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Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo, resulting in or caused by its death.[1] An abortion can occur spontaneously due to complications during pregnancy or can be induced, in humans and other species. In the context of human pregnancies, an abortion induced to preserve the health of the gravida (pregnant female) is termed a therapeutic abortion, while an abortion induced for any other reason is termed an elective abortion. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy, while spontaneous abortions are usually termed miscarriages.

Abortion has a long history and has been induced by various methods including herbal abortifacients, the use of sharpened tools, physical trauma and other traditional methods. Contemporary medicine utilizes medications and surgical procedures to induce abortion. The legality, prevalence, and cultural views on abortion vary substantially around the world. In many parts of the world there is prominent and divisive public controversy over the ethical and legal issues of abortion. Abortion and abortion-related issues feature prominently in the national politics in many nations, often involving the opposing "pro-life" and "pro-choice" worldwide social movements. Incidence of abortion has declined worldwide, as access to family planning education and contraceptive services has increased. Abortion incidence in the United States declined 8% from 1996 to 2003.[2]

Contents

Types of abortion

Spontaneous abortion

A complete spontaneous abortion at about six weeks from conception, i.e. eight weeks from LMP

Spontaneous abortion (also known as miscarriage) is the expulsion of an embryo or fetus due to accidental trauma or natural causes before approximately the 22nd week of gestation; the definition by gestational age varies by country.[3] Most miscarriages are due to incorrect replication of chromosomes; they can also be caused by environmental factors. A pregnancy that ends before 37 weeks of gestation resulting in a live-born infant is known as a "premature birth". When a fetus dies in utero after about 22 weeks, or during delivery, it is usually termed "stillborn". Premature births and stillbirths are generally not considered to be miscarriages although usage of these terms can sometimes overlap.

Between 10% and 50% of pregnancies end in clinically apparent miscarriage, depending upon the age and health of the pregnant woman.[4] Most miscarriages occur very early in pregnancy, in most cases, they occur so early in the pregnancy that the woman is not even aware that she was pregnant. One study testing hormones for ovulation and pregnancy found that 61.9% of conceptuses were lost prior to 12 weeks, and 91.7% of these losses occurred subclinically, without the knowledge of the once pregnant woman.[5]

The risk of spontaneous abortion decreases sharply after the 10th week from the last menstrual period (LMP).[4][6] One study of 232 pregnant women showed "virtually complete [pregnancy loss] by the end of the embryonic period" (10 weeks LMP) with a pregnancy loss rate of only 2 percent after 8.5 weeks LMP.[7]

The most common cause of spontaneous abortion during the first trimester is chromosomal abnormalities of the embryo/fetus,[8] accounting for at least 50% of sampled early pregnancy losses.[9] Other causes include vascular disease (such as lupus), diabetes, other hormonal problems, infection, and abnormalities of the uterus.[8] Advancing maternal age and a patient history of previous spontaneous abortions are the two leading factors associated with a greater risk of spontaneous abortion.[9] A spontaneous abortion can also be caused by accidental trauma; intentional trauma or stress to cause miscarriage is considered induced abortion or feticide.[10]

Induced abortion

A pregnancy can be intentionally aborted in many ways. The manner selected depends chiefly upon the gestational age of the embryo or fetus, which increases in size as it ages.[11] Specific procedures may also be selected due to legality, regional availability, and doctor-patient preference. Reasons for procuring induced abortions are typically characterized as either therapeutic or elective. An abortion is medically referred to as therapeutic when it is performed to:

An abortion is referred to as elective when it is performed at the request of the woman "for reasons other than maternal health or fetal disease."[13]

Abortion methods

Gestational age may determine which abortion methods are practiced.

Medical

"Medical abortions" are non-surgical abortions that use pharmaceutical drugs, and are only effective in the first trimester of pregnancy.[citation needed] Medical abortions comprise 10% of all abortions in the United States[14] and Europe.[citation needed] Combined regimens include methotrexate or mifepristone, followed by a prostaglandin (either misoprostol or gemeprost: misoprostol is used in the U.S.; gemeprost is used in the UK and Sweden.) When used within 49 days gestation, approximately 92% of women undergoing medical abortion with a combined regimen completed it without surgical intervention.[15] Misoprostol can be used alone, but has a lower efficacy rate than combined regimens. In cases of failure of medical abortion, vacuum or manual aspiration is used to complete the abortion surgically.

Surgical

A vacuum aspiration abortion at eight weeks gestational age (six weeks after fertilization).
1: Amniotic sac
2: Embryo
3: Uterine lining
4: Speculum
5: Vacurette
6: Attached to a suction pump

In the first 12 weeks, suction-aspiration or vacuum abortion is the most common method.[16] Manual Vacuum aspiration (MVA) abortion consists of removing the fetus or embryo, placenta and membranes by suction using a manual syringe, while electric vacuum aspiration (EVA) abortion uses an electric pump. These techniques are comparable, and differ in the mechanism used to apply suction, how early in pregnancy they can be used, and whether cervical dilation is necessary. MVA, also known as "mini-suction" and "menstrual extraction", can be used in very early pregnancy, and does not require cervical dilation. Surgical techniques are sometimes referred to as 'Suction (or surgical) Termination Of Pregnancy' (STOP). From the 15th week until approximately the 26th, dilation and evacuation (D&E) is used. D&E consists of opening the cervix of the uterus and emptying it using surgical instruments and suction.

Dilation and curettage (D&C), the second most common method of abortion, is a standard gynecological procedure performed for a variety of reasons, including examination of the uterine lining for possible malignancy, investigation of abnormal bleeding, and abortion. Curettage refers to cleaning the walls of the uterus with a curette. The World Health Organization recommends this procedure, also called sharp curettage, only when MVA is unavailable.[17] The term D and C, or sometimes suction curette, is used as a euphemism for the first trimester abortion procedure, whichever the method used.[citation needed]

Other techniques must be used to induce abortion in the second trimester. Premature delivery can be induced with prostaglandin; this can be coupled with injecting the amniotic fluid with hypertonic solutions containing saline or urea. After the 16th week of gestation, abortions can be induced by intact dilation and extraction (IDX) (also called intrauterine cranial decompression), which requires surgical decompression of the fetus' head before evacuation. IDX is sometimes called "partial-birth abortion," which has been federally banned in the United States. A hysterotomy abortion is a procedure similar to a caesarean section and is performed under general anesthesia. It requires a smaller incision than a caesarean section and is used during later stages of pregnancy.[18]

From the 20th to 23rd week of gestation, an injection to stop the fetal heart can be used as the first phase of the surgical abortion procedure[19][20][21][22][23] to ensure that the fetus is not born alive.[24]

Other methods

Bas-relief at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, c. 1150, depicting a demon inducing an abortion by pounding the abdomen of a pregnant woman with a pestle.[25]

Historically, a number of herbs reputed to possess abortifacient properties have been used in folk medicine: tansy, pennyroyal, black cohosh, and the now-extinct silphium (see history of abortion).[26] The use of herbs in such a manner can cause serious—even lethal—side effects, such as multiple organ failure, and is not recommended by physicians.[27]

Abortion is sometimes attempted by causing trauma to the abdomen. The degree of force, if severe, can cause serious internal injuries without necessarily succeeding in inducing miscarriage.[28] Both accidental and deliberate abortions of this kind can be subject to criminal liability in many countries. In Southeast Asia, there is an ancient tradition of attempting abortion through forceful abdominal massage.[29] One of the bas reliefs decorating the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia depicts a demon performing such an abortion upon a woman who has been sent to the underworld.[29]

Reported methods of unsafe, self-induced abortion include misuse of misoprostol, and insertion of non-surgical implements such as knitting needles and clothes hangers into the uterus. These methods are rarely seen in developed countries where surgical abortion is legal and available.[30]

Health risks

Early-term surgical abortion is a simple procedure which is safer than childbirth when performed before the 21st week.[31][32][33] Abortion methods, like most minimally invasive procedures, carry a small potential for serious complications.[34][35] The risk of complications can increase depending on how far pregnancy has progressed.[36][37]

Women typically experience minor pain during first-trimester abortion procedures. In a 1979 study of 2,299 patients, 97% reported experiencing some degree of pain. Patients rated the pain as being less than earache or toothache, but more than headache or backache.[38] Local and general anesthetics are used during surgical procedures.[39]

Mental health

The relationship between induced abortion and mental health is an area of controversy.[40][41] No scientific research has demonstrated a direct causal relationship between abortion and poor mental health,[42][43] though some studies have noted that there may be a statistical correlation. Pre-existing factors in a woman's life, such as emotional attachment to the pregnancy, lack of social support, pre-existing psychiatric illness, and conservative views on abortion increase the likelihood of experiencing negative feelings after an abortion.[44][45]

In a 1990 review, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that "severe negative reactions [after abortion] are rare and are in line with those following other normal life stresses."[43] The APA revised and updated its findings in August 2008 to account for the accumulation of new evidence, and again concluded that induced abortion did not lead to increased mental health problems.[46][47] A 2008 review by a group from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health concluded that the highest quality studies found few, if any, mental health differences between women who had abortions and their comparison groups, whereas studies with the most flaws reported negative mental health consequences of abortion.[48] As of August 2008, the United Kingdom Royal College of Psychiatrists is also performing a systematic review of the medical literature to update their position statement on the subject.

Some proposed negative psychological effects of abortion have been referred to by pro-life advocates as a separate condition called "post-abortion syndrome." However, the existence of "post-abortion syndrome" is not recognized by any medical or psychological organization,[49] and some physicians and pro-choice advocates have argued that the effort to popularize the idea of a "post-abortion syndrome" is a tactic used by pro-life advocates for political purposes.[40][42][50][51]

Incidence of induced abortion

The incidence and reasons for induced abortion vary regionally. It has been estimated that approximately 46 million abortions are performed worldwide every year. Of these, 26 million are said to occur in places where abortion is legal; the other 20 million happen where the procedure is illegal. Some countries, such as Belgium (11.2 per 100 known pregnancies) and the Netherlands (10.6 per 100), have a low rate of induced abortion, while others like Russia (62.6 per 100) and Vietnam (43.7 per 100) have a comparatively high rate. The world ratio is 26 induced abortions per 100 known pregnancies.[52]

By gestational age and method

Histogram of abortions by gestational age in England and Wales during 2004. Average is 9.5 weeks.
Abortion in the United States by gestational age, 2004. (Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Abortion rates also vary depending on the stage of pregnancy and the method practiced. In 2003, from data collected in those areas of the United States that sufficiently reported gestational age, it was found that 88.2% of abortions were conducted at or prior to 12 weeks, 10.4% from 13 to 20 weeks, and 1.4% at or after 21 weeks. 90.9% of these were classified as having been done by "curettage" (suction-aspiration, Dilation and curettage, Dilation and evacuation), 7.7% by "medical" means (mifepristone), 0.4% by "intrauterine instillation" (saline or prostaglandin), and 1.0% by "other" (including hysterotomy and hysterectomy).[53] The Guttmacher Institute estimated there were 2,200 intact dilation and extraction procedures in the U.S. during 2000; this accounts for 0.17% of the total number of abortions performed that year.[54] Similarly, in England and Wales in 2006, 89% of terminations occurred at or under 12 weeks, 9% between 13 to 19 weeks, and 1.5% at or over 20 weeks. 64% of those reported were by vacuum aspiration, 6% by D&E, and 30% were medical.[55] Later abortions are more common in China, India, and other developing countries than in developed countries.[56]

By personal and social factors

A bar chart depicting selected data from the 1998 AGI meta-study on the reasons women stated for having an abortion.

A 1998 aggregated study, from 27 countries, on the reasons women seek to terminate their pregnancies concluded that common factors cited to have influenced the abortion decision were: desire to delay or end childbearing, concern over the interruption of work or education, issues of financial or relationship stability, and perceived immaturity.[57] A 2004 study in which American women at clinics answered a questionnaire yielded similar results.[58] In Finland and the United States, concern for the health risks posed by pregnancy in individual cases was not a factor commonly given; however, in Bangladesh, India, and Kenya health concerns were cited by women more frequently as reasons for having an abortion.[57] 1% of women in the 2004 survey-based U.S. study became pregnant as a result of rape and 0.5% as a result of incest.[58] Another American study in 2002 concluded that 54% of women who had an abortion were using a form of contraception at the time of becoming pregnant while 46% were not. Inconsistent use was reported by 49% of those using condoms and 76% of those using the combined oral contraceptive pill; 42% of those using condoms reported failure through slipping or breakage.[59] The Guttmacher Institute estimated that "most abortions in the United States are obtained by minority women" because minority women "have much higher rates of unintended pregnancy."[60]

Some abortions are undergone as the result of societal pressures. These might include the stigmatization of disabled persons, preference for children of a specific sex, disapproval of single motherhood, insufficient economic support for families, lack of access to or rejection of contraceptive methods, or efforts toward population control (such as China's one-child policy). These factors can sometimes result in compulsory abortion or sex-selective abortion.

History of abortion

"French Periodical Pills." An example of a clandestine advertisement published in an 1845 edition of the Boston Daily Times.

Induced abortion can be traced to ancient times.[61] There is evidence to suggest that, historically, pregnancies were terminated through a number of methods, including the administration of abortifacient herbs, the use of sharpened implements, the application of abdominal pressure, and other techniques.

The Hippocratic Oath, the chief statement of medical ethics for Hippocratic physicians in Ancient Greece, forbade doctors from helping to procure an abortion by pessary. Soranus, a second-century Greek physician, suggested in his work Gynaecology that women wishing to abort their pregnancies should engage in energetic exercise, energetic jumping, carrying heavy objects, and riding animals. He also prescribed a number of recipes for herbal baths, pessaries, and bloodletting, but advised against the use of sharp instruments to induce miscarriage due to the risk of organ perforation.[62] It is also believed that, in addition to using it as a contraceptive, the ancient Greeks relied upon silphium as an abortifacient. Such folk remedies, however, varied in effectiveness and were not without risk. Tansy and pennyroyal, for example, are two poisonous herbs with serious side effects that have at times been used to terminate pregnancy.

During the medieval period, physicians in the Islamic world documented detailed and extensive lists of birth control practices, including the use of abortifacients, commenting on their effectiveness and prevalence.[63] They listed many different birth control substances in their medical encyclopedias, such as Avicenna listing 20 in The Canon of Medicine (1025) and Muhammad ibn Zakariya ar-Razi listing 176 in his Hawi (10th century). This was unparalleled in European medicine until the 19th century.[64]

During the Middle Ages, abortion was tolerated because there were no laws against it.[65] A medieval female physician, Trotula of Salerno,[66] administered a number of remedies for the “retention of menstrua,” which was sometimes a code for early abortifacients.[67] Pope Sixtus V (1585–1590) is noted as the first Pope to declare that abortion is homicide regardless of the stage of pregnancy.[68] Abortion in the 19th century continued, despite bans in both the United Kingdom and the United States, as the disguised, but nonetheless open, advertisement of services in the Victorian era suggests.[69]

In the 20th century the Soviet Union (1919), Iceland (1935) and Sweden (1938) were among the first countries to legalize certain or all forms of abortion.[70] In 1935 Nazi Germany, a law was passed permitting abortions for those deemed "hereditarily ill," while women considered of German stock were specifically prohibited from having abortions.[71][72][73][74]

Social issues

Sex-selective abortion and female infanticide

Sonography and amniocentesis allow parents to determine sex before birth. The development of this technology has led to sex-selective abortion, or the targeted termination of female fetuses.

It is suggested that sex-selective abortion might be partially responsible for the noticeable disparities between the birth rates of male and female children in some places. The preference for male children is reported in many areas of Asia, and abortion used to limit female births has been reported in Mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea, and India.[75]

In India, the economic role of men, the costs associated with dowries, and a Hindu tradition which dictates that funeral rites must be performed by a male relative have led to a cultural preference for sons.[76] The widespread availability of diagnostic testing, during the 1970s and '80s, led to advertisements for services which read, "Invest 500 rupees [for a sex test] now, save 50,000 rupees [for a dowry] later."[77] In 1991, the male-to-female sex ratio in India was skewed from its biological norm of 105 to 100, to an average of 108 to 100.[78] Researchers have asserted that between 1985 and 2005 as many as 10 million female fetuses may have been selectively aborted.[79] The Indian government passed an official ban of pre-natal sex screening in 1994 and moved to pass a complete ban of sex-selective abortion in 2002.[80]

In the People's Republic of China, there is also a historic son preference. The implementation of the one-child policy in 1979, in response to population concerns, led to an increased disparity in the sex ratio as parents attempted to circumvent the law through sex-selective abortion or the abandonment of unwanted daughters.[81] Sex-selective abortion might be an influence on the shift from the baseline male-to-female birth rate to an elevated national rate of 117:100 reported in 2002. The trend was more pronounced in rural regions: as high as 130:100 in Guangdong and 135:100 in Hainan.[82] A ban upon the practice of sex-selective abortion was enacted in 2003.[83]

Unsafe abortion

Soviet poster circa 1925, promoting hospital abortions. Title translation: "Abortions performed by either trained or self-taught midwives not only maim the woman, they also often lead to death."

Women seeking to terminate their pregnancies sometimes resort to unsafe methods, particularly where and when access to legal abortion is being barred.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines an unsafe abortion as being "a procedure ... carried out by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both."[84] Unsafe abortions are sometimes known colloquially as "back-alley" abortions. This can include a person without medical training, a professional health provider operating in sub-standard conditions, or the woman herself.

Unsafe abortion remains a public health concern today due to the higher incidence and severity of its associated complications, such as incomplete abortion, sepsis, hemorrhage, and damage to internal organs. WHO estimates that 19 million unsafe abortions occur around the world annually and that 68,000 of these result in the woman's death.[84] Complications of unsafe abortion are said to account, globally, for approximately 13% of all maternal mortalities, with regional estimates including 12% in Asia, 25% in Latin America, and 13% in sub-Saharan Africa.[85] A 2007 study published in the The Lancet found that, although the global rate of abortion declined from 45.6 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003, unsafe procedures still accounted for 48% of all abortions performed in 2003.[86] Health education, access to family planning, and improvements in health care during and after abortion have been proposed to address this phenomenon.[87]

Abortion debate

Pro-choice activists near the Washington Monument at the March for Women's Lives.
Pro-life activists at the March for Life in 2007. The rally is held annually in Washington, DC.

In the history of abortion, induced abortion has been the source of considerable debate, controversy, and activism. An individual's position on the complex ethical, moral, philosophical, biological, and legal issues is often related to his or her value system. The main positions are the pro-choice position, which argues in favor of access to abortion, and the pro-life position, which argues against access to abortion. Opinions of abortion may be described as being a combination of beliefs on its morality, and beliefs on the responsibility, ethical scope, and proper extent of governmental authorities in public policy. Religious ethics also has an influence upon both personal opinion and the greater debate over abortion (see religion and abortion).

Abortion debates, especially pertaining to abortion laws, are often spearheaded by groups advocating one of these two positions. In the United States, those in favor of greater legal restrictions on, or even complete prohibition of abortion, most often describe themselves as pro-life while those against legal restrictions on abortion describe themselves as pro-choice. Generally, the pro-life position argues that a human fetus is a human being with the right to live making abortion tantamount to murder. The pro-choice position argues that a woman has certain reproductive rights, especially the choice whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term.

In both public and private debate, arguments presented in favor of or against abortion focus on either the moral permissibility of an induced abortion, or justification of laws permitting or restricting abortion.

Debate also focuses on whether the pregnant woman should have to notify and/or have the consent of others in distinct cases: a minor, her parents; a legally married or common-law wife, her husband; or a pregnant woman, the biological father. In a 2003 Gallup poll in the United States, 79% of male and 67% of female respondents were in favor of legalized mandatory spousal notification; overall support was 72% with 26% opposed.[88]

Public opinion

A number of opinion polls around the world have explored public opinion regarding the issue of abortion. Results have varied from poll to poll, country to country, and region to region, while varying with regard to different aspects of the issue.

