimates the Center on Children and Families of the Brookings Institution . Preventing unintended pregnancies will save taxpayers as much as $6.2 billion. California's Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment (PACT) Program provides publicly-funded family planning services, including contraception. In 2007, Family PACT helped women avert an estimated 296,200 unintended pregnancies and 122,200 abortions, which corresponds to an estimated total-cost savings of $4.05 billion (from conception to age five).
For the five years 2001-2006 $170 million was withheld from the international family planning initiative of the United Nations Population Fund. Linda Whiteford, an anthropologist at the University of South Florida, researched the consequences of the withheld funds and reported that the results of this "pro-life" policy were "10 million unwanted pregnancies, 4 million induced abortions, 23,500 maternal deaths, 385,000 infant and children deaths." Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine demonstrated that increasing family planning and contraceptive use has decreased maternal deaths by 40% in developing countries by reducing unintended pregnancies and, thus, reducing high-risk pregnancies and increasing space between pregnancies.
Family planning initiatives are pro-life initiatives.
In 2010, contraception accounted for 33.5% of Planned Parenthood's affiliate medical services. By providing family planning services to nearly 2.2 million patients, Planned Parenthood estimates averting approximately 584,000 unintended pregnancies and 277,000 abortions. Paul Ryan's proposal to turn Medicaid into a state-controlled block grant would jeopardize the ability of poor women - who are already at high risk for unintended pregnancy and abortion - to access health care services.
July 20 , 2012 New York Times
In the country of Georgia in mideast Asia, women in 2005 had on average 3.1 abortions in their lifetimes - giving Georgia the highest documented abortion rate in the world. Compare that to the U.S. rate of .02. The Georgian number as dropped to 1.6 in 2010 a 48% decline.
The reason: women in Georgia finally got the pill, thanks to a campaign funded by USAID and the UNFPA that educates doctors and nurses here, markets birth control on television and subsidizes the cost of condoms, pills and IUDs.
This success story underscores a simple truth: more contraception equals fewer abortions. However, when the fertility rate drops below replacement, as in the case of Georgia, the issue of contraception becomes a hot topic and, in Georgia, the government has refused to cover contraception in the state-funded healthcare program for the poor.
Denying poor women safe contraception won't solve the problem of population decline, though; it will only encourage them to use abortion as a primary means of birth control, as they have done for decades. Today 40% of women in Georgia's rural areas can't afford birth control ($9-$12 per cycle) without the subsidies provided by the USAID-UNFPA program.
In addition the Orthodox Church in Georgia condemns both contraception and abortion. Also many Georgian women distrustful of the hormones in birth-control pills, saying they will make them sterile, give them cancer or make them fat. Others believe the pills don't really work, which is partly because for many years Georgian women were not instructed on how to use them correctly.
Over 22,000 women in England and Wales are having two or more abortions by the age of 25. And one-third of all terminations (189,574 last year) are done for women who have had at least one already.
The number of abortions in England and Wales rose 8% more than in 2000, according to Department of Health figures. Increasing numbers of women (76%) are having abortions early in their pregnancy, at under 10 weeks' gestation.
A small number of women who had an abortion last year had already terminated seven pregnancies.
A spokesman for the Prolife Alliance said: "Whatever is being done in the UK in the way of sexual health education, at whatever age, it is clearly not impacting significantly on unplanned pregnancies."
A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said: "Numbers have remained stable despite increasing investment in, and promotion of, longer-term methods of contraception. This shows how difficult it is for women to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Abortion is not a problem in itself. For many women abortion is a back-up to their contraception."
A Department of Health spokesman said: 'We welcome the continued fall in teenage pregnancies. Abortions are traumatic and stressful and should never be seen as a form of contraception. Women and men need to make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and think about contraception before having sex. There is a wide range of information and advice available from GPs and sexual health centres who can advise on the best type of contraception tailored to patients' health and lifestyle needs."
Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the author of the bill that would end ending federal funding of Planned Parenthood said it is "morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortions."
However, only 3% of Planned Parenthood's federal funding goes toward abortion and it's limited to pregnancy caused by rape or incest or when a woman's life is in jeopardy. About a third of its funding goes toward contraception, and the rest goes to testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screening and prevention.
Federal funding of abortion - with those exceptions - was banned in 1976 by the Hyde Amendment.
Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, which operates clinics throughout Riverside, San Diego and Imperial counties, gets 60% of its funding from the federal government, funneled through the state.
"Every year, Planned Parenthood prevents nearly a million unintended pregnancies, half of which would have ended in abortion," said a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. "We do more to end the need for abortion than any other organization in the country."
Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute. 40% of those pregnancies are terminated by abortion. For abortion opponents, denying funding for the leading provider of contraception makes no sense.
Increased contraceptive use has led to fewer abortions worldwide, but deaths from unsafe abortion remain a severe problem, killing 70,000 women a year, according to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute.
38,000 of the deaths - over half the total - are in sub-Saharan Africa, which also has the lowest rates of contraceptive use and the highest rates of unintended pregnancies, and only 28% of married women using contraceptives.
"In almost all developed countries, abortion is safe and legal," ... "But in much of the developing world, abortion remains highly restricted, and unsafe abortion is common and continues to damage women's health and threaten their survival."
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities disagreed with the reports call for further easing of developing nations' abortion laws.
A key reason for the drop in abortions was that the portion of married women using contraception increased from 54% in 1990 to 63% in 2003 as availability increased and social mores changed. 2003 was the last year information was available.
Abortions worldwide are declining even as more countries liberalize their abortion laws. Since 1997, only Poland, Nicaragua and El Salvador substantially increased restrictions on abortion, while laws were eased significantly in 19 countries and regions, including Cambodia, Nepal and Mexico City.
40% of the world's women live in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, which includes 92% of the women in Africa and 97% in Latin America. Regardless of whether abortion is legal or is highly restricted, it occurs at roughly the same rate, but there is the high rate of deaths and medical complications from unsafe clandestine abortions in the restrictive countries. "Too many women are maimed or killed each year because they lack legal abortion access."
19.7 million of the 41.6 million abortions in 2003 were unsafe - either self-induced, performed by unskilled practitioners or carried out in unhygienic surroundings.
The report recommended that access to modern contraceptives and improve family planning services be expanded, that safe, legal abortion services are available to women in need, and that the coverage and quality of post-abortion care be improved, which would reduce maternal death and complications from unsafe abortion.
"The Catholic Church has informally at least stopped fighting against contraception to the degree it once did and put more of its energies into fighting abortion," Sharon Camp of the Guttmacher Institute said. "On the ground there are priests and nuns who refer people to family planning services."
A representative of the Catholic Bishops Conference said any priest or nun making such referrals was veering from church policy and that use of artificial contraception could increase a women's health risks and said they would fare better using natural family planning methods approved by the church.
"The bad news," says Susan Cohen of Guttmacher, "is that where most of the poor women live, throughout the developing world, unsafe abortion remains high, and women are dying as a result of it." ... "It's so preventable, and that's the tragedy."
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Unsafe and Illegal Abortions
Access to safe abortion remains the neglected taboo in discussions about reproductive health and family planning.
In Ireland, which has restrictive abortion laws, Savita Halappanavar was denied a termination of pregnancy during a threatened miscarriage and subsequently died of sepsis in the hospital in October 2012. Her death sent an outcry throughout the developed world. While maternal deaths are now rare in developed countries, any such death is usually avoidable. The Irish Government should thoroughly review and reassess its ambiguous abortion law.
In the developing world, of about 350,000 maternal deaths all but about a 1000 happened in developing countries, the majority in Africa, according to 2008 figures. The leading causes are post-partum haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis, obstructed labour, and complications from unsafe abortions.
Of an estimated 43.8 million abortions per year, 49% are classified as unsafe and nearly all (97%) in Africa are unsafe. About 47,000 women each year die from unsafe abortion and another 5 million women suffer disabilities related to unsafe abortions. Without access to legal and safe abortions, many women will continue to die needlessly.
The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to give women choice over when and how to plan their families and avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Through access to contraceptives almost 300,000 maternal deaths were averted in 2008. Yet, there are still about 222 million adolescent girls and women worldwide who lack access to family planning.
At the London Summit on Family Planning in July, US $2.6 billion in new donor money was pledged to give an additional 120 million adolescent girls and women access to contraceptives by 2020. However $4.1 billion is required to reach everyone who has unmet needs.
A UNFPA report that came out in November estimates that making voluntary family planning available to everyone in developing countries would reduce costs of health care for women and newborn babies by $11.3 billion annually. The report makes a strong case that family planning delivers immeasurable rewards to women, families, and communities. Women must be allowed to take part in society beyond reproduction. Adolescent girls' lives should not be restricted by early childbirth, lack of education, and poverty. Deaths and disability from childbirth and unsafe abortions should become a scourge of the past.
The 2014 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the 2015 post-Millennium Development Goals project will give us the opportunity to make the strongest effort possible to give every woman in every country the right and choice to decide when and how to plan a family. Sustainable development requires the full participation of women in society worldwide.
