Abortion: What is it? 1/3


Shelbee Burke, Staff Writer

Abortion is a controversial, as well as an extremely tough subject to address and has been since the Roe v Wade trial, which happened over 40 years ago. It can be defined as the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy. Some people stand on the side of pro-life, believing abortion should be illegal, while others stand with pro-choice, believing it should be legal and according to the Guttmacher Institute, an estimated 862,320 abortions happened in the United States alone. The AGI also shows statistics that the numbers of abortions happening in the U.S. have greatly decreased, as compared to 1996, when an estimated 1,360,000 happened, and even 2011, when approximately 1,210,000 occurred. The United Nation’s report of 2013, showed that there are only 9 countries that have higher abortion rates than the United States.

Abortion can be carried out in a legal way, for example, at clinics within states that have legalized abortion. When an abortion is performed in a safe way, most of the time women are awake, but under an anesthesia that makes them numb. One of the most common procedures used is the RU-436 pill, which is like a purposeful miscarriage. There is also an injection that can work similarly. Both of these methods can be used between 7-9 weeks. Another method of removing the fetus involves a small tube being inserted into the uterus to clean out the contents, this is called a vacuum aspiration. This procedure can be performed up until around week 14 of the pregnancy. After the 14 weeks, generally, Dilation and Evacuation (D & E) which involves not only vacuum suction, but also forceps and other medical tools to clear out contents in the uterus is performed. Before this procedure is carried out, some medications can be used as an anesthetic for the mother and will stop the fetal heartbeat. The procedure used when a woman is further along in her pregnancy is Dilation and Extraction (D & X). Most of the time, this procedure is only carried out when there is a problem with the fetus or the mother that could harm one or both of them. All the same steps are taken for this procedure as in the D & E procedure, but this procedure tends to be riskier causing it to usually only happen if absolutely necessary.

If a woman looking to get an abortion and is living in a state where it is illegal, many times they will go to a neighboring state where it is legal. If this option is unavailable or inconvenient, the person may choose to have an abortion done in dangerous and unprofessional ways. This is unsafe for many reasons including: the person performing the procedure may not be educated enough to do it safely, the tools being used could be unsanitary, and the chance of the mother ending up being hurt is greater. One common unsafe method is breaking the amniotic sac with a sharp object or wire, such as a clothes hanger or knitting needles. This can cause an injury or infection to internal organs which will result most likely in death. Another unsafe method used is pumping toxic mixtures of chemicals into the body, the risks of this are very great, and the woman’s body could go into toxic shock. 

Pro-choice believers think that abortion should be legal for a variety of reasons. Some believe it should be legal purely because a mother should be able to make that decision about her body and shouldn’t be restricted by the law. This belief is based on bodily autonomy, which is defined as the right for one to self-govern over their own body. Others believe it should be legal because of certain cases like rape, incest, when the mother or child could be harmed during the process of childbirth, or even when the quality of life could be threatened. 

Pro-life believers stand firmly with the choice that it should be illegal. Most of these supporters believe a child is alive from the moment of conception, therefore when an abortion is performed, it is killing the child. Some advocates’ opinions may be a result of religion, as some religions stand strongly against abortion. Many support the opinion that there are other better choices than abortion such as adoption or placing the child in foster care.

There are many abortion clinics throughout the United States. When asked about the cost, a representative from the abortion clinic Trust Women Witchita, in Witchita, Kansas explained, “The cost generally depends on the gestational stage of the pregnancy.” She went on to say if the pregnancy is is in a later term, it will cost more. At this clinic, the age of the abortions performed varies but it is generally around the 20’s. According to the CDC, this is common for most abortion clinics. The representative commented, “The earliest the procedure will be done is 6 weeks and the latest is 21 weeks and 6 days. The most common time abortions happen in this clinic is the first trimester.”

There are many opinions and thoughts on this topic. Some states have laws against it, while others do not. There are many ways to go about abortion and most people agree that even if abortion is no longer legalized in any of the states, some individuals would go about it their own way and proceed to do it in an unsafe way. Whether or not abortion should be legal or illegal has been a debate for many years, and will likely continue to be.