There are numerous reasons why women find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy and want to have an abortion. There have been several recent surveys done in the US that showed certain characteristics regarding patients who have abortions performed:
20% were age 19 or younger and 57% were in their twenties. 72% had never been married, and 59% had at least one child. A little more than 60% were below the federal poverty line, including 30% who were living in poverty. More than half of the patients had attended college or received a college degree. 31% of respondents were black, and 19% were Hispanic. 61% were less than 9 weeks gestation.
The most common underlying reasons for abortion were 1) they could not afford a child at the time and were unmarried (42%), 2) it would interfere with their education (38%), 3) it would interfere with their employment (38%), and 4) they were students or planning to enroll in studies (34%). Other reasons are having relationship problems, not ready for another child, or don’t want people to know they had sex or got pregnant, the health of the fetus, victim of rape, or became pregnant as result of incest.
88% or more of abortions take place in the first trimester (12 weeks or less from the last menstrual period), when a fetus cannot exist independently of the mother. The fetus is attached to the uterine wall by the placenta and umbilical cord. The fetus is totally dependent on the health and life of the woman. If detached from the uterine wall, the fetus will not live outside the mother’s womb, and therefore cannot be a separate entity.
There is no disputing that human life occurs at conception, but fertilized eggs used for in-vitro fertilization are also human lives and those not implanted are routinely thrown away. A human being is not a citizen or has rights until it achieves personhood. Personhood is achieved only after the fetus is born. When personhood is reached and a life is taken, it is called murder. Is it murder to throw away fertilized eggs? If not, then how could abortion be murder?
Adoption is not an alternative to abortion, because it remains the woman’s choice whether or not to give her child up for adoption. Only very few women who give birth choose to give their child up for adoption. Less than 3% of white, unmarried women and less than 2% of black unmarried women choose giving their child up for adoption. Women think that it is more of a sin to give their full born child up for adoption than to have an abortion.
Abortion is a frequently occurring and safe medical procedure performed in the United States. 88% of women who have an abortion do so in the first trimester. Abortions performed in the first trimester (medically or surgically) without complication do not affect a woman’s health or future ability to become pregnant or give birth.
The violent acts of rape and incest cause women to become pregnant on a daily basis. Not many people, with the exception of a few conservative extremists, would argue that this causes tremendous psychological harm to the victim. Women are often in denial, too afraid to speak up or unaware they are pregnant. They may not know that the morning after pill (Emergency Contraception) is available to reduce the incidence of becoming pregnant by 65 to 85%.
Abortion is not used as a form of contraception. Pregnancy can occur even with responsible contraceptive use. Only 8% of women who have abortions do not use any form of birth control. Non-use is greatest among those who are young, poor, black, Hispanic or less educated.
The ability of a woman to have control of her body is critical to equal protection rights. Women have to be able to maintain control of their bodies. It should not be that a foreign body (pregnancy) without personhood should have rights over the woman’s choice. Take away a woman’s reproductive choice you must ask just where the power of the government controlling women’s rights will end? If the government can force a woman to continue a pregnancy, will they then try to force her to use contraception or undergo sterilization?
Taxpayer dollars are used to enable poor women to access the same medical services as women who can afford to pay for their own services or who have medical insurance. Abortion is part of family planning and should be funded by our government. All family planning services should be available to all women. In turn, this will decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country by a minimum of 500,000 pregnancies per year.
Over 750,000 teenagers become pregnant every year. 80% of those end in abortion. Teenage mothers who keep their pregnancy face grim prospects for their future. They are likely to leave school, receive inadequate prenatal care, rely on public assistance to raise a child, develop health problems, or end up divorced.
Facing the decision about how to handle an unwanted or unexpected pregnancy is one of the most difficult situations a woman may ever have to face. There are ethical, moral, social, financial, familial, religious and age issues patients have to consider when considering abortion. There is no doubt that this decision creates stress. The American Psychological Association found that stress was greatest prior to an abortion, and that there was no evidence of post-abortion syndrome.
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