Women in all parts of the world have abortions. And they have them for similar reasons. Where it is illegal, many women still resort to abortion, even when that means breaking the law.
Some of the highest abortion rates in the world are in Latin America and Africa, where abortion is highly restricted in almost every country - but where many women have unintended pregnancies.
The lowest abortion rates are in Western Europe, where the procedure is legal and widely accessible - but where effective contraceptive use is high and unintended pregnancy rates are low.
The way to reduce abortion is not to outlaw it, but to help women avoid unintended pregnancies in the first place.
In the developing world, 222 million women want to avoid pregnancy but are not using a modern contraceptive method. For many, the limited contraceptive services and methods available to them do not meet their needs. Others lack access to family planning services altogether. And some women need better counseling and more power to make their own childbearing decisions.
If these needs were met, unintended pregnancies would decline from 80 million to 26 million annually and there would be 26 million fewer abortions each year and thousands of women's lives would be saved.
Unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal death, with 47,000 deaths every year from complications of unsafe abortion. Virtually all of these deaths occur in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws.
August 29 , 2012
A study titled "The Health Systems Cost of Post-Abortion Care in Ethiopia," by Michael Vlassoff of the Guttmacher Institute, estimated the cost to the health system of providing post-abortion care (PAC), based on research conducted in 2008. PAC consumes a large portion of the total expenditure in reproductive health in Ethiopia. Investing more resources in family planning programs to prevent unwanted pregnancies would be cost-beneficial to the health system.
Ethiopia spent US$7.6 million in 2008 to provide care for post-abortion care complications, an average of $36 per woman treated. The study also found that every dollar spent on family planning services would save $6 in post-abortion care services.
The treatment of incomplete abortions is both the most common and the least costly post-abortion care procedure in Ethiopia, costing an average of $24 per procedure. Treatment of shock and sepsis costs approximately $40, while treating the most serious complications, such as uterine perforation and related illnesses, costs almost $153 per intervention. Women suffering from complications that arise from unsafe abortion pay more than 75% of the total cost of their treatment, a much higher proportion than they pay for other reproductive health services.
While the study only looked at the direct costs of post-abortion care, such as drugs, supplies, personnel and hospitalization fees, the authors noted that including indirect costs, such as capital and overhead, which were not investigated in the study, would bring the national total cost of pos-tabortion care provision to at least $11.5 million.
Of the estimated 382,000 abortions in Ethiopia in 2008, about 75% were carried out under unsafe conditions. The researchers found that 58% of women who had had an abortion experienced complications that required medical treatment. However, many of these women did not receive the medical care they required, indicating that current service provision is insufficient. Also, despite growing modern contraceptive use in Ethiopia, about 1.7 million unintended pregnancies occur every year, largely due to unmet need for contraception.
© Richard Grossman MD, 2012 ... First printed in the Durango Herald
Many years ago I worked for three weeks in Swaziland, South Africa. A memory still haunts me.
Most mornings we saw one or two young women through the emergency ward. Almost all of these women were from surrounding communities, were "visiting an auntie" and they hadn't eaten breakfast. All were carrying early pregnancies and reported bleeding. Indeed, on examination there was blood and the cervix had started to open.
Bleeding and cervical dilatation in pregnancy usually ends up as a miscarriage, and can lead to a serious infection unless a D&C is done to empty the uterus.
Another doctor told me this pattern had been happening for a long time. We surmised that some doctor in this city was using instruments to make it appear that these patients were about to miscarry. It would be easy to instrument the cervix, tell the young woman to go to our hospital in the morning and to skip breakfast. "I hope all goes well tomorrow at the hospital. And have your boyfriend wear a condom next time," I can imagine that doctor saying.
In Swaziland, abortion is only legal to save a woman's life. The physician who opened the cervix was taking a big risk, allowing him to charge an outrageous fee.
Don't laws that prohibit abortion decrease its frequency? No, apparently not. Norway, known for its excellent medical statistics, found that the incidence of abortion did not rise when it was legalized in 1978. This finding was borne out by a recent article in the world's premier medical journal, Lancet.
The study looked at all the world's countries. Eighty-four have liberal abortion laws; the remaining nations (like Swaziland) prohibit abortion, with few or no exceptions.
Outlawing abortion does not prevent women from terminating unwanted pregnancies. Where it is illegal, however, women are subjected to unsafe procedures and risk their health and very lives. Surprisingly, this study found the incidence of abortion is higher in places where it is outlawed. This may be because these are also places where women are not esteemed, and where contraception is difficult to obtain.
Wherever laws permit safe abortion, two observations are made. Maternal mortality from unsafe abortions decreases drastically and women are treated with more respect.
More surprises are to be found in another research paper from England. It is an exacting review of the psychological effects of abortion. Although many studies in this field are of poor quality, the researchers found 44 high-quality studies.
To reduce the possibility of bias and to ensure transparency, the reviewers sent out a request for comments. Several anti-abortion (as well as pro-choice) organizations responded, and their comments influenced the final report.
The questions the multi-faceted panel of experts set out to answer are: How prevalent are mental-health problems in women who have an induced abortion? What factors cause poor mental-health outcomes after an abortion? Are mental-health problems more common in women who have an abortion compared with women who deliver an unwanted baby?
The report's findings are summarized:
Unwanted pregnancies are associated with an increased risk of mental-health problems, and the rate of problems is the same whether women had an abortion or gave birth.
The most reliable predictor of post-abortion mental-health problems was having a history of mental-health problems before the abortion.
There are additional factors associated with an increased risk of mental-health problems specifically related to abortion, such as pressure from a partner to have an abortion and negative attitudes toward abortions in general.
The study recommends: "It is important to consider the need for support and care for all women who have an unwanted pregnancy because the risk of mental-health problems increases whatever the pregnancy outcome. If a woman has a negative attitude toward abortion, shows a negative emotional reaction to the abortion or is experiencing stressful life events, health- and social-care professionals should consider offering support, and where necessary treatment, because they are more likely than other women who have an abortion to develop mental-health problems."
We are lucky in La Plata County to have wonderful assistance for women carrying unintended pregnancies. The Pregnancy Center supports women who plan to deliver, while Planned Parenthood provides access to safe, compassionate abortions. I am concerned, however, that the people who demonstrate outside Planned Parenthood may not provide accurate information to women who are considering abortion. The demonstrators may have a negative influence on those women who are at risk for mental-health problems.
On the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court that legalized abortion and changed the course of history for women in the U.S., we remember that women in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to struggle for this basic reproductive right.
95% of abortions in Latin America are unsafe, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Where abortion is illegal, women often turn to inadequately trained practitioners who employ unsafe techniques or attempt to self-induce abortion using dangerous methods. In Latin America and the Caribbean, complications from unsafe abortion results in the hospitalization of nearly one million women each year, and causes one in eight maternal deaths, according to the WHO. Poor and rural women are disproportionately affected.
Obtaining a safe abortions is difficult if there is fear of legal consequences, social stigma, high cost, or lack of access to trained health professionals. Banning abortion does not reduce the numbers of women who attempt it; in fact, the abortion rate is much higher where it is illegal.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, only 6 of the 34 countries -- accounting for less than 5% of the region's women ages 15-44 -- allow abortion without restriction.
In 2007 the Mexico City government lifted the ban on abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. There MEXFAM (IPPF/WHR) provides safe abortion services. Where the law is more restrictive, MEXFAM works to reduce the public health impact of unsafe abortion.
Nearly half of sexually active young women in Latin America and the Caribbean have an unmet need for contraception. Providing contraception will not only reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, and the number of abortions, but also empower women by giving them the freedom to choose when and if they have children.
A recent report from the Guttmacher Institute, published in Lancet, has shown that countries restricting abortions have higher rates of unsafe abortion than those that allow abortion. Most countries in Africa or Latin America restrict abortions, with the exception of South Africa in Africa and Guyana, French Guiana, Cuba and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico in Latin America.
Africa's unsafe abortion rate was 28 per 1,000 women of childbearing age and Latin America's was 31 per 1,000, compared to western Europe and North America with less than 0.5 per 1,000 unsafe abortions.
Unsafe abortion is defined by WHO as a procedure for terminating a pregnancy that is performed by an individual lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that doesn't conform to minimal standards. Gilda Sedgh, who led the study, said that restricting abortions means women have more difficulty locating practitioners and the ones they do find are less likely to be adequately trained.
Beverly Winikoff, a professor of clinical population and family health at Columbia University, said in Lancet: "The data continue to confirm what we have known for decades: that women who wish to terminate unwanted pregnancies will seek abortion at any cost, even when it is illegal or involves risks to their own lives."
Globally, unsafe abortions, almost all of which occur in developing countries, accounted for 350 times the rate associated with legal abortions in the U.S. 58 countries, with 39% of the world's population, allow abortion without restriction as to reason; 73 countries allow it to preserve health or for socioeconomic reasons, and 68 countries, with 26% of the global population, prohibit the procedure or only permit it to save a woman's life.
