Is Abortion Murder?
Prevent Abortion Index
by Peter Kreeft
The personhood of the fetus is clearly the crucial issue for abortion, for if the fetus is not a person, abortion is not the deliberate killing of an innocent person: if it is, it is. All other aspects of the abortion controversy are relative to this one; e.g., women have rights - over their own bodies but not over other persons' bodies. The law must respect a "right to privacy" but killing other persons is not a private but a public deed. Persons have a "right to life" but non-persons (e.g., cells, tissues, organs, and animals) do not.
Pro-choicers make a triple distinction among a human life, a human being and a human person. Each cell in our bodies has human life, and a single cell kept alive in a laboratory could be called "a human life" but certainly not "a human being" or "a human person." "A human being" is a biologically whole individual of the species. Even a human being born with no brain is a human being, not an ape; but it is not a person because it has no brain and cannot do anything distinctively human: think, know, choose, love, feel, desire, commit, relate, aspire, know itself, know God, know its past, know its future, know its environment, or communicate - all of which have, in various combinations, been offered as the marks of a person. The pro-life position seems to confuse the sanctity of the person with the sanctity of life, which is two steps removed from it.
Pro-choicers say the very young product of conception, the zygote, has no ability to perform any of the distinctive activities that anyone associates with personhood (reasoning, choosing, loving, communicating, etc.) - not even feeling pain, for the zygote has no brain or nervous system. At first it is only a single cell. How could anyone call a single cell a person?
Pro-choicers claim that personhood begins not at at conception, but develops gradually, as a matter of degree. Every one of the characteristics we use to identify personhood arises and grows gradually rather than suddenly. The fetus is potentially a person, but it must grow into an actual person.
Pro-choicers will say that personhood is not a clear concept. There is not universal agreement on it. Different philosophers, scientists, religionists, moralists, mothers, and observers define it differently. It is a matter of opinion where the dividing line between persons and non-persons should be located. But what is a matter of opinion should not be decided or enforced by law. Law should express social consensus, and there is no consensus in our society about personhood's beginning or, consequently, about abortion. One opinion should not be forced on all. Pro-choice is not pro-abortion but, precisely, pