Is Abortion Murder?
August 25, 2014
Prevent Abortion Index
(abortion)Werner Fornos, Population Institute
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.
Family Planning Prevents Abortions
An estimated 40 million abortions will take place in the developing world in 2012. Most of these procedures will be clandestine and unsafe, taking a terrible toll on women's lives. Reducing the number of unsafe abortions is essential for improving public health. And it's the basic right of every woman to decide whether and when to have a child—without having to put her health or life at risk.
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 By: Jason Silverstein
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.
Contraception Yes, Abortion NoFebruary 8, 2000, Bill Denneen
By Bill Denneen I remember when I wrote that word on the backboard in my Biology Class at Santa Maria High School in 1960. I thought the roof would fall in. We accept things like cell phones figuratively 'overnight' but social change is so painfully SLOW. I have come to the conclusion we Biologists look at 'life' differently than 'regular' people. Sex for Biologists is the process by which DNA gets resuffled. It is a process that replaced asexual reproduction very early in the evolution of life on this planet. Isogametes/conjugation (sex) came in when life was single cell organisms (e.g. bacteria, paramecium). Sex takes DNA from two organisms of the same species and makes an entirely new recombination of the DNA which is the basis of evolution. The study of biology is essentially a study of evolution.
All organisms produce more offspring than could possibly (sp?) survive (e.g. the weeds in your garden). Only the best adapted to the changing environment survive to continue these new characterists---thus the evolution of life on planet earth.
Jan. 22 is the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision over 30 years ago to legalize abortions. The president is leading a growing movement to make abortion illegal again. Typically in Santa Maria a group parades from City Hall to Planned Parenthood (PP-SM). This year the group was probably the largest ever (about 200 people). The group is called 'Pro-Life'---they are against abortions. I am too. For a number of years I would be the only one on the Pro-PP-SM side. Last year a group of about 40 were there with candles---what a beautiful sight for me. This year the same so I walked down the middle of the street between the two groups with my large sign reading: FAMILY PLANNING NOT ABORTION and on the flip side CONDOMS NOT ABORTION. It was music to my ears to hear the cheers from the PP-SM side---"yeh Bill".
I too am opposed to abortion but feel contraception is the alternative. We are not intendended for 'abstinence only'---Bush must have slept through his college Bio-classes. How old were you at first intercourse? The average age is now 17 but lower for the less educated.
When I was born there were less than 2 billion people on this tiny crowded planet, we are now pushing 7,000,000,000.---a true 'explosion'. The Central Coast (e.g.Nipomo) is the fastest growing area of the entire planet (7.7%). Nipomo IS the future---yuck!. An article in the Santa Maria Times last April carried an article about a local women (my age) who begat 18 children who begat 236 grandchildren (I have 2). I feel this is a terrible tragedy. It takes intelligence, motivation and knowledge NOT to have so many babies. I would guess she and I had about the same amount of sexual activity but hers was devoid of contraception.
I feel that we as a species have a choice of increasing the death rate or lowering the birth rate. As a Biologist I would say our average 'natural' life expectancy prior to about 2000BC was probably 25 or 30. In 1900 in the US it was about 40. Today it is pushing 100. As I tell my senior nutrition buddies we GOF's (Grand Ole Fellows) are an abnormality and it is not "natural" for us to even be here let alone the concept of a 'natural death'.
You might wonder why I am SO concerned about "choice". In WWII I was a medic in the Navy. Post WWII while going to college I worked on an ambulance near Boston. We picked up young gals in puddles of blood which I had never seen in the Navy. They had tried to abort themselves with coathangers (abortion and contraception were illegal in MA at the time). Sex for me as sailor was a just a fun activity (until then). With that wake-up I became a lifelong supporter of contraception, vasectomies, and Planned Parenthood.
Every child has a basic right to be born planned, wanted and loved----not the result of lack of knowledge about contraception, contraceptive failure or too much to drink. Sixty percent of pregnancies in the US are unintended (accidents). My Doctor friend had this to say about the subject: "I did my internship (1963-64) and surgical residency (1967-1973) at Highland General Hospital in Oakland. My training spanned the years in California when abortions became legal. Needles to say, I was one of the doctors that you would have brought the unfortunate ladies to. We saw not only the severe bleeding but also septic abortions--- infections from dirty instruments. These infections carried a very high mortality from septic shock."
I am opposed to abortion. We are painfully moving from ignorance about reproduction to an open dialogue. To measure your acceptance of this change here is a 'pop quiz'. Consider the following terms. If there are any you would not use talking with your kids or consider 'nasty' you are part of the problem: vagina, stud, condom, slut, cervix, penis, masturbation, orgasm, sexual intercourse, oral sex, mutual masturbation, emergency contraception. Back in 1960 when I wrote "contraception" on the backbroard 'sex' was dirty but the air was 'clean'. We are finally accepting sexuality as a natural/clean activity ----while the air has become 'dirty'.
Unsafe and Illegal Abortions
Hospitals for the poor in Kenya have no beds to spare. Yet up to 40% of those beds result from desperate women having failed abortions under unsafe conditions. Some drink disinfectants or herbal concoctions or get injured in backstreet clinics where devices such as bicycle spokes, knitting needles, sticks and pens are used in place of surgical instruments.
Three years ago a new constitution made it legal to end a pregnancy when a woman's life or health is at risk. However, what most often places a woman's life at risk is a resort to unsafe procedures.
Money talks in Kenya's two-tier system. Rich and educated women routinely procure safe abortions in private hospitals, citing medical guidelines that allow termination in the interests a of woman's mental or physical health. But public hospitals turn women away because the penal code says that women who abort illegally can be jailed for seven years. Consequently, the government estimates that 800 unsafe abortions occur every day, leading to the deaths of thousands of women each year.