A May 2005 survey examined attitudes toward abortion in 10 European countries, asking polltakers whether they agreed with the statement, "If a woman doesn't want children, she should be allowed to have an abortion". The highest level of approval was 81% (in the Czech Republic); the lowest was 47% (in Poland).[89]

In North America, a December 2001 poll surveyed Canadian opinion on abortion, asking Canadians in what circumstances they believe abortion should be permitted; 32% responded that they believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 52% that it should be legal in certain circumstances, and 14% that it should be legal in no circumstances. A similar poll in April 2009 surveyed people in the United States about U.S. opinion on abortion; 18% said that abortion should be "legal in all cases", 28% said that abortion should be "legal in most cases", 28% said abortion should be "illegal in most cases" and 16% said abortion should be "illegal in all cases".[90] A November 2005 poll in Mexico found that 73.4% think abortion should not be legalized while 11.2% think it should.[91]

Of attitudes in South America, a December 2003 survey found that 30% of Argentines thought that abortion in Argentina should be allowed "regardless of situation", 47% that it should be allowed "under some circumstances", and 23% that it should not be allowed "regardless of situation".[92] A March 2007 poll regarding the abortion law in Brazil found that 65% of Brazilians believe that it "should not be modified", 16% that it should be expanded "to allow abortion in other cases", 10% that abortion should be "decriminalized", and 5% were "not sure".[93] A July 2005 poll in Colombia found that 65.6% said they thought that abortion should remain illegal, 26.9% that it should be made legal, and 7.5% that they were unsure.[94]

Selected issues of the abortion debate

Breast cancer hypothesis

The abortion-breast cancer hypothesis posits that induced abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer.[95] This position contrasts with the scientific consensus that abortion does not cause breast cancer.[96][97][98][99]

In early pregnancy, levels of estrogen increase, leading to breast growth in preparation for lactation. The hypothesis proposes that if this process is interrupted by an abortion – before full maturity in the third trimester – then more relatively vulnerable immature cells could be left than there were prior to the pregnancy, resulting in a greater potential risk of breast cancer. The hypothesis mechanism was first proposed and explored in rat studies conducted in the 1980s.[100][101][102]

Fetal pain debate

Fetal pain, its existence, and its implications are part of a larger debate about abortion. Many researchers in the area of fetal development believe that a fetus is unlikely to feel pain until after the seventh month of pregnancy. Others disagree.[103][104] However, legislation has been proposed by pro-life advocates requiring abortion providers to tell a woman that the fetus may feel pain during an abortion procedure.[105]

A review by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco in JAMA concluded that data from dozens of medical reports and studies indicate that fetuses are unlikely to feel pain until the third trimester of pregnancy.[106] However a number of medical critics have since disputed these conclusions.[103][107] At the end of the 20th century there was an emerging consensus among developmental neurobiologists that the establishment of thalamocortical connections (at about 26 weeks) is a critical event with regard to fetal perception of pain.[108] Other researchers such as Anand and Fisk have challenged this late date, positing that pain can be felt around 20 weeks.[109] Because pain can involve sensory, emotional and cognitive factors, it may be "impossible to know" when painful experiences are perceived, even if it is known when thalamocortical connections are established.[110] In any case, one of the first steps in second-trimester and third-trimester abortions is to anesthetize the fetus or stop its heart to prevent fetal pain.[citation needed]

Effect upon crime rate

A theory attempts to draw a correlation between the United States' unprecedented nationwide decline of the overall crime rate during the 1990s and the decriminalization of abortion 20 years prior.

The suggestion was brought to widespread attention by a 1999 academic paper, The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime, authored by the economists Steven D. Levitt and John Donohue. They attributed the drop in crime to a reduction in individuals said to have a higher statistical probability of committing crimes: unwanted children, especially those born to mothers who are African-American, impoverished, adolescent, uneducated, and single. The change coincided with what would have been the adolescence, or peak years of potential criminality, of those who had not been born as a result of Roe v. Wade and similar cases. Donohue and Levitt's study also noted that states which legalized abortion before the rest of the nation experienced the lowering crime rate pattern earlier, and those with higher abortion rates had more pronounced reductions.[111]

Fellow economists Christopher Foote and Christopher Goetz criticized the methodology in the Donohue-Levitt study, noting a lack of accommodation for statewide yearly variations such as cocaine use, and recalculating based on incidence of crime per capita; they found no statistically significant results.[112] Levitt and Donohue responded to this by presenting an adjusted data set which took into account these concerns and reported that the data maintained the statistical significance of their initial paper.[113]

Such research has been criticized by some as being utilitarian, discriminatory as to race and socioeconomic class, and as promoting eugenics as a solution to crime.[114][115] Levitt states in his book Freakonomics that they are neither promoting nor negating any course of action—merely reporting data as economists.

Mexico City Policy

The Mexico City policy, also known as the "Global Gag Rule" required any non-governmental organization receiving US Government funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services in other countries. This had a significant effect on the health policies of many nations across the globe. The Mexico City Policy was instituted under President Reagan, suspended under President Clinton, reinstated by President George W. Bush,[116] and suspended again by President Barack Obama on January 24, 2009.[117]

Religious views

Each faith has many varying views on the moral implications of abortion with each side citing their own textual proof. Often times, these views can be in direct opposition to each other.[118]

Abortion law

International status of abortion law:      Legal on request      Legal for maternal life, health, mental health, rape, fetal defects, and/or socioeconomic factors      Legal for or illegal with exception for maternal life, health, mental health, rape, and/or fetal defects      Illegal with exception for maternal life, health, mental health and/or rape      Illegal with exception for maternal life, health, and/or mental health      Illegal with no exceptions      No information Vertical stripes (various colours): Illegal but unenforced

Before the scientific discovery in the nineteenth century that human development begins at fertilization,[119] English common law forbade abortions after "quickening”, that is, after “an infant is able to stir in the mother's womb.”[120] There was also an earlier period in England when abortion was prohibited "if the foetus is already formed" but not yet quickened.[121] Both pre- and post-quickening abortions were criminalized by Lord Ellenborough's Act in 1803.[122] In 1861, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Offences against the Person Act 1861, which continued to outlaw abortion and served as a model for similar prohibitions in some other nations.[123]

The Soviet Union, with legislation in 1920, and Iceland, with legislation in 1935, were two of the first countries to generally allow abortion. The second half of the 20th century saw the liberalization of abortion laws in other countries. The Abortion Act 1967 allowed abortion for limited reasons in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland). In the 1973 case, Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court struck down state laws banning abortion, ruling that such laws violated an implied right to privacy in the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada, similarly, in the case of R. v. Morgentaler, discarded its criminal code regarding abortion in 1988, after ruling that such restrictions violated the security of person guaranteed to women under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada later struck down provincial regulations of abortion in the case of R. v. Morgentaler (1993). By contrast, abortion in Ireland was affected by the addition of an amendment to the Irish Constitution in 1983 by popular referendum, recognizing "the right to life of the unborn".

Current laws pertaining to abortion are diverse. Religious, moral, and cultural sensibilities continue to influence abortion laws throughout the world. The right to life, the right to liberty, the right to security of person, and the right to reproductive health are major issues of human rights that are sometimes used as justification for the existence or absence of laws controlling abortion. Many countries in which abortion is legal require that certain criteria be met in order for an abortion to be obtained, often, but not always, using a trimester-based system to regulate the window of legality:

  • In the United States, some states impose a 24-hour waiting period before the procedure, prescribe the distribution of information on fetal development, or require that parents be contacted if their minor daughter requests an abortion.[124]
  • In the United Kingdom, as in some other countries, two doctors must first certify that an abortion is medically or socially necessary before it can be performed.
  • In Canada, a similar requirement was rejected as unconstitutional in 1988.

Other countries, in which abortion is normally illegal, will allow one to be performed in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the pregnant woman's life or health.

In places where abortion is illegal or carries heavy social stigma, pregnant women may engage in medical tourism and travel to countries where they can terminate their pregnancy. Women without the means to travel can resort to providers of illegal abortions or try to do it themselves. [130]

In the USA, about 8% of abortions are performed on women who travel from another state.[131] However, that is driven at least partly by differing limits on abortion according to gestational age or the scarcity of doctors trained and willing to do later abortions.

In other animals

Spontaneous abortion occurs in various animals. For example, in sheep, it may be caused by crowding through doors, or being chased by dogs.[132] In cows, abortion may be caused by contagious disease, such as Brucellosis or Campylobacter, but can often be controlled by vaccination.[133] Additionally, many other diseases are known to increase the risk of miscarriage in humans and other animals.[citation needed]

Abortion may also be induced in animals, in the context of animal husbandry. For example, abortion may be induced in mares that have been mated improperly, or that have been purchased by owners who did not realize the mares were pregnant, or that are pregnant with twin foals.[134]

Feticide can occur in horses and zebras due to male harassment of pregnant mares or forced copulation,[135][136][137] although the frequency in the wild has been questioned.[138] Male Gray langur monkeys may attack females following male takeover, causing miscarriage.[139]

See also

References

  1. ^ Gynaecology for Lawyers By Trevor Dutt, Margaret P. Matthews
  2. ^ Sedgh, Gilda (September 2007). "Legal Abortion Worldwide: Incidence and Recent Trends". International Family Planning Perspectives 33 (3). http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3310607.html. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
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  125. ^ "European delegation visits Nicaragua to examine effects of abortion ban (November 26, 2007)". Ipas. http://www.ipas.org/Library/News/News_Items/European_delegation_visits_Nicaragua_to_examine_effects_of_abortion_ban.aspx. Retrieved 2009-06-15.  "More than 82 maternal deaths had been registered in Nicaragua since the change. During this same period, indirect obstetric deaths, or deaths caused by illnesses aggravated by the normal effects of pregnancy and not due to direct obstetric causes, have doubled."
  126. ^ "NICARAGUA: "The Women’s Movement Is in Opposition"". IPS. Montevideo: Inside Costa Rica. 28 June 2008. http://insidecostarica.com/special_reports/2008-06/nicaragua_womens_movement.htm. 
  127. ^ Ross, Jen. (September 12, 2006). "In Chile, free morning-after pills to teens." The Christian Science Monitor.'.' Retrieved 2006-12-07.
  128. ^ Gallardoi, Eduardo. (September 26, 2006). "Morning-After Pill Causes Furor in Chile." The Washington Post.'.' Retrieved 2006-12-07.
  129. ^ "Surgical Abortion: History and Overview". National Abortion Federation. http://www.prochoice.org/education/resources/surg_history_overview.html. Retrieved 2006-09-04. 
  130. ^ "Need Abortion, Will Travel author=Marcy Bloom". RH Reality Check. February 25, 2008. http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/02/25/need-abortion-will-travel. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  131. ^ "United States: Percentage of Legal Abortions Obtained by Out-of-State Residents, 2005". The Kaiser Family Foundation. http://www.statehealthfacts.kff.org/profileind.jsp?rgn=1&cat=10&ind=467. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  132. ^ Spencer, James. Sheep Husbandry in Canada, p. 124 (1911).
  133. ^ "Beef cattle and Beef production: Management and Husbandry of Beef Cattle”, Encyclopaedia of New Zealand (1966).
  134. ^ McKinnon, Angus et al. Equine Reproduction, p. 563 (Wiley-Blackwell 1993).
  135. ^ Berger, Joel W (5 May 1983). "Induced abortion and social factors in wild horses". Nature (London) 303 (5912): 59–61. doi:10.1038/303059a0. PMID 6682487. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v303/n5912/abs/303059a0.html. 
  136. ^ Pluháček, Jan; Bartos, L (2000). "Male infanticide in captive plains zebra, Equus burchelli". Animal Behaviour 59 (4): 689–694. doi:10.1006/anbe.1999.1371. PMID 10792924. http://af.czu.cz/~bartos/publications/pdf/Pluhacek_Bartos_2000_AB.pdf. 
  137. ^ Pluháček, Jan (2005). "Further evidence for male infanticide and feticide in captive plains zebra, Equus burchelli". Folia Zool. 54 (3): 258–262. http://www.ivb.cz/folia/54/3/258-262.pdf. 
  138. ^ JW, Fitzpatrick (October 1991). "Changes in herd stallions among feral horse bands and the absence of forced copulation and induced abortion". Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer) 29 (3): 217–219. ISSN (Print) 1432-0762 (Online) 0340-5443 (Print) 1432-0762 (Online). http://www.springerlink.com/content/k1543n1548987255/. 
  139. ^ Agoramoorthy, G. (August 1988). "Abortions in free ranging Hanuman langurs (Presbytis entellus)—a male induced strategy?". Human Evolution (Netherlands: Springer) 3 (4): 297–308. ISSN (Print) 1824-310X (Online) 0393-9375 (Print) 1824-310X (Online). http://www.springerlink.com/content/324g107410293474/. 

External links

The following information resources may be created by those with a non-neutral position in the abortion debate:


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Quotes on Abortion are listed in alphabetical order (according to the name of the speaker).

Table of contents
Sourced
  A B C D E F G H I J K L M
  N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Unsourced
Slogans and unattributed quotes

Sourced

A

  • Abolition of a woman's right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State.
  • We all knew that we were flaunting the law but doing it in the safest way from prosecution that we could. . . Before Roe v. Wade, I had no guilt feelings about what I was doing. I was proud of being able to help the women that I was taking care of.
    • Thomas Allen, discussing illegal abortions he performed, Voices of Choice, 2005 [1]
  • If partial-birth abortions remain legal, if Congress allows them to continue, what next? Killing a child who has emerged from the womb 3 or 4 more inches... Opponents of this bill keep asking whether it would be the first step in an effort to ban all abortions, but the real question is whether allowing this procedure is not a step toward legalized infanticide.
  • The poor expose their children, the rich kill the fruit of their own bodies in the womb, lest their property be divided up, and they destroy their own children in the womb with murderous poisons, and before life has been passed on, it is annihilated.
  • Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
  • Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them until the hour of death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use somewhat greater lenity, we have ordained that they fulfill ten years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees.
  • Supporters of [the Human Life Amendment] are often eloquent in their defense of the fertilized egg but are seldom willing to aid the woman whose body nourishes it.
    • Carole Anderson and Lee Campbell with Mary Anne Cohen, reprinted in The New Our Bodies, Ourselves, Boston Women's Health Book Collective (1984)
  • [Doing abortions] can make you feel bad ... No matter how pro-choice you are, it makes you feel low.
  • I guess I never realized I would find [performing abortions] as unpleasant as I do. I really don't enjoy it at all. It's not a rewarding thing to do ... [patients] look at you as an evil person who is deliberately putting them through a painful procedure ... it's their whole attitude that bothers me. I feel like a simple thank you is in order, instead of 'Why are you doing this to me?'
  • [Abortion is] the dirty work of our field. The sad truth is that the people who moonlight at the clinics are grade-B doctors. They're not the cream of the crop.
  • All the articles on this subject that I have read have been from men. They denounce women as alone guilty, and never include man in any plans for the remedy. . . Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed [abortion]. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!
    • Susan B. Anthony, women's suffrage movement leader, The Revolution.(August 8, 1869).
  • We want prevention, not merely punishment. We must reach the root of the evil [abortion]...It is practiced by those whose inmost souls revolt from the dreadful deed.
    • Susan B. Anthony, women's suffrage movement leader, The Revolution (August 8, 1869).
  • I dream of the day when women are not afraid to walk the streets with pins reading, “I had an abortion and it was the right decision,” and when station wagons bear bumper-stickers announcing, “Thank me for having an abortion when I wasn’t ready to be a parent.”
  • Somehow, many supporters of abortion rights have been lulled into accepting the rhetoric that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” That may be good language for winning elections, but it does a profound disservice to the millions of women who have abortions in this nation each year. Abortions should be safe and legal. That goes without saying. But rare? Abortions should be as frequent or as infrequent as are unwanted pregnancies.
  • The belief that fetuses have the same inherent moral value as living human beings—that “killing” a fetus is no different that slaughtering a ten-year-old child—is a breathtakingly dangerous position. Because if this is true, then abortion providers are indeed “murderers” and “maniacs,” and the United States Supreme Court is complicit in genocide, and this great democratic nation that we live in is rotten to its very core. I doubt many people truly believe that—not even the most vocal opponents of legal abortion. I certainly hope few people believe this. But if the hardcore anti-abortion activists do not believe this, then they have a moral obligation to step back from this rhetorical brink...."
  • If the roughly fifty million abortions that have occurred in the United States since Roe v. Wade had all ended in full-term deliveries, approximately five hundred additional women would have died during childbirth.
  • Much as we do not permit convicted pedophiles to teach kindergarten or convicted hijackers to board airplanes, common sense dictates that individuals who have been imprisoned for plotting violence against abortion clinics should never again be permitted anywhere near such facilities.
  • I saw a gorge in which the discharge and excrement of the tortured ran down and became like a lake. There sat women, and the discharge came up to their throats; and opposite them sat many children, who were born prematurely, weeping. And from them went forth rays of fire and smote the women on the eyes. These were those who produced children outside of marriage, and who procured abortions.

    Those who slew the unborn children will be tortured forever, for God wills it to so.

  • I definitely do want to talk about the fact that when you are pregnant, there is a baby growing inside of you.
    • Judith Arcana, abortion activist, at a London seminar, October 1999 [3]
  • We – in the states – have dealt heavily, up to now, in euphemism. I think one of the reasons why the 'good guys' – the people in favor of abortion rights – lost a lot of ground is that we have been unwilling to talk to women about what it means to abort a baby. We don't ever talk about babies, we don't ever talk about what is being decided in abortion. We never talk about responsibility. The word 'choice' is the biggest euphemism. Some use the phrases 'products of conception' and ‘contents of the uterus,’ or exchange the word ‘pregnancy’ for the word ‘fetus.’ I think this is a mistake tactically and strategically, and I think it’s wrong.. And indeed, it has not worked – we have lost the high ground we had when Roe was decided. My objection here is not only that we have lost ground, but also that our tactics are not good ones; they may even constitute bad faith. It is morally and ethically wrong to do abortions without acknowledging what it means to do them. I performed abortions, I have had an abortion and I am in favor of women having abortions when we choose to do so. But we should never disregard the fact that being pregnant means there is a baby growing inside of a woman, a baby whose life is ended. We ought not to pretend this is not happening.
  • [T]he line between lawful and unlawful abortion will be marked by the fact of having sensation and being alive.
    • Aristotle, Politics, bk. 7, ch. 6 at 294 (T.A. Sinclair trans. 1962) (325 B.C. or thereabouts).
  • We say that women who induce abortions are murderers, and will have to give account of it to God. For the same person, would not regard the child in the womb as a living being and therefore an object of God's care and then kill it.... But we are altogether consistent in our conduct. We obey reason and do not override it.
    • Athenagoras, Petition to Emperor Marcus Aurelius, circa 150
  • I have the utmost respect for life; I appreciate that life starts early in the womb, but I also believe that I am ending it for good reasons.
    • Anonymous Boston abortion doctor, "Confessions of an Abortion Doctor," Cheryl Alkon, Boston Magazine, December 2004
  • I have angry feelings at myself for feeling good about grasping the calvaria [head], for feeling good about doing a technically good procedure that destroys a fetus, kills a baby.
    • Anonymous abortion provider, "Abortion Providers Share Inner Conflicts" Diane M. Gianelli, American Medical News, July 12, 1993
  • Nobody wants to perform abortions after ten weeks because by then you see the features of the baby, hands, feet. It's really barbaric. There are a lot of tears. Sometimes patients turn on you. They say "Let's get out of here," after the abortion, like you are some dirty person. It's vicious. Then you get these teenyboppers in the office who laugh their way through it. It doesn't mean a thing to them. That bothers me...I do them [abortions] because I take the attitude that women are going to terminate babies and deserve the same kind of treatment as women who carry babies...I've done a couple thousand and it turned into a significant financial boon, but I also feel I've provided an important service. The only way I can do an abortion is to consider only the woman and block out the baby...
    • Anonymous abortion doctor, M.D. Doctors Talk About Themselves by John Pekkanen (Delcorte Press: New York) 1988, p 90-91
  • Of the various ways to perform abortion after the midpoint of pregnancy, there is only one that never, ever results in live births. It is D&E (dilation and evacuation) and not only is it foolproof, but many researchers consider it safer, cheaper, and less unpleasant for the patient. However, it is particularly stressful to medical personnel. This is because D&E requires literally cutting the fetus from the womb, and then reassembling the parts, or at least keeping them all in view, to assure that the abortion is complete...
    • American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Sept 1, 1976, 126[1] 83-90
  • The later ones though, they're bad- you see little arms and feet...little, but you know what they are and you know what's really being done.
    • Anonymous abortion doctor, The Abortionist Mary Ellen Mark, GQ Magazine, Feb. 1994
  • So when I went back to doing abortions and saw the fetus on the ultrasound, I recalled the early days of my pregnancies, when I found out I was pregnant and saw the baby on the ultrasound, and it really felt like this is a baby, a very real and potential being. Now, I do feel that this is a potential person and it does not have a life of its own outside of the mother, but I also am really aware that when you're ready to embrace a pregnancy, you can embrace it from the very moment you conceive or are aware that you are pregnant….You look at the ultrasounds and there's a fetus with a heartbeat and then after the procedure, there's the fetus, usually in pieces, in a dish. It was alive one moment and it's not the next... I don't believe, as some anti-abortion people would have you believe, that there's a "silent scream." But it's very clear to me that it's killing a potential life. And I found that hard at first.
    • Anonymous abortion provider, Birth Mother, Doctor, Abortionist Salon Magazine, Camille Peri
  • It was disturbing for me to see recognizable body parts in the removed tissue, usually an arm or a leg. My intent is not to be gruesome, but there is a reality behind all the political jargon that I believe I allowed myself to ignore until this experience. I have images now that accompany phrases such as, “Potential for life” and I understand the emotions that drive pro-life forces…
    • Anonymous medical student working at Planned Parenthood, Abortion Action Guide Medical Students for Choice, National Abortion Federation, Sept. 1993
  • I don’t approve, but it doesn’t matter if I don’t approve. I’m doing my job, I’m doing what I am trained to do.
    • Anonymous abortion doctor, The Abortionist Mary Ellen Mark, GQ Magazine, Feb 1994
  • You’re going from dealing with people to dealing with what most people here at the Center consider a real hurdle, to do sterile room, because you have to deal with the actual abortion tissue. And for some people that’s really hard. They can be abstractly in favor of abortion rights, but they sure don’t want to see what an eighteen-week abortion looks like.
    • anonymous clinic worker Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic Wendy Simonds (Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick) 1996 p 69
  • So by it looking like a baby, you're associating it with yourself because you used to be a baby, you used to be a fetus.
    • Anonymous clinic worker Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic Wendy Simonds, p 83
  • When I can identify the four chambers of the heart, I start feeling miserable. And when I put my hands on somebody to feel how big they are and I get kicked, I am barely able to talk at that moment.
    • Anonymous abortion doctor, Diane M. Gianelli, Abortion Providers Share Inner Conflicts American Medical News, July 12, 1993
  • It's hard to be in a profession where you have a hard time answering the questions that other people ask you about what you do.
    • Anonymous abortion provider, Diane M. Gianelli, Abortion Providers Share Inner Conflicts American Medical News, July 12, 1993
  • We try to use the physician for his technical skill and reduce the one-to-one relationship with the patient. We usually see the patient for the first time on the operation table and then not again. More contact is just not efficient.
    • Abortionist Edward Allred, quoted in The San Diego Union , October 12, 1980. Also quoted in Anthony Perry. Doctor's Abortion Business Is Lucrative ALL About Issues , December 1980, pages 10, 14, and 15