The country of South Africa, in 1997, was the first and only in Africa to legalize abortion, resulting in a decline of abortion-related deaths of 91% between 1994 and the average rate from 1998 -2001.
Nepal made abortion legal in 2002, before which abortion-related complications accounted for 54% of hospital-treated maternal illnesses (1998), compared with 28% in 2008-2009.
Eastern Europe has the highest rate of abortions due to higher preference for small families and because effective methods of birth control such as the pill and intra-uterine devices are not used as often. Unsafe abortion rates in the region are much lower than in other developing countries, with the exception of Poland, where abortion is restricted.
Making abortion legal is not enough to lower the unsafe abortion rate. Women need to know about the law; there needs to be health-service guidelines for abortion and providers are needed to obtain training and provide abortion services,
Poland's anti-abortion law was passed in 1993, due to pressure from the Catholic Church. In theory, the law allows abortion on medical grounds, criminal grounds and genetic grounds. But in practice you can not get an aborttion on those grounds, according to Wanda Nowicka of Poland's Federation for Women and Family Planning.
Today, some people are pushing to try to restrict this law even further. We had already 2 attempts to introduce a full ban on abortion. The first was in 2006 and now in 2011.
A full ban of abortion would include abortion in case of putting at risk of womens life - women may lose their lives. The doctor would choose saving the fetus over saving the womans life. Even now, without this provision anti-choice doctors evoke the conscience clause often. And in the case of conflict between the health of women and the life of a fetus, very often they choose the life of the fetus.
"The anti abortion law in Poland did not stop abortions. It means that women are having abortions, but they are having them in the so-called "abortion underground". It is usually provided by medical doctors which means that they are relatively safe.
The underground may be doing from even 80,000 up to 200,000 abortions per year.
With the chilling effect of this law women must continue pregnancy against their will or against their health status and with all the consequences of that… Or they choose illegal abortion even though they are entitled to have a legal abortion. Or they go to other countries for abortion. Or, a new trend is buying abortion pills by internet.
End of this page in "Unsafe and Illegal Abortions" section, pg 1 ... Go to page 2
The Mexico City Policy (Global Gag Rule)
Religious Left's Wrong-Minded Appeal on Global Gag RuleJanuary 22, 2009 RH Reality Check
Pro-life Obama has repealed the Mexico City "gag rule" which prevents American dollars from going to groups that offer abortion services. But some are urging the Obama administration to delay that until he can put it in a broader "abortion reduction" agenda.
First the religious left's explanation of what the Mexico City Policy or Global Gag Rule does is inaccurate. The Global Gag Rule was first put in place by Ronald Reagan, to deny funding to international family planning organizations unless they agreed to specific curtailments as set by the US on the medical services and information they provided to their patients. Health centers in developing nations, which help women and men plan their families and avoid unintended pregnancies, would not be allowed to provide abortions discuss abortion or even hang a poster that mentions abortion.
In countries like Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, imposition of the global gag rule has meant the loss of funds for the contraceptive supplies and services needed to prevent unintended pregnancies. If a woman is in need of a life or health saving abortion? The health center is censored from providing a referral or even telling her that is what she needs.
If you block funds to family planning organizations for family planning and contraception provision, this usually leads to abortion.
The Global Gag Rule was put in place to appease anti-choice voices. President Obama understands that these nods or gestures are are harmful to women and global society's efforts to grow and evolve.
Senate Votes to Lift Global Gag RuleMay 2005
An amendment proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer authorizes foreign policy programs to ensure that America's foreign policy reflects America's values. It gives poor women around the world control of their lives and their futures. The Global Gag Rule denies U.S. family planning aid to foreign health care providers that use funds to provide legal abortions, provide counseling on legal abortion, or publicly support legal abortion within their countries. The effects have been dramatic. In the developing world, health care providers have been unable to agree to ignore their responsibilities to provide women with information about their legal options. In Kenya, clinics have closed leaving tens of thousands of poor people without services. In Ethiopia, contraceptive supplies have run out, leaving thousands of women at risk for an unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Rather than preventing abortion, the Global Gag Rule only makes unsafe abortion more likely.
U.S.: Reproductive Health: A Win for FreedomApril 07, 2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The Republican-controlled Senate voted to repeal the gag rule on international family-planning assistance. The restriction blocks the use of U.S. money by any organization that even mentions the availability of abortion to women. Even if the House of Representatives goes along with the Senate, the president might veto the repeal.
Post Abortion Care
The Global Gag rule has a chilling effect on post abortion care. Organizations who are afraid of losing their funding are not providing post abortion care - even though post abortion care is an exception to the Mexico City Policy. Consequently, women are dying, and those who are not are losing the opportunity to learn about family planning.
Condom Supply to Africa Hit by US Abortion PolicySeptember 25, 2003 London Guardian
The Bush administration's ban on funds to family planning clinics which offer abortion counselling is affecting the supply of condoms to countries hit by HIV/Aids. Clinics have had to close in a number of African countries because the organisations refuse to sign a declaration that they will not offer or discuss abortions. The Population Action International said that the policy reduces access to family planning services and weakens HIV/Aids prevention. Many clinics have closed, which are the only provider of sexual healthcare, because of a cutoff of funds from USAID. About $430 million can only go to organisations that have signed the anti-abortion pledge. USAID is the most important donor of condoms, delivering more than a third of all donated supplies. By 2002, the policy had ended shipments of USAID-donated condoms to 16 developing countries whose family planning associations refused to sign the pledge. USAID's condom supplies to a further 13 countries have been cut because the main family planning organisation will not sign.
It has been 40 years since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision overturned many federal and state restrictions on a woman's right to an abortion. Before that a woman could be forced by the police powers of the state to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
Before Roe V. Wade, Walter Cronkrite on CBS Evening News said "The illegal termination of pregnancy has reached epidemic proportions in this country. The laws which govern abortion are broken an estimated one million times a year, three thousand times a day, for various medical, social and economic reasons the laws do not recognize as valid. The conflict between the law and reality has resulted in a national dilemma."
Cronkite continued: "This married couple felt that they would be unable to adequately raise another child. The wife was criminally aborted in a motel on the west coast." She said: "The operation was performed in the kitchen of the motel using some of the kitchen equipment, using a telephone book, chairs and so forth. About halfway through he turned to my husband and said, "How can you expect me to take dangers like this myself for such a low fee? Don't you have some savings that you could utilize and pay me more money?" The husband said: "He said he wanted twice as much. ... It wasn't clear that he would go ahead and finish the operation if I didn't pay him the extra money, but I didn't, at that time, want to argue or even, of course, delay the procedure."
MOYERS: Roe v. Wade only intensified the debate. And forty years later, the forces opposed to abortion - still driven largely by conservative religious beliefs and activists - have never given up. State by state, they have been winning their fight for new restrictions.
The Guttmacher Institute says that "More than half of all U.S. women of reproductive age… now live in a state that is hostile to abortion rights, whereas fewer than one-third did a decade ago." A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that seven in ten Americans think the Roe v. Wade decision should stand. And for the first time ever, a majority believes abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
LYNE PALTROW, Founder and Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women -- formerly a senior staff attorney at the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, and author of a study in the American Journal of Public Health, "Roe v Wade and the New Jane Crow":
"When abortion is criminalized ..., when abortion providers aren't available, many women will do what they have to do to take control of and responsibility for their reproductive lives. And if that means ending a pregnancy in any way they know how. That might be taking a poison, it might be using a knitting needle, it might be leaving the country, it might be asking somebody to beat them up."
"And if you have a legal system that says the state may prevent you from making key decisions about your health, your life, and your family, then you are really in some other status of personhood. And so for some women, historically, their ability to be full and equal participants in society really depended on whether they could end a pregnancy. And that was the thing that would keep them from finishing college, having access to all of the things that they might have access to, participation in society."
JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health -- also Adjunct Professor of Latino and Latin American Studies at the City University of New York:
"Our slogan is "Health, dignity, and justice." And when you think about compulsory pregnancies, it's taking away health, dignity, and justice from a woman." "Many of the women, the Latinas that we work with" have had an abortion. 'They perhaps can't afford a second child, they want to go to school, they might be at a point in their career." .. "It's really important that women that we work with, mostly Latina, immigrant, women of color, those are the margins, low income, are able to access their rights in a way without barriers and further bureaucratic obstacles to get the care that they need."
LYNN PALTROW: There "was a point in which there was a great deal of immigration, where native white birth rates were falling, and there was the first beginning of the suffrage and feminist movement, arguing that women .. women should have a say in whether they have intercourse with their husbands. And the people who were asking legislature to criminalize abortion were arguing that that had to be done to keep women in their place, to ensure that native white birth rates continued to grow and to maintain control over women. And it's as if we're in that moment again, ... an America in which it is no longer going to be a white majority, in which it feels like white birth rates are falling, and you see people turn to religion and you see people turn to very old notions about how society should be.
JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: "For us in the Latino community, we know that many of us are Catholic or religious. And we find that it's so out of step with the realities of women's lives today. And many Latinas, in fact 90 percent of married Catholic Latinas use a form of birth control that's banned by the Vatican."