Monica Ogutu, of the Kisumu Medical and Education Trust, a charity that provides medical services and education in western Kenya, claimed in a recent paper that hospitals are inundated by abortion-related problems. Many of the women admitted fall between 17 and 25. She says the government should improve access to family planning and adopt policies that ensure women can procure safe abortions. "Men are a huge let-down." she says. Some actually tell their women statements such as: "Contraceptives are for sex workers. I do not want to see those tablets in my house" -- notwithstanding that the women don't want to conceive.
Kenya Medical Association secretary Lukoye Atwoli reported that pregnancy resulting from rape or incest was one of the main reasons Kenyan women became suicidal and depressed. High levels of sexual violence, poverty and limited access to family planning result in 43% of Kenyan pregnancies being unwanted.
Safe abortions have the potential to transform women’s health abroad, but funders still balkApril 21, 2014, AlJazeera America By: Jill Filipovic
Dr. Grace Chiudzu, the head of the maternity ward at a hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi, said the common issues her patients face are bleeding, infections, and abortion complications. 60% of the population in Malawi live in poverty and 1 in 36 women dies while pregnant or during childbirth. However President Joyce Banda puts health high on the national agenda. Malawi's donors, including the United States, the Gates Foundation and many others, have thrown support behind Banda's Safe Motherhood Initiative to save the lives of the many Malawian women who die or are seriously injured while pregnant or giving birth.
However, abortion is not addressed.
At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, unsafe, illegal abortion was highlighted as a leading cause of maternal death and a driver of gender inequality. Two decades later, maternal mortality is down, but the proportion of maternal death and injury caused by unsafe abortion has not changed.
Since the Cairo conference at least 1 million women have died from unsafe abortion, said Liz Maguire, president and CEO of the reproductive health advocacy group IPAS. "More than 100 million have been injured. All of these deaths and injuries are entirely preventable."
Unsafe abortion is the third leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide. The World Health Organization identifies safe abortion care as one of seven necessary interventions to ensure quality reproductive, maternal and child health care. Early-term abortion is a simple procedure and, when done by a trained provider, remarkably safe.
Many groups that focus specifically on maternal health do not advocate for abortion to be legal, accessible and safe.
A traditional leader in Malawi whose work to decrease child marriage and ensure no woman dies in childbirth has been highlighted in The New York Times and at major international conferences - Chief Inkosi Kwataine - said that "bortions are not very common." Yet in 2009, an estimated 29,500 women in Malawi were treated for complications from unsafe abortion, and unsafe procedures were the cause of almost 1 maternal death in 5.
U.S. foreign policy, in the form of the Helms Amendment, exacerbates this global public health crisis, perpetuating a culture of stigma, silence and inaction around a leading killer of women.
40 years ago Helms was passed as part of the backlash against Roe v. Wade. Helms prevents U.S. funds from paying for abortions overseas "as a method of family planning" or to “motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." But in practice abortion is often not even discussed, let alone provided, even for women facing life-threatening complications and rape and incest survivors who, even under the Helms Amendment, should be allowed access to abortion care. Agnecies in countries receiving U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance, are often not allowed to attend meetings where abortion is discussed. And there's censorship in training materials.
Then, in addition to Helms, the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, blocks not only USAID funding from paying for abortion, but also pulls any U.S. funds from other organizations that provided abortion with their own non-U.S. dollars, or advocated for abortion rights or provided any information about abortion at all — even counseling, information about legal abortion or referrals to legal providers. That policy was instituted by Ronald Regan, repealed by the Clinton administration, reinstated by George W. Bush, and removed by Barack Obama. Many organizations that receive U.S. dollars remain wary of abortion care, knowing the political tides may change.
The Mexico City Policy had devastating effects. By 2002, shipments of USAID-funded contraception to 16 countries were halted; many NGOs cut HIV/AIDS services; and clinics that were often the only providers of family planning tools, STI testing and treatment, HIV treatment and prenatal and well-baby care were shuttered.
In 1994, the Leahy Amendment was passed, stating that the Helms provision against motivating abortion “shall not be construed to prohibit the provision, consistent with local law, of information or counseling about all pregnancy options." This would have allowed USAID-funded groups to inform women of all their legal reproductive options — including abortion. However the Leahy Amendment is largely ignored. IPAS and other organizations have been pressing the Obama administration to correctly implement Helms, to little avail.
In Ethiopia, where abortion is legal, a woman living in an area where health facilities receive USAID support will be denied abortion care, whereas a woman living in a different district funded by another donor will have access to safe care, Maguire said.
Merck for Mothers, a 10-year, $500 million initiative to reduce maternal mortality focuses largely on two causes of maternal death: hemorrhaging and preeclampsia. It emphasizes that a woman dies every two minutes from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. “That's 800 women a day," it claims. But it doesn't include safe abortion. What it doesn't say is that 1 out of every 8 of those women dies of an unsafe abortion. Five million more women seek care for complications from unsafe procedures. Even more are injured but don't go to a hospital or clinic.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a major funder of family planning tools worldwide — but Melinda Gates publicly insists that “we're not talking about abortion."
“Stigma is the key barrier," said Ellen Israel, of Pathfinder International, a global leader in sexual and reproductive health. “It's why women hide. It's why they don't come. It's why they come late. It's why, even if misoprostol is available in the market, women don't have information on how to take it so it will work."
Even in countries with the lowest abortion rates, the number of procedures never reaches zero. Where abortion is legal and accessible, it's usually very safe. Where it's not, women die.
Abortion access allows women to be equal players in society. There is no way for a society to achieve the real objective — full gender equality — without abortion rights.
Development groups increasingly understand that women must be able to plan their families. The returns compound themselves: Girls are able to go to school, women are healthier and able to live independently, and families are more prosperous, economies grow. As the Gates Foundation says, “Every dollar spent on family planning can save governments up to 6 dollars that can be spent on improving health, housing, water, and other public services." But abortion must be a part of that solution. Women cannot achieve equality without the right to both prevent and end pregnancies.
There is some hope. Recently, leaders from over 30 countries called for the decriminalization of abortion and a renewed commitment to the provision of safe abortion services.
Traditional leaders called 'queen mothers' in Ghana, learned under an Ipas program that abortion is allowed under Ghanaian law, and are now champions in their own communities, helping women access services, including contraceptives and safe abortion. Pathfinder International partners with nurses and community outreach workers in Ghana to provide care and reduce stigma around the procedure.
In Nepal abortion was legalized in 2002 and trained providers were placed in all 75 Nepalese districts. Between 1998 and 2009, Nepal's maternal mortality rate was cut in half and the amount of post-abortion complications in the country now hovers around 2%.
Much of the opposition to safe and legal abortion originates in the United States — and it is both well organized and well funded. To push for women's rights, advocacy and health organizations need real attention paid to the high cost of unsafe abortion. They need significant funding, greater resources and stronger political will.
New Study Provides First Abortion Estimates for the Country State and AgeDecember 19 , 2013, Guttmacher Institute
The theory that high levels of unintended pregnancy result in high abortion rates, has been demonstrated to be true in Mexico with 54% of all unintended pregnancies ending in induced abortion.
One million abortions take place in the country each year, even though abortion is highly restricted throughout Mexico, except in the Federal District of Mexico City.
The high abortion rate indicates that family planning programs are not keeping pace with women's desire to limit and space their births.
About 4 million Mexican women are at risk for unintended pregnancy -- they want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using a modern contraceptive method.
"Family planning programs must be improved to ensure that women—and young women in particular—can easily access counseling and the range of contraceptive options they need," said Dr. Fátima Juárez, lead author of the study.
Approximately 12% of married women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using any method of contraception. About 27% of sexually active young women aged 15-24 are not using a contraceptive method, resulting in high abortion rates among adolescents aged 15-19 (44 per 1,000) and young women aged 20-24 (55 per 1,000).
In Tabasco, the Federal District, Mexico State, and Baja California Sur, the abortion rates for women aged 20-24 are at least 80 per 1,000.
The study found that more than one-third of all women having a clandestine abortion (36%) experience complications that need medical treatment from a health facility, but an estimated 25% of them do not receive the care they need. Almost none of the women having unrestricted abortions had problems.
In Syria thousands of people have been killed and two million have crossed over into Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey. In fact, the population of Lebanon has increased 25%. CARE predicts that half of Syria's 22 million citizens will be displaced or in need of assistance by the end of the year.
75% of the displaced people in and around Syria are women and children, many of whom will be sexually assaulted during the conflict. For women who become pregnant as a result of rape have few options, with abortion being illegal, and hundreds of thousands of women from the region undergo unsafe abortions every year, putting women's life and health at risk.
Unfortunately U.S. law, under the 1973 Helms Amendment, restricts the use of our humanitarian assistance from providing abortion care, even if women have been raped.
In cultures around the world, women who are raped may have been brutally attacked in her own home by an enemy soldier, or exploited by a teacher or relative, but societies continue to see women, implicitly or explicitly, at fault. It has been reported that the Syrian government soldiers will rape female relatives in front of prisoners in order to torture men accused of opposing the government.
Leading humanitarian organizations like the International Rescue Committee are legally barred from providing safe and compassionate abortion services as part of their emergency medical services, leaving victims to compound their trauma either with a forced pregnancy and motherhood, or an unsafe abortion risking death and injury.
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.
The Mexico City Policy (Global Gag Rule)
The Helms Amendment, which passed in 1973 - more than 40 years ago, prevents U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used to pay for abortion as "a method of family planning" or "to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." in 1994 Congress passed legislation to clarify that women in countries receiving aid could be counseled on all pregnancy options, including abortion. However, the Helms Amendment still inhibits funding to family planning agencies.
According to Al Jazeera, in Ethiopia, "a woman living in an area where health facilities receive USAID support will be denied the abortion care that is legal in her own country, whereas a woman living in a different district funded by another donor will have access to safe care." More than 100 women die each day from complications of unsafe abortions. These deaths often occur in poor countries that receive aid from the U.S. for other medical treatments.
U.S. anti-abortion rules endanger women around the world. WHO studies show that where women can access safe abortions, fewer women have unsafe abortions, and a study in Nepal showed that legalizing abortion cut the maternal mortality rate in half.
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.
State insurance officials have ruled that health insurance companies in California may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions.
Michelle Rouillard, the director of California's Department of Managed Health Care said that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. The law in question requires such plans to encompass all "medically necessary" care.
In contrast, the federal Affordable Care Act does not compel employers to provide workers with health insurance that includes abortion coverage,
"Abortion is a basic health care service," Rouillard wrote. "All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally."
Last year two Catholic universities notified employees that they planned to stop paying for elective abortions, but said faculty and staff members could pay for supplemental coverage that would be provided through a third party. Roullaird said her department had "erroneously approved or did not object" to a small number of health insurance policies that excluded abortions. She asked the companies to review their plans to make sure they are in accordance with the new guidance.
Two groups that oppose abortion, the Life Legal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom, said that under federal law California cannot force employers to cover elective abortions and that they plan to file a civil rights complaint with the federal government unless the state's previous determination was reinstated.
Introduced in the state House this week by Rep. Thomas Hooker (R-Byron Center) and more than a dozen cosponsors, HB 5643, 5644 and 5645 would require women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds and offer them the choice to hear evidence of their fetus' heartbeat, prohibit doctors from performing abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been found, and make violating that law a felony.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, a heartbeat can be detected by vaginal ultrasound as soon as 6 weeks into pregnancy -- before some women know they are pregnant. That means that a woman could be banned from having an abortion before she knows she is pregnant and elects to have one.
In 2012, lawmakers passed legislation that requires screening for coercions and tighter regulations for abortion clinics. Last year, 22 states enacted 70 anti-abortion measures and the majority of women now live in states -- including Michigan -- that are hostile to abortion rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that tracks abortion policy and advocates for sexual and reproductive health. "Abortion opponents have a long-term strategy to restrict abortion access in the states, which is reshaping the abortion policy landscape state by state," Guttmacher state issues manager Elizabeth Nash said in a statement. "There has been a widespread assault on abortion rights and access at the state level."
Unintended pregnancy rates have increased among poor women while they have declined among higher-income women Source: Finer LB and Zolna MR, Unintended pregnancy in the United States: incidence and disparities, 2006, Contraception, 2011, 84(5):478-485..
42% of women having abortions have income levels below the federal poverty line Source: Jones RK, Finer LB and Singh S, Characteristics of U.S. abortion patients, 2008, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2010.
Compared with higher income women, poor women have unintended pregnancy rates 5X as high; abortion rates 5X as high and unplanned birth rates 6X as high Sources: Finer LB and Zolna MR, Unintended pregnancy in the United States: incidence and disparities, 2006, Contraception, 2011, 84(5):478-485; Jones RK and Kavanaugh ML, Changes in abortion rates between 2000 and 2008 and lifetime incidence of abortion, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2011, 117(6):1358-1366..
Seven in 10 women would have preferred to have their abortion earlier. Many women experience delays because they need time to raise the money. Source: Finer LB et al., Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States, Contraception, 2006, 74(4):334-344..
Delays=Higher Costs: travel costs, child care costs, lost wages from missed work Source: Finer LB et al., Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States, Contraception, 2006, 74(4):334-344..
Women report having to borrow money from friends & family and forgo paying rent, groceries & utilities to pay for their procedure. Source: Finer LB et al., Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States, Contraception, 2006, 74(4):334-344.
How can each of us - individually and as organizations - best use our knowledge, strengths, resources, and values to bring about change that makes women's reproductive autonomy a reality, especially at a time when state legislatures continue to break new records for the number of restrictions on reproductive health-care access are proposed or passed into law, when lawsuits against birth control coverage continue to trickle into the courts, when political candidates can't even get it right on rape and the White House has repeatedly used abortion and birth control as bargaining chips?
We need a movement that allows all organizations and individuals to identify as they see fit and truly put their passions to work on shared or complementary goals will thrive.
For example, in Florida, where women's organizations such as the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the League of Women Voters; religious organizations such as Catholics for Choice, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; and reproductive justice organizations such as the Miami International-Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy (MI-LOLA) all worked to soundly defeat two ballot measures aimed at curtailing abortion access and real religious liberty.
Some advocates for reproductive health, rights, and justice say we must replace the concept of "choice" with "reproductive justice." Both choice and reproductive justice have a place in our battle for women's autonomy; one cannot take the place of the other.
Catholics are called by their faith to advocate for policies that protect and lift up all people, particularly the most marginalized and the poorest of the poor. It is these religious beliefs that compel us to recognize the dignity and rights of all people, who deserve respect and equal access to reproductive health care, no matter their race, color, class, or creed. Justice is already an inherent part of reproductive choice.
We realize, however, that the reproductive justice model does work for some groups to reach the constituencies that they must reach. American women of color first coined the term “reproductive justice" almost 20 years ago, in 1994 to address concerns that were not being addressed by some in the pro-choice movement. The organization SisterSong continues to highlight these concerns, and we are a stronger movement because of their efforts.
Unfortunately, some people have chosen to denigrate the language and framework of choice. Those who have dismissed choice have most often misrepresented it. We've long known that Americans have felt that pitting the two terms “choice" vs. “life" pitted against each other creates a false dichotomy, and that even those who consider themselves staunchly “pro-life" don't want to see Roe v. Wade overturned and do support abortion access at least some of the time.
Younger generations of women, and their daughters, will lose a great deal if we turn our back on the ‘pro-choice label.'" Young people are the ones most often out canvassing, working phone banks, staffing, and leading our organizations, and they are more supportive of reproductive rights than other generations. They are the ones who are of reproductive age.
The concept of reproductive justice itself is right for some organizations, we cannot afford to be Pollyannaish in assuming it is right for everybody.
It is a good thing when there are experts in different fields, when there are individuals working on separate issues who recognize and spread the word about each other's work, who celebrate each other's achievements, and who understand how they complement each other's goals.
We are all painfully aware that the political power of the Catholic hierarchy has long been one of the greatest obstacles to access to abortion, especially for poor women, here in the United States and around the world. We believe Catholics for Choice must confront this opposition and represent the majority Catholic opinion.
With so many issues and agendas to push, something has to give. All too often it is abortion. Whether this happens because the subject entails taking the risk of pushing politicians who are good on other issues; or because if we include abortion, we won't get healthcare reform; or because even among ourselves we can't agree that women should be able to access abortion when they need it, clear, outspoken advocacy for abortion is increasingly pushed to the back burner. If our organizations, of all groups, are not the ones speaking out most consistently and strongly in support of abortion access, we know that no one else will. And we know that women will be the losers, especially marginalized and vulnerable women who most need strong advocates. Failing to address abortion as part and parcel of women's lives further stigmatizes it and the women who have abortions.
Steering us toward a party platform only serves to narrow our base. We should remember that we have Democrats to thank for both the Hyde and Stupak amendments' creation and continuation, and we can't forget that a prominent Democrat handed over D.C.'s public funding of abortion for poor women in order to make a budget deal. We need to widen our constituency to include all those who support access to reproductive health-care services, not just those who toe a particular party line.
As Katha Pollitt wrote earlier this year, “‘pro-choice' means you believe that whether or not a woman keeps a pregnancy is up to her—the position most Americans say they support when asked about Roe."
We believe in choice because it is centered in personal autonomy. The reproductive justice framework asks us to see these women as individuals who cannot make their own decisions about what they want and need because they face obstacles in carrying out those decisions.
This does not mean we ignore the very real issues of access to resources, services, or the inequalities caused by socio-economic conditions and the need for structural change. It does not mean that we ignore the impact of race or class. It is as true for economically disadvantaged women and women of colour as it is for WASP university graduates. It is as true for women in Pakistan as it is in Britain. Claiming that choice “does not matter," implies women have no interest in making these moral choices for themselves, and perhaps no capacity to do so. This is both patronising and degrading.
Our free will, our God-given ability to decide what to do at any given time based on what we believe is right or wrong cannot be taken from us.
The decision to become or stay pregnant rests with a woman and her conscience. Choice recognizes that the ability to make that decision should not be determined by economic, social, or political factors, but by what each woman believes is right for herself and her circumstances. No matter what she decides, she should be able to do so safely, with dignity, and without having to circumvent unnecessary obstacles, coercion, or stigmatization.
One of the three bills signed by Gov. Jack Dalyrmple, the North Dakota governor, this week will abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy - at the first detection of a fetal heartbeat. This is against Roe vs Wade which allows abortions until a fetus is viable outside the womb, around 24 weeks. Another law requires doctors who perform abortions in the state to get admitting privileges at a local hospital, and a third bans abortions for reasons including gender preferences or genetic defects, an unprecedented law in the U.S.
When the governor signed the bills, knowing that there would be a court challenge, said that the state would need to set aside money to fight. The money would be better used to fund programs such as Women Infants and Children's, that provide food to the underprivileged children.
Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Valley Women's Clinic, the only abortion-performing clinic in North Dakota, is convinced the "heartbeat bill," as it's known, is "blatantly unconstitutional" and won't survive the scrutiny of federal courts.
Representatives of the National Center for Reproductive Rights have assured her they will pay to take the case to court, she said. The gender preferences and genetic defects law wouldn't have much of a practical impact, because no one has ever come into her clinic wanting to terminate a pregnancy simply because it's a boy or girl, and by the time most genetic abnormalities are discovered, the fetus is too far along to be aborted at Red River, which will abort up until 16 weeks.
One client who had an abortion at Red River told of how, 11 years ago, just after she turned 21, she made an appointment, pushed past the protestors assuring her god would take care of the baby, walked up the stairs and had an abortion. “I'd be living in a trailer in Jamestown, North Dakota, with a guy who didn't have a job and liked to beat the shit out of me," she said. “It wouldn't have been a good situation for anybody. I probably should feel bad, but I don't. My life turned out great." A year later, she met her future husband, they quickly (and accidentally) had their first of two children, and are happily married still.
One woman said, “Closing the clinic isn't going to stop abortions. It's going to stop safe abortions. That's scary."
Former clients and people from all across the world have reached out to Kromenaker in recent days, she said, flooding her telephone lines and email inbox with offers of support and donations —$10,000 in the past three days.
Decades after Roe v. Wade, one side still insists that all abortions be permitted while the other still insists that all be prohibited. A major cause of this stalemate is that public understanding has not kept pace with scientific discovery. When Roe was decided in 1973, medical knowledge of the physiology and neurology of the fetus was surprisingly scant so law and religion defined our understanding. That is now changing, and it is time for the abortion debate to change in response.
Researchers have been learning about the gestational phases of human life, and the new information fits neither the standard pro-choice position nor the standard pro-life position. New fetal science may provide a rational, nonideological foundation on which to ground the abortion compromise that currently proves so elusive.
Early in the womb what happens looks increasingly like cold-hearted chemistry, with the natural termination of potential life far more common than previously assumed. But by the third trimester the fetus has become much more human than once thought - showing full brain activity. New fetal research argues for keeping abortion legal in the first two trimesters of pregnancy and prohibiting it in the third.
Until 1869 the Catholic Church maintained that life commenced 40 days after conception. But modern religious opponents of abortion hold that life begins when sperm meets egg, even though the Bible says nothing about when the spark of life is struck. The idea that sacredness begins at conception hinges on the assumption that it is God's plan that each act of conception should lead to a baby.
But research has discovered that conception usually does not produce a baby. Dr. Machelle Seibel, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Boston University School of Medicine said "The majority of cases in which there is a fertilized egg result in the non-realization of a person." A zygote is what is created by conception. Only about half of all zygotes implant in the uterine wall and become embryos; the others fail to continue dividing and expire. Of those embryos that do trigger pregnancy, only around 65% lead to live births. The rest are lost to natural miscarriage. Only about one-third of sperm-egg unions result in babies, not including those ending by a medical or surgical abortion.
Some pharmacy chains will not stock morning after pills, which prevent a zygote from implanting in the uterine wall. If half of all fertilized eggs naturally do not implant in the uterine wall, it is hard to see why a woman should not be allowed to produce the same effect using artificial means.
The fact that that two-thirds of conceptions fail regardless of abortion demonstrates how tenuous is the link between conception and birth and makes a strong case that what happens early in pregnancy is not yet life in the constitutional sense.
At the other end of the pregnancy, it has become increasingly clear that by the third trimester many fetuses are able to live outside the mother, passing a basic test of personhood. New research shows that, by the beginning of the third trimester, the fetus has sensations and brain activity and exhibits other signs of formed humanity.
Since Roe vs Wade, pediatric surgeons have learned to conduct within-womb operations on late-term fetuses with correctable congenital conditions. While doing these surgeries, doctors found that the fetus is aware of touch, responds to sound, shows a hormonal stress reaction, and exhibits other qualities associated with mental awareness. Doctors have also found that electroencephalogram (EEG) readings show that the brains of the third-trimester fetus display complex brain activity similar to that found in full-term newborns.
We use cessation of brain activity to define when life ends. Why not use the onset of brain activity to define when life begins?
In the developmental sequence of human life, after conception the cells spend about a week differentiating and dividing into a zygote. One to two weeks later the zygote implants in the uterine wall, commencing the pregnancy. It is during this initial period that about half of the "conceived" sperm-egg pairings die naturally. If the zygote implants successfully, it soon transforms into an embryo. In the early stages, it is impossible to distinguish which tissue will end up as part of the new life and which will be discarded as placenta. By about the sixth week the embryo becomes a fetus, which has a recognizable human shape. (It was during the embryo-fetus transition, Augustine believed, that the soul is acquired, and this was Catholic doctrine for most of the period from the fifth century until 1869.) Most neurologists assume that electrical activity in the first trimester represents random neuron firings as nerves connect - basically, tiny spasms.
The fetus's heart begins to beat, and by about the twentieth week the fetus can kick. Kicking is probably a spasm, too, at least initially, because the fetal cerebral cortex, the center of voluntary brain function, is not yet "wired," its neurons still nonfunctional. This was discovered when readings from 20- to 22-week-old premature babies who died at birth showed only very feeble EEG signals.
From the twenty-second week to the twenty-fourth week, connections start to be established between the cortex and the thalamus, the part of the brain that translates thoughts into nervous-system commands. Fetal consciousness seems physically “impossible" before these connections form.
23 weeks is when the lungs become able to function, and this is the earliest date at which premature babies have survived. At 24 weeks the third trimester begins, and at about this time, as the cerebral cortex becomes “wired," fetal EEG readings begin to look more and more like those of a newborn. It could be from natural selection or of divine creation that fetal higher brain activity begins at about the time when life outside the mother becomes possible. Without brain function, prematurely born fetuses would lack the ability to root for nourishment.
At about 26 weeks the cell structure of the fetal brain begins to resemble a newborn's, though many changes remain in store. By the thirty-second week, the fetal brain pattern is close to identical to that of a full-term baby.
Paul Grobstein, a professor of neurology at Bryn Mawr University, notes, the brain, by late term “ is reasonably well-developed. But we still don't know what within the fetal brain corresponds to the kind of awareness and experience that you and I have." The fetus may not know it is a baby or have the language-ordered thoughts of adults. But the fetus can experience the self/other perceptions that form the basis of human consciousness-since the womb, to it, represents the outside world.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 1997 said that practitioners who undertake termination of pregnancy at 24 weeks or later should consider killing the fetus the day before the abortion with an injection of potassium that stops the fetus's heart, so that death comes within the womb, or anesthetizing the fetus because the fetus will feel the pain of death and may even, in some sense, be aware that it is being killed.
If a woman's life is imperiled, sacrificing a third-trimester fetus may be unavoidable, but the AMA says late-term abortions to save the mother's life are required only under “extraordinary circumstances" and almost all late-term abortions are elective. Less than one percent of total abortions are late-term in the United States, while 89% occur in the first trimester.
The Supreme Court decisions appear to outlaw late-term abortion except when the woman's life is imperiled, but in practice the current legal regime allows almost any abortion at any time, which turns out to be a corruption of Roe.
In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled that, during the first trimester, there would be essentially no restrictions; during the second trimester, states could regulate abortion, but only to insure that procedures were carried out by qualified practitioners; during the third trimester, states could prohibit abortion, except when necessary “to preserve the life or health of the mother."
Roe was premised on the idea that the Constitution protects medical privacy, but Roe did not grant an unqualified privilege: it held that a woman's claim to make her own medical choices is strong in the first trimester of pregnancy, moderate in the second, and weak in the third, at which point the state acquires a “compelling" interest in the protection of new life.
However, Roe's third-trimester protections were brushed aside by two descendant Supreme Court cases, Danforth in 1976 and Colautti in 1979. Danforth substitutes Roe's clear, comprehensible third-trimester distinction with a “viability" standard, which is subjective. Some babies are viable at the biological frontier of 23 weeks; others die even if carried to term; there is no way to know in advance.
In 1979 Colautti modified the Danforth's viability standard by saying it would up to each woman's physician to determine whether a fetus was viable and thus legally protected. All a physician has to do under Colautti is hazard a guess that the fetus is not viable, and a late-term abortion may proceed.
Recently, some states have opted for legislation intended solely to prevent a form of late-term abortion called D&X, in which delivery is induced, the fetus is partly born, feet first, and then the skull is crushed and the brains vacuumed out. The AMA has recommended that its members not perform this procedure, adding that “there does not appear to be any identified situation" in which it is required for the health of the mother.
In 1996, Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, a liberal Democrat, offered a bill to ban late-term abortions except when necessary to avert “serious adverse health consequences" to the woman. Rather than rally around this compromise, pro-lifers and pro-choicers mutually assailed it.
In 1997, the AMA declared that third-trimester abortions should not be performed “except in cases of serious fetal anomalies incompatible with life," meaning when the fetus appears fated to die anyway. The AMA supports Roe, backs public funding of abortions, and favors availability of RU-486; it simply thinks that, once a fetus can draw its own breath, a new life exists and must be protected.
If women's health and freedom represent the blind spot of the pro-life side, the moral standing of the third-trimester fetus-the baby, by that point-is the blind spot of pro-choicers. For those who know what's actually in Roe - a trimester system whose very purpose is to allow early choice while protecting late-term babies - this claim is more than a little ironic.
The hopelessly confusing viability standard should be dropped in favor of a bright line drawn at the start of the third trimester, when complex fetal brain activity begins. Restricting abortion after that point would not undermine the rights granted by Roe, because there is no complex brain activity before the third trimester and thus no slippery slope to start down.
All European Union nations except France and the United Kingdom ban abortion in the third trimester, except to save the mother's life. And, even where allowed, late-term abortion occurs at one-third the U.S. rate. Western European countries have avoided casting abortion as a duel between irresolvable absolutes. They treat abortion in the first two trimesters as a morally ambiguous private matter, while viewing it in the third trimester as public and morally odious. We should follow their lead. All it requires is knowledge of the new fetal science and a return to the true logic of Roe.
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."
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 Rate Drops to Lowest Level Ever; Spread of Birth Control and Sex Education Credited with Decline in Ex-soviet BlocJuly 28, 2005, Prague Post
In 2004, Czech women had 27,574 abortions, five times fewer than in the 1980s and gave birth to 97,664 babies. It shows women have gained the freedom to plan their families. In 1989, nine in 10 pregnancies were aborted. Couples used risky methods. They wanted to have sex when their parents weren't home. The only other method was abortion. In the late 1980s Czech doctors performed about 116,000 abortions a year; by the mid-1990s the number dropped to 58,000. It has more than halved since with a corresponding rise in the use of contraceptive pills. A 29-year-old dentist says 90% of her friends take birth-control pills. It's a big freedom to decide when to have a child. Her grandmother wanted two kids, but she had three kids and two abortions. Communist leaders sought total control over citizens, and sexual liberty, discussing sexuality, wasn't welcomed. During the Cold War, limited access to contraceptives resulted in high abortion rates. In 1980s Russia, abortion rates were two times higher than birth rates, and Russian women had an average of six abortions in their lifetimes.
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.
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.
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.
Philippines: Shattering the StereotypeFebruary 18, 2006, Philippine Daily Inquirer
A study on abortion in the Philippines has found that the majority of women undergoing induced abortion are Catholic mothers with three or more children, married and/or living in with a partner. The study found that 9 of every 10 women undergoing abortion are married or in a consensual union; half reside in an urban setting; more than half have at least three children; and the majority are Catholic. Of course, there is a large number of "young women in trouble" seeking abortion. About 46% attempted abortions are sought by young women age 24 and below, 7 out of 10 have had either a high school or college level education, but the majority are poor. Interviews with women who have undergone abortion indicate that they are often forced into it by an untimely or unplanned pregnancy which threatens their health, or the survival of their children. A great number of women seeking abortion were nursing babies below one year old. Filipino women wanting to space births or have less children are unable to practice family planning. In 2003, the National Health Demographic Survey (NDHS) pegged unmet need at 45% among women who said they did not want a child in the next two years, or wanted no more children but were either using no contraceptive method at all or were using a traditional method. The estimated number of abortions annually were 27 per 100,000 women. Unsafe abortion accounts for a large percentage of the total number of women dying from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth each year. The correct and consistent use of contraceptives prevents the incidence of abortion. In Russia and Eastern and Central Europe abortion rates dropped by up to 50% because of the increased use of modern contraception. In Turkey, there was an 87% decline in abortion. In Kazakhstan by increasing modern contraception by 10%, the general abortion rate dropped by 13%.
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.
Between 2008 and 2011 the rate of abortions had fallen to its lowest level since 1973, according to the Guttmacher Institute. But the Americans United for Life called the report "an abortion industry propaganda piece short on data and long on strained conclusions." Such groups didn't seem to like the messenger, probably because the report made a persuasive case that the right-to-life movement cannot take credit for the decline in abortions.
Over a hundred laws related to abortion have been enacted by states since 2008, most aimed at limiting access to the procedure. However the research concluded that most of the new laws had had little impact on the number of abortions. Instead, much of the decline is probably attributable to more effective contraception, some of it available through the federal funding -- "Uncle Sugar," in Mike Huckabee's creepy coinage -- that Republicans like to rail against. Right-to-lifers could be promoting contraception and touting its success in averting unwanted pregnancies, but that doesn't seem to be news that they want to hear, let alone spread.
The decrease in abortions has been accompanied by a decrease in the birth rate, suggesting not that fewer women are choosing to terminate pregnancies but that fewer women are getting pregnant in the first place. California, New York, and New Jersey have shown notable drop in abortion rates even though they have not enacted new restrictions. Rates dropped all over the country, although the new laws are concentrated primarily in the Midwest and the South. Most of the restrictive laws were passed in 2011, and the decline was already under way in 2008.
Pregnancy rates and birth rates tend to fall when times are tough. Also a shift toward more effective birth control does seem to have played a role. Between 2002 and 2009, the proportion of contraceptive users who relied on long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like IUDs and implants rose from 2% to 9%. Since LARC methods (unlike condoms or the Pill) are more than 99% effective, even a relatively small increase in usage can have an impact. The number of low-income and poor women who use long-acting methods provided by publicly funded birth-control services has increased. According to the report, between 2006 and 2010 “the estimated number of unintended pregnancies averted by federally funded family-planning programs" rose from 1.9 million to 2.2 million.
Most Americans think that if an abortion is to be performed it should be done early in the pregnancy. Yet the new restrictions have tended to produce the opposite effect, resulting in later abortions. Between 2008 and 2011, the percentage of medical abortions (induced by the drug mifepristone, the so-called abortion pill) went from 17% in 2008 to 23% in 2011, of all non-hospital abortions -- even as the over-all rate declined. These are early abortions: they are performed before nine weeks' gestation. They can be done almost as soon as a woman receives a positive pregnancy test. From the public-health, reproductive-choice, and moral-comfort points of view, an increase in the percentage of abortions performed this way is beneficial.
Yet there is legislation to ban medical abortions. One approach has been to short-circuit programs that allow mifepristone to be prescribed through telemedicine where a woman receives an ultrasound and talks to a counsellor at a satellite clinic, and then video-conferences with a doctor in another location. The doctor could remotely unlock a drawer in the clinic and the necessary medication was dispensed to the woman. The program's safety record and women's reported satisfaction with it were solid. (It was especially helpful in rural areas.) In 2010 Iowa elected an anti-choice Republican governor who appointed new members to the state medical board which subsequently ended the program. Legislatures in fourteen other states have prohibited the use of telemedicine for medical abortion. significant scale in those states.