B

  • You shall not kill either the fetus by abortion or the new born.
  • She who has deliberately destroyed a fetus has to pay the penalty of murder...here it is not only the child to be born that is vindicated, but also the woman herself who made an attempt against her own life, because usually the women die in such attempts. Furthermore, added to this is the destruction of the child, another murder... Moreover, those, too, who give drugs causing abortion are deliberate murderers themselves, as well as those receiving the poison which kills the fetus.
  • Let her that procures abortion undergo ten years' penance, whether the embryo were perfectly formed, or not.
  • We do not call police ourselves during a hit. Our best work is done before police arrive, or when there are not enough police there to prevent us from doing what we have to do. Get in place before cops can mess with it; establish balance of power early, do key acts requiring physical contact with OR [Operation Rescue] as much as possible before cops have enough people to intervene. Even if the sidewalk is 'public,' we've had success at putting enough of us out, early enough, to basically bully the ORs into staying across the street...Chivalry is not dead with these [Operation Rescue] people (just convoluted), and that means they have an inordinate sense of modesty and 'honor' about being accused of touching women. There are innumerable instances of clinic defenders neutralizing male ORs by shouting 'get your hands off me, don't you dare touch me' all the while they are tugging or pushing OR out of the line.
  • Men tend to take abortion lightly; they regard it as one of the numerous hazards imposed on women by malignant nature, but fail to realise fully the values involved. The woman who has recourse to abortion is disowning feminine values, her values, and at the same time is in most radical fashion running counter to the ethics established by men. Her whole moral universe is being disrupted....[H]ow could they fail to feel an inner mistrust of the presumptuous principles that men publicly proclaim and secretly disregard? They learn to believe no longer in what men say when they exalt woman or when they exalt man; the one thing they are sure of is this rifled and bleeding womb, these shreds of crimson life, this child that is not there.
    • Simone de Beauvoir, feminist leader and advocate of legalized abortion, in The Second Sex, 1952
  • [I]n face of erroneous interpretations of freedom, [Pope John Paul II] emphasized in an unequivocal way the inviolability of the human being, the inviolability of human life from its conception until natural death. The freedom to kill is not true freedom, but a tyranny that reduces the human being to slavery.
  • This right of privacy...is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy....[T]he word 'person', as used in the 14th Amendment, does not include the unborn.
  • If one strikes a pregnant woman or gives her poison in order to procure an abortion, if the foetus is already formed or quickened, especially if it is quickened, he commits homicide.
    • Henry Bracton, 2 On The Laws and Customs of England, 341 (S.E. Thorne trans., George E. Woodbine ed. 1968) (1250 A.D. or thereabouts).
  • When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society. So when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.
    • Mattie Brinkerhoff, women's suffrage movement leader, in The Revolution (September 2, 1869).[6]
  • I’m shunned by the gay community because I’m not the right kind of gay. I’m rejected by the feminist establishment for the same reasons. . . There is no room for dissent on the left. The moment you give into their framework, you surrender your individualism. . . Abortion is a failure of the feminist establishment. With every kind of birth control available in the world, abortion is not something to be proud of. If you need an abortion, you’ve failed.
    • Tammy Bruce, former member of NOW's national board of directors, to Columbia University students as quoted by Dan Healey in "Conservativism and Feminism Combined - Tammy Bruce, an Openly Gay, Pro-Choice, Pro-Clinton, Pro-Bush Conservative, Defies Labels", Columbia Spectator (April 6, 2005)[7]
  • The freedom that women were supposed to have found in the Sixties largely boiled down to easy contraception and abortion; things to make life easier for men, in fact.
    • Julie Burchill, British feminist and abortion advocate, in Damaged Gods, 1986
  • Cherie Blair can call herself a feminist all she likes, but any feminist worth her salt would have made a point of having a termination - on the NHS, naturally - when she got knocked up the last time. . . Famous women would rather admit to having been sexually abused as children than to having had a termination. . . Myself, I'd as soon weep over my taken tonsils or my absent appendix as snivel over those [five] abortions. I had a choice, and I chose life - mine.
    • Julie Burchill, British feminist and abortion advocate, from "Abortion: still a dirty word" in The Guardian (May 25, 2005)[8]
  • [T]he vast majority of physicians observe the standards of their profession, and act only on the basis of carefully deliberated medical judgments relating to life and health. Plainly, the Court today rejects any claim that the Constitution requires abortions on demand.
    • Warren E. Burger, U.S. Supreme Court, incorrectly assessing the eventual legal interpretation of the ruling and development of abortion-on-demand, from his concurring opinion in Doe v. Bolton, (January 22, 1973)[9]
  • I wanted to take just a few brief moments to restate my firm support of our cause and to share with you my deep personal concern about our American tragedy of abortion on demand. We are concerned about abortion because it deals with the lives of two human beings, mother and child. I know there are people of good will who disagree, but after years of sober and serious reflection on the issue, this is what I think. I think the Supreme Court's decision in Roe versus Wade was wrong and should be overturned....[Y]ou and hundreds of thousands with you across the country have raised a voice of moral gravity about abortion, a voice of principle, a voice of faith, a full voice that properly asserts and affirms the basic dignity of human life. I'm confident that more and more Americans every year -- every day -- are hearing your message and taking it to heart. And, ladies and gentlemen -- and, yes, young people as well -- I promise you that the President hears you now and stands with you in a cause that must be won. God bless you all, and God bless life.
  • I think a noble goal for this country is that every child, born and unborn, ought to be protected in law and welcomed into life.
    • George W. Bush, U.S. Presidential debate in Boston (October 1, 2000).
  • We must appreciate the dignity of life in all its seasons, even the path of the elderly in the twilight of their years, to work toward the day when every child, born and unborn, is welcomed to life and protected by law.
    • George W. Bush, to the Catholic Press Association Convention, (May 26, 2000).
  • Last year Cardinal O'Connor said, 'It is my very sincere prayer that if I live for a week, if I live for twenty years, my last breath will be in support for the sacredness of every human life.' As a country, we too, must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence.
    • George W. Bush, to the Catholic Press Association Convention, (May 26, 2000).
  • Q: Consider the case of a mature woman, 48 years of age and aware both of her biological clock and her church's teachings, who still decides on an abortion. Whose decision is that — under God? Who has the final call?
    Bush: You know, I would hope that the person would make a decision to put the child up for adoption.
    Q: So you think banning abortion would work. Would not those women with the means simply head for Canada for the procedure? How can you stop women from getting an abortion if they want one?
    Bush: You can't. You can't...You're asking me, as the president, would I understand reality? I do. I think the key is to change the culture. The role of the president is to set a tone and to appreciate life. I want the goal for America to be that born and unborn children be protected in law and welcomed to life. That's a goal. That's the ideal world. And that's exactly where I intend to lead.
  • Roe v. Wade was wrong because it 'usurped the power of the legislatures,' Bush said. 'I felt like it was a case where the court took the place of what legislatures should do in America,' he said. But Bush refused to say how he felt each state should act. Instead, he said that when it comes to legalizing abortion, 'it should be up to each legislature.'
  • Those of us who are pro-choice are also, passionately, pro-life. Most of us love babies, love children, and love our liberty—not to mention loving sex and our right to have it when, how, and with whomever we choose.
    • Rachel Kramer Bussel, "I'm Pro-Choice and I Fuck", Village Voice, January 13, 2006
  • I'm pro-choice because I couldn't fully enjoy sex were I consumed with worry about the potential consequences. I'm pro-choice for all my friends who've had abortions and gone on to do great things, who are better women for being childless (for now). I'm pro-choice for the new moms and dads I know who were able to actively choose to become parents. I'm pro-choice for all those babies... born knowing they're 100 percent loved and wanted.
    • Rachel Kramer Bussel, "I'm Pro-Choice and I Fuck", Village Voice, January 13, 2006

C

  • [Freelance contributor Jack Hitt's] cover story on abortion in El Salvador in The New York Times Magazine on April 9 contained. . . a dramatic account of how Ms. Climaco received the [30-year jail] sentence [for homicide] after her pregnancy had been aborted after 18 weeks. It turns out, however, that trial testimony convinced a court in 2002 that Ms. Climaco’s pregnancy had resulted in a full-term live birth, and that she had strangled the 'recently born'. . . One thing is clear to me, at this point, about the key example of Carmen Climaco. Accuracy and fairness were not pursued with the vigor Times readers have a right to expect.
    • Byron Calame, New York Times Public Editor (ombudsman), in his column Truth, Justice, Abortion and the Times Magazine[10] (December 31, 2006)
  • 90% of illegal abortions are being done by physicians. Call them what you will, abortionists or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such; . . . They must do a pretty good job if the death rate is as low as it is . . . Abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being done well by physicians.
    • Mary Calderone, founder of SIECUS and medical director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, "Illegal abortion as a public health problem," American Journal of Public Health, July 1960
  • They can be born breathing and crying at 19 weeks’ gestation. . . I am not anti-abortion, but as far as I am concerned this is sub-standard medicine. . . If viability is the basis on which they set the 24-week limit for abortion, then the simplest answer is to change the law and reduce the upper limit to 18 weeks.
    • Stuart Campbell, former professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at London's St. George’s hospital commenting on the government's Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) report that 50 babies a year are born alive in the UK after botched National Health Service abortions, as reported by London's The Sunday Times, November 27, 2005 [11]
  • I think the fear in the [abortion rights] movement is if we admit abortion is hard for some women, then we're admitting that it's wrong, which is totally not the case. I've heard from women who are having problems dealing with their abortion who are still ardently pro-choice.
    • Rosemary Candelario, director of Massachusetts Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, September 2001
  • 300 Dollars that's the price of living what? / Mommy I don't like this clinic / Hopefully you'll make the right decision / And don't go through with the Knife incision
    • Nick Cannon, hip hop artist and comedian, describing his mother's choice not to abort him, in Can I Live?, 2005
  • I know that the fetus is alive during the process most of the time because I can see fetal heartbeat on the ultrasound. . . I think brain death would occur because the suctioning to remove contents is only two or three seconds, so somewhere in that period of time, obviously not when you penetrate the skull, because people get shot in the head and they don't die immediately from that, if they are going to die at all, so that probably is not sufficient to kill the fetus, but I think removing the brain contents eventually will. . . My intent in every abortion I have ever done is to kill the fetus and terminate the pregnancy.
    • Leroy Carhart, testifying under oath in 1997 about what he does to facilitate abortion, Asheville Tribune
  • I am LeRoy H. Carhart, and I am an abortionist. . . We're not asking for the right to suck the brains out of every child that walks down the street, we need to continue to offer safe abortions to women who need them to be done.
    • Leroy Carhart, addressing the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Omaha World-Herald (January 2001)
  • Q: Are you currently a member of the Board of Directors for Physicians for Choice, Physicians for Reproductive Health and Choice?
    Carhart: Exactly. I am.
    Q: And are you also on the National Board of Directors of the Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice?
    Carhart: Yes, ma'am. I am.
    Q: Doctor, are you board certified?
    Carhart: No, ma'am. I'm not.
  • This act covers every D&E [dilation and evacuation] that I did. Everything that I do to cause an abortion is an overt act. . . The fetuses are alive at the time of delivery. [There is a heartbeat] very frequently.
    • Leroy Carhart, testifying under oath that language in the partial-birth abortion ban act bans more than just partial-birth abortion, Carhart v. Ashcroft (April 1, 2004).
  • Well, I was telling Ms. Smith at lunch today that, you know, we are talking about a fetus that's not only been dead for 48 hours, but we are talking about a fetus that has been dead for 48 hours in essentially a warming oven or crockpot. It has been kept at a hundred degrees for 48 hours, and if, you know, that's enough, that's enough temperature to cook meat, so we are not only dealing with a fetus that has been dead in my practice, we are dealing with a fetus that's both dead and soft, so it's much more pliable.
    • Leroy Carhart, testifying under oath on the safety of his abortion methods, in a deposition taken for Carhart v. Ashcroft, (April 1, 2004).
  • Prior to 1973 - just think about this for a minute - the laws of America reflected an overwhelming pro-life consensus that children before birth deserve the protection of the law. That consensus was a secular consensus. Those laws were not written by clerics, or in monasteries, or by the great organized religions of America. . . Not unique to our left or to the right, Democrats or Republicans, Liberals or conservatives, it represented the mainstream of America. My friends, it still is the mainstream of America, so don't be fooled. . . The American people have not accepted abortion on demand. . . We cannot become comfortable with it, because it's fundamentally contrary to what we believe as Americans. . . Every poll shows a vast and growing unease with the abortion license and the industry that serves it. I believe a pro-life consensus already exists in America. And it grows every time someone looks in a sonogram.
    • Robert Casey, prominent Democrat and former governor of Pennsylvania, addressing students at Notre Dame University, 1995
  • If you haven't seen what abortion does, then you will never understand what abortion actually is.
    • Clenard Howard Childress, Jr., Life Education And Resource Network
  • Abortion is the greatest deception that has plagued the black church since Lucifer himself.
    • Clenard Howard Childress, Jr., Life Education And Resource Network
  • Between 1882 and 1968, 3,446 Blacks were lynched in the U.S. That number is surpassed in less than 3 days by abortion. 1,452 African-American children are killed each day by the heinous act of abortion. 3 out of 5 pregnant African-American women will abort their child. Since 1973 there has been over 13 million Black children killed and their precious mothers victimized by the U.S. abortion.
    • Clenard Howard Childress, Jr.
  • You're not going to get the answers from holy texts. You're not going to the answers from biologists. These are matters of human concern. There are conflicting values and taken in isolation each of these values is quite legitimate. Choice is legitimate, preserving life is legitimate.
    • Noam Chomsky, linguist and political writer, from interview in documentary film Lake of Fire [12]
  • Our whole life can go on in observation of the laws of nature, if we gain dominion over our desires from the beginning and if we do not kill, by various means of a perverse art, the human offspring, born according to the designs of divine providence; for these women who, if order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs which expel the child completely dead, abort at the same time their own human feelings.
  • I am opposed to abortion and to government funding of abortions. We should not spend state funds on abortions because so many people believe abortion is wrong.
    • Bill Clinton, now in favor of legalized abortion, in a letter to Arkansas Right to Life, (September 26, 1986).
  • How is the person who considers abortion to be murder any different from the Pole who knew what was going to happen at Auschwitz? If the Pole was morally obligated to attempt to save lives, isn’t the person who opposes abortion under the same obligation?
    • B.D. Colen, The Anti-Abortion High Ground
  • If Americans support abortion, let's vote. . . Just this past term, in Stenberg vs. Carhart, the court expanded the apocryphal abortion right to an all-new right to stick a fork in the head of a half-born baby.
    • Ann Coulter, lawyer and political commentator , syndicated column (December 28, 2000)
  • Taxes are like abortion, and not just because both are grotesque procedures supported by Democrats. You're for them or against them. Taxes go up or down; government raises taxes or lowers them. But Democrats will not let the words abortion or tax hikes pass their lips.
    • Ann Coulter, lawyer and political commentator, syndicated column, (February 21, 2002)
  • Liberals' only remaining big issue is abortion because of their beloved sexual revolution. That's their cause: Spreading anarchy and polymorphous perversity. Abortion permits that.
    • Ann Coulter, lawyer and political commentator, Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right, 2002.
  • [T]he abortion patient has a right not only to be rid of the growth, called a fetus, in her body, but also has a right to a dead fetus. . . [I] never have any intention of trying to protect the fetus, if it can be saved. . . as a general principle [t]here should not be a live fetus.
    • Robert Crist, abortion doctor, testifying in federal court in 1980
  • [The few doctors willing to replace those who are retiring are] mostly physicians who have had difficulty establishing regular ob-gyn practices. . . Out of [one abortion practitioner's] first six months of work, there are nine malpractice suits ... After it was apparent the guy was a klutz, they kept using him, and trying to cover for him, because they couldn't find another provider.
    • Robert Crist, abortion doctor, St. Petersburg Times, June 3, 1990.
  • In testimony Wednesday in St. Louis Circuit Court, Crist said that it is not uncommon for second-trimester fetuses to leave the womb feet-first, intact and with their hearts still beating. He sometimes crushes their skulls to get the fetuses out. Other times, he dismembers them.
    • Robert Crist, abortion doctor, paraphrased in the article "Abortion Doctor Gives Graphic Testimony Describing Abortion Procedure", St. Louis Post-Dispatch (May 25, 2000).
  • My friend, O' Lordy / Went to take care of her own body / She got shot down in the road / She looked up before she went / She said 'This isn't really what I meant' / And the daily news said '2 with 1 stone'

D

  • If women must submit to abortion to preserve their lifestyle or career, their economic or social status they are pandering to a system devised and run by men for male convenience.
    • Daphne deJong, feminist author, in Feminism and Abortion: The Great Inconsistency, (January 7, 1978).
  • Until this century, the laws of both Britain and America made women a part of’ their husbands. By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law. . . our law in general considers man and wife one person. The one person was, of course, the husband, who exerted absolute power over his wife and her property. She had no existence and therefore no protection under the law. The only thing a husband could not do was kill her. The earliest feminist battles were fought against the legal chattel status of women. Many feminists were among those who overturned the U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1857, that a black slave was ‘property’ and not entitled to the protection of the Constitution. Feminism totally rejected the concept of ownership in regard to human beings. Yet when the Court ruled in 1973 that the fetus was the property of its mother, and not entitled to the protection of the Constitution, ‘liberated’ women danced in the streets.
    • Daphne deJong, feminist author, in Feminism and Abortion: The Great Inconsistency, (Janury 7, 1978).
  • The food situation in the world is serious enough, it seems to me, to justify an extension of birth control propaganda to include the practice of abortion. There must be a decreasing birth rate for some years to come and all means ought to be employed to bring it about if we are to avoid aggravation of all the evils of over population ... Let us frankly admit that birth control means just what it says and includes both prevention of conception and abortion.
    • Herman Dekker, letter to the Editor (Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood), Birth Control Review (August, 1920).
  • I do think abortion is murder—of a very special and necessary sort. What else would one call the deliberate stilling of a life? And no physician involved with the procedure ever kids himself about that...legalistic distinctions among 'homicide,' 'justified homicide,' 'self-defense,' and 'murder' appear to me a semantic game. What difference does it make what we call it? Those who do it and those who witness its doing know that abortion is the stilling of a life.
    • Magda Denes, abortion advocate, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, "Performing Abortions," Commentary Magazine (October, 1976)
  • 'Forceps, please,' Mr. Smith slaps into his hand what look like oversized ice-cube tongs. Holtzman pushes it into the vagina and tugs. He pulls out something, which he slaps on the instrument table. 'There,' he says, 'A leg. You can always tell fetal size best by the extremities. Fifteen weeks is right in this case.' I turn to Mr. Smith. 'What did he say?' 'He pulled a leg off,' Mr. Smith says. 'Right here.' He points to the instrument table, where there is a perfectly formed, slightly bent leg, about three inches long. It consists of a ripped thigh, a knee, a lower leg, a foot, and five toes. I start to shake very badly, but otherwise I feel nothing. Total shock is painless. 'I have the rib cage now,' Holtzman says, as he slams down another piece of the fetus. 'That's one thing you don't want to leave behind because it acts like a ball valve and infects everything.... There, I've got the head now. Also a piece of the placenta.' I look at the instrument table where next to the leg, and next to a mess he calls the rib cage but that I cannot recognize, there lies a head. It is the smallest human head I have ever seen, but it is unmistakably part of a person.
    • Magda Denes, abortion advocate, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, In Necessity and Sorrow; Life and Death Inside an Abortion Clinic 1978
  • There was not one [abortion practitioner] who at some point in the questioning did not say 'This is murder.'
    • Magda Denes, abortion advocate, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, discussing two years of research done for her 1978 book In Necessity and Sorrow; Life and Death Inside an Abortion Clinic
  • Everybody is right when it comes to the issue of abortion.
    • Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, from interview in documentary film Lake of Fire [13]
  • There's still the shame thing, even among people who are pro-choice ... We are still seen as dirty, even among our own people.
    • Diane Derzis, abortion clinic administrator, Atlanta Joumal Constitution (May 16, 1993).
  • The difference between the way of life and the way of death is great. Therefore, do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.
    • The Didache, book of Christian apostolic teachings, circa 80 A.D.
  • The Way of Death is filled with people who are...murderers of children and abortionists of God's creatures.
    • The Didache, book of Christian apostolic teachings, circa 100
  • now the profile of our country looks a little less hard nosed / but that picket line persisted and that clinic's since been closed / they keep pounding their fists on reality hoping it will break / but I don't think there's a one of us leads a life free of mistakes
  • The fascists are some heavy dudes / They don't really give a damn about life / They just don't want a woman to control her body or have the right to choose / But baby that ain't nothin / They just want a male finger on the button / Because if you say war they will send them to die by the score / Aborting mission should be your volition / But if souter and thomas have their way / You'll be standing in line unable to get welfare while they're out hunting and fishing / It has always been around it will always have a niche / But they'll make it a privilege not a right / Accessible only to the rich / Pro-lifers should dig themselves / Cause life doesn't stop after birth / And to a child born to the unprepared / It might even just get worse.
  • Sonography in connection with induced abortion may have psychological hazards. Seeing a blown-up, moving image of the embryo she is carrying can be distressing to a woman who is about to undergo an abortion, Dr. Sally Faith Dorfman noted. She stressed that the screen should be turned away from the patient.
    • Sally Faith Dorfman, paraphrased in Obstetrics and Gynecology News, editorial (February 15, 1986).
  • To discover that abortion was one of the greatest crime-lowering factors in American history is, needless to say, jarring. It feels less Darwinian than Swiftian; it calls to mind a long ago dart attributed to G. K. Chesterton: when there aren’t enough hats to go around, the problem isn’t solved by lopping off some heads. The crime drop was, in the language of economists, an 'unintended benefit' of legalized abortion. But one need not oppose abortion on moral or religious grounds to feel shaken by the notion of a private sadness being converted into a public good.
    • Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, from the essay Where Have All the Criminals Gone? Want to understand what made the crime rate drop in the 1990s? Look back to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973
  • Observe, O man, and see whether the dog goes after the bitch after she has conceived. Look at the cow or certainly at the mare, and notice whether the bulls or stallions bother them after they are with young. Obviously, they forego the pleasure of intercourse when they sense that they are unable to produce offspring. Therefore, since bulls and dogs and other kinds of animal show such regard for their young, it is men alone, whose teacher was born of the Virgin, who have no fear of destroying and killing their little ones, made in the image of God, just so that they can satisfy their lust. This is the reason why many women practice abortion before their term is complete, or certainly why they discover means of mutilating or damaging the tiny and still fragile limbs of these little ones. And thus, as they are impelled by their incentives to lust, they are first murderers before they become parents.
    • St.Peter Damian, letter 96, Letters 91-122, Fathers of the Church: Medieval Continuation, Owen J. Blum, O.F.M., 1998, Catholic University of America Press, pp. 62-63, ISBN 0813208165 ISBN 9780813208169. Editor's note: “Here we have one of the few references, perhaps the only explicit one, in Damian's letters, to the practices of abortion. And to the horror of post-modern feminists he puts the blame on ‘the many women who practice abortion,’ charging them ‘with being murderers before they became parents.’ This discussion and its context are important evidence from the Central Middle Ages, reflecting the constant opposition of the Church to abortion from the Council of Elvira (ca. 302) to the present.”