LYNN PALTROW told of a campaign by NARAL to collect letters from people, men and women, describing why they had had an abortion, or somebody they knew had an abortion. They said things like "I needed to finish my education." "I had a child with a disability. I wanted to be able to be home and take care of that child and my husband was going to Vietnam, my father-in-law was sick." "They were talking about basic, you know, human relationships and responsibility."
When Roe v. Wade came down, it was "not understood as an affirmation of women's personhood," .. "But almost overnight, the public health situation dramatically improved, not only because women had access to legal abortion, but they didn't have to carry to term pregnancies when they weren't healthy. And so it was a dramatic change in the practicality. But what we're still very much fighting is an understanding and a respect for the fact that women, whatever their decisions are during pregnancy, remain full persons under the law."
MOYERS: "Time Magazine" reported: "Getting an abortion in America is in some places, harder today than at any point since it became a constitutionally-protected right 40 years ago..."
LYNN PALTROW: "I think something like more than 90 percent of all counties don't have abortion providers. I want to point out that most probably that many counties also don't have birthing centers, where women can go and have an alternative to an over-medicalized birth."
JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: "So when you're targeting clinics that provide abortion care, those clinics are also providing prenatal care, they're providing cervical cancer screenings, they're providing breast screenings, and sexuality education."
" I think of Rosa Jiménez, who was a 27-year-old college student. She had a five-year-old daughter. She was getting a nursing degree. She really wanted to, you know, succeed in this country. And she faced an unintended pregnancy."
"And because she was low income, because she was a recipient of Medicaid, she was denied access to an abortion because of the Henry Hyde. And she sought a back-alley abortion and died as a consequence. ... She was the first known victim of the Hyde Amendment."
MOYERS: The Guttmacher Institute reports that "among poor women, the rate of unintended pregnancy is five times higher than for higher income women. And four in ten women who have abortions are poor."
JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: "97 percent of sexually-experienced Latinas have used a form of contraception, but consistent use has been a problem. So that's when they fall under an unintended pregnancy situation. ... So where some of them are able and successful to get the abortions, there's also so many unintended pregnancies that go term because of these policies."
LYNN PALTROW: "it looks like they're just defending some notion of life for fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses, something that seems very abstract and beautiful to many people, without really exposing what they're really doing, which is creating the basis for removing pregnant women from the community of constitutional persons, for jeopardizing maternal, fetal, and child health, and creating what we're really seeing as a new Jane Crow." ... "We have seen that women are being arrested, detained, forcibly subjected to medical intervention disproportionately so, African American women, disproportionately in the South. And again, it's not, it's about, under the guise of being just about abortion. It's really about creating a set of precedents that would allow the state to control, surveil, and punish a woman from the moment she conceives."
"Sixty-one to 70 percent of all women who have abortions are already mothers. So the women that they're calling murderers, who they're comparing their collective actions to a genocide or a holocaust, are the women they're entrusting to raise their children, to raise our children, the next generation of taxpayers, and with very little support, with little healthcare, with little economic security."
MOYERS: "Alabama, the State Supreme Court in Alabama has interpreted the term "child" to apply to fertilized eggs and embryos. Which means, doesn't it, that women can be prosecuted for endangering the fetuses?"
JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: "in the Rio Grande Valley, which borders Mexico, ... I was there a couple months ago when they said they drove 45 minutes to a local clinic to get birth control, and they were turned away because the cuts dissipated those programs. And we're hearing story after story, and we recently did a human rights report in Texas where we heard one woman swim back to Mexico, cross the Rio Grande Valley, risk separation from her family, because she was not getting basic healthcare."
"Reproductive justice really broadens the movement to incorporate things like socioeconomic status, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity. It's really inclusive and much more holistic than looking to protect just the narrow, legal right to abortion. .. And that really resonates with young people."
LYNN PALTROW: "If you pass a law that says" that a pregnant woman seeking an abortion has to have a transvaginal ultrasound, "that's a precedent for saying, 'As a pregnant woman, you lose your right to consent to what medical tests you're going to be subjected to.' "
JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: "a woman spends about 30 years trying not to get pregnant, and then about five years, for those who want to have a family, trying to get pregnant. And that's a big chunk of someone's life. So ensuring that they have access to the care that they need at every stage is so critical."
LYNN PALTROW: "84 percent of all women, by the time they're 40, have gotten pregnant and given birth. This is 84 percent of the political base. And their experiences aren't just about having an abortion. They're about having a baby. And having a good kind of birth and a bad kind of birth."
Forty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion, the new documentary "After Tiller" follows the only four doctors left in the United States who are known to provide abortions in the third trimester. In 2009, their colleague, Dr. George Tiller, was assassinated while attending church in Wichita, Kansas. The four doctors depicted in the film have also braved threats, harassment and the emotional weight of the stories they hear to provide women with a desperately needed medical procedure.
In Ohio, the Senate failed to bring measures to the floor that would cut, if not eliminate, family-planning funding for Planned Parenthood and all but outlaw abortions in Ohio. This means the bills would die with the close of the two-year session in mid-December and would have to start the legislative process over next year.
"I think you have to look at the entirety of the work that's done by Planned Parenthood, and I believe they offer much-needed services that are not available other places," said Senate President Tom Niehaus (R., New Richmond). "I chose not to take the bill up in lame-duck."
The House committee had voted two weeks ago to send House Bill 298 to the full House. House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R., Medina) questioned whether to go forward with a House vote if the Senate would not take it up.
The bill would have placed Planned Parenthood's 32 Ohio clinics last in line for funds behind government entities, federally qualified health centers, Community Action Agencies, hospitals, and private practices that offer comprehensive primary and preventative health care in addition to family planning services.
Planned Parenthood could have lost up to $1.7 million in state-administered federal aid as a result.
The so-called Heartbeat Bill, House Bill 125, will also die in the Senate. "If you look at past experience, this is the most pro-life Senate that we've had in the General Assembly," Mr. Niehaus said. But he questioned the slow speed at which proponents of the bill have offered compromises. "I still have constitutional concerns," Niehaus said.
The bill would require a doctor to test for a fetal heartbeat and would prohibit an abortion if one is detected. A heartbeat could be detectable as early as six weeks after conception.
Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon), the sponsor of the Heartbeat Bill said he hasn't given up on a Senate vote on the Heartbeat Bill. The bill's supporters contend that presence of a heartbeat is the best indicator that a fetus is likely to be carried to full term. They hope the bill it would give the U.S. Supreme Court an excuse to reverse its 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that extended a woman's right to privacy to decisions pertaining to abortion.
The bill would effectively outlaw abortions in most cases in Ohio, particularly if a woman doesn't realize she's pregnant until after the heartbeat is detectable.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said: "Make no mistake about it, the threat to women's health may be delayed, but it remains," ... "We fully expect anti-choice forces to reintroduce these dangerous attacks on women's health when the legislature reconvenes in January."
The U.S. abortion rate fell 5% in 2009 (the most recent period for which statistics are available.), the largest single-year drop in a decade, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
While it may seem that the decline is caused by increased abortion restrictions and access at the state level, the trend matches a similar decline in pregnancies, with the U.S. teen pregnancy rate at its lowest level in 40 years -- a consequence of teenagers having less sex and using contraception when they do.
Improved use of and access to contraception results in lower pregnancy rates and therefore lower abortion rates.
You would think that both those who oppose abortion and those who want women to have more control over their reproductive abilities would welcome this news. But the anti-abortion activists seem to be ignoring the falling abortion rate and focusing on the fact that deaths from abortions have doubled. That would be alarming until you realized that abortion-related deaths rose from six women to twelve women. While those deaths should not be minimized, it is puzzling that the Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest asks "We have to ask why the abortion-related deaths of twelve women are buried in the very last table of the report and unremarked on in the news. The news from this report is that abortion harms women, as well as their babies."
Most media outlets probably choose not to focus on the dozen abortion-related deaths reported by the CDC because pregnancy itself remains vastly more dangerous for women than abortion. In 2006-2007 -- the last period for which data are available -- the CDC found 1,294 pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. Over the past decade, the number of abortion-related deaths has ranged from six to ten -- out of approximately 1.2 million abortions -- each year, according to CDC reports.
Causes of pregnancy-related deaths are hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, amniotic fluid embolism, hemorrhage, and sepsis, among others. Last month a woman died in Ireland after medical staff refused to induce (which would have caused an abortion) her even though she was miscarrying and went into septic shock.
The way to prevent abortion-related deaths isn't to outlaw abortion -- doctors who treated the mangled bodies of women who endured illegal abortions prior to 1973 can testify to that reality.
It used to be that abortions, after they were legalized, were performed in medical facilities by doctors well-trained in the procedures. But violence and intimidation from extreme anti-abortion forces drove abortion from hospitals to clinics and led the majority of medical schools to drop abortion training from their OB-GYN residency programs.
This article is a very personal, wrenching account. To get the full impact, I recommend you click on the link in the headline.