When conservatives attack the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, or federally funded family-planning programs, they are working against the forces that are rendering abortion less common. Undermining contraception and early abortion sabotages the future that most people want, one that expresses both their values and their common sense: fewer unintended pregnancies and fewer abortions, too
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.
Foetuses cannot feel pain because it requires mental development that only occurs outside the womb. A baby's actions and relationships with carers enabled it to process pain. Pro-life groups say foetuses respond to stimuli from 20 weeks.
The US is considering legislation to make doctors tell women seeking an abortion it will cause the foetus pain.
By the age of 20 weeks unborn children can respond to external aural stimuli such as music and conversation and it is also suggested that, if the pregnancy is over 22 weeks, foetuses should be given pain-relieving drugs.
Pathways in the brain needed to process pain responses and hormonal stress responses are in place by 26 weeks, but the crucial factor is the environmental difference between the womb - where the placenta provides a chemical environment to encourage the foetus to sleep, and that of a newborn baby, who is exposed to a wide range of stimuli. Pain comes from our experiences and develops due to stimulation and human interaction. It involves location, feelings of unpleasantness and having the sensation of pain.
Pain becomes possible because of a psychological development that begins at birth when the baby is separated from the protected atmosphere of the womb and is stimulated into wakeful activity.
Whether or not foetuses felt pain did not change the moral viewpoints of the pro-choice and pro-life lobby.
Avoiding a discussion of foetal pain with women requesting abortions is a sound policy based on good evidence that foetuses cannot experience pain.
Giving foetuses painkilling drugs involved procedures which may expose the woman to unnecessary risks and distress.
But a spokeswoman for pro-life said that if the unborn child can feel pain, then it makes abortion all the more horrifying. By 20 weeks unborn children can respond to external stimuli. But the issue of whether foetuses felt pain was irrelevant to the abortion debate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is unfortunate that individuals may use this column to further their religious and personal views by promoting incorrect medical information.
According to the Food and Drug Administration and the American Medical Association, emergency contraception does not cause abortion under any circumstances. It allows a woman who has been attacked or coerced into sex, or has had contraceptive failure, to prevent pregnancy.
What people like a previous letter writer don't want to acknowledge is that emergency contraception, and contraception in general, decrease the number of abortions by reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, something we should all want.
Millions of women around the world have used emergency contraception safely and effectively. The FDA has approved it for short-term dosage for the prevention of pregnancy. No drug is completely without risk, but a review of government reports shows that it is remarkably safe and effective. We need emergency contraception to be readily available over the counter to any woman who wants it.
Finally, it was stated that emergency contraception is "another ploy to subvert parental authority." I submit that if your child is having sex, and you don't know about it, your parental authority is already lacking.
The House of Representatives failed to pass a bill that would have required doctors to offer painkillers for fetuses before they abort them.
It would have required abortion providers to give pregnant women a brochure stating that fetuses can feel pain and would have required abortion providers to offer pregnant women anesthesia for their unborn children during an abortion.
According to the Bible, men (and women) are to be stewards of the Earth, but instead of protecting and caring for our planet we are becoming locusts who would destroy it. Justt as the global population is expanding to record levels, along comes reliable contraception, marriage between two of the same sex (who will have few, if any, babies) and safe abortions. It seems like this is God's plan.
The author had a miscarriage after 20 weeks after trying so hard to get pregnant. Miscarriages happen often in the first three months, and most planned abortions also happen in the first three months. It doesn't seem like God would put a soul into a fertilized egg since there's no heart or a brain yet. Even if there is a soul at this early stage, God would take it back to heaven.
The author's opinion is that God puts a soul into the baby when it takes the first breath of life. Some may disagree with this idea, but they can follow their own dictates. But they don't have to push their own religious ideas onto everyone else and using government to do it.
I am pro-life. In fact, I haven't run into anyone who is pro-death. I am for life that has quality, life that is free from hunger, homelessness, untreated disease, unplanned pregnancy, lack of education, and the destruction left by natural disasters.
The government deserving of our support provides free school breakfast and lunch programs; food stamps; women's reproductive health and family planning services; public education; universal health insurance including Medicare and Medicaid; emergency aid to communities ravaged by natural disasters; unemployment insurance; and Social Security.
The self-proclaimed pro-lifers would slash these critical social programs if they had their way. Although neither they nor I have ever encountered a fertilized egg that resembled a child, they would do everything possible to protect the survival of that egg but little or nothing to assure its ability, beyond its birth, to live life as a fully functioning, contributing member of its community. What hypocrisy.
A study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that maternal deaths from childbirth are 14 times higher than deaths from legal induced abortions in the United States - 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions, compared to 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. Pregnancy-related complications and illness are also much more common for childbirth than for abortion, it said.
"Since the early 1970s, the public health evidence has been clear and incontrovertible: induced abortion is safer than childbirth," noted the co-authors Dr. Elizabeth G. Raymond of the Gynuity Health Projects and Dr. David A. Grimes of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
Roughly half of the states have laws requiring that women seeking abortions must be given detailed, specific written or verbal information about potential risks from the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute. For example women seeking abortions in Texas must be given a 23-page pamphlet listing 11 or 12 potential complications from abortion procedures and only six possible complications from vaginal delivery and eight for cesarean sections. Some of the statistics are often expressed in terms that are difficult to understand when they should be expressed in comparisons of deaths per 100,000 events.
Such biased mandated material thwarts informed choice and puts clinicians in the untenable position of having to be complicit in misleading their patients. "Every woman deserves factual medical information whenever she is facing a decision about a pregnancy," the authors said.
Reasons given for the difference: Pregnancies ending in abortion are shorter than those ending in childbirth, so there is less time for complications to develop. Many complications like hypertension and abnormal placentas show up only late in pregnancy, and early abortion avoids those hazards. A third of births occur by cesarean delivery, which has substantial risk of complications and death.
Reality CheckOctober 2000