E

  • The one regret I have about my own abortions is that they cost money that might otherwise have been spent on something more pleasurable, like taking the kids to movies and theme parks.
    • Barbara Ehrenreich, "Their Dilemma and Mine" (1989), reprinted in The Worst Years of Our Lives (1991)
  • No doctor, for ethical, moral or honest reasons wants to do nothing but abortions...women don't like to do abortions over and over for moral reasons. Sometimes our women doctors become pregnant themselves, which upsets the patients. At the same time, if a woman is carrying a baby, she doesn't like to abort someone else's. We have much more trouble keeping women doctors on the staff than men.
    • Edward Eichner, director of medicine at a Cleveland abortion facility, quoted in Rachel Weeping and Other Essays About Abortion, p.43, 1982
  • [Abortion opponents] love little babies, as long as they're in somebody else's uterus.
    • Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General, Redbook Magazine (August, 1994).

F

  • I remain pro-choice. I am not religious. I am an atheist and a rationalist. The findings did surprise me, but the results appear to be very robust because they persist across a series of disorders and a series of ages. . . . Abortion is a traumatic life event; that is, it involves loss, it involves grief, it involves difficulties. And the trauma may, in fact, predispose people to having mental illness.
    • Professor David M. Fergusson, Christchurch Health and Development Study, commenting on research he directed, interviewed on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (March 1, 2006).[14]
  • When you're a doctor who does these abortions and the leaders of your movement appear before Congress and go on network news and say these procedures are done in only the most tragic of circumstances, how do you think that makes you feel? You know they're primarily done on healthy women and healthy fetuses, and it makes you feel like a dirty little abortionist with a dirty little secret. I think we should tell them the truth, let them vote and move on. In the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along. The abortion-rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it, and so, probably, does everyone else.
    • Ron Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, in "An Abortion Rights Advocate Says He Lied About Procedure", New York Times (February 26, 1997).
  • One of the facts of abortion is that women enter abortion clinics to kill their fetuses. It is a form of killing, you're ending a life.
    • Ron Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, "An Abortion Rights Advocate Says He Lied About Procedure", New York Times, (February 26, 1997).
  • Lively activities [are] observed by ultrasound in the tenth week, when babies rarely pause for more than five minutes.
    • Geraldine Lux Flanagan, Beginning Life 62 (1996).
  • One of the most controversial issues of our time and one in which we share a keen interest is the question of abortion. I have grave concern over the serious moral questions raised by this issue. Each new life is a miracle of creation. To interfere with that creative process is a most serious act. In my view, the Government has a very special role in this regard. Specifically, the Government has a responsibility to protect life--and indeed to provide legal guarantees for the weak and unprotected. It is within this context that I have consistently opposed the 1973 decision of the .Supreme Court. As President, I am sworn to uphold the laws of the land and I intend to carry out this responsibility. In my personal view, however, this court decision was unwise. I said then and I repeat today--abortion on demand is wrong.
  • Three-quarters [of post-abortive women surveyed] said that having a baby would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities, about two-thirds said they could not afford to have a child and half said they did not want to be a single parent or had relationship problems.
    • Aida Torres and Jacqueline Darroch Forrest, "Why Do Women Have Abortions", Family Planning Perpectives, 20 (4) Jul/Aug 1988, pp 169-176 (The bimonthly research journal of The Alan Guttmacher Institute).
  • Victim of rape or incest: 1%
    • Aida Torres and Jacqueline Darroch Forrest, "Why Do Women Have Abortions", Family Planning Perpectives, 20 (4) Jul/Aug 1988, pp 169-176 (The bimonthly research journal of The Alan Guttmacher Institute).
  • Of women who had an abortion at 16 or more weeks' gestation, 71% attributed their delay to not having realized they were pregnant or not having known soon enough the actual gestation of their pregnancy. Almost half were delayed because of trouble in arranging the abortion, usually because they needed time to raise money. One-third did not have an abortion earlier because they were afraid to tell their partner or their parents that they were pregnant.
    • Aida Torres and Jacqueline Darroch Forrest, "Why Do Women Have Abortions", Family Planning Perpectives, 20 (4) Jul/Aug 1988, pp 169-176 (The bimonthly research journal of The Alan Guttmacher Institute).
  • No matter how it is worded or performed, abortion hurts women. This won’t stop until women stand up in unison and say, ‘This is unacceptable. We deserve better.’ Lack of emotional and financial resources are the real undue burden and abortion will never lift that.

G

  • (This) subject lies deeper down in woman’s wrongs than any other...I hesitate not to assert that most of (the responsibility for) this crime lies at the door of the male sex.
    • Matilda Gage, early feminist, in The Revolution (April 9, 1868)
  • Do you think abortion should generally be legal or generally illegal during the second three months of pregnancy?
    • Gallup Poll Question (65% said illegal in July of 1996, 69% said illegal in March of 2000, and 68% said illegal in January of 2003).
  • [I]t seems to me as clear as daylight that abortion would be a crime.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, All Men Are Brothers: The Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi As Told In His Own Words, 165 (1958).
  • For God…has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life…Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.
  • Life is the division of human cells, a process that begins with conception. The [Supreme Court's abortion] ruling was unjust, and it is incumbent on the Congress to correct the injustice. I have always been supportive of pro-life legislation. I intend to remain steadfast on this issue…I believe that the life of the unborn should be protected at all costs.
    • Richard "Dick" Gephardt, U.S. Representative and former Democratic House majority leader, now in favor of legalized abortion, 1984
  • [H]e was sometimes surprised by the anger a late-term abortion can arouse in him. On the one hand, the physician said, he is angry at the woman. 'But paradoxically,' he added, 'I have angry feelings at myself for feeling good about grasping the calvaria [the top of the baby’s head], for feeling good about doing a technically good procedure which destroys a fetus, kills a baby.'
    • D.M. Gianelli, quoting anonymous New Mexico abortion practitioner, in "Abortion providers share inner conflicts," American Medical News, July 12, 1993. [15]
  • [T]here is a growing body of evidence which suggests that increasing use of emergency contraception does not have any effect on the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion.
    • Anna Glasier, director of family planning and well woman services at Lothian Primary Care National Health Service Trust, in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the British Medical Journal, (September 16, 2006)
  • To earlier feminists who had fought for the vote and for fair treatment in the workplace, it had seemed obvious that the ready availability of abortion would facilitate the sexual exploitation of women. Women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton regarded free love, abortion, and easy divorce as disastrous for women and children. They would have regarded women who actively promoted those causes as foolish or deranged.
    • Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University and Vatican official, "The Women of 'Roe v. Wade'", First Things, June/July 2003
  • Anti-choicers have declared war on women. Now it's up to us to fight back. If that means guarding the clinic doors with Uzis, then that's what will have to be done. Just once, I'd like to see someone blow up one of those churches. . . This week is anti-choice week at UB. If you see one of them showing their disgusting videos or playing with toy fetuses, do your part and spit at them. Kick them in the head. . . Their God is worth nothing compared to my body. Abortion is a bit bloody. So is a root canal. It's a fucking operation! If you think abortion is gruesome, you should see childbirth; an ordeal that is ten times more dangerous to a woman's health ... The anti-choice movement is like self-help for them. Too bad there's no 'Fanatics Anonymous' to give them the help they need.
    • Michelle Goldberg, "Rant for Choice", The Spectrum, student paper at the State University of New York at Buffalo (October, 1995)
  • The custom of procuring abortions has reached such appalling proportions in America as to be beyond belief...So great is the misery of the working classes that seventeen abortions are committed in every one hundred pregnancies.
  • During my 11 years in congress, I have consistently opposed federal funding for abortions. In my opinion, it is wrong to spend federal funds for what is arguably taking of a human life. Let me assure you that I share your belief that innocent human life must be protected, and I am committed to furthering this goal.
  • The compelled mother loves her child as the caged bird sings. The song does not justify the cage nor the love the enforcement.
    • Germaine Greer, feminist author and advocate of legal abortion, essay Abortion, The Sunday Times, 21 May 1972
  • It is typical of the contradictions that break women's hearts that when they avail themselves of their fragile right to abortion they often, even usually, went with grief and humiliation to carry out a painful duty that was presented to them as a privilege. Abortion is the latest in a long line of non-choices that begin at the very beginning with the time and the place and the manner of lovemaking.
  • So far it has been assumed that the only pregnancies which are aborted are accidental ones and the only foetuses destroyed those whose mothers could not bear the thought of their becoming children. In a just world this would be the case, but the world is far from just. Too many women are forced to abort by poverty, by their menfolk, by their parents. Poverty has many faces; it may be the poverty of the young, the unmarried, the student, the unemployed, the female or a combination of these.
  • The goal was ‘every child a wanted child’; it should also have been ‘every abortion a wanted abortion’, but the two sides of the phony debate were never to meet.
  • [A]bortion is an integral part of family planning. Theoretically this means abortions at any stage of gestation. Therefore I favor the availability of abortion beyond 20 weeks.
    • David Grundmann, medical director for Planned Parenthood of Australia, in his 1994 academic paper, Abortion After Twenty Weeks in Clinical Practice: Practical, Ethical and Legal Issues

H

  • For those who cannot be educated, sterilization or legalized abortion seems to be the only remedy, for we certainly do not want such stupid people to pollute the race with stupid offspring. The defective conditions of life call urgently for improvement.
    • Norman Haire, letter to the editor, Birth Control Review, (July, 1930)
  • [Talking to friend Veronica, Anita Blake worries she may be pregnant.]
    Ronnie: I could ask, who's the father, but that's just creepy. If you are, then it's this little tiny, microscopic lump of cells. It's not a baby. It's not a person, not yet.
    Anita: We'll have to disagree on that one.
    Ronnie: You're pro-choice.
    Anita: Yep, I am, but I also believe that abortion is taking a life. I agree women have the right to choose, but I also think that it's still taking a life.
    Ronnie: That's like saying you're pro-choice and pro-life. You can't be both.
    Anita: I'm pro-choice because I've never been a fourteen-year-old incest victim pregnant by her father, or a woman who's going to die if the pregnancy continues, or a rape victim, or even a teenager who made a mistake. I want women to have choices, but I also believe that it's a life, especially once it's big enough to live outside the womb.
    • Laurell K Hamilton Danse Macabre (1st ed. ed.). New York: Berkley. pp. pp. 4-5 (of 483). ISBN 0-425-20797-8.  
  • Only now are we beginning to consider ... the concept that the fetus is a patient, an individual.
    • M.R. Harrison, in his popular medical textbook The Unborn Patient: Pre-Natal Diagnosis and Treatment, 1991
  • No one, neither the patient receiving an abortion, nor the person doing the abortion, is ever, at anytime, unaware that they are ending a life...
    • William F. Harrison, abortion doctor, from the essay Why I Provide Abortions 1996
  • Reporter: What led you to develop D & X [dilation and extraction or "partial-birth abortion"]?
    Haskell: D & E's [dilation and evacuation], the procedure typically used for later abortions, have always been somewhat problematic because of the toughness and development of the fetal tissues. . . I just kept doing D & Es because that was what I was comfortable with, up until 24 weeks. But they were very tough. Sometimes it was a 45-minute operation. I noticed that some of the later D & Es were very, very easy. . . You see the easy ones would have a foot length presentation, you'd reach up and grab the foot of the fetus, pull the fetus down and the head would hang up and then you would collapse the head and take it out. It was easy. . . Then I said, `Well gee, if I just put the ultrasound up there I could see it all and I wouldn't have to feel around for it.' I did that and sure enough, I found it 99 percent of the time. Kind of serendipity.
    • Martin Haskell, discussing the invention of his late-term abortion method, Cincinnati Medicine, Fall 1993 (U.S. Congressional Record, 1996, p. H10614)
  • Reporter: [Is] the fetus . . . dead beforehand...?
    Haskell: No, it's really not. . . in my case, I would think probably about a third of those are definitely. . . dead before I actually start to remove the fetus. And probably the other two-thirds are not.
    Reporter: Is the skull procedure also done to make sure that the fetus is dead so you're not going to have the problem of a live birth?
    Haskell: It's immaterial. If you can't get it out, you can't get it out. . . The point here is to effect a safe legal abortion. I mean, you could say the same thing about the D&E [dilation and evacuation] procedure. You know, why do you do the D&E procedure? Why do you crush the fetus up inside the womb? To kill it before you take it out? Well, that happens, yes. But that's not why you do it. You do it to get it out. I could do the same thing with a D&E procedure...But that's not really the point. The point here is you're attempting to do an abortion. And that's the goal of your work, is to complete an abortion. . .
    Reporter: I wanted to make sure I have both you and (Dr.) McMahon saying 'No' then. That this is misinformation, these letters to the editor saying it's only done when the baby's already dead, in case of fetal demise and you have to do an autopsy. But some of them are saying they're getting that information from NAF [National Abortion Federation]. Have you talked to Barbara Radford or anyone over there?
    Haskell: Well, I had heard that they were giving that information, somebody over there might be giving information like that out. The people that staff the NAF office are not medical people. And many of them when I gave my paper, many of them came in, I learned later, to watch my paper because many of them have never seen an abortion performed of any kind.
    Reporter: Did you also show a video when you did that?
    Haskell: Yeah. I taped a procedure a couple of years ago, a very brief video, that simply showed the technique. The old story about a picture's worth a thousand words.
    Reporter: As National Right to Life will tell you.
    Haskell: Afterwards they were just amazed. They just had no idea. And here they're rabid supporters of abortion. They work in the office there. And...some of them have never seen one performed...And I'll be quite frank: most of my abortions are elective in that 20-24 week range...In my particular case, probably 20% are for genetic reasons. And the other 80% are purely elective...
    • Martin Haskell, explaining how his late-term abortion method is used to effect safe abortions, to American Medical News (U.S. Congressional Record, 1996, p. H2919)
  • It's true that abortion providers are perceived as not very good doctors -- that they have no alternative so they do abortions, that they cannot earn a living any other way.
    • Richard Hausknecht, abortion doctor, in "Who Will Do Abortions Here?", New York Times Magazine, January 18, 1998
  • The early feminists found abortion to be the ultimate exploitation of women. [Women had to] become men to compete. We bought into that. We're smarter today. It's more empowering to go through with your pregnancy.
    • Patricia Heaton, Emmy-winning actress, Washington Times, (April 14, 2005)
  • In the 1950s and '60s, there were still states that outlawed birth control, so I started funding court cases to challenge that. At the same time, I helped sponsor the lower-court cases that eventually led to Roe v. Wade. We were the amicus curiae in Roe v. Wade. I was a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism. That's a part of history very few people know.
    • Hugh Hefner, Esquire MagazineThe Meaning of Life: Wit, Wisdom, and Wonder from 65 Extraordinary People, Brendan Vaughan, 2004, p. 55. ISBN 1588162613 ISBN 9781588162618 [16] (Originally published as: What I've Learned: Hugh Hefner, Philosopher king, 76, Los Angeles, By Wil S. Hylton, Esquire Magazine, June 1, 2002).
  • [T]his is indeed another kind of holocaust, by another name. At last count, more than 40 million unborn children have been deliberately, intentionally destroyed. What word adequately defines the scope of such slaughter? [After 9/11] the American people responded with shock, sadness and a deep and righteous anger — and rightly so. Yet let us not forget that every passing day in our country, more than three thousand innocent Americans are killed [through abortion].
    • Jesse Helms, former U.S. Senator, in his autobiography Here's Where I Stand, 2005
  • Nearly ten years ago I declared myself a pro-lifer. A Jewish, atheist, civil libertarian, left-wing pro-lifer. Immediately, three women editors at The Village Voice, my New York base, stopped speaking to me. Not long after, I was invited to speak on this startling heresy at Nazareth College in Rochester (long since a secular institution). Two weeks before the lecture, it was canceled. The women on the lecture committee, I was told by the embarrassed professor who had asked me to come, had decided that there was a limit to the kind of speech the students could safely hear, and I was outside that limit.
    • Nat Hentoff, Jewish atheist leftist pro-lifer, Pro-choice bigots: a view from the pro-life left (November 30, 1992)
  • In medical practice, there are few surgical procedures given so little attention and so underrated in its potential hazard as abortion.
    • Warren Hern, abortion practitioner and author of Abortion Practice (1990), the textbook most widely used in the United States to teach abortion to medical personnel
  • The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current.
    • Warren Hern, abortion doctor, at the Associations of Planned Parenthood Physicians meeting, San Diego, October 26, 1978
  • Television interviews in particular should focus on the public issue involved (right to confidential and professional medical care, freedom of choice and so forth) and not on the specific details of the procedure.
    • Warren Hern, excerpted from his medical textbook Abortion Practice, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1984
  • The procedure changes significantly at 21 weeks because fetal tissues become much more cohesive and difficult to dismember.
    • Warren Hern, excerpted from his medical textbook Abortion Practice, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1984
  • A long curved Mayo scissors may be necessary to decapitate and dismember the fetus.
    • Warren Hern, excerpted from his medical textbook Abortion Practice, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1984
  • The aggregate fetal tissue is weighed, then the following fetal parts are measured, foot length, knee to heel length, and biparietal diameter.
    • Warren Hern, excerpted from his medical textbook Abortion Practice, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1984
  • Vital signs should be observed regularly, and a Doppler [for listening to the fetal heartbeat] inaudible to the patient should be used at intervals to determine the presence or absence of fetal heart tones. This [informed consent] is a controversial area, but most professionals in the field feel that it is not advisable for patients to view the products of conception, to be told the sex of the fetus, or to be informed of a multiple pregnancy.
    • Warren Hern, excerpted from his medical textbook Abortion Practice, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1984
  • Most physicians regard abortion as a stigmatized operation done by people who are otherwise incompetent and can't do anything else.
    • Warren Hern, abortion practitioner, American Medical News, September 5, 1994
  • [T]he partial birth procedure is a particularly awful form of abortion....Anyone reading about or seeing pictures of this procedure is confronted with the terrible reality of what is happening....partial birth abortion is one-fifth abortion and four-fifths infanticide.
  • I'm standing for a principal. I'm willing to die for the principal. I consider it a great honor to die, possibly die, for having defended innocent human beings. . . . What I did I believe was an inalienable right or duty. You don't have to ask the government (for) permission to defend your unborn child or your neighbor's unborn child. And if we want that duty to be recognized we have to assert it.
    • Paul Hill, September 3, 2003 (Hill was executed on September 3, 2003 for murdering an abortionist).
  • I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.
  • Reputed believers began to resort to drugs for producing Sterility and to gird themselves round, so as to expel what was conceived on account of their not wanting to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time.