To summarize, an ultrasound revealed that the author's fetus was badly deformed and was 'not compatible with life'. She lived in the state of Ohio. Although at first, the idea of having her baby, her fetus, removed while its heart was still beating was simply unbearable. Her friend, an Orthodox rabbi, said the case was clear. In situations where the mother's health is at risk and the fetus (he explicitly said fetus) is not viable, Jewish law errs on the side of the mother's health.
However, because the baby had a heartbeat, the insurance company, being in Ohio, would not cover the costs of the operation. After days of calling people, and with the help of a doctor who wrote a well-worded letter, the insurance company found that it could cover the procedure. Then she was told that, in Ohio, a physician must meet with the pregnant woman 24 hours before the operation to explain the procedure, give the state sponsored materials on alternatives to abortion and receive a signed form stating that the pregnant woman "consents to the particular abortion voluntarily, knowingly, intelligently, and without coercion by any person...." Her case did not meet the "medical necessity" exceptions to this ruling, because there was still a heartbeat. The baby's heart had stopped beating, however, before it was removed from her body.
As abortion hits UK headlines with calls to cut the time limit again, Dr Ellie Lee sets the record straight on what should be a personal choice for women and doctors, not a legal matter, not a matter for science or MP predilections and posturing. This timely ‘on the sofa' discussion is a must for everyone concerned with where this debate is heading. In a civilised society Dr Lee explains, we need to make it possible for everyone to act according to their needs and views. In practice she argues this requires the decriminalisation of abortion and she tells us, the Sarah Catt case provides a cast iron argument for that. Not everyone will agree the stage at which life matters she points out and not everyone on the sofa agrees with Dr Lee. Yet, her compelling insights leave us in no doubt that her approach would make it possible to cater for women's needs and doctors' preferences without imposing on anyone. 46 minutes discussion which covers the abortion debate in depth. Heading the discussion, Dr Ellie Lee makes a compelling case for the decriminalisation of abortion. Widely divergent views on when life matters cannot be solved by science, or the personal predilections of MPs but can be accommodated if it is made a matter of personal choice for the women concerned and doctors who provide abortion services.
August 24 , 2012 Washington Times
Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, shares his thoughts.
The bishops say Catholics must reject any attempt by the government to require contraception coverage, but their perspective leaves out the 98% of sexually active Catholic women who have used a form of modern contraception, as well as the workers of other faiths or no faiths at Catholic institutions. All of these individuals deserve the chance to follow their consciences on whether or not to use birth control. No-cost coverage for contraception is especially important for lower- income workers—exactly the people our Catholic social justice commitment enjoins us to help. Polling data has shown that nearly two-thirds of Catholics believe insurance plans, both private and government-run, should cover contraception.
Religious liberty is the freedom to believe as one chooses and the freedom from living according to others' beliefs. It would be a shame to throw away the very American ideal of true religious liberty just to appease a few disgruntled clerics who think the rules shouldn't apply to them.
Since 1972, the presidential candidate that won the most Catholic votes has also won the most votes nationwide. The economy, jobs and immigration trumped abortion and same-sex marriage in a 2010 Pew Research Center poll of Catholic voters.
Catholics support a woman's right to choose because fundamentally we recognize the importance of social justice. Social justice is especially relevant to those who find themselves in difficult times and facing difficult choices. Freedom of conscience tells us that you can make this difficult choice about abortion and remain a Catholic in good standing.
When we see a woman in need of an abortion, we know that she is worthy of our support and respect. There is no debate about whether a woman is a person, a moral agent. Women must be allowed and encouraged to make the decision that is right for them, whether that is to become pregnant or to remain pregnant. They are the only ones who can make the right decision for themselves. This is the very essence of what it means to be prochoice. And no government or church should make that choice for you.
In the United States, 86% of Catholics approve of abortion when a woman's health is seriously endangered, and 78% think it should be possible for a woman to obtain an abortion when a pregnancy is the result of rape. A poll of almost 1,000 Catholics found that only 14% agree with the Vatican's position that abortion should be illegal.
Catholic women have abortions at the same rate as do other women: 28% of women who had an abortion self-identified as Catholic, while 27% of all women of reproductive age identified as such.
A February 2012 survey from the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland found that 75% of Irish Catholics believe the Catholic church's teachings on sexuality are not relevant to them or their families.
In Spain, where approximately 75% of the population identifies as Catholic, a 2012 poll revealed that 77.2% of the women questioned had used contraception in the four weeks prior to the poll.
In 2011, Catholics for Choice commissioned a survey in Argentina, which found that Catholics are more supportive of legal abortion than non-Catholics. In cases of rape, 84% of Catholics believe that abortion should be legally available, compared to 69% of non-Catholics.
End of this page in "Politics" section, pg 1 ... Go to page 2
Decline in Abortions
For All the Debate in Washington, the Battle Over Abortion is Actually in the States, Which Are Imposing More Limits Than Ever. Missouri is a Case StudyJanuary 30, 2006 Time
Alito's confirmation would not produce the votes sufficient to overturn the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Even if Roe is reversed, states will be free to preserve abortion rights, and many almost will. Polls consistently show that most people in the U.S. want abortion to be legal. In a unanimous decision authored by Sandra Day O'Connor, the high court backed away from directly interfering with a New Hampshire law saying a lower court should not have struck down a parental-notification requirement entirely, and ordered the judges to come up with a limited version that would protect the health of girls seeking abortions in emergency situations. The environment here in Missouri is so hostile, with four abortion doctors left in the state the option for a pregnant woman was the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, an eight-hour round trip by car and another trip for a follow-up exam that lasted about five minutes. The whole episode cost her a little more than $600. Increasingly, the question of how difficult it is to get an abortion, if you can get one at all, depends on where you live and how much money you have. State legislatures passed 52 new laws restricting abortion and few states were more active than Missouri. Governor Blunt summoned a special session to pass bills that allow civil suits to be brought against anyone who helps a Missouri teen obtain an abortion without a parent's consent and require doctors who perform abortions to have privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. The Missouri legislature is back in session with a list of bills, including one to protect pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for morning-after pills, give tax credits to centers that discourage abortions, and require pain relief be given to fetuses that are aborted after 20 weeks. Pollsters say that Americans' views on abortion have shifted relatively little since Roe v. Wade, and that sometimes they are contradictory. In a survey for instance, 65% said they oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, but nearly an identical percentage said they would like to see more legal restrictions. Among the most popular: mandatory waiting periods, parental and spousal notification, and a ban on all late-term abortions. The Guttmacher Institute found that the two most common reasons for an abortion are that "having a baby would dramatically change my life" and "I can't afford a baby now." Most Americans say they think abortion should be illegal in those circumstances. A majority of Americans said they supported abortion only in the case of rape, when the mother's life or health is endangered or when there is a strong chance of serious birth defect. Even before many of the restrictions went into effect, the abortion rate and the overall number of abortions in the U.S. were on the decline. In 2000, the abortion rate was 21.3 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, down from 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women in 1980 and 1981. Economic growth, better contraception and safe-sex practices probably all contribute to the trend. But a 2004 study found that states that have adopted laws regulating abortion experienced a larger decline than those that have not. Reductions are particularly steep, in states that restricted the use of Medicaid funds to pay for poor women's abortions and those that required pre-abortion counseling about fetal development and abortion risks. Some have different theories. The 24-hour waiting period and the reduction of the numbers of clinics do not reduce abortions. They increase later abortion. A 2000 study in Mississippi found that the percentage of second-trimester abortions increased after the state adopted mandatory counseling and waiting periods. Fully 24% of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic's first-trimester abortions are being done with mifepristone, formerly called RU-486. And finally, there is the so-called morning-after pill. The Planned Parenthood affiliate in St. Louis performed about the same number of abortions in 2004 as in 2003. But in the same time period, the number of morning-after kits they dispensed jumped, to 8,000 from 6,500. Missouri has become the first state to extend its parental-notification law beyond its state line, a move aimed across the Mississippi River at the Hope Clinic, that sits in Granite City, Ill. A recent morning found a waiting room filled with anxious-looking young women, with a few boyfriends, husbands and children. Because Illinois has no parental-notification law, Hope Clinic had been the easiest option for Missouri teens seeking to get an abortion without telling their parents. But the new Missouri law has Hope demanding proof of age of all prospective patients. Thirty-two states require that women receive pre-abortion counseling. In three states, a description of the basic procedure is offered; in three others, women are told that the fetus may feel pain. In Illinois, counseling is not mandatory, but if a fetus is viable, the woman must be offered anesthesia for the fetus. Waiting Twenty-four states that mandate counseling also require that women wait, usually 24 hours, between counseling and an abortion. The Supreme Court last week instructed an appeals court to reconsider a New Hampshire parental notification law that it had struck down. Ohio prohibits a procedure known as dilation and extraction throughout pregnancy. Three other states have outlawed the procedure when there is a viable fetus. Seven other states have blanket bans on "partial-birth" abortion on the books, but a Supreme Court ruling makes these laws unenforceable.
Women Seeking An Abortion Turn to the Internet Rather Than the Boat to EnglandMay 26, 2011
The number of women from Ireland seeking abortions in England has fallen for the ninth successive year.
Pro-life group Precious Life said the decline in women traveling to England for an abortion shows "the pro-life battle is being won in Ireland". However pro-choice campaigners claim these statistics do not show the full picture.
Many other women go to Scotland or further afield in Europe for an abortion and there is an unknown number of women who obtain tablets over the internet to terminate a pregnancy.
Dr Audrey Simpson, director of the Family Planning Association (FPA) Northern Ireland, said: "These statistics show that criminalising abortion does not stop women having abortions. It is time for politicians to bring Northern Ireland into the 21st century and provide women with the same health care services that are free and available in the rest of the UK."
The 1967 Abortion Act applies only in England, Scotland and Wales, making it virtually impossible for women in Northern Ireland to obtain an abortion on the NHS. Northern Ireland is the only country in the UK where abortion is illegal. There abortion is only permitted for rape, incest, or where the fetus is diagnosed disabled.
Abortion as Uncommon as it was in Grandma's DayMarch 20, 2008 AAP Newsfeed
Young Australian women are as unlikely to have an abortion as their grandmothers. Researchers credit increasing condom use and the nation's enthusiasm for having children. Less than 5% of women born in the 1980s have had an abortion, a drop from 14% 10 years ago.
The study involves about 4,500 women of all ages whose reproductive history was mapped over their lifetime.
Women born before 1945 had below 5%, but this increased rapidly with the legalization of abortion, the sexual revolution and the pill.
We've seen is a dramatic downturn for the latest group born between 1976 and 1990.
These women were past the 20 to 25 peak when women were most likely to abort.
The findings were linked to changing attitudes to safe sex.
U.S.: As Abortion Rate Drops, Use of RU-486 is on RiseJanuary 22, 2008 Washington Post
The abortion pill RU-486, on the market since 2000, has become an alternative, making abortion less clinical and more private. RU-486-induced abortions now account for 14% of the total, and more than one in five early abortions are performed by the ninth week of pregnancy.
The pill has helped slow the decline in abortion providers, as more physicians discreetly start to prescribe the pill.
When the Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone in 2000, some predicted it would revolutionize the abortion experience. But the impact has been happening gradually as it slowly and steadily is becoming integrated into the medical system.
Women take the pill in the doctor's office and then go home, where they take another drug, misoprostol, to trigger contractions, causing a miscarriage. Standard abortions cost about $400, the pill can cost the same to about $100 more.
About 150,000 of the 1.2 million abortions in the US in 2006 were done with medication. In some European countries, more than 60% of abortions are performed with the drug.
One doctor in Albuquerque said she does not use the pill at one of her offices but does offer it along with standard abortions at a clinic where she works. At another clinic, she provides only the pill.
Abortions Down 25% From Peak; but a Study Says More Women Are Choosing Medication, Rather Than Surgery, to End Pregnancies.January 17, 2008 Los Angeles Times
The number of abortions in America has plunged to 1.2 million a year, down 25% since peaking in 1990. In the early 1980s, 1 in 3 pregnant women chose abortion, now it is closer to 1 in 5.
Women are gravitating to medication abortions, and expel the embryo in the privacy of their homes. The FDA approved the pills for use through the seventh week of pregnancy.
By 2005, the pills accounted for 13% of all abortions.
The Guttmacher report came to no conclusions about why the abortion landscape had changed. Abortion rights advocates suggested women may be avoiding unwanted pregnancies, thanks in part to the morning-after pill. Activists have pledged to lobby to make all forms of birth control cheaper and more widely accessible. They also plan to push states to require sex-education classes that teach about contraception.
Dwell too much on abortion, and the broader liberal agenda will bog down, said a consultant who developed the strategy. Conservatives, are eager to keep the focus on abortion and contend that the more women learn about the procedure, the less likely they are to choose it. Some of the material is false or misleading, for example, warnings that abortion raises the risk of breast cancer or causes post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of the counseling brochures use photos of fetal development through nine months, though 90% of abortions take place in the first trimester.
Abortion opponents plan to lobby to expand this type of counseling.
Some of the biggest drops in the abortion rate have come in states that do not impose tight restrictions.
The data suggest that the decline in abortions may be due to a shift in women's attitudes. The antiabortion movement should focus on continuing to "change hearts and minds."
The number of abortion clinics nationwide was down 15%,(48). But other health centers and doctors in private practice filled the gap by offering medical abortions.
Abortion clinics have been besieged by protests, but it's harder for protesters to identify a physician in private practice.
Missouri recently required doctors who dispense the abortion pill to turn their offices into full surgical suites. But a judge put the law on hold, pending a legal challenge.
There is little popular support for restricting such abortions.
Most doctors who prescribed the abortion pill work in urban areas, so access to abortion had not improved for rural women.
More than 1 in 4 abortion patients reports traveling at least 50 miles to reach a provider. It was difficult to persuade abortion doctors to share information about their practice because they feared reprisals from protesters.
Chinese Province Bans Sale of Abortion DrugsJanuary 04, 2007 Agence France Presse
Henan province has banned the sale of abortion drugs as part of its efforts to maintain the gender balance. Vendors of abortion drugs will face fines of up to 20,000 yuan (2,564 dollars), while pregnant women who have their babies aborted illegally will face a fine of 2,000 yuan.
The move is a measure to ban fetal gender selection by abortion in the province. An abortion is legal when the foetus has serious hereditary disease and continual pregnancy will harm the mother, or if she has divorced or lost her spouse.
The ratio between boys and girls in Henan, with a population of 100 million , was 118.46 to 100, higher than the world average ratio of 103-107 to 100. Henan's authorities have blamed the gender imbalance on the use of ultra-sound technology that allows families to identify the sex of fetuses. Generally boys are favoured over girls.
Life After RoeMarch 05, 2006 Washington Post
For the first time in 14 years, legal abortion in the US is in jeopardy. The Supreme Court announced it would review the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Lawmakers vowed to litigate South Dakota ban all the way to the high court. The court told the abortion rights side it could no longer use racketeering laws to halt protests at abortion clinics. Twenty years from now, we'll be back where we are today unless we move beyond Roe which is increasingly obsolete as a framework for managing decisions about reproduction. It must be up to reproductive rights supporters to give the public abortion reduction within a framework of autonomy. The first point is the so-called "partial birth" abortion ban. Second is the South Dakota law. The third is the potential retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens. They'll reignite the cycle of victory, backlash and defeat. Six years ago, anti-abortion groups faced a choice: Add a health exception to the federal partial-birth bill, or refuse and gamble that a future court would uphold the ban. The gamble paid off. Roe is more than three decades old, was a 7 to 2 decision, has been used as a basis for subsequent Supreme Court opinions and was reaffirmed 14 years ago. Roe affects many women and is popular. There's no chance a Roberts-Alito-Stevens court would overturn Roe, but the ruling could set off a political explosion. Because the South Dakota ban so flagrantly defies Roe, lower courts will probably strike it down quickly. Abortion rights groups will take it straight to the high court, hoping to make Roe a central issue in the 2008 elections. The court might refuse to hear, or it might sit on the case until after the elections. In short, 2008 will look a lot like 1989, with a surge of pro-abortion rights voting and a frightened retreat by anti-abortion politicians. But the House, Senate and White House will be up for grabs and abortion rights supporters could find themselves in control of the federal government. The last time they were in power, they tried to enshrine Roe in federal law and subsidize abortions through Medicaid and President Bill Clinton's health insurance proposal. Improvements in neonatal care have made fetuses viable earlier than was possible in 1973. Meanwhile, sonograms and embryology have made people aware of how well developed fetuses are while vulnerable to abortion. Second-trimester abortions are becoming easier to avoid. In 1973, fewer than 4% of abortions took place before the ninth week of gestation. By 2000, the percentage was nearly 60 and rising. And by 2002, two-thirds of clinics were offering pills that abort pregnancies in the first seven weeks. Technology is helping women avoid unwanted pregnancies. Emergency contraception was almost unheard of a decade ago. Some activists are fighting these pills but polls suggest that even most people who oppose legal abortion would tolerate the pills. Contraceptive use rose 11% from 1982 to 2002 and the abortion rate dropped by about 30%. Technology can't avert all our failings or tragedies. There will always be abortions. But when you look at the trends you can begin to envision a voluntary exodus from abortion. Maybe, if we spend the next 10 years helping women avoid second-trimester abortions, we won't have to spend the next 20 or 40 years defending them. The road out of Roe won't be easy. Conservatives are fighting early abortion pills, morning-after pills, sex education and birth control. But that's a more winnable fight, and a more righteous one.
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Anti-abortion poster found near a clinic in Ecuador. Depicts an 8 week fetus as a standing-erect 15-month old with a smiling face.
