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Of all the legal, ethical, and moral issues we Americans continuously fight for or against, abortion may very well be the issue that Americans are most passionate about. The abortion issue is in the forefront of political races. Most recently the "no taxpayer funding for abortion act", has abortion advocates reeling. Even though abortion has been legal in every state in the United States since the monumental Supreme Court decision, "Roe v Wade", on January 22, 1973; there are fewer physicians willing to perform abortions today than in 2008. (Kraft) At the heart of the ethical dilemma for many in the medical profession is the viability of the fetus. And just to make this whole dilemma more confusing, according to the United States Government, "The child in utero, at any stage of development in the womb", is protected by the Unborn Victims Violence Act of 2004 (Unborn Victims of Violence Act) Medical professionals have the right to follow their conscience and not participate in performing abortions, however as professionals they must respect the viewpoints of others. It is important to realize that abortion is not a black and white issue. Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy before the fetus is viable, or able to survive outside of the uterus. (Fremgen) Elective abortion or induced abortion is the willful termination of a pregnancy by various methods. Most commonly abortions are performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. With technological advances many early pregnancies are terminated using a medicine called Mifepristone, or more commonly referred to as RU-486. Medical abortions can only be used in the earliest stages of pregnancy, approximately from the seventh through the ninth week of gestation. Another common method of early termination is the manual vacuum aspiration. This method can be used up until the twelfth week of pregnancy. It is considered minimally invasion as it only local anesthesia is used to numb the cervix. Aspiration is another first trimester abortion method. This is also referred to as a D&C (dilation and curettage abortion). This procedure will not generally be done using local anesthesia alone. Medication based abortion procedures are not an option during the second trimester of pregnancy. Local anesthesia is used and either a D&C or a D&E (dilation and evacuation) method is performed. Less than ten percent of abortions are done in the second trimester. Third trimester or late term abortions are extremely rare. Third trimester abortions are no longer legal in most states, as a result of the "partial birth abortion act" except under certain extreme medical conditions. These were known as late term abortions. In the medical community the point of viability is still a grey area, but most consider the twenty-fourth week the earliest viable period. Until approximately the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy an induction abortion is used to terminate pregnancy. Previous to becoming illegal, intrauterine cranial decompression was used to end late term pregnancies. (americanpregnancy.org) Women have been having elective abortions, using different methods, all over the world, for thousands of years. In the United States, from the time the first settlers arrived abortion was legal during the first trimester or what was then called the quickening. The quickening was the time the mother first felt movement. Often times the herbs used to induce the abortion were fatal. The first laws banning abortions were actually laws making it illegal to sell the drugs that induced abortions. But just as it is today, illegal drugs make their way to those who wanted them. During that time abortions were often performed by midwives and homeopaths. By the early 1900's with the backing of the American Medical Association, abortions became illegal except where necessary, in a physicians judgment, to save the mother's life. It has been argued that the American Medical Association wanted abortions to become illegal, so that physicians would be the only abortion providers, strictly for monetary reasons. (Pollitt) From then until the legalization of abortion in 1973 many women died or suffered serious medical conditions as a result of self inducing abortions or from having an abortion performed by unskilled abortionists. There were of course some physicians who performed illegal abortions as well but they were not commonly done in sanitary hospital settings. By 1962, the American Law Institute published a report "Model Penal Code on Abortion" and called for abortion to be legal when carrying the fetus to term would put the mothers health at risk, as well as in the case of rape or incest, and if the fetus had a severe defect. (Gold) Thirteen other states adopted this position. In 1970, New York, Alaska, Washington, and Hawaii decriminalized abortion, allowing abortion on demand through the first trimester. Thousands of women traveled to New York to have legal, safe abortions. On January 22, 1973, in a Texas courtroom, the history changing decision in the Roe v Wade case made abortion on demand legal in all states. As of 2007, 35 states require some sort of parental consent before a minor can obtain an abortion. New York State does not require by law any parental notification. Many teenagers come to New York to have an abortion. Some people question the ethics of physicians who perform abortions on minors from out-of-state. Also in 2007, thirty-three states enacted an informed consent law or policy. While it has always been the legal and ethical obligation of a physician to obtain permission from their patients before any procedure, it has not always been up to the state exactly what is to be said to the patient. Abortion opponents are advocating for those seeking abortion to be given information as part of informed consent that the fetus is able to feel pain. The American Medical Association has concluded that the fetus cannot feel pain until at least the twenty-third week of gestation, if at all. (Gold) The question of ethics here is; is it relevant for a patient in her first trimester to hear about an abortion on a twenty-four week old fetus? On the other side, pro-abortion advocates do not want the government involved in a woman's reproductive rights at all. As I stated earlier there has been a decline in the number of physicians willing to perform abortions. Some reports suggest that since 2002 there has been a twenty-two percent decline. This is especially upsetting to people who live in rural areas, where they might not have access to an abortion provider. In recent years some pro-life zealots have targeted abortion providers, perhaps causing them to stop performing abortions out of fear. Issues of morality concerning abortion may be a factor for many providers. Without access to safe, legal abortions women would be forced to have children they either do not want for one reason or another, or cannot afford to have; or once again they would turn to illegal means of terminating their pregnancies. Without government funding and private insurance companies paying for abortions, many will be forced to have the procedure done later in the pregnancy adding risks of complication. The legalization of abortion in the United States began a battle that is still going on today. Anti abortion advocates, including medical professionals, politicians, and American citizens have continuously fought for legislation to overturn the ruling in Roe v Wade. Those who are opposed to abortion fight relentlessly for the rights of the unborn. They have picketed hospitals, clinics, and physicians offices where abortions are performed. They believe abortions have a negative effect on our nation's economy by eliminating future taxpayers. Pro abortion advocates on the other hand believe that had the aborted children been born they would have had a negative impact on our economy. The pro abortion community desires just as the anti abortion community does, that the number of abortions be reduced. They differ greatly in their methods of achieving that goal. As long as women continue to have intercourse abortions will exist. The good news is that the number of abortions each year has been declining. With the advancement of medicine, and birth control in particular, and sex education being taught in schools, at home, and as part of primary care medicine women today have more information about how not to become pregnant. Emergency conception, the morning after pill, and RU-486 will all reduce the number of invasive abortions needed. Although legal, abortion will always be a matter of moral and ethics for each of us according to our own consciences. There will always be medical professionals who do not wish to participate in abortions, and there will always be others who do. As I stated earlier, there is no simple solution to the abortion dilemma. We are a nation governed by laws, and the right to elect the termination of a pregnancy is within the law of the United States of America no matter how you or I may feel about it. In my opinion neither side knows the absolute truth, we can only go on what we believe to be true.
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Legality of Abortion
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Legality Of Abortion