I

  • The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.
  • Kathy Ireland: Show me some evidence it's not a human being.
    Bill Maher: Let me reverse that. Tell me the evidence it is a human.
    Kathy Ireland: A moment after conception the genetic blueprint is complete. We have our blood type, our fingerprints, the sex is determined at the moment of conception. We know it is life. What kind of life is it? According to the laws of biogenesis, all life comes from preexisting life. Each species reproduces after its own kind. So human beings can only reproduce other human beings.
    • Kathy Ireland, supermodel, appearing on Bill Maher's television show Politically Incorrect, 2/28/2000
  • I was once pro-choice and the thing that changed my mind was, I read my husband’s biology books, medical books, and what I learned . . . At the moment of conception, a life starts. And this life has its own unique set of DNA, which contains a blueprint for the whole genetic make-up. The sex is determined. We know there is a life because it is growing and changing.
    • Kathy Ireland, supermodel, appearing on the television show Politically Incorrect, 5/1/1998

J

  • There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of [a] higher order than the right to life ... that was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside your right to be concerned.
    • Jesse Jackson, U.S. civil rights activist, now in favor of legal abortion, in National Right to Life News, (January, 1977)
  • What happens to the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of a person and what kind of a society will we have 20 years hence if life can be taken so casually? It is that question, the question of our attitude, our value system, and our mind-set with regard to the nature and worth of life itself that is the central question confronting mankind. Failure to answer that question affirmatively may leave us with a hell right here on earth.
    • Jesse Jackson, U.S. civil rights activist, now in favor of legal abortion, in National Right to Life News, (January, 1997)
  • Another area that concerns me greatly, namely because I know how it has been used with regard to race, is the psycholinguistics involved in this whole issue of abortion. If something can be dehumanized through the rhetoric used to describe it, then the major battle has been won. . . That is why the Constitution called us three-fifths human and then whites further dehumanized us by calling us niggers. It was part of the dehumanizing process. The first step was to distort the image of us as human beings in order to justify that which they wanted to do. . . Those advocates of taking life prior to birth do not call it killing or murder; they call it abortion. They further never talk about aborting a baby because that would imply something human. Rather they talk about aborting the fetus. Fetus sounds less than human and therefore can be justified.
    • Jesse Jackson, U.S. civil rights activist, now in favor of legal abortion, in National Right to Life News, (January, 1997)
  • The care of human life and not its destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.
  • They drink potions to ensure sterility and are guilty of murdering a human being not yet conceived. Some, when they learn that they are with child through sin, practice abortion by the use of drugs. Frequently they die themselves and are brought before the rulers of the lower world guilty of three crimes: suicide, adultery against Christ, and murder of an unborn child.
  • Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? Where there are many efforts at abortion? Where there is murder before the birth? For you do not even let the harlot remain a mere harlot, but make her a murderer also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather something even worse than murder. For I have no real name to give it, since it does not destroy the thing born but prevents its being born. Why then do you abuse the gift of God and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the place of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter?
  • The cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn.
  • It is not possible to speak of the right to choose when a clear moral evil is involved, whan what is at stake is the commandment, Do not kill!
    • Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1994), The Defence of Every Life
  • America first proclaimed its independence on the basis of self-evident moral truths. America will remain a beacon of freedom for the world as long as it stands by those moral truths which are the very heart of its historical experience. And so America: If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life.
  • The public has a right to know whether abortion methods are being altered to obtain organs, whether live births sometimes occur during such procedures, and whether baby body parts are being sold for profit.
  • The law, moreover enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind.

K

  • It is plain, therefore, that the primary force behind retention of the abortion laws is belief that it is immoral. One of the serious moral objections is based on the view that the unborn foetus, even in its early stages of development, has an independent claim to life equivalent to that of a developed human being. Even those holding this judgment, however, can scarcely ignore the hard fact that abortion laws do not work to stop abortion, except for those too poor and ignorant to avail themselves of black-market alternatives, and that the consequence of their retention is probably to sacrifice more lives of mothers than the total number of foetuses saved by the abortion laws.
    • Sanford Kadish, professor of law, University of California, Berkeley, in (November 1967)"The Crisis of Overcriminalization". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 374: 157-170.
  • At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life....[P]eople have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail…. We conclude the line should be drawn at viability, so that, before that time, the woman has a right to choose to terminate her pregnancy....[T]here is no line other than viability which is more workable. To be sure, as we have said, there may be some medical developments that affect the precise point of viability, but this is an imprecision within tolerable limits....A husband has no enforceable right to require a wife to advise him before she exercises her personal choices.
  • The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn from limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off.
  • We are referred to substantial medical authority that [partial-birth abortion] perverts the natural birth process to a greater degree than [D&E], commandeering the live birth process until the skull is pierced. Witnesses to the procedure relate that the fingers and feet of the fetus are moving prior to the piercing of the skull; when the scissors are inserted in the back of the head, the fetus' body, wholly outside the woman's body and alive, reacts as though startled and goes limp. [Partial-birth abortion]'s stronger resemblance to infanticide means Nebraska could conclude the procedure presents a greater risk of disrespect for life and a consequent greater risk to the profession and society, which depend for their sustenance upon reciprocal recognition of dignity and respect. The Court is without authority to second-guess this conclusion.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) 'could identify no circumstances under which [partial-birth abortion] would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.' The American Medical Association agrees....
  • While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized -- the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.
    • Edward “Ted” Kennedy, U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate, now in favor of legalized abortion, in a letter to a constituent, 8/3/1971 [17]
  • I share the confidence of those who feel that America is working to care for its unwanted as well as wanted children, protecting particularly those who cannot protect themselves. I also share the opinions of those who do not accept abortion as a response to our society's problems -- an inadequate welfare system, unsatisfactory job training programs, and insufficient financial support for all its citizens.
  • When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.

L

  • 'If you won't stand up for your own child, somebody has to.' He believed it, and he was convinced it was God's view. It made sense to him. But he also knew she could reject it out of hand simply because he was a man. How could he understand? No one was suggesting what he could or could not do with his own body. He had wanted to tell her he understood that, but again, what if that unborn child was a female? Who was standing up for the rights of that woman's body?
  • It is beyond comprehension why a group of rabbis would support partial-birth abortion. . . The message of the Torah is one of life. Abortion on demand is simply intolerable in the Jewish tradition. To sanction something so heinous as partial-birth abortion is proof of a culture of death standing in marked opposition to the Torah’s ethic of life. . . Rather than work against Judeo-Christian moral principles, as these rabbis are doing, it is incumbent upon Jews to ally with Christians in upholding the moral principles we have in common. . . Together, we must actively oppose partial birth abortion.
    • Daniel Lapin, in a press release issued by his organization, Toward Tradition, (September 18, 2000)
  • [O]ne of the greatest sages of Jewish Law of the late 20th century, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, unequivocally described abortion as a form of murder, albeit a form that is exempt from capital punishment. But those of us faithful to our tradition have obviously failed to persuade our fellow Jews that abortion equals murder.
    • Daniel Lapin, in Weeping About our Families, (February 24, 2001)
  • We lived our dreams and challenged fate / In tears she told me she was late / Then Sally let his pigeons out to fly / She left one night with just a nod / Was lost in some back alley job / I close my eyes and Sally's pigeons fly
  • The preservation of life seems to be rather a slogan than a genuine goal of the anti-abortion forces: what they want is control. Control over behavior: power over women. Women in the anti-choice movement want to share in male power over women, and do so by denying their own womanhood, their own rights and responsibilities.
    • Ursula K. Le Guin, Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places (1997)
  • At two months of age, the human being is less than one thumb's length from the head to the rump. He would fit at ease in a nutshell, but everything is there: hands, feet, head, organs, brain, all are in place. His heart has been beating for a month already . . . . With a good magnifier the fingerprints could be detected.
    • Jerome Lejeune, Professor of Fundamental Genetics, University Rene Descartes, testimony on The Human Life Bill, S. 158: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Separation of Powers of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Cong., 1st Sess. 7-10 (1981).
  • Atheism, Gay Marriage, Intermarriage, Non-Kosher Food, Partial-Birth Abortion - all of these are legitimate mainstream ideas within Reform 'Judaism.' Judaism has lost more Jews through the efforts of Reform than through Hitler's gas ovens.
    • Yehuda Levin, in Fooling America's Jews, (November 16, 1997)
  • The third party killing of a fetus with malice aforethought is murder . . . as long as the state can show that the fetus has progressed beyond the embryonic stage of seven to eight weeks.
  • Given the National Organization for Women’s membership and proclivities, it’s no wonder that people now view the NOW gang as being obsessed with only two issues: abortion rights and lesbian rights.
  • I prefer to call the most obnoxious feminists what they really are: feminazis. The term describes any female who is intolerant of any point of view that challenges militant feminism. I often use it to describe women who are obsessed with perpetuating a modern-day holocaust: abortion.
  • A feminazi is a woman to whom the most important thing in life is seeing to it that as many abortions as possible are performed. Their unspoken reasoning is quite simple. Abortion is the single greatest avenue for militant women to exercise their quest for power and advance their belief that men aren’t necessary. 'Nothing matters but me', says the feminazi...the fetus doesn't matter, it's an unviable tissue mass. Feminazis have adopted abortion as a kind of sacrament for their religion/politics of alienation and bitterness.
  • FREE ABORTIONS for Hurricane Katrina Survivors - At LRFPS [Little Rock Family Planning Services] we are offering abortions at no charge to victims of Hurricane Katrina. In order to receive this service you MUST have a government issued picture ID showing your home address in the following counties/parishes: Jackson, Harrison, and Hancock - Mississippi. Orleans, Kenner, Plaquemines, St. Tammany, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Charles, Terrabone, and St. James - Louisiana.
    • Little Rock Family Planning Services, appearing on the homepage of the internet website of LRFPS on October 2, 2005.[26]
  • Having a baby and giving it up for adoption, as pro-life people advocate, is not seen by most pro-choice people as a moral solution to the abortion problem. To transform a fetus into a baby and then send it out into a world where the parents can have no assurance that it will be well-loved and cared for is, for pro-choice people, the height of moral irresponsibility.
  • A group of women who valued motherhood, but valued it on their own timetable, began to make a new claim, one that had never surfaced in the abortion debate before this, that abortion was a woman's right. Most significantly, they argued that this right to abortion was essential to their right to equality -- the right to be treated as individuals rather than as potential mothers.
  • Reasonable people who are located in very different parts of the social world find themselves differentially exposed to diverse realities, and this differential exposure leads each of them to come up with different -- but often equally reasonable -- constructions of the world. Similarly, even deeply devout religious people, because they too are located in different parts of the social world and, furthermore, come from different religious and cultural traditions, can disagree about what God's will is in any particular situation. When combined with the fact that attitudes toward abortion rest on these deep, rarely examined notions about the world, it is unambiguously clear why the abortion debate is so heated and why the chances for rational discussion, reasoned arguments, and mutual accomodation are so slim.
  • Pro-choice and pro-life activists live in different worlds, and the scope of their lives, as both adults and children, fortifies them in their belief that their own views on abortion are the more correct, the more moral, and more reasonable. When added to this is the fact that should 'the other side' win, one group of women will see they very real devaluation of their lives and life resources, it is not surprising that the abortion debate has generated so much heat and so little light.
  • ...The fact that only poor women are denied reproductive freedom when abortions are illegal is unpersuasive to those who oppose abortion on moral grounds.
  • In short, there are no empirical grounds for assuming that women have an à priori preference for contraception over abortion.
    • Kristin Luker, Taking Chances: Abortion and the Decision Not to Contracept (1975)

M

  • The cruel irony is that abortion has been presented as something that would set a woman free. This brings to mind the gypsy in Verdi's opera Il Trovatore. Outraged by the count's cruel injustice, she stole his infant son and, in a crazed act of vengeance, flung him into the fire. Or so she thought. For, in turning around, she discovered the count's son lay safe on the ground behind her; it was her own son she had thrown into the flames. Abortion can present itself as glittering liberty, a defiant way to cast off the shackles of injustice. That illusion lasts only until you realize who it was that you threw into the flames. So the second point to make when trying to persuade is that abortion hurts women; it does not deliver on its promise to liberate them.
  • When we question whether someone is a person, it is because we want to kill him. We do this with our enemies in wartime, or with anyone we would like to enslave or exploit. Before we can feel comfortable treating others this way, we have to expel them from the human community. But there's just no logical reason to expel the unborn.
    • Frederica Matthewes-Green, "Personhood of the Unborn", on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, (January 21, 1998)
  • People may believe the soul doesn't appear till six months, or departs at 42 years, or takes alternate Tuesdays off. It's fine for people to believe whatever they want, but they can't use these beliefs to write laws that justify killing. Being unique, alive, and human is qualification enough to be part of our human family.
    • Frederica Matthewes-Green, "Personhood of the Unborn", on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, (January 21, 1998)
  • I have some bad news: the abortion debate is over. I have some good news: it's reemerging transformed. This moment of silence may have been necessary for hardened hearts to hear the whisper of conscience. Pro-choice leaders mourn that disapproval of abortion is rising, while their own troops are graying. The average member of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) is 55, while college freshmen have dropped their support for legalized abortion from 65% to 51% since 1990. A 1996 poll found those most likely to agree that 'abortion is the same thing as murdering a child'--a stunning 56%-- are between the ages of 18 and 29. No wonder young people oppose abortion. Anyone under the age of 27 could have been killed this way. A third of their generation was.
  • We have treated the loss of our fetuses as a theoretical loss, a sad-but-necessary loss, as of civilians in wartime. We have not yet realized that the offspring lost are not the enemy's, nor our neighbor's, but our own. And it is not a loss of inert, amorphous tissue, but of a growing being unique in history.
  • No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.
  • It was my pseudonym, Jane Roe, which had been used to create the 'right' to abortion out of legal thin air. But Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffey never told me that what I was signing would allow women to come up to me 15, 20 years later and say, 'Thank you for allowing me to have my five or six abortions. Without you, it wouldn't have been possible.' Sarah never mentioned women using abortions as a form of birth control. We talked about truly desperate and needy women, not women already wearing maternity clothes.
    • Norma McCorvey, testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism and Property Rights (January 21, 1998)
  • One of my most important activities is that I am involved, together with Sandra Cano of Doe vs. Bolton, in the efforts of the Texas Justice Foundation (and other groups) to work for the reversal of the Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton decisions. The approach we are taking is to show that the lives and rights of women have not been advanced or enhanced, but rather destroyed, by abortion-on-demand. We are collecting affidavits from women who have been harmed by abortion, from women who are convinced that authentic feminism is pro-life, and from professionals who know that Roe has weakened the moral fabric of the legal and medical professions.
  • Most of the patients come to our abortion clinic as a result of failure of a birth control method, or a failure of our system to provide birth control.
    • Clayton H. McCracken, director of Inter Mountain Planned Parenthood, Fall 2000
  • Once you decide the uterus must be emptied, you then have to have 100% allegiance to maternal risk. There's no justification to doing a more dangerous procedure because somehow this doesn't offend your sensibilities as much.
    • James T. McMahon, American Medical News (U.S. Congressional Record, 1996, p. H10634)
  • If I see a case...after 20 weeks, where it frankly is a child to me, I really agonize over it because the potential is so imminently there. I think, 'Gee, it's too bad that this child couldn't be adopted.' On the other hand, I have another position, which I think is superior in the hierarchy of questions, and that is: 'Who owns the child?' It's got to be the mother.
    • James T. McMahon, American Medical News (July 5, 1993)
  • We think abortion is a bad thing. No woman wants to have an abortion.
    • Kate Michelman, then Executive Director of National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, in a taped Philadelphia Inquirer interview 1993
  • The fact is that late term abortions are exceedingly rare. They are performed only when necessary to preserve a woman's health or life, or when a woman is carrying a fetus with lethal anomalies, many of which would die soon after birth. Again, the fact is that these abortions, these terminations are compelled by life and, life and health reasons and grave fetal abnormalities.
    • Kate Michelman, President, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League [NARAL], at a news conference, (November 7, 1995).
  • [Late-term abortions] are rare terminations, Tony [Snow]. They occur very rarely. They occur under the most difficult of circumstances, as I said...these are pregnancies that have gone awry.
    • Kate Michelman, NARAL President, on FOX News Sunday, (June 2, 1996)
  • But late-term abortions are only used under the most compelling of circumstances--to protect a woman's health or life or because of grave fetal abnormality.
    • Kate Michelman, NARAL President, the Washington Times (June 16, 1996)
  • And, by the way, my belief is that if men were the ones getting pregnant, abortions would be easier to get than food poisoning in Moscow.
  • Some women take medicines to destroy the germ of future life in their own bodies. They commit infanticide before they have given birth to the infant.
  • Abortion may be sinful or immoral, but it is not the function of the law to enforce the whole of morality. It is difficult to understand what religious or moral principle, what divine or human purpose, is served by compelling underprivileged women to undergo pregnancy for the full term and to bear unsought and frequently unwanted children or to risk sickness or death at the hands of incompetent and frequently lecherous and importunate abortionists. No doubt the fact that the price of maintaining this principle is paid almost exclusively by the poor has delayed its critical examination.
    • Norval Morris and Gordon Hawkins, The Honest Politician's Guide to Crime Control, 1970
  • The sanctity of life is often also taken to refer to the life of "the unborn child." Yet the use of this expression is as if we referred to the reader as "an adult fetus." To say that a fertilized ovum or an embryo is a human being and therefore entitled to the full protection of the law is a prejudicial abuse of language. Nor do those who take this position ever maintain it consistently, for they never embrace the logical corollary which is that all abortive operations are murders and should be so treated in law.
    • Norval Morris and Gordon Hawkins, The Honest Politician's Guide to Crime Control, 1970

N

  • I don’t think government has the proper role in forcing a woman to have a child or forcing a woman not to have a child. And we’ve seen that around the world. This is something that should be privately decided with the family, woman, all the other private factors of it, but we should work toward preventing the necessity of abortion.
  • As we walked through the door, so accusing their eyes, like they have any right at all to criticize; hypocrites we're all here for the very same reason
    • Anna Nalick, Breathe (Popular Song)
  • Fewer women would have abortions if wombs had windows.
    • Bernard Nathanson, former abortion doctor turned pro-life, in his book Aborting America, 1979
  • The practice of abortion was revolutionized at virtually the same moment that the laws were revolutionized, through the widespread introduction of suction curettage in 1970. Even without a suction machine, a simple combination of catheter and syringe can produce enough suction to carry out a safe early abortion. As for the self-induced abortion, by thrusting a coat hanger or other dangerous object into the womb, this will also be a thing of the past.
  • In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - Hurricane Katrina victims can call the NAF [National Abortion Federation] toll-free hotline to speak with professional hotline operators. . . Many NAF member clinics throughout the country are offering free [abortions] or significantly reduced fees for [abortions] for women from the disaster regions. . . Donations to our Hotline Assistance Fund will allow us to provide the financial assistance desperately needed by women affected by Hurricane Katrina.
  • RU-486 is properly called an 'abortifacient.' Because it is a drug that can induce a menstrual period after the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, it can terminate a woman's pregnancy in its earliest stages.
  • The right to life, inherent in each of the inhabitants of the nation and the world, is the principal axis of human rights and, therefore, merits the determined attention of the government.
  • At eight weeks, the danger of a miscarriage . . . diminishes sharply.
  • Child murderers practice their profession without let or hindrance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned...Is there no remedy for all this ante-natal child murder?...Perhaps there will come a time when...an unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood...and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with.

O

  • The poor cry out for justice and equality, and we respond with legalized abortion. I believe that in a society that permits the life of even one individual to be dependent on whether that life is ‘wanted’ or not, all its citizens stand in danger...We do not have equal opportunities. Abortion is a cruel way out.
    • Graciela Olivarez, Chicana civil rights and anti-poverty activist, 1972
  • I am in no position to judge other women, you know. But I mean, why did she get pregnant? It's not good for women to go through the procedure [abortion] and have something living sucked out of their bodies. It belittles women. Even though some women say, 'Oh, I don't mind to have one,' every time a woman has an abortion, it just crushes her self-esteem smaller and smaller and smaller.