U.S.: Obama's Life Story Now An Anti-Abortion AdJanuary 22, 2009 Newsweek.com
BET viewers were seeing Obama's life story turned into an anti-abortion ad, sponsored by catholicvote.org. A camera zooms in on a fetus in a womb as these words appear on the screen: "This child's future is a broken home. He will be abandoned by his father. His single mother will struggle to raise him. Despite the hardships he will endure this child will become the 1st African-American President." The ad ends with a photograph of President Obama and this message: "Life: Imagine the Potential."
The ad is the first in a series that will use the same tag line. "Abortion is the enemy of hope".
Advisers at some federally funded pregnancy centers, mislead about the risks of abortion, falsely telling callers it raises the risk of breast cancer, infertility and mental illness. Twenty of the 23 centers reached by the investigators provided misleading information. Female staffers posed as pregnant 17-year-olds and called the resource centers that have received grants from the Compassion Capital Fund.
One center told a caller that an abortion would 'affect the milk developing in her breasts' and that the risk of breast cancer increased by as much as 80%, a statement that was taken down after a public clamor by scientists and doctors.
Callers were also told that a first-trimester abortion would raise the risk of infertility. Contrary to research, 13 centers told the caller that the psychological effects of abortion are severe, long-lasting, and common.
Abortion Rights Groups Say Idaho's 'Informed Consent' Booklets Are MisleadingApril 26, 2006 Statesman
Booklets handed out to women seeking an abortion in Idaho contain and misleading information, abortion rights groups say, but an official said they are fair.
The chief of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's said that it's a balanced approach. The law requires nearly all women seeking to terminate a pregnancy to receive three booklets and wait 24 hours before being allowed to undergo the procedure. Idaho had an informed consent law since 1983, but the state attorney general deemed it unconstitutional because it allowed no exceptions for medical emergencies. The new Idaho law includes such exceptions.
The new law penalizes health care providers who don't provide the booklets and allow a woman to make an informed choice.
The new law doesn't make exceptions on who must get the booklets and they emphasize the risks of abortion but not childbirth.
The coordinator for Right to Life of Idaho said many women who have abortions did not receive information first and might have made different choices if they had had that information.
The state avoided the controversial issues that some other states include in their booklets. Rep. Bill Sali, R-Kuna, an abortion opponent, insisted on discussing what he said is a link between abortion and breast cancer. House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, a breast cancer survivor, took offense, and she and the rest of the Democratic delegation walked out.
In a 2008-2010 study of 9,000 women in St. Louis, who were given access to contraceptives at no cost, it was found the women chose those contraceptive methods that were most effective, and as a group they had strikingly lower rates of teen pregnancy and abortion. Many of the women were poor and uninsured.
These findings highlight how valuable is the provision in President Barack Obama's health care law which requires that insurance provides women access to contraception without co-pays.
Of the teenagers in the study, there were 6.3 births per 1,000, compared to 34 for teens nationwide in 2010.
As for abortions, there were 4.4-7.5 per 1,000, compared to 13.4-17 in St. Louis metro region, and 20 nationally.
Most adults already knew what the study showed: that the use of contraception is effective in reducing unwanted pregnancy, and in preventing abortions. Such numbers are further evidence that the narrow thinking of anti-abortion groups that also oppose contraception hurts the groups' own cause along with the women they claim to support.
Successful use of contraception enables a woman or a couple to plan for such a major life change. Such planning is also beneficial for society in general, which absorbs many of the cost ramifications of teen pregnancy, unwed motherhood or more children than a household can financially support.
I'm pro-life because I value all human life. This includes the lives of every person living in my country, the lives of children living in poverty, and victims of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in the third world, the lives of criminals on death row, the homeless living in the streets, and soldiers serving our country abroad.
I also value the nascent human life of the unborn.
So why aren't I trying to defund Planned Parenthood, calling abortion doctors "murderers," and petitioning the federal government to overturn Roe vs. Wade?
In fact, why haven't I spent all my money - and demanded that the government do the same - to send meals and vaccines to every person on the planet and provid rooms for all the homeless, and demand our country surrender every war?
Because these actions would substitute ideologies for solutions, and favor short-term irrational emotion rather than long-term pragmatic decisions.
I want the abortion rate in this country - and every country - to plummet. Almost everyone feels that way.
But overturning Roe vs. Wade, or cutting funding for healthcare to low-income women and families is not going to make it happen. It's going to happen by expanding healthcare access, contraceptive use, and sex education.
Russia has had one of the highest abortion rates in the world. But in the late 1980s and 1990s the expansion of contraceptive access in Russia was found to curb the practice. (http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB5055/index1.html)
In Uganda, where abortion is illegal and sex education focuses exclusively on abstinence: the abortion rate there is more than double what it is in the United States. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html?src=tp)
In the U.S. a 46% decline in the odds of an abortion was seen when low-income women had access to healthcare that provided contraception in year-long supplies, according to researchers at University of California (http://healthland.time.com/2011/02/25/want-to-slash-the-abortion-rate-dole-out-a-years-supply-of-birth-control-pills/)
In the Netherlands, where abortion (and prostitution) are completely legal, the abortion rate is the lowest in the world, credited to very comprehensive sex education and easy access to contraceptives, according to the Guttmacher Institute. (http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-women/2009/10/14/abortion-down-contraception-up-recipe-for-health-reform)
An ideological war on abortion that ignores the data and sets its sights on low-income women who lack proper education and resources must stop. The Pro-Life movement must make reducing the rate of abortion the goal, and seek rational methods and solutions that will serve this purpose. If they continue with this righteous ideology without concern for results, then we want the term "pro-life" back. They're using it wrong.
Georgia Plays Front-runner on Anti-Choice AgendaMarch 03, 2011 Women's eNews
Some anti-choice activists have denounced abortion as black genocide. Operation Outrage, a campaign to publicize the "holocaustic impact" of abortion in the black community, has gained national attention via a billboard campaign that sprang up here and is spreading across the country.
"In Georgia, 60 percent of abortions are done on black women," the leader Davis said at one point, citing state health statistics, although black women comprise just 30% of the state's female residents. Women, she said, are still dying from abortions: "It did not end because we allowed it to become legal."
The Guttmacher Institute reports that illegal abortions "accounted for 17% of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth in 1965." Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, led to dramatic reductions in maternal mortality.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified only nine deaths for 2006 that were related to legal abortion.
Georgia's pregnancy-associated mortality rate is the sixth highest in the U.S. at 20.3 per 100,000 live births for black women and 5.5. per 100,000 live births for white women, according to the Georgia Department of Human Resources' Division of Public Health.
Mexico;: Legal Abortion No Longer a Distant Goal for ActivistsMarch 21, 2007 Reuters
Two draft laws in Mexico could make abortion legal in cases other than those involving rape or a threat to a pregnant woman's life.
For the first time there is a serious debate on this, and a possibility that abortion will be decriminalised.
Legislators introduced a draft law that would allow voluntary abortion to be carried out in Mexico City up to the 14th week of pregnancy.
Senators presented a draft law that would make abortion legal nationwide before the 12th week of pregnancy.
The conservative governing National Action Party (PAN) announced protest demonstrations and action aimed at blocking the two draft laws. President Calder said that he believes in "the defense of life" and considers the present legislation, which allows -- in most Mexican states -- abortion only in case of rape, a deformed fetus, or a threat to the life of the pregnant woman, adequate for now.
Only in Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Vatican is abortion illegal under any circumstance.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, activists are fighting for abortion in nearly every country.
In Mexico it is estimated that there are up to one million illegal abortions a year. Backstreet abortions are the fourth or fifth leading cause of death among Mexican women. Even in cases of rape, or risk to the mother's life, a legal abortion is nearly impossible.
Only 15% of the pregnant women interviewed said they really wanted to be having a baby at that time.
The Vatican is sending Colombian Bishop Alfonso L'pez, to Mexico to support opponents of the new draft laws.
Conservatives claim that abortion is murder and have advertised in the local press to explain what abortion methods consist of and that at a few weeks' gestation, the fetus has a human form.
The Coalition for the Rights of All has put videos on the Internet showing how a fetus dies when a woman has an abortion.
If conservativesthey had "a minimum of integrity" they ought to show the deaths of women who have undergone backstreet abortions.
Four million abortions a year are practiced in Latin America, and 5,000 women die as a result. Thirty to 40% of women who go through the procedure suffer life-threatening complications.
The important thing is to have a public health system that improves and extends everything to do with sex education and prevention of unwanted pregnancies.
The draft laws under debate in Mexico stress that access to contraceptive methods needs to be improved urgently.
In the present legislative process we found an openness to listen to different points of view, and a resistance to the threats and warnings from the church.
The Church is threatening to excommunicate those who are in favour of legalised abortion and claims it is only defending the life and dignity of human beings, and "no one should be opposed to that."
The debate includes the timeworn discussion about whether a fetus at less than 12 or 14 weeks gestation should be considered an individual person or not, and whether or not it feels pain when it is aborted.