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              Of all the legal, ethical, and moral issues we Americans continuously fight for or against, abortion may very well be the issue that Americans are most passionate about. The abortion issue is in the forefront of political races. Most recently the "no taxpayer funding for abortion act", has abortion advocates reeling. Even though abortion has been legal in every state in the United States since the monumental Supreme Court decision, "Roe v Wade", on January 22, 1973; there are fewer physicians willing to perform abortions today than in 2008. (Kraft) At the heart of the ethical dilemma for many in the medical profession is the viability of the fetus. And just to make this whole dilemma more confusing, according to the United States Government, "The child in utero, at any stage of development in the womb", is protected by the Unborn Victims Violence Act of 2004 (Unborn Victims of Violence Act) Medical professionals have the right to follow their conscience and not participate in performing abortions, however as professionals they must respect the viewpoints of others. It is important to realize that abortion is not a black and white issue.
             
              Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy before the fetus is viable, or able to survive outside of the uterus. (Fremgen) Elective abortion or induced abortion is the willful termination of a pregnancy by various methods. Most commonly abortions are performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. With technological advances many early pregnancies are terminated using a medicine called Mifepristone, or more commonly referred to as RU-486. Medical abortions can only be used in the earliest stages of pregnancy, approximately from the seventh through the ninth week of gestation. Another common method of early termination is the manual vacuum aspiration. This method can be used up until the twelfth week of pregnancy. It is considered minimally invasion as it only local anesthesia is used to numb the cervix. Aspiration is another first trimester abortion method. This is also referred to as a D&C (dilation and curettage abortion). This procedure will not generally be done using local anesthesia alone. Medication based abortion procedures are not an option during the second trimester of pregnancy. Local anesthesia is used and either a D&C or a D&E (dilation and evacuation) method is performed. Less than ten percent of abortions are done in the second trimester. Third trimester or late term abortions are extremely rare. Third trimester abortions are no longer legal in most states, as a result of the "partial birth abortion act" except under certain extreme medical conditions. These were known as late term abortions. In the medical community the point of viability is still a grey area, but most consider the twenty-fourth week the earliest viable period. Until approximately the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy an induction abortion is used to terminate pregnancy. Previous to becoming illegal, intrauterine cranial decompression was used to end late term pregnancies. (americanpregnancy. org)
             