P

  • People are interested in having babies; they're just not interested in having 15 babies. The average American woman spends 23 years of her life preventing pregnancy. No one's going 23 years not having sex.
    • Cristina Page, author of How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex, as quoted in "I'm Pro-Choice and I Fuck", Rachel Kramer Bussel, Village Voice January 13, 2006
  • Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.
    • Alice Paul, author of the 1923 U.S. Equal Rights Amendment
  • Responsible parenthood involves decades devoted to the child's proper nurture. To sentence a woman to bear a child against her will is an unspeakable violation of her rights: her right to liberty (to the functions of her body), her right to the pursuit of happiness, and, sometimes, her right to life itself, even as a serf. Such a sentence represents the sacrifice of the actual to the potential, of a real human being to a piece of protoplasm, which has no life in the human sense of the term. It is sheer perversion of language for people who demand this sacrifice to call themselves 'right-to-lifers.'
  • Is birth control an abortion? Definitely not; an abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun.
  • Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas is working closely with Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta (PPLAMD) to ensure that individuals from Louisiana can continue to get birth control and other reproductive health services [including abortion] during the current crisis.
  • Do you think abortion is tragic and terrible and wrong, that Roe v. Wade went too far and that the prochoice movement is elitist, unfeeling, overbearing, overreaching and quite possibly dead? In the current debate over abortion, that makes you a prochoicer. As the nation passes the thirty-third anniversary of Roe, it is hard to find anyone who will say a good word in public for abortion rights, let alone for abortion itself. Abortion has become a bit like flag-burning -- something that offends all right-thinking people but needs to be legal for reasons of abstract principle ('choice'). Unwanted pregnancy has become like, I don't know, smoking crack: the mark of a weak, undisciplined person of the lower orders. On the New York Times op-ed page, William Saletan argues that prochoicers should concede that 'abortion is bad, and the ideal number of abortions is zero,' and calls for 'an explicit pro-choice war on the abortion rate.' Sounding a "clear anti-abortion message,' prochoicers should promote a basket of 'solutions' to unintended pregnancy: the Prevention First Act, which calls for federal funding for family planning programs; expanded access to health insurance and emergency contraception; comprehensive sex education. 'Some pro-choice activists' are even 'pushing for more contraceptive diligence in the abortion counseling process, especially on the part of those women who come back for a second abortion.' Give those sluts the lecture they deserve. . . .[T]here's another problem. Inevitably, attacking abortion as a great evil means attacking providers and patients. If abortion is so bad, why not stigmatize the doctors who perform them? Deny the clinic a permit in your town? Make women feel guilty and ashamed for choosing it and make them sweat so they won't screw up again? Ironically, improvements in contraception have made unwanted pregnancy look more like a personal failing. 'Why was I so careful? Because I never wanted to have an abortion,' wrote 32-year-old Laurie Gigliotti in response to Saletan's op-ed, describing her super-vigilant approach to safe sex. You can just see how unwanted pregnancy will join obesity and smoking as unacceptable behavior in polite society. But how is all this censoriousness supposed to help women control their fertility? If half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it doesn't make sense to treat them as individual sins.
    • Katha Pollitt, "Subject to Debate" column in The Nation (February 5, 2006).
  • We are always told that violent anti-choicers are a mere fringe. Obviously, few anti-choicers commit murder or arson. But, as the Matthew Shepard case reminds us, extreme vocabulary creates a climate of moral permission for extreme acts. This is a movement whose main spokespeople, many of them mantled in clerical or political authority, regularly use words like 'baby killers', 'murder', 'holocaust', and 'Nazis', thus legitimizing just about anything. After all, the conspirators who tried to assassinate Hitler are heroes.
    • Katha Pollitt, "Subject to Debate" column in The Nation (November 16, 1998), reprinted in 2001.
  • Young women need to know that abortion rights and abortion access are not presents bestowed or retracted by powerful men (or women) -- Presidents, Supreme Court justices, legislators, lobbyists -- but freedoms won, as freedom always is, by people struggling on their own behalf.
    • Katha Pollitt, "Subject to Debate" column in The Nation (May 1, 2000)reprinted in 2001.
  • What would the alternative be? Abortion by prayer? By edict? Upon seeking consensus? After groveling? Women have thought long and hard about this decision before they ever get to my clinic. In fact, most of them have been agonizing for days or even weeks, some to the extent of rescheduling their appointments several times.
    • Suzanne T. Poppema, discussing the phrase "abortion on demand", in Why I Am An Abortion Doctor (1996)
  • In the case of an unwanted pregnancy, the existential choice for a woman is not abortion vs. no abortion, but, as [Garrett Hardin] has pointed out, abortion vs. compulsory childbearing. If others can force her to be a mother... then she is coerced into putting her body at the disposal of the fetus as if she were an unclaimed natural resource or a chattel slave.... Thus, the woman's most fundamental right of choice, the right to control her own body and happiness, is being abrogated.
    • Sharon Presley and Robert Cooke, The Right to Abortion: A Libertarian Defense, Association of Libertarian Feminists
  • Abortion is an unnecessary evil, if you don't want to have a baby, it's very simple, don't have sex. Only once has a virgin gotten pregnant, and I don't think you'll be giving birth to Jesus, we already have one of him.
  • One of the most basic problems with abortion is this, you give the women a voice, but where's the man's voice?

Q

R

  • One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives.
    • Ayn Rand, "A Last Survey — Part I", The Ayn Rand Letter Vol. IV, No. 2, 1975.
  • We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life—the unborn—without diminishing the value of all human life.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the Court's result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • [T]he decision by the seven-man majority in Roe v. Wade has so far been made to stick. But the Court's decision has by no means settled the debate. Instead, Roe v. Wade has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life---the unborn---without diminishing the value of all human life.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • If you don't know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it. I think this consideration itself should be enough for all of us to insist on protecting the unborn."
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother's body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • Regrettably, we live at a time when some persons do not value all human life. They want to pick and choose which individuals have value.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • As a nation, we must choose between the sanctity of life ethic and the 'quality of life' ethic. I have no trouble identifying the answer our nation has always given to this basic question, and the answer that I hope and pray it will give in the future.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • As a nation today, we have not rejected the sanctity of human life. The American people have not had an opportunity to express their view on the sanctity of human life in the unborn. I am convinced that Americans do not want to play God with the value of human life. It is not for us to decide who is worthy to live and who is not. Even the Supreme Court's opinion in Roe v. Wade did not explicitly reject the traditional American idea of intrinsic worth and value in all human life; it simply dodged this issue.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • We must all educate ourselves to the reality of the horrors taking place. Doctors today know that unborn children can feel a touch within the womb and that they respond to pain.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • Late-term abortions, especially when the baby survives, but is then killed by starvation, neglect, or suffocation, show once again the link between abortion and infanticide. The time to stop both is now.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • It is possible that the Supreme Court itself may overturn its abortion rulings. We need only recall that in Brown v. Board of Education the court reversed its own earlier 'separate-but-equal' decision.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • As we continue to work to overturn Roe v. Wade, we must also continue to lay the groundwork for a society in which abortion is not the accepted answer to unwanted pregnancy. Pro-life people have already taken heroic steps, often at great personal sacrifice, to provide for unwed mothers.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • We will never recognize the true value of our own lives until we affirm the value in the life of others.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • [W]e cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My Administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning.
    • Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984.
  • I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.
  • The fact that a majority of the States reflecting, after all, the majority sentiment in those States, have had restrictions on abortions for at least a century is a strong indication, it seems to me, that the asserted right to an abortion is not ‘so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental...’
    • William H. Rehnquist, U.S. Supreme Court, one of two dissenters against the majority opinion in the landmark abortion case, Roe v. Wade (January 22, 1973).
  • Whatever is unnamed, undepicted in images, whatever is omitted from biography, censored in collections of letters, whatever is misnamed as something else, made difficult-to-come-by, whatever is buried in the memory by the collapse of meaning under an inadequate or lying language -- this will become, not merely unspoken, but unspeakable. . . In a society where women entered sexual intercourse willingly, where adequate contraception was a genuine social priority, there would be no 'abortion issue'. . . Abortion is violence. . . It is the offspring, and will continue to be the accuser of a more pervasive and prevalent violence, the violence of rapism.
    • Adrienne Rich, feminist poet and author and advocate of legal abortion, in Of Woman Born, 1976
  • Abortion, it's beautiful, it's beautiful abortion is legal. I love going to an abortion rally to pick up women, 'cause you know they are fucking. . . When a woman gets pregnant, it’s a choice between the woman and her girlfriends. One girlfriend goes, 'Child, you should have that baby — that man got some good hair.' And the other girlfriend says, 'Child, why we even talking about this — ain’t we supposed to go to Cancun next week? Get rid of that baby!' [That] is how life is decided in America.
    • Chris Rock, comedian, in his stand-up comedy routine, February 2005 [30]
  • I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my Mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.
  • [A] physician of wealth and high standing had seduced a girl and then induced her to commit abortion-I rather lost my temper, and wrote to the individuals who had asked for the pardon, saying that I extremely regretted that it was not in my power to increase the sentence.

S

  • If the abortion is well done, we don't have to watch the baby die. So we inject a salt solution. The result is like putting salt on a slug, but we don't have to watch it.
    • Russell Sacco, abortion doctor, "Infants Aborted Alive: Officials Wink at Laws" The Oregon Journal (March 14, 1982).
  • Glendon: Why did you and so many other constitutional lawyers stop criticizing the Court’s abortion decisions after most of you had been highly critical of Roe v. Wade?
    Sacks: I suppose it was because we had been made to understand that the abortion issue was so important to the women in our lives, and it just did not seem that important to most of us.
    • Al Sacks, as Dean of Harvard Law School circa 1985, quoted by Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon, in First Things, June/July 2003
  • It is a noteworthy fact that not one of the women to whom I have spoken so far believes in abortion as a practice; but it is principle for which they are standing. They also believe that the complete abolition of the abortion law will shortly do away with abortions, as nothing else will.
    • Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, "Women in Germany", Birth Control Review (December, 1920).
  • [It is] the most barbaric method [of family planning], the killing of babies — infanticide — abortion.
    • Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, in My Fight for Birth Control, 1931
  • ...we explained simply what contraception was; that abortion was the wrong way — no matter how early it was performed it was taking a life; that contraception was the better way, the safer way — it took a little time, a little trouble, but was well worth while in the long run, because life had not yet begun.
    • Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, in An Autobiography, 1938
  • Always to me any aroused group was a good group, and therefore I accepted an invitation to talk to the women's branch of the Ku Klux Klan at Silver Lake, New Jersey, one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing. . . Never before had I looked into a sea of faces like these. I was sure that if I uttered one word, such as abortion, outside the usual vocabulary of these women they would go off into hysteria. And so my address that night had to be in the most elementary terms, as though I were trying to make children understand. In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered. The conversation went on and on, and when we were finally through it was too late to return to New York.
    • Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, in An Autobiography, 1938
  • Usually this desire [for family limitation] has been laid to economic pressure... It has asserted itself among the rich and among the poor, among the intelligent and the unintelligent. It has been manifested in such horrors as infanticide, child abandonment and abortion.
    • Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, Woman and the New Race, Chapter 2.
  • It is apparent that nothing short of contraceptives can put an end to the horrors of abortion and infanticide.
    • Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, Woman and the New Race, Chapter 2.
  • While there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.
    • Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, Woman and the New Race, Chapter 10.
  • When motherhood becomes the fruit of a deep yearning, not the result of ignorance or accident, its children will become the foundation of a new race. There will be no killing of babies in the womb by abortion, nor through neglect in foundling homes, nor will there be infanticide.
    • Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, Woman and the New Race (1920).
  • But unlike abortion today, in most states even the slaveholder did not have the unlimited right to kill his slave.
  • I will become a believer in the ingenuousness, though never the propriety, of the Court's newfound respect for the wisdom of foreign minds when it applies that wisdom in the abortion cases.
    • Antonin Scalia, in a speech delivered to Mississippi College School of Law, as quoted in "Scalia Defends Gay, Abortion, Gun Rulings at First Baptist" by the Jackson Free Press (January 5, 2010).
  • It thus appears the mansion of constitutionalized abortion law, constructed overnight in Roe v. Wade, must be disassembled doorjamb by doorjamb.
    • Antonin Scalia, as quoted in Scalia Dissents: Writings of the Supreme Court's Wittiest, Most Outspoken Justice, edited by Kevin A. Ring, 2004
  • I am optimistic enough to believe that, one day, Stenberg v. Carhart will be assigned its rightful place in the history of this Court’s jurisprudence beside Korematsu and Dred Scott.
    • Antonin Scalia, in his dissenting opinion in Stenberg v. Carhart, 2000
  • The state could have been concerned about rendering society callous to infanticide ... the horror of seeing a live human creature outside the womb dismembered. Can't that be a valid societal interest?
    • Antonin Scalia, questioning attorneys during oral arguments in US Supreme Court case Stenberg vs. Carhart (April 25, 2000)
  • The method of killing a human child, one cannot even accurately say an entirely unborn human child, proscribed by this statute is so horrible that the most clinical description of it evokes a shudder of revulsion... the notion that the constitution of the United States, designed, among other things, 'to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, ... and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,' prohibits the states from simply banning this visibly brutal means of eliminating our half-born posterity is quite simply absurd.
    • Antonin Scalia, in his dissenting opinion in Stenberg v. Carhart, 2000
  • If only for the sake of its own preservation, the Court should return this matter to the people – where the Constitution, by its silence on the subject, left it – and let them decide, State by State, whether this practice should be allowed.
    • Antonin Scalia, in his dissenting opinion in Stenberg v. Carhart, 2000
  • [22] And if two men strive and strike a woman with child, and her child be born imperfectly formed, he shall be forced to pay a penalty: as the woman's husband may lay upon him, he shall pay with a valuation. [23] But if it be perfectly formed, he shall give life for life, [24] eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, [25] burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."
    • Septuagint Text of the Old Testament, Chapter 21 of Exodus
  • A person's a person, no matter how small.
    • Horton Hears a Who, the 1954 Dr. Seuss childrens' book about an elephant who tries to protect tiny creatures on a speck of dust, but makes no mention of abortion. This is a common pro-life slogan.
  • If President Clinton had been standing were I was standing at that moment he would not veto this bill. . . A mother was six months pregnant. A doctor told her that the baby had Downs Syndrome and she decided to have an abortion. She came in the first two days to have the laminaria inserted and changed, and she cried the whole time. . . On the third day Dr. [Martin] Haskell brought the ultrasound in and hooked it up so that he could see the baby. . . On the ultrasound screen I could see the heart beating. . . Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby's legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby's body and the arms--everything but the head. The doctor kept the baby's head just inside the uterus. The baby's little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors through the back of his head, and the baby's arms jerked out in a flinch, a startled reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might fall. The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening and sucked the baby's brains out. Now the baby was completely limp. . . I was really completely unprepared for what I was seeing. I almost threw up as I watched the doctor do these things. . . After that, the doctor delivered the baby's head, cut his umbilical cord and threw him into a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had used. I saw the baby move in the pan. . . I asked another nurse and she said it was just 'reflexes.'. . . The woman wanted to see her baby, so they cleaned him up, put him in a blanket and handed him to her. . . She cried the whole time, and she kept saying, 'I'm so sorry, please forgive me!'
    • Brenda Pratt Shafer, registered nurse for late-term abortion doctor Martin Haskell at Women's Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio, describing the procedure in sworn testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, 1995
  • And since a man can't make one / He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
  • It is to be deeply regretted that the American people have been denied the deliberative role in shaping public policy on this issue that has been played by the citizens of other developed democracies. The American people are capable of rising above partisanship on a matter of this gravity. Their voice can and must be heard, through the normal procedures of democracy. For like the practice of slavery, and like Jim Crow laws of the not-so-distant past, the abortion issue raises the most fundamental questions of justice - questions that cannot be avoided, and that cannot be resolved by judicial fiat.
    • Eunice Kennedy Shriver (founder of the Special Olympics) and Sargent Shriver (1972 Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee and first director of the Peace Corps), et al., A New American Compact: Caring About Women, Caring for the Unborn, New York Times, July 14, 1992 at A23.
  • The pro-life groups were right about one thing, the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make much of a moral difference. We cannot coherently hold it is alright to kill a fetus a week before birth, but as soon as the baby is born everything must be done to keep it alive. The solution, however, is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine. The solution is the very opposite, to abandon the idea that all human life is of equal worth.
    • Peter Singer, Princeton ethicist, "Bioethics: The Case of the Fetus", in the New York Review of Books (August 5, 1976).
  • Suppose that a newborn baby is diagnosed as a haemophiliac. The parents, daunted by the prospect of bringing up a child with this condition, are not anxious for him to live. Could euthanasia be defended here?. . . When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness will be greater if the disabled infant is killed. The loss of happy life for the first infant is outweighed by the gain of a happier life for the second. Therefore, if killing the haemophiliac infact has no adverse effect on others, it would, according to the total view, be right to kill him... It may still be objected that to replace either a fetus or a newborn infant is wrong because it suggests to disabled people living today that their lives are less worth living than the lives of people who are not disabled. Yet, it is surely flying in the face of reality to deny that, on average, this is so.
    • Peter Singer, Princeton ethicist, Practical Ethics, pp. 185-8, 1993
  • [M]y ethical position is a form of preference-utilitarianism. . . I apply this ethic to such issues as. . . abortion, euthanasia and infanticide. . . [This] approach to these issues leads to striking conclusions. It offers a clear-cut account of why abortion is ethically justifiable. . . Some of my conclusions have been found shocking. . . In Germany, my advocacy of active euthanasia for severely disabled newborn infants has generated heated controversy.
    • Peter Singer, Princeton ethicist, "A Philosophical Self-Portrait", The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy, 1997
  • Q: What about parents conceiving and giving birth to a child specifically to kill him, take his organs, and transplant them into their ill older children?
    Singer: It's difficult to warm to parents who can take such a detached view, [but] they're not doing something really wrong in itself.
    Q: Is there anything wrong with a society in which children are bred for spare parts on a massive scale?
    Singer: No.
    Q: Would it be ethically OK to kill 1-year-olds with physical or mental disabilities?
    Singer: [This question] should be raised as soon as possible after birth.
    Q: What about Roe v. Wade?
    Singer: [Abortion] should have been left to legislatures...[Roe v. Wade was] a piece of judicial legislation...[it is] undemocratic to take major decisions like this out of the hands of people.
    • Peter Singer, Princeton ethicist, discussing his support of euthanasia, infanticide and abortion of the disabled, "Blue-state philosopher", World Magazine, (November 27, 2004).
  • Q: Would you kill a disabled baby?
    Singer: Yes, if that was in the best interests of the baby and of the family as a whole. Many people find this shocking, yet they support a woman's right to have an abortion. One point on which I agree with opponents of abortion is that, from the point of view of ethics rather than the law, there is no sharp distinction between the foetus and the newborn baby.
  • Q: ...if a woman with a serious illness- heart disease, say, or diabetes- gets pregnant, the abortion procedure may be as dangerous for her as going through pregnancy - with diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, even breast cancer, the chance that pregnancy will make the disease worse is no greater that the chance that the disease will either stay the same or improve. And medical technology has advanced to a point where even women with diabetes and kidney disease can be seen through a pregnancy safely by a doctor who knows what he's doing. We've come a long way since my mother's time - The idea of abortion to save the mothers' life is something that people cling to because it sounds noble and pure- but medically speaking, it probably doesn't exist. It's a real stretch of our thinking.
    • w:Don Sloan,abortion provider, "Choice: A Doctor's Experience with the Abortion Dilemma" Don Sloan, M.D. and Paula Hartz New York: International Publishers. 2002 pgs 45-46
  • When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.
    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women's suffrage movement leader, in a letter to Julia Ward Howe recorded in Howe's diary at Harvard University Library (October 16, 1873).
  • Infanticide is on the increase to an extent inconceivable. Nor is it confined to the cities by any means. Androscoggin County in Maine is largely a rural district, but a recent Medical Convention there unfolded a fearful condition of society in relation to this subject. Dr. Oaks made the remark that, according to the best estimate he could make, there were four hundred murders annually produced by abortion in that county alone....There must be a remedy for such a crying evil as this. But where shall it be found, at least where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of woman? Forced maternity, not out of legal marriage but within it, must lie at the bottom of a vast proportion of such revolting outrages against the laws of nature and our common humanity.
  • It was 1957 and I was living in London, working as a waitress. I had no money and no friends and was trying to figure out what to do. There was no way I could give birth to someone and also give birth to myself. At the time, to get an abortion in England you needed two doctors to write a letter stating that it was [medically] necessary. I could not make myself feel guilty for a moment. It was the first time I took responsibility for my life. You know, when you are desperate, it’s easy to make the decision to abort. Ambivalence seems to be a function of legality.
    • Gloria Steinem, appearing in the documentary film Speak Out: I Had An Abortion, 2005
  • Of course I'm following the Supreme Court nominations - I have a uterus! I'm stocking up - I got three abortions on the way here. . . I'm pro-choice. . .
    • Commedienne Wanda Sykes, discussing the Senate confirmation hearings of nominee John G. Roberts on The Tonight Show (September 14, 2005).

T

  • One doctor said, `In France, we think that abortion is more moral earlier.' And I thought to myself, we think so too in the United States, but we don't dare say it.
    • Charlotte Taft, abortion counselor and consultant, "When abortions come late in a pregnancy; Though rare, most aren't for medical reasons", US News & World Report (January 19, 1998).
  • ...the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing - direct murder by the mother herself... because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between.
    • Mother Teresa, in her Nobel Lecture given upon receiving the Peace Prize (December 11, 1979).
  • I am sure that deep down in your heart, you know that the unborn child is a human being loved by God, like you and me. How can anyone knowing that, deliberately destroy that life? It frightens me to think of all the people who kill their conscience so that they can perform an abortion. When we die, we will come face to face with God, the Author of Life. Who will give an account to God for the millions and millions of babies who were not allowed a chance to live, to experience loving and being loved?
    • Mother Teresa, message to the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development on September 9, 1994.
  • My prayer for each one of you is that you may always have the faith to see and love God in each person including the unborn. God bless you.
    • Mother Teresa, message to the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development on September 9, 1994.
  • If there is a child that you don't want or can't feed or educate, give that child to me. I will not refuse any child. I will give a home, or find loving parents for him or for her. We are fighting abortion by adoption and have given thousands of children to caring families. And it is so beautiful to see the love and unity that a child brings to a family.
    • Mother Teresa, message to the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development on September 9, 1994.
  • But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. . . So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts...
  • Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today — abortion which brings people to such blindness.
  • By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have any responsibility for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
  • Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or sovereign... you must weep that your own government, at present, seems blind to this truth.
    • Mother Teresa, in her amicus brief filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in the cases of Loce v. New Jersey and Krail et al. v. New Jersey in February 1994
  • America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts—a child—as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience.
    • Mother Teresa, in her amicus brief filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in the cases of Loce v. New Jersey and Krail et al. v. New Jersey in February 1994
  • When I or people like me are running the country, you'd better flee because we will find you, we will try you and we'll execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that you are tried and executed.
    • Randall Terry, leader of Operation Rescue, Addressing doctors who perform abortions, in a speech to the U.S. Taxpayers Alliance, from The Hotline, May 9, 2000
  • For us [Christians] we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter when you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one: you have the fruit already in the seed.
  • They [John and Jesus] were both alive while still in the womb. Elizabeth rejoiced as the infant leaped in her womb; Mary glorifies the Lord because Christ within inspired her. Each mother recognizes her child and is known by her child who is alive, being not merely souls but also spirits.
  • This baby looks pretty good, I'm sorry that the baby had a lot of problems. But it did.
    • George Tiller, handing a photo of a dead late-term fetus he had aborted to pro-choice legislator Ruby Gilbert during a tour of his late-term abortion clinic, "Tours provide insight into abortion", The Wichita Eagle, October 7, 1997
  • We have some experience with late terminations; about 10,000 patients between 24 and 36 weeks and something like 800 fetal anomalies between 26 and 36 weeks in the past 5 years.
    • George Tiller, declaring his pro-choice credentials in a speech to the National Abortion Federation, April 2-4, 1995, New Orleans, LA. Click to listen.
  • Whether in the name of traditional sex roles or in the name of a traditional sexual morality, much opposition to abortion seems really to be about the control of women.
  • Those who give drugs for procuring abortion, and those who receive poisons to kill the foetus, are subjected to the penalty of murder.
    • Council of Trullo, canon XCI, 692

U

  • In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning. . . Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process. In circumstances where abortion is not against the law, such abortion should be safe.
  • Abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others. They are committed against those who are weakest and most defenseless, those who are genuinely 'the poorest of the poor.' They are endorsed increasingly without the veil of euphemism, as supporters of abortion and euthanasia freely concede these are killings even as they promote them. Sadly, they are practiced in those communities which ordinarily provide a safe haven for the weak -- the family and the healing professions. Such direct attacks on human life, once crimes, are today legitimized by governments sworn to protect the weak and marginalized.