U.S.;: States Fund Antiabortion Advice; Public Grants Surge for the Crisis Centers. Some Ban Contraception TalkFebruary 11, 2007 Los Angeles Times
Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania use public funds to subsidize Christian homes for unwed mothers and programs designed to steer women away from abortion. As a condition of the grants, counselors are barred from referring women to any clinic that provides abortions; in some cases, they may not discuss contraception.
Most states spend far more money on family planning, but tax dollars to antiabortion groups has surged in recent months. Abortion-rights supporters assert that the funds would be better spent if used to expand access to birth control. In Texas, the state reduced grants to a Planned Parenthood clinic in downtown Austin and began sending money to the Roman Catholic diocese a block away.
There, counselors collect $1.05 in public funds for every minute they spend encouraging women and teens not to abort. Tax dollars cannot be used for religious purposes, but federal law permits faith-based groups. Crisis pregnancy centers have received tens of millions of dollars from the federal government over the last six years, mostly for abstinence education.
Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Texas approved funding in 2005. Louisiana, Missouri and Pennsylvania have longer-running programs. Arizona and Kansas have offered one-time grants to antiabortion groups. States will spend at least $13 million this year to dissuade women from abortion.
Conservatives in several states are pushing to restrict or eliminate public funding for groups that support abortion rights. The vast majority of states send grants to Planned Parenthood, in amounts that dwarf the antiabortion funding. Tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood cover birth control, gynecological exams, cancer screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. When clients come in with unwanted pregnancies, they hear about all of their options. Antiabortion activists pamphlets feature photos of adorable babies and beaming teenage moms.
U.S. Rep. Waxman, an abortion rights supporter, asked investigators to contact 23 crisis pregnancy centers: 20 gave misleading information, he reported. In Austin, the diocese hands out a booklet, approved by the state, that suggests a link between abortion and breast cancer, though the National Cancer Institute has found no such connection.
In 2005, Texas lawmakers redirected $25 million to primary-care health clinics, but $5 million of the money was set aside for antiabortion centers. The Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin had to begin charging for services long offered free to low-income women. Since the fees took effect, the clinic has distributed 40% fewer birth control pills and has conducted 50% fewer Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. Several thousand patients have stopped coming.
Texas antiabortion groups had counseled 660 women and teens with the tax dollars made available by the shift in resources. Last week, the Texas Catholic Conference sent volunteers in turquoise shirts to the Capitol to give lawmakers cakes, and a long list of legislative priorities, first was abolish abortion in Texas.
Seventy-four House members have sent a letter to Amnesty International to reject a proposal that would support access to abortion in cases of rape, incest, sexual assault or to save the life of the woman.
The group has said forced marriage of young girls and illegal abortions are being discussed. The letter asks Amnesty to remain neutral on the issue of abortion.
To support abortion, which many believe is a human rights abuse, would undermine Amnesty's reputation and effectiveness, said the letter, which was signed by House Majority Leader John Boehner.
Colombia's first legal abortion has taken place after the Catholic nation legalised the procedure.
Abortion is permitted in three cases, if the mother's life is in danger, if the foetus is badly deformed or if the pregnancy results from rape.
This case involved an 11-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather.
The girl's case had to go to the constitutional court before abortion was authorised.
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Prevent Abortion News
July 05 , 2012 Salon.com
Women in a Kenyan Laikipia health clinic were asked if any of them have friends who had died of illegal abortions. Three out of the four said they did. In fact , unsafe abortion has led to 30 to 40% of maternal deaths in Kenya.
In 2010 Kenyans approved a constitution that moderately eases the country's abortion restrictions. Whereas abortion was previously allowed only with permission from three doctors - one of whom had to be a psychiatrist, an impossibility in most parts of the country - now a single medical professional can certify that an abortion is necessary for a woman's life or health, which can be broadly construed.
Charlotte Smith, director of policy at Ipas, which advocates for safe abortion worldwide and is providing technical support to the government's transition said "I imagine that as in any place that has over 150 years of a very restrictive abortion law, it's going to take a lot of providers a lot of time to feel that they would be protected," even if they support abortion rights.
Physicians can now supervise administration of the pregnancy-ending drug RU-486 via "virtual" counseling and this method was found to be just as effective and acceptable to patients as a face-to-face office visit, a new study finds.
75% of patients who choose that option said they did not prefer having the doctor in the room during the procedure.
94% of the women who chose telemedicine reported that they were "very satisfied" with the procedure, and researchers found that women who received the counseling had no more complications than those who had office visits, according to the new report published in the latest edition of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.
13 Million Abortions a Year in ChinaFebruary 26, 2011 The Straits Times (Singapore)
Nearly a quarter of the world's abortions happen in China. Abortions in China peaked in the 1990s, with official figures saying 14 million were performed.
Abortion has long been the instrument of choice for married couples who do not want daughters and for officials enforcing China's one-child policy for the past 30 years.
It used to be that older, married women were the largest group getting abortions. But today it is mostly younger and unmarried women.
Ms Lily Liu, the Beijing-based country director of Marie Stopes International, a sex health charity, explained: due to better nutrition, girls reach puberty - and possibly become sexually active - earlier, at age 12-1/2 in the 1990s compared with 14-1/2 in the 1970s. And they are getting married later.
In a study it was found that more than 22% of young women were having premarital sex and more than half of this number did not use contraceptives. 20% of these sexually active women have gotten pregnant at least once, and 90% of these aborted the baby.
Another study of women aged 20 to 29 in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai found the abortion rate to be 62%. Only 2% of the women had used contraceptives. And another study showed that 90% of young women have had at least one abortion. One even had 11 within three years.
Most likely these women - migrant workers, white-collar workers and students - were more fearful of parental anger and the stigma of having a child before marriage than of having an abortion.
It is inexpensive and about a four hour procedure to get an abortion in China. But there are possible harmful health effects of abortion.
Most analysts agree that the lack of sex education is to blame. Only 3% of parents talk to their daughters about sex, says one poll. Another poll found that 85% of students learn about sex on the Internet.
Almost 50% of pregnancies among American women are unintended, with 40% of these terminated by abortion. 22% of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.
49% of pregnancies among white women are unintended; the figure is 69% among blacks and 54% among Hispanics. Abortions have declined in number from 2000 to 2005.
Annually, 2% of women aged 15-44 have an abortion; half have had at least one previous abortion. At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, about one-third will have had an abortion.
18% of U.S. women obtaining abortions are teenagers; ages 15-17 account for 6%, ages 18-19 11%.
50% of abortions are obtained by women in their twenties;
30% of abortions occur to non-Hispanic black women, 36% to non-Hispanic white women, 25% to Hispanic women and 9% to women of other races.
37% of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28% as Catholic.
45% of abortions are obtained by women who have never married and are not cohabiting.
61% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.
42% of abortions are obtained by women with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level.
Reasons given for abortion: 75% of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; 75% say they cannot afford a child; 75% say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and 50% say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.
54% of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Of these, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently.
46% of women who have abortions had not used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Of these 33% had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy, 32% had had concerns about contraceptive methods, 26% had had unexpected sex and 1% had been forced to have sex.
8% of women who have abortions have never used a method of birth control; nonuse is greatest among those who are young, poor, black, Hispanic or less educated.
About 50% of unintended pregnancies occur among the 11% of women who are at risk for unintended pregnancy but are currently not using contraceptives.
Only 23% of abortion providers offer abortion after 20 weeks and 11% at 24 weeks.
The average amount paid in 2009 for a nonhospital abortion with local anesthesia at 10 weeks' gestation was $451.
88% of abortions occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, 2006.
Fewer than 0.3% of abortion patients experience a complication that requires hospitalization and abortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of such problems as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.
Exhaustive reviews concluded that there is no association between abortion and breast cancer and there is no indication that abortion is a risk factor for other cancers.
In repeated studies since the early 1980s, leading experts have concluded that abortion does not pose a hazard to women's mental health.
58% of abortion patients say they would have liked to have had their abortion earlier.
Thirty-five states currently enforce parental consent or notification laws for minors seeking an abortion.
Saying out loud that you've had an abortion is, even in Britain, a provocative act. Breaking that taboo recently, women are posting on Twitter the phrase #ihadanabortion in their thousands. What started as a trickle of voices soon became a choir; crowds and crowds of women coming out, liberated and noisy.
It's when you see the lists of names scrolling down the page like water spilling from an overflowing bath, and their tiny but similar stories (ignoring, of course, the tweets from male anti-choice activists bemoaning a "silent holocaust"), that you feel how powerful this might really be in unsmearing the pity and pain associated with abortion, an important part of women's lives that so often goes unspoken of and thereby kept hidden, shameful, and weighty with imagined meaning.
This is the pro-voice movement. While it's not ideal that women must expose their personal medical history in order to defend their own choices, judging by the online response, this is a technique that has an effect. Like the opposite of a sonogram (which anti-choice activists like to use to conjure up an image of a baby, lost, smiling and beating-of-heart) the act of tweeting one's experience removes the horror of the decision, not trivialising but normalising; highlighting how common the choice to abort an unplanned or unviable foetus really is, and how life trundles on afterwards without much changing at all.
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