              Women have been having elective abortions, using different methods, all over the world, for thousands of years. In the United States, from the time the first settlers arrived abortion was legal during the first trimester or what was then called the quickening. The quickening was the time the mother first felt movement. Often times the herbs used to induce the abortion were fatal. The first laws banning abortions were actually laws making it illegal to sell the drugs that induced abortions. But just as it is today, illegal drugs make their way to those who wanted them. During that time abortions were often performed by midwives and homeopaths. By the early 1900's with the backing of the American Medical Association, abortions became illegal except where necessary, in a physicians judgment, to save the mother's life. It has been argued that the American Medical Association wanted abortions to become illegal, so that physicians would be the only abortion providers, strictly for monetary reasons. (Pollitt) From then until the legalization of abortion in 1973 many women died or suffered serious medical conditions as a result of self inducing abortions or from having an abortion performed by unskilled abortionists. There were of course some physicians who performed illegal abortions as well but they were not commonly done in sanitary hospital settings.
              By 1962, the American Law Institute published a report "Model Penal Code on Abortion" and called for abortion to be legal when carrying the fetus to term would put the mothers health at risk, as well as in the case of rape or incest, and if the fetus had a severe defect. (Gold) Thirteen other states adopted this position. In 1970, New York, Alaska, Washington, and Hawaii decriminalized abortion, allowing abortion on demand through the first trimester. Thousands of women traveled to New York to have legal, safe abortions. On January 22, 1973, in a Texas courtroom, the history changing decision in the Roe v Wade case made abortion on demand legal in all states.
             
              As of 2007, 35 states require some sort of parental consent before a minor can obtain an abortion. New York State does not require by law any parental notification. Many teenagers come to New York to have an abortion. Some people question the ethics of physicians who perform abortions on minors from out-of-state. Also in 2007, thirty-three states enacted an informed consent law or policy. While it has always been the legal and ethical obligation of a physician to obtain permission from their patients before any procedure, it has not always been up to the state exactly what is to be said to the patient. Abortion opponents are advocating for those seeking abortion to be given information as part of informed consent that the fetus is able to feel pain. The American Medical Association has concluded that the fetus cannot feel pain until at least the twenty-third week of gestation, if at all. (Gold) The question of ethics here is; is it relevant for a patient in her first trimester to hear about an abortion on a twenty-four week old fetus? On the other side, pro-abortion advocates do not want the government involved in a woman's reproductive rights at all.
             
              As I stated earlier there has been a decline in the number of physicians willing to perform abortions. Some reports suggest that since 2002 there has been a twenty-two percent decline. This is especially upsetting to people who live in rural areas, where they might not have access to an abortion provider. In recent years some pro-life zealots have targeted abortion providers, perhaps causing them to stop performing abortions out of fear. Issues of morality concerning abortion may be a factor for many providers.
              Without access to safe, legal abortions women would be forced to have children they either do not want for one reason or another, or cannot afford to have; or once again they would turn to illegal means of terminating their pregnancies. Without government funding and private insurance companies paying for abortions, many will be forced to have the procedure done later in the pregnancy adding risks of complication.
             
              The legalization of abortion in the United States began a battle that is still going on today. Anti abortion advocates, including medical professionals, politicians, and American citizens have continuously fought for legislation to overturn the ruling in Roe v Wade. Those who are opposed to abortion fight relentlessly for the rights of the unborn. They have picketed hospitals, clinics, and physicians offices where abortions are performed. They believe abortions have a negative effect on our nation's economy by eliminating future taxpayers. Pro abortion advocates on the other hand believe that had the aborted children been born they would have had a negative impact on our economy. The pro abortion community desires just as the anti abortion community does, that the number of abortions be reduced. They differ greatly in their methods of achieving that goal.
             
              As long as women continue to have intercourse abortions will exist. The good news is that the number of abortions each year has been declining. With the advancement of medicine, and birth control in particular, and sex education being taught in schools, at home, and as part of primary care medicine women today have more information about how not to become pregnant. Emergency conception, the morning after pill, and RU-486 will all reduce the number of invasive abortions needed.
             
              Although legal, abortion will always be a matter of moral and ethics for each of us according to our own consciences. There will always be medical professionals who do not wish to participate in abortions, and there will always be others who do.
             
              As I stated earlier, there is no simple solution to the abortion dilemma. We are a nation governed by laws, and the right to elect the termination of a pregnancy is within the law of the United States of America no matter how you or I may feel about it. In my opinion neither side knows the absolute truth, we can only go on what we believe to be true.
Abortion Essay 
Works Cited

americanpregnancy.org. ""Types of Abortion Procedures"." January 2011. www.americanpregnancy.org. 12 March 2012.
Fremgen, Bonnie. F. Medical Law and Ethics. Saddle River: Pearson, Fourth Edition.
Gold, Benson Rachel. "The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy." March 2003. www.guttmacher.org. 15 March 2012.
Kraft, Sy. ""More Docs Refusing Abortions;Religion and Location Named Factors."." 24 Aug 2011. www.medicalnewtoday.com/articles/233282.php. article. 6 Feb 2012.
Pollitt, Katha. ""Abortion in American History"." The Atlantic Monthly: 111-5. ProQuest Central; ProQuest Health Management. Web 15 Mar. 2012 (1997).
Unborn Victims of Violence Act. No. PUBLIC LAW 108-212. United States. 1 April 2004. Act.
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