V

  • Even if you are pro-choice, no one likes to see a dead fetus.
    • Vilma Valdez, Education Director Planned Parenthood of Greater Miami, The Miami Herald (October 24, 1992)

W

  • In some cases abortion is justified.
    • Henry Wade, Dallas County, Texas, district attorney, commenting in 1997 about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court abortion case Roe v. Wade, in which he was the defendant.
  • George W Bush, go to hell! And while you’re at it, we want you to take Ashcroft with you. And don’t forget Rumsfeld. And please carry along Condi Rice. . . I have to march because my mother could not have an abortion.
    • Maxine Waters, member of US Congress, at the televised pro-choice March For Women's Lives, (April 25, 2004)
  • I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don't know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say 'yes, it kills a fetus, but it is the women's body, and therefore ultimately her choice.'
    • Faye Wattleton, former president of Planned Parenthood, as quoted in Salon Magazine, (June 27, 1997)
  • If you refuse to eat an embryonic life form on the grounds that it ends the life of an animal then you might as well join the loonies who gather on N. Charles street to compare abortion to the Holocaust.
    • Simon Waxman, refering to the practice by some vegetarians of eating chicken eggs in the Johns Hopkins News-Letter (February 10, 2006)[32]
  • I was co-counsel in Roe v. Wade, have sired zero children and one fetus, the abortion of which was recently recounted by my ex-wife [lead Roe attorney, Sarah Weddington] in her book, A Question of Choice. I had a vasectomy in 1969 and have never had one mement of regret.
    • James R. (Ron) Weddington, co-counsel in Roe v. Wade, in letter to then President-elect Clinton, encouraging him to step up abortion and other birth control for the poor source: Clinton Library, page 60
  • The word 'privacy' does not appear in the Constitution. Then again, neither does 'travel.' But if you were to ask any American, 'Do you have the right to travel where and when you like?' they'd say 'yes.' And the Supreme Court has upheld this right.
    • Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade, "A Delicate Decision", Westchester County Weekly, (January 22, 1998)
  • It never should have been filed. Those who filed it got publicity, but the publicity actually has been very helpful for those of us who believe the government should not be involved.
    • Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade, referring to the lawsuit filed by her former client "Jane Roe" to overturn the landmark ruling, Court Says 'No' To Roe, Associated Press (June 20, 2003)
  • At the heart of the controversy in these cases are those recurring pregnancies that pose no danger whatsoever to the life or health of the mother but are, nevertheless, unwanted for any one or more of a variety of reasons -- convenience, family planning, economics, dislike of children, the embarrassment of illegitimacy, etc.
    • Byron White, U.S. Supreme Court, one of two dissenters in Roe v. Wade, (January 22, 1973)
  • I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the court's judgment. The court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.
    • Byron White, U.S. Supreme Court, one of two dissenters in Roe v. Wade, (January 22, 1973)
  • Aware that in Roe it essentially created something out of nothing and that there are many in this country who hold that decision to be basically illegitimate, the Court responds defensively.... I do not share the warped point of view of the majority, nor can I follow the tortuous path the majority treads in proceeding to strike down the statute before us. I dissent.
  • The goal of the right is not to stop abortion but to demonize it, punish it and make it as difficult and traumatic as possible. All this it has accomplished fairly well, even without overturning Roe v. Wade.
    • Ellen Willis, "Escape from Freedom," Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination, Vol 1, No 2 (2006)
  • With consistency, beautiful and undeviating, human life, from its commencement to its close, is protected by the common law. In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb. By the law, life is protected not only from immediate destruction, but from every degree of actual violence, and, in some cases, from every degree of danger.
    • James Wilson, "Of the Natural Rights of Individuals" (1790-1792). Wilson was a leading framer of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Abortion is not the emancipation of women. Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women. When they ask us, 'What about the woman,' we will not say, 'What about the baby?' We will give them a good answer. We will say, 'We refuse to choose between women and their children. We will fight for you who deserve better than abortion.'
    • Sally Winn, vice president of Feminists for Life, at the annual March For Life, January 2003
  • So what will it be: Wanted fetuses are charming, complex, REM-dreaming little beings whose profile on the sonogram looks just like Daddy, but unwanted ones are mere 'uterine material'? How can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that the truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy. Besides, if these images are often the facts of the matter, and if we then claim that it is offensive for pro-choice women to be confronted by them, then we are making the judgment that women are too inherently weak to face a truth about which they have to make a grave decision. This view of women is unworthy of feminism. Free women must be strong women, too; and strong women, presumably, do not seek to cloak their most important decisions in euphemism.
    • Naomi Wolf, feminist author and advocate of legal abortion, in "Our Bodies, Our Souls", The New Republic (October 15, 1995).
  • Women...sacrificing to lasciviousness the parental affection...either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast if off when born. Nature in every thing demands respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.
  • I wish to say my word on the theme of the day — Abortion and the Abortionists. . . Abortion [is]one of the fixed institutions of the country, one of the marked characteristics of the age, one of the indicative symptoms of the ripening and the rottening of our prevalent state of society! Who proposes to disturb Madame Restel [underground abortion practitioner]? Who really wants that there should be no opportunity to secure an abortion under peculiarly trying circumstances? . . . But the great revenue of these practitioners is from the married women among the wealthy. They have become unfit to have children, and abortion is the sewerage for this wretched stagnation of feminine life. . . . Abortion before marriage and especially after marriage are the rule rather than the exception—in the wealthy and fashionable classes, and to a great extent among workingwomen who say they 'can’t afford to have children'. . . Abortion is only a symptom of a more deep-seated disorder of the social state. It cannot be put down by law. Normally the mother of ten children is as healthy, and may be as youthful and beautiful, as a healthy maiden. Child-bearing is not a disease, but a beautiful office of nature. But to our faded-out, sickly, exhausted type of women, it is a fearful ordeal. Nearly every child born is an unwelcome guest. Abortion is the choice of evils for such women.
    • Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in Woodhull's and Claffin's Weekly (September 23, 1871).
  • We are aware that many women attempt to excuse themselves for procuring abortions, upon the ground that it is not murder. But the fact of resort to so weak an argument only shows the more palpably that they fully realize the enormity of the crime. Is it not equally destroying the would-be future oak to crush the sprout before it pushes its head above the sod, as to cut down the sapling, or cut down the tree? Is it not equally to destroy life, to crush it in the very germ, and to take it when the germ has evolved to any given point in its line of development?
    • Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin, Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly (June 20, 1874).
  • Men must no longer insult all womanhood by saying that freedom means the degradation of woman. Every woman knows if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth.
    • Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in The Evening Standard (Wheeling, WV) (November 17, 1875).
  • The rights of children as individuals begin while yet they remain the foetus.
    • Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in Woodhull's and Claffin's Weekly (December 24, 1870).
  • Abortion is also a practice which spreads damnation world-wide. . . When a woman becomes conscious that she is pregnant, and a desire comes up in her heart to shirk the duties it involves, that moment the fetal life is the unloved, the unwished child. Is it to be wondered at that there are so many undutiful children--so many who instinctively feel that they are "encumbrances" rather than the beautiful necessities of the home? What true mother's heart but bounds with pride and joy when she sees the beauteous results of her constructive work? Why should she not also feel happiness when she realizes that she is performing that constructive process? Is it to be wondered at that so many children lacking all confidence in themselves and so foolishly diffident that it follows them through life, when we consider the conduct of women during pregnancy? It should be the pride of every woman to be the willing, the anxious, the contented mother, and if she be so under the guidance of the knowledge we deem essential, she will never have cause to regret that she fulfilled the duties of maternity. All practices which degenerate the character of children should be discountenanced by every humanitarian, and women encouraged to wisely and perfectly mold and fashion the life which they shall give to the world.
    • Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in a speech to the American Association of Spiritualists (September 13, 1871)
  • Whoever has read the WEEKLY knows I hold abortion (except to save the life of the mother) to be just as much murder as the killing of a person after birth is murder.
    • Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in Woodhull's and Claffin's Weekly (December 2, 1871)
  • The [Roe v. Wade] opinion's author, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, said in one internal court memo that he was drawing 'arbitrary' lines about the times during pregnancy when a woman could legally receive an abortion. In another memo, Justice Potter Stewart, who joined the Blackmun opinion, said the determination in the opinion about these lines was 'legislative.'
    • Bob Woodward, The Abortion Papers, Washington Post, January 22, 1989 at D1.
  • Susan Stamberg: Do you all at the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC) make room for pro-life women?
    Woods: We do not support candidates who are not pro-choice.
    • Harriet Woods, chair of NWPC, in an interview broadcast on National Public Radio, July 10, 1993

X

Y

Z

  • It's a nasty, dirty, yucky thing and I always come home angry. . .I've become very good at it. I've become one hell of an abortionist. But it's not something I tell my kids about. . . Have you ever seen one? . . I don't care what anyone say, it is not a tonsillectomy, not just any old medical procedure. It's terminating a potential human life.
    • David Zbaraz, abortion doctor, "ABORTIONIST; Doctor Joins Suit for Right to Do Operation He Hates", Washington Post, March 3, 1980

Dialogue

  • McCain: Do you believe in the exemption, in the case of abortion, for rape, incest, and life of the mother?
    Bush: Yeah, I do.
    McCain: [But you] support the pro-life plank [in the Republican Party platform]?
    Bush: I do.
    McCain: So, in other words, your position is that you believe there’s an exemption for rape, incest and the life of the mother, but you want the platform that you’re supposed to be leading to have no exemption. Help me out there, will you?
    Bush: I will. The platform doesn’t talk about what specifically should be in the constitutional amendment. The platform speaks about a constitutional amendment. It doesn’t refer to how that constitutional amendment ought to be defined.
    McCain: If you read the platform, it has no exceptions.
    Bush: John, I think we need to keep the platform the way it is. This is a pro-life party.
    McCain: Then you are contradicting your platform.
    • U.S. Republican Party debate on the Larry King Live show (February 15, 2000)

Unsourced

External links

Wikipedia
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Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

The term abortion is used by the lay person to refer to an elective termination of pregnancy. Medical staff working in the field of obstetrics use this term to describe miscarriage before 24 weeks gestation and is also referred to as spontaneous abortion. There are different types of spontaneous abortion and the importance of diagnosis cannot be underestimated as each is managed in a different way. The physician dealing with a woman who has presented with spontaneous abortion must choose his/her words carefully when discussing the diagnosis with the patient. This is already a very stressful time for such patients and the term "abortion" used inappropriately may cause this stress and anxiety to be unduly exasperated. Therefore, the term "miscarriage" will be used in place of the word "abortion" for the rest of this article.

The risk Factors for spontaneous Abortion are:

  • Increasing maternal age
  • Increase in parity
  • Interval of pregnancies outside the range of 12-36 months
  • Previous
  • Smoking, alcohol and radiation

Contents

Threatened Miscarriage

Threatened miscarriage is defined as vaginal bleeding before 20 weeks gestation in the presence of a viable fetus. One in five pregnancies will present in this manner and these pregnancies are 2.6 times more likely to result in complete miscarriage.

Clinical Features

History:

  • Slight blood loss - fresh blood with clots or brown staining
  • Little or no pain
  • Fetal movements may be present
  • No products of conception have been passed

Examination:

  • Uterine size normal for dates
  • Cervix closed
  • Fetal heart sounds present
  • Fetal movements may be present

Investigation:

  • Positive pregnancy test
  • Positive ultrasound scan

Management

Unfortunately, there is no medical treatment indicated. Management involves bed rest if bleeding recurs and anti-D if indicated. Prognosis can be assessed with further ultrasound scans.

Inevitable Miscarriage

In inevitable miscarriage, the cervix has begun to open and some products of conception have passed, therefore, the pregnancy cannot be saved and miscarriage is inevitable.

Clinical Features

History:

  • Heavy Bleeding getting worse
  • Severe colicky abdominal pain
  • Products of conception may have passed

Examination:

  • Cervix is open
  • Products of conception may be passing through the os

Management

Medical

  • IV infusion if bleeding is severe
  • Remove products from os
  • Syntometrine 1ml intramuscularly PRN

Surgical

  • Evacuate uterus under general anaesthetic

Complete Miscarriage

This is defined as the return to normal uterine size after the passage of all products of conception and normally occurs before 8 weeks gestation.

Incomplete Miscarriage

This is most common between 8 and 14 weeks gestation. All the products of conception have not been passed and the patient requires evacuation of the retained products of conception.

Clinical Features

History:

  • Heavy Bleeding getting worse
  • Severe colicky abdominal pain
  • Products of conception may have passed

Examination:

  • Cervix is open
  • Products of conception may be passing through the os

Management

Medical

  • IV infusion if bleeding is severe
  • Remove products from os
  • Syntometrine 1ml intramuscularly PRN

Surgical

  • Evacuate uterus under general anesthetic

Missed Miscarriage

A missed (or silent) miscarriage is the spontaneous abortion of a pregnancy in the absence of vaginal bleeding. In essence, the fetus is dead in utero.

Clinical Features

History:

  • No fetal movements
  • No symptoms of pregnancy

Examination

  • Uterus smaller than dates suggest
  • No fetal movements
  • No fetal heart sounds

Investigations

  • Ultrasound negative for fetal heart movement

Management

Evacuate uterus

Septic Miscarriage

This is a uterine infection of the retained non-viable products of conception following an incomplete miscarriage. An attempt at an illegal termination of pregnancy (back-street abortion) should be suspected.

Clinical Features

History

  • Pain
  • Fever

Examination

  • Pyretic
  • Open cervix with discharge

Investigations

  • Blood cultures

Management

IV antibiotics, fluids and curretage.

Patient help

If you or someone you know has been affected by any aspect of this topic, help and support is available online here:

References

  • McCarthy, A & Hunter, B (2003) Master Medicine: Obstetrics and Gynaecology (2nd ed.) Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunder
  • http://www.gpnotebook.co.uk
  • Sotiriadis A, Papatheodorou S, Makrydimas G. Threatened Miscarriage: Evaluation and Management. BMJ 2004;329:152-155

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

Medical warning!
This article is from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Medical science has made many leaps forward since it has been written. This is not a site for medical advice, when you need information on a medical condition, consult a professional instead.

ABORTION (from Lat. aboriri, to fail to be born, or perish), in obstetrics, the premature separation and expulsion of the contents of the pregnant uterus. It is a common terminology to call premature labour of an accidental type a "miscarriage," in order to distinguish "abortion" as a deliberately induced act, whether as a medical necessity by the accoucheur, or as a criminal proceeding (see Medical Jurisprudence); otherwise the term "abortion" would ordinarily be used when occurring before the eighth month of gestation, and "premature labour" subsequently. As an accident of pregnancy, it is far from uncommon, although its relative frequency, as compared with that of completed gestation, has been very differently estimated by accoucheurs. It is more liable to occur in the earlier than in the later months of pregnancy, and it would also appear to occur more readily at the periods corresponding to those of the menstrual discharge. It may be induced by numerous causes, both of a local and general nature. Malformations of the pelvis, accidental injuries and the diseases and displacements to which the uterus is liable, on the one hand; and, on the other, various morbid conditions of the ovum or placenta leading to the death of the foetus, are among the direct local causes. The general causes embrace certain states of the system which are apt to exercise a more or less direct influence upon the progress of utero-gestation. The tendency to recurrence in persons who have previously miscarried is well known, and should ever be borne in mind with the view of avoiding any cause likely to lead to a repetition of the accident. Abortion resembles ordinary labour in its general phenomena, excepting that in the former hemorrhage often to a large extent forms one of the leading symptoms. The treatment embraces the means to be used by rest, astringents and sedatives, to prevent the occurrence when it merely threatens; or when, on the contrary, it is inevitable, to accomplish as speedily as possible the complete removal of the entire contents of the uterus.

Among primitive savage races abortion is practised to a far less extent than infanticide, which offers a simpler way of getting rid of inconvenient progeny. But it is common among the American Indians, as well as in China, Cambodia and India, although throughout Asia it is generally contrary both to law and religion. How far it was considered a crime among the civilized nations of antiquity has long been debated. Those who maintain the impunity of the practice rely for their authority upon certain passages in the classical authors, which, while bitterly lamenting the frequency of this enormity, yet never allude to any laws by which it might be suppressed. For example, in one of Plato's dialogues (Theaet.), Socrates is made to speak of artificial abortion as a practice, not only common but allowable; and Plato himself authorizes it in his Republic (lib. v.). Aristotle (Pout. lib. vii. c. 17) gives it as his opinion that no child ought to be suffered to come into the world, the mother being above forty or the father above fifty-five years of age. Lysias maintained, in one of his pleadings quoted by Harpocration, that forced abortion could not be considered homicide, because a child in utero was not an animal, and had no separate existence. Among the Romans, Ovid (Amor. lib. ii.), Juvenal (Sat. vi. 594) and Seneca (Consol. ad Hel. 16) mention the frequency of the offence, but maintain silence as to any laws for punishing it. On the other hand, it is argued that the authority of Galen and Cicero (pro Cluentio) place it beyond a doubt that, so far from being allowed to pass with impunity, the offence in question was sometimes punished by death; that the authority of Lysias is of doubtful authenticity; and that the speculative reasonings of Plato and Aristotle, in matters of legislation, ought not to be confounded with the actual state of the laws. Moreover, Stobaeus (Serm. 73) has preserved a passage from Musonius, in which that philosopher expressly states that the ancient law-givers inflicted punishments on females who caused themselves to abort. After the spread of Christianity among the Romans, however, foeticide became equally criminal with the murder of an adult, and the barbarian hordes which afterwards overran the empire also treated the offence as a crime punishable with death. This severe penalty remained in force in all the countries of Europe until the Middle Ages. With the gradual disuse of the old barbarous punishments so universal in medieval times came also a reversal of opinion as to the magnitude of the crime involved in killing a child not yet born. But the exact period of transition is not clearly marked.

In England the Anglo-Saxons seem to have regarded abortion only as an ecclesiastical offence. Sir Matthew Hale (1609-1676) tells us that if anything is done to "a woman quick or great with child, to make an abortion, or whereby the child within her is killed, it is not murder or manslaughter by the law of England, because it is not yet in rerum natura." But the common law appears, nevertheless, to have treated as a mis demeanour any attempt to effect the destruction of such an infant, though unsuccessful. Blackstone (1723-1780), to be sure, a hundred years later, says that, "if a woman is quick with child, and by poison or otherwise killeth it in her womb, or if any one beat her, whereby the child dieth in her body, and she is delivered of a dead child, this, though not murder, was, by the ancient law, homicide or manslaughter." Whatever may have been the exact view taken by the common law, the offence was made statutory by an act of 1803, making the attempt to cause the miscarriage of a woman, not being, or not being proved, to be quick with child, a felony, punishable with fine, imprisonment, whipping or transportation for any term not exceeding fourteen years. Should the woman have proved to have quickened, the attempt was punishable with death. The provisions of this statute were re-enacted in 1828. The English law on the subject is now governed by the Offences against the Person Act 1861, which makes the attempting to cause miscarriage by administering poison or other noxious thing, or unlawfully using any instrument equally a felony, whether the woman be, or be not, with child. No distinction is now made as to whether the foetus is or is not alive, legislation appearing to make the offence statutory with the object of prohibiting any risk to the life of the mother. If a woman administers to herself any poison or other noxious thing, or unlawfully uses any instrument or other means to procure her own miscarriage, she is guilty of felony. The punishment for the offence is penal servitude for life or not less than three years, or imprisonment for not more than two years. If a child is born alive, but in consequence of its premature birth, or of the means employed, afterwards dies, the offence is murder; the general law as to accessories applies to the offence.

In all the countries of Europe the causing of abortion is now punishable with more or less lengthy terms of imprisonment. Indeed, the tendency in continental Europe is to regard the abortion as a crime against the unborn child, and several codes (notably that of the German Empire) expressly recognize the life of the foetus, while others make the penalty more severe if abortion has been caused in the later stages of pregnancy, or if the woman is married. According to the weight of authority in the United States abortion was not regarded as a punishable offence at common law, if the abortion was produced with the consent of the mother prior to the time when she became quick with child; but the Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania and North Carolina held it a crime at common law, which might be committed as soon as gestation had begun (Mills v. Corn. 13 Pa. St. 630; State v. Slagle, 83 N.C. 630). The attempt is a punishable offence in several states, but not in Ohio. Nor was it ever murder at common law to take the life of the child at any period of gestation, even in the very act of delivery (Mitchell v. Com. 78 Ky. 204). If the death of the woman results it is murder at common law (Corn. v. Parker, 9 Met. [Mass.] 263). It is now a statutory offence in all states of the Union, but the woman must be actually pregnant. In most states not only is the person who causes the abortion punishable, but also any one who supplies any drug or instrument for the purpose. The woman, however, is not an accomplice (except by statute as in Ohio, State v. M'Coy, 39 N.E. 316), nor is she guilty of any crime unless by statute as in New York (Penal Code, � 295) and California (Penal Code, � 275) and Connecticut (Gen. Stats. 1902, � 1156). She may be a witness, and her testimony does not need corroboration. The attempt is also a crime in New York (1905, People v. Conrad, 102 App. D. 566).

