August 01, 2015
Prevent Abortion Index
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.
(abortion)Werner Fornos, Population Institute
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 9, 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.
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'.
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.
Opposition to basic contraception leaves families vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies and costs taxpayers millionsFebruary 20, 2015 By: Valerie Tarico, Alternet
In Colorado, a pilot program in Colorado which gave teens long acting contraceptives -- IUD's and implants; and which consequently resulted in a 40% drop teen births, along with a drop in abortions if threatened by some Colorado Republicans who are trying to kill it. The program saved the state $42.5 million a single year, over five times what it cost. These Republicans insist, wrongly, that IUD's work by killing embryos, which they believe are sacred.
When women are able to delay, space, and limit childbearing, research has discovered the many benefits: healthier moms and babies, less infant mortality and special needs, more family prosperity, higher education, less domestic conflict and abuse, lower crime rates. Women (and men) become more productive, creating a virtuous economic cycle. Public budgets become easier to balance, and more revenues can be invested into infrastructure instead of basic needs.
Half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, with over a third of those ending in abortion. For single women under the age of 30, 70% of pregnancies are unintended. For teens it is more than 80%. Most of the problem is that many forms of birth control are prone to human error. 1 out of 11 couples relying on the Pill will end up with a surprise pregnancy, in any given year. For those using condoms alone, this rises to 1 out of 6!
With todays IUD's and implants the pregnancy rate is below 1 in 500 -- about the same level of protection as a tubal sterilization. When they are removed a prompt return to normal fertility is achieved.
Advocates for children like the American Academy of Pediatrics, and advocates for healthy families like the California Family Health Council and CDC are eager to see these top tier birth control methods become the new normal.
People who care about flourishing families, including those who see themselves compassionate conservatives, should be doing everything in their power to help facilitate a transition to these new technologies. These tools should be available to young and poor women, who (along with their children) are most likely to be harmed by an unexpected pregnancy.
But opponents to modern contraception -- led by conservative Catholics -- are wrongly claiming that contraceptives are like "having an abortion mill in your body." They further insist that each embryo is precious and merits the protections of "personhood." Fetal-rights advocates have repeatedly tried to pass legislation in Colorado that gives legal standing to fertilized eggs and later embryonic stages of life.
Pregnancy can be stopped at four points: 1. preventing the production of gametes (eggs and sperm), 2. blocking fertilization (conception), 3. preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, or 4. aborting an implanted pregnancy. Modern IUD's are designed to prevent fertilization:
A copper IUD is nonhormonal, and releases copper ions that interfere with sperm motility. The presence of copper may also change the surface of the egg so that it is less easily penetrated by a sperm. In addition, inflammatory cells evoked in the uterine cavity in response to the IUD kill sperm before they can ascend to the fallopian tubes, where fertilization occurs.
A hormonal IUD releases a mostly local dose of Levonorgestrel, a hormone in many birth control pills. It causes the mucus at the opening to the cervix to thicken so that sperm can't get through. Thus, this IUD can be considered a barrier contraceptive, like a cervical cap.
But on rare occasions, a sperm might swim past that mucus plug or -- despite the spermicidal effects of copper -- swim up the fallopian tube. Then the sperm and egg could unite. Then the IUD could interfere with implantation. Since fertilization with an IUD is rare, a fertilized egg failing to implant and flushing out is equally rare.
Now here is the twist: When a sexually active woman is not using contraception, her body has a 60-80% chance of flushing out a fertilized egg before she even knows she has conceived. In other words: women who are using contraceptives to prevent pregnancy kill fewer embryos (blastocyst) than women who are trying to get pregnant, and the more effective the contraception is, the fewer embryos (blastocyst) die. Note: a fertilized egg becomes a blastocyst, which is a ball of cells during the an early stage of human development. It is not an embryo until after implantation in the uterus.
Reproduction is like a big funnel: more eggs and sperm get produced than will ever meet. More eggs get fertilized than will ever implant. More fertilized eggs implant than will be carried to term by a female body. Genetic recombination is a highly imperfect process, and nature compensates by rejecting most fertilized eggs.
In some animals, the mother's body aborts or reabsorbs an embryo if her stress level is too high or her protein level is too low. Human bodies have the ability to decrease fertility and produce a spontaneous abortion under bad circumstances. This process is also imperfect. Perfectly healthy embryos flush out, while some with birth defects -- even horrible defects -- get through.
Since spontaneous abortion is a natural and common part of human reproduction -- one could say that every fertile woman has an abortion mill in her body. Because IUDs and implants are most effective at preventing fertilization, a woman who believes that embryonic life is precious, should use the most effective contraceptive available.
Given these realities, Colorado politicians who undermine access to state of the art contraceptives are neither minimizing embryonic death nor promoting family values. Their upside-down priorities illustrate how unquestionable, ideology-based beliefs coupled with motivated reasoning can lead even decent people to violate their own values, while still believing they are doing the right thing.
When women are forced to rely on less effective family planning methods, more spontaneous and therapeutic abortions result. So do more ill-timed and unhealthy births. More unhealthy infants suffer and die. A greater percent of children are born to single moms or unstable partnerships. Family conflict increases. More children suffer abuse or struggle with developmental disabilities. More families get mired in poverty. More youth engage in risky behavior, including early childbearing. Public costs associated with teen pregnancy, maternal health, special education, poverty and criminal justice swell. State budgets become more difficult to balance.
Colorado Representative Don Coram, fiscally conservative and opposed to abortion, co-sponsored a bill that would expand IUD access among low income women. "If you are against abortions and you are a fiscal conservative, you better take a long hard look at this bill because that accomplishes both of those," he said. Research with 10,000 women in St. Louis provides further confirmation that he is right.
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) pose as legitimate reproductive health centers. They have a track record of outright lying to women and work to dissuade people from exercising the right to choose. They often advertise as if they provide abortion services, drawing people in by promising free reproductive health services, including free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and options counseling.
CPCs hide that they're almost entirely funded by national anti-choice umbrella organizations and that the mission of these organizations is to manipulate women into not choosing abortion by giving them false medical information.
CPC workers are well-trained to lie to women about physical and mental health issues they claim are associated with abortion.
While posing as legitimate reproductive-health clinics - locating in medical buildings or near a real abortion clinic, wearing white lab coats, calling themselves counselors - CPCs purposefully do not provide the medical services that pregnant women need, whether to continue a pregnancy or to terminate a pregnancy.
A politically hostile and anti-woman sentiment is playing out in Ohio, where local and state legislators are using women's access to reproductive health care as a tool to jockey for power. We are seeing varying degrees of this in states across the country, but the anti-choice movement's "war on women" most recently came to a head in Ohio following the tragic death of Lakisha Wilson, a 22-year-old mother who had sought an abortion during her secon...
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 3, 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.
Reality CheckOctober 2000
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.
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.
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.