Authorities

- Ploucquet, Commentarius Medicus in processus criminales super homicidio et infanticidio, eec. (1736); Burke Ryan, Infanticide, its Law, Prevalence, Prevention and History (1862); G. Greaves, Observations on the Laws referring to Child-Murder and Criminal Abortion (1864); Storer and Heard, Criminal Abortion, its Nature, Evidence and Law (Boston, 1868); J. Cave Browne, Infanticide, its Origin, Progress and Suppression (1857); T. R. Beck, Medical Jurisprudence (1842); A. S. Taylor, Principles and Practice of Medical Jurisprudence (1894); Sir J. Stephen, History of the Criminal Law of England (1883); Sir W. O. Russell, Crimes and Misdemeanours (3 vols., 1896); Archbold's Pleading and Evidence in Criminal Cases (1900); Roscoe's Evidence in Criminal Cases (1898); Treub, van Oppenraag and Vlaming, The Right to Life of the Unborn Child (New York, 1903); L. Hochheimer, Crimes and Criminal Procedure (New York, 1897); A. A. Tardieu, Etude medico-legal sur l'avortement (Paris, 1904); F. Berolzheimer, System der Rechtsand Wissenschaftsphilosophie (Munich, 1904).


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Simple English

In mammals, an abortion is when a pregnancy ends early without the birth of offspring. Abortions can occur naturally, usually because something went wrong with the pregnancy. When this happens, it is called a miscarriage. Humans can also end the pregnancy on purpose before birth takes place. This is called an induced abortion.

Contents

Difference between an embryo and a fetus

A developing human takes about thirty-eight weeks to grow and be born. Normally, this occurs about forty weeks after the mother's last menstrual period. This developing human is called embryo for the first eight weeks of the pregnancy, and fetus for the remaining thirty-two.

Types of abortions

There are two kinds (or types) of abortion. Sometimes, things go wrong during a pregnancy. These things may lead to the death of the embryo or fetus. Depending on what time in pregnancy they happen in, such abortions are called miscarriage or stillbirth.

In some cases finishing the pregnancy might be very dangerous for the pregnant woman. Giving birth might also be very difficult for her, she may have many worries, or she might not want to have a baby at all. In such cases, things can be done to end the pregnancy on purpose. This is called an induced abortion.

In both types of abortion, the embryo or fetus usually comes out of the womb. This is called a complete abortion. In some cases, the embryo or fetus remains inside the womb. This is called a missed abortion. Surgery is needed to remove the embryo or fetus from the womb so the woman does not get an infection.

Spontaneous abortions

Names

People speak of spontaneous abortion or miscarriage when the embryo or fetus is lost due to natural causes before the 20th week of pregnancy. A pregnancy that ends this way, but that is between 20 and 37 weeks old is known as "premature birth" if the baby is born alive. If the fetus dies in the womb after 20 weeks, or while it is born, this is known as "stillbirth". Premature births and stillbirths are generally not considered to be miscarriages.

How common they are

Spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) are common. About fifteen percent of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion. In many cases, the woman is not even aware she was pregnant. The pregnancy is only a few days or weeks old and the woman believes the miscarriage is just her menses. About twenty-five percent of all women will have a spontaneous abortion during their lives.[1]

Most miscarriages occur very early. Between ten and fifty percent of pregnancies end with a miscarriage, where the mother or the doctors are aware of it. These figures depend on the age and health of the pregnant woman.[2] Most spontaneous abortions occur so early in the pregnancy that the woman is not even aware that she was pregnant. One particular study showed a rate of pregnancy in exposed ovulatory cycles of 59.6%; with 61.9% of conceptuses lost before twelve weeks. 91.7% of these occuried subclinically, without the knowledge of the mother.[3]

The risk of spontaneous abortion decreases sharply after the 10th week of pregnancy,[4] with a loss rate between 8.5 weeks LMP and birth of about two percent; pregnancy loss is “virtually complete by the end of the embryonic period."[5]

Some people are more likely to have a spontaneous abortion

Those people who have already had several spontaneous or induced abortions run a greater risk of having a spontaneous one. Those with certain diseases, and those over the age 35 also run a greater risk. Other causes for abortions can be the infection of either the woman or embryo/fetus, or their immune response. Certain diseases or an accidental trauma can also cause a spontaneous abortion. Putting the woman under trauma or stress to cause miscarriage is considered induced abortion. Some countries call this feticide.[6]

Cause of spontaneous abortions

Most miscarriages are due to problems with the copying of chromosomes, but some are caused by environmental factors. When a human is conceived, it gets 23 chromosomes from its mother and 23 from its father. If it does not get the right number its development happens wrong (it does not grow right.) It may have many bad birth defects.

Most embryos and fetuses with chromosome problems will not live for a long time. They die very early. There are a few chromosome problems that babies can sometimes be born with. For example, Down Syndrome happens when there are three copies of chromosome #21. (Usually people have 2 of every chromosome.) This is called trisomy 21 (tri- means 3.)

Symptoms of spontaneous abortions

The most common symptom is bleeding from the vagina. This can be very little blood (less blood than a normal menses.) It can be very much blood (much more than a normal menses.) Some women have bad pains in their low abdomen when they have a miscarriage. This is sometimes like the pain of menses. It can be much worse. Or a woman may have no pain at all. If the pregnancy is many weeks old, the woman may see the embryo or fetus when it comes out. But if it is less than 12 weeks old a woman may not see anything but blood.

Treatment of spontaneous abortions

Sometimes no treatment is needed. Sometimes doctors do a surgical abortion. This is the same kind of surgery that is done for induced abortions. Sometimes doctors give women medicines to help the miscarriage finish without needing surgery.

Induced abortions

An induced abortion is when things are done to end the pregnancy on purpose. These things should usually be done by doctors. In countries where abortion can be done legally, it is often done by specialists who know a lot about women's bodies (gynecologists). Abortions done illegally are often performed by people without this special knowledge. This makes them more dangerous. Such abortions are usually called unsafe abortions, back-alley abortions or DIY abortions, mainly because the risk to the health of the mother is much higher than with abortions carried out by skilled doctors.

Medical reasons for an abortion

There can be medical reasons, why an abortion is performed. These include:[7]

  • saving the life of the pregnant woman
  • preserving the woman's physical or mental health
  • ending a pregnancy that would result in a child being born with severe birth defects, which would be fatal, or which would increase the risk of the child dying at an early age.
  • reducing the number of fetuses to lower the health risks associated with a multiple pregnancy (like twins)

Kinds of induced abortions

Surgical induced abortions are where the embryo or fetus is taken out by a physical act. The kind of surgical abortion done depends on how long the pregnancy has gone on. It is easier in earlier stages of the pregnancy. There are less problems that can occur. So it is best to do a surgical abortion as early as possible.

Medical abortions are where a doctor gives a woman a medicine to end the pregnancy. There are two medicines used for this. The medicines are mifepristone (RU-486) and methotrexate. These two medicines both stop the pregnancy. Then the abortion happens like a spontaneous abortion.

Risks and complications

A pregnancy that ends without a child being born also may cause some problems to the woman this happens to. There are two broad groups of things that can happen:

  • Things that affect the mental health of the woman: Some women need counseling and therapy after an abortion.
  • Things that happen to the body of the woman.

Physical problems

Abortion is safer than childbirth, if it is done before the 16th week of pregnancy and a professional does the abortion.[8][9] Certain methods of abortion are pretty safe, and complications are rare.[10][11] Generally, stopping a pregnancy that has gone on longer is riskier.[12][13]

Women typically feel a small amount of pain during first-trimester abortion procedures. In a 1979 study of 2,299 patients, 97% reported experiencing some degree of pain. Patients rated the pain as being less than earache or toothache, but more than headache or backache.[14]

Local and general anesthesias are used during the procedure.[15]

Psychological problems

Few studies have been done to see if an abortion affects the woman psychologically, or mentally. Those that have been done give contradictory results. One study looked at 13.000 women who had become pregnant even though they did not want to. The study found that having an induced abortion does not increase the risk of getting mental health problems; the group that was compared were women who also did not want to have a baby, but who did not have an abortion.[16] Other studies[17] showed similar results: women who had an abortion did better in school or at work after the abortion. Another study showed that women who had an abortion had a higher self-esteem and felt better than those who did not.[18][19]

Many women who had an abortion felt better afterwards, they also felt relieved. They would do it again in a similar situation.[20][21]

A study done in New Zealand in 2006[22] showed that many women who had an abortion develeoped severe depressions up to 4 years after they had the abortion. They were also more likely have problems with alcohol and illegal drugs than those women who did not have an abortion. The person who oversaw the study later told media that given these results it would be very hard to say that having an abortion has no psychological effects on the womam who has is. He called the abortion "a traumatic experience".[23]

Other problems

Both spontaneous and induced abortions have some risk for the woman.

If a bad thing happens because of a surgery or medicine that a doctor gives, or because of a miscarriage, it is called a complication. Complications of abortions can be infection, bleeding, pain. There may or may not be problems getting pregnant again; this is still being researched. In places where induced abortions are legal less than 1% of induced abortions have a bad complication. If doctors do induced abortions, the risk to the woman is less than the risk of complications of childbirth (giving birth to a baby). In places where induced abortions are legal, less women have complications of induced abortion than in places where induced abortion is illegal. This is because induced abortions that are not done by doctors have much more risks. For example, after induced abortions became legal in the United Stated in 1973, less women died from having abortions. In the United States in 2000, 11 women died from the complications of legal abortion.[1] The risk of death from a legal abortion is 1/100 of the risk of an appendectomy.[2] The risk of death from an injection (shot) of penicillin (an antibiotic) is bigger than the risk of death from a legal abortion.[3]

There can be emotional problems for the woman after a spontaneous or induced abortion. She may feel sad, angry, or guilty that she had a miscarriage or asked for an abortion. She may think she has done something that made the miscarriage happen, or that having an abortion was the wrong thing to do, and because of this she may feel intense grief.[4] There are many places where women can get help dealing with these feelings.

Some women who have induced abortions may get criticism from friends or family who have different beliefs. When scientists look at this in research studies, however, they do not usually see that women have emotional problems after induced abortions. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan told the Surgeon General of the US to look at this question. Both president Reagan and the Surgeon General C. Everett Koop did not think abortion was right. Dr Koop looked at 250 papers that scientists wrote in scientific journals. Dr Koop said that the science we know does not show that induced abortions cause emotional problems for women who have them.[5]

Numbers and reasons for induced abortions

The number of induced abortions done are different for different parts of the world. This is also true for the reasons why women decide to have an abortion. Estimates are that about 46 million induced abortions are done worldwide, every year. 26 million of them occur in places where abortion is legal, 20 million happen in countries where it is illegal to have an abortion. Some countries, like Belgium (11.2 per 100 known pregnancies) and the Netherlands (10.6 per 100) have a low rate of induced abortion. Others, like Russia (62.6 per 100) and Vietnam (43.7 per 100) have a comparatively high rate. Overall, there are 26 induced abortions per 100 known pregnancies.[24]

Methods used for abortions; times when abortions are done

File:UK abortion by gestational age 2004
Histogram of abortions by gestational age in England and Wales during 2004. Average is 9.5 weeks.

Abortion rates vary. The length the pregnancy has gone on, and the method used to do the abortion influence these rates. According to data collected in the United States, 88.2% of abortions were done in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, 10.4% between week 13 and week 20 of the pregnancy. The remaining 1.4% were done in week 21 or later.

90.9% were done by curettage, 7.7% were medical abortions (using drugs, mifepristone in most cases), 0.4% by "intrauterine instillation" (saline or prostaglandin), and 1.0% by "other" (including hysterotomy and hysterectomy).[25] The Guttmacher Institute estimated there were 2,200 intact dilation and extraction procedures in the U.S. during 2000 - 0.17% of the total number of abortions performed that year.[26] Similarly, in England and Wales in 2006, 89% of terminations occurred at or under 12 weeks, 9% between 13 and 19 weeks, and 1.5% at or over 20 weeks. 64% of those reported were by vacuum aspiration, 6% by D&E, and 30% were medical.[27] Later abortions are more common in China, India, and other developing countries than in developed countries.[28]

Personal and social factors for abortions

[[File:|thumb|300px|right|A bar chart from a study done in 1998. In shows the reasons why women had an abortion]]

In 1998, a study was done in 27 countries. This study wanted to find the reasons, why women wanted to end their pregnancy. It found that women often gave one of the following reasons:

  • Worries about their work or their education.
  • Not sure about how to pay for the child they were going to have.
  • Worries about the stability of the relationship with their partner.
  • Feeling that they were not yet mature enough to have a child.[29]

A different study, done in the United States in 2004 came to similar conclusions.[30]

Women who had an abortion in Finland and the United States usually did not state that the pregnancy posed a risk to their health. In Bangladesh, India and Kenya, however, more such women thought the pregnancy was a risk to their health.[29] 1% of women in the 2004 survey-based U.S. study became pregnant as a result of rape and 0.5% as a result of incest.[30] Another American study in 2002 concluded that 54% of women who had an abortion were using a form of contraception at the time of becoming pregnant. Inconsistent use was reported by 49% of those using condoms and 76% of those using the combined oral contraceptive pill; 42% of those using condoms reported failure through slipping or breakage.[31] The Guttmacher Institute estimated that "most abortions in the United States are obtained by minority women" because minority women "have much higher rates of unintended pregnancy."[32]

Some women have an abortion because the society they live in pressures them to.

  • In certain parts of the world, disabled people have problems to fit into society.
  • The sex of the child might influence the status of the mother; often, mothers who bear boys have a higher social status than those who bear girls.
  • In many parts of the world, raising a child is a very difficult task for a single (unmarried) mother.
  • Certain countries, like the China have measures to control their population growth.

Any of these factors might force a pregnant woman to have an abortion.

Abortion and the law

[[File:|thumb|300px|Dark blue: legal. Red: illegal. Other colors are for illegal, with some exceptions (rape, threat of life to the mother)]]

Induced abortion is not legal in every place. In some countries, a doctor who does an induced abortion is committing a crime. In the United States, Canada, and many countries in Europe abortion is legal (not a crime). In some countries like Ireland and Somalia it is legal only to save the life of the woman. If a woman is raped in Ireland and becomes pregnant, she cannot get an induced abortion. In some countries like Chile and El Salvador, abortion is never legal, including in cases where the woman risks dying from continuing the pregnancy.

In countries where induced abortion is not legal many more women die from abortion. Women still get induced abortions, but they cannot get them in safe hospitals and clinics. These induced abortions have more complications than abortions done by doctors.

Women who live in places where abortion is illegal, or heavily frowned upon sometimes travel to other places where an abortion can be done legally, so they can have an abortion. This is a form of medical tourism.

Spontaneous abortion in other mammals

Spontaneous abortion occurs in various mammals. In sheep, it may be caused by crowding through doors, or by being chased by dogs.[33] In cows, abortion may be caused by contagious diseases, such as Brucellosis or Campylobacter. This can often be controlled by vaccination, though.[34]

Abortion may also be induced in animals, in the context of animal husbandry. For example, abortion may be induced in mares that have been mated improperly, or that have been purchased by owners who did not realize the mares were pregnant, or that are pregnant with twin foals.[35]

Feticide can occur in horses and zebras. Usually this is done because males harass pregnant mares or force copulation.[36][37][38] Scientists have raised the question, how often this occurs in the wild, though.[39] Male Gray langur monkeys may attack females following male takeover, causing miscarriage.[40]

Opinions about induced abortions

Induced abortion is a subject that is controversial. Each person has a system of moral values. Based on their system of morals, people have different opinions about it. Religion can also influence this opinion.

Different opinions around the world

A number of opinion polls have been carried out around the world. They have tried to find out what people think about abortion. Results were different for different countries, but also varied with the questions that were asked.

In May 2005, a survey was done in ten European countries. The people were asked, if they could agree with the statement: "If a woman does not want children, she should be allowed to have an abortion". The highest level of approval was 81% in the Czech Republic; the lowest was 47% in Poland.[41]

A poll was done in November 2001. The poll asked people in Canada in what circumstances they believed an abortion should be permitted. 32% responded that they believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 52% that it should be legal in certain circumstances, and 14% that it should never be legal. A similar poll in April 2009 surveyed people in the United States about abortion; 18% said that abortion should be "legal in all cases", 28% said that abortion should be "legal in most cases", 28% said abortion should be "illegal in most cases" and 16% said abortion should be "illegal in all cases".[42] A November 2005 poll in Mexico found that 73.4% think abortion should not be legalized while 11.2% think it should.[43]

Of attitudes in South America, a December 2003 survey found that 30% of Argentines thought that abortion should be allowed in Argentina "regardless of situation", 47% that it should be allowed "under some circumstances", and 23% that it should not be allowed "regardless of situation".[44] A March 2007 poll about abortion in Brazil found that 65% of Brazilians believe that it "should not be modified", 16% that it should be expanded "to allow abortion in other cases", 10% that abortion should be "decriminalized", and 5% were "not sure".[45] A July 2005 poll in Colombia found that 65.6% said they thought that abortion should remain illegal, 26.9% that it should be made legal, and 7.5% that they were unsure.[46]

Pro-life and pro-choice

Some people feel very strongly about abortion. People who think that abortion is wrong and that the law should not allow it are called pro-life. People who think think the law should let women choose to have abortions are called pro-choice.

People who are pro-life believe that all humans, including embryos and fetuses, have a right to life. For this reason, they believe abortion is wrong, sometimes comparing it to murder. They think the law should make abortion a crime in order to protect embryos and fetuses. However, though pro-life people think abortion is wrong, there are special cases in which they will sometimes support allowing an abortion to happen, like if the pregnancy puts the woman's life at risk or if she got pregnant from rape. Pro-life people think women who are pregnant and do not want to raise a child should give the baby up for adoption instead of having an abortion. They have started advocacy groups, like the American Life League, to try to convince more people to think abortion is wrong and to try to get governments to make laws to restrict abortion. Sometimes, people who are against abortion have used violence to try to stop abortions from happening, like bombing the clinics that do abortions or shooting the people who work inside them. However, most people who are against abortion do not do such things and believe that they are wrong, and so they try to stop abortions from happening through peaceful activism.

People who are pro-choice believe that women should be allowed to have control over their own bodies when it comes to ending or continuing a pregnancy. They believe that, because the embryo or fetus is inside the woman's body and does not have developed enough organs to survive on its own until later in the pregnancy, it is not yet a person with rights. Pro-choice people also make the argument that abortion needs to be legal in order to protect women, because when abortion is illegal, it does not completely stop abortions from happening, but makes it so that women try to do abortions on themselves or get them done by people who are not trained doctors, which puts those women in danger of death or injury. Pro-choice people believe the way to prevent abortion is to make sure women only get pregnant when they want to. In addition to advocating the legality of abortion, pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood often try to improve people's access to things used to prevent pregnancy (called contraception), and try to teach young people about sex to reduce the number of teen pregnancies.

Religious views

Many religions have a view on abortion. These views span a broad spectrum from acceptance to rejection.[47] Most religions generally oppose abortion.[48]

Selected issues of the debate

Generally, when there is a debate about whether abortion laws should be changed in a country, there are advocacy groups. Some of the arguments these groups often have are outlined below.

Breast cancer hypothesis

There is a hypothesis that induced abortion raises the risk of getting breast cancer. People who support this, call it a link, rather than a hypothesis.[49] The subject has been controversial, but currently, scientists agree that there is no link between abortion in the first trimester, and increasing the risk to get breast cancer.[50][51][52][53]

In early pregnancy, levels of estrogen increase. This causes the breast to grow, and to prepare for lactation. In the 1890s, studies were done on rats, before this hypothesis was put forward.[54][55][56]

Can the embryo or fetus feel pain?

It is currently unclear from what moment the embryo or fetus can feel pain. This is also used in the debate about abortion. Many researchers think that a fetus is unlikely to feel pain until after the seventh month of pregnancy. Others disagree.[57] At about twenty-six weeks of pregnancy, certain connections are made in the thalamus of the growing fetus. Developmental neurobiologists suspect that these connections may be critical to perception of pain by the fetus.[58] However, legislation has been proposed by pro-life advocates requiring abortion providers to tell a woman that the embryo or fetus may feel pain during an abortion procedure.[59]

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study analyzed data from dozens of medical reports and other studies. The researchers concluded that fetuses are unlikely to feel pain until the third trimester of pregnancy.[60] However a number of medical critics have since disputed these conclusions.[57][61] There are certain connections in the thalamus of the fetuse. These connections develop at about twenty-six weeks of pregnancy. At the end of the 20th century there was an emerging consensus among developmental neurobiologists that these connections are very important when it comes to the perception of pain in the fetus.[62] Other researchers such as Anand and Fisk have challenged this late date, positing that pain can be felt around twenty weeks.[63] Pain can have many different aspects: It might be purely relying on sensory input, but it might also involve emotions and thought. For this reason, it is perhaps impossible to know exactly when the embryo or fetus feels pain, even if it has developed the links in the thalamus.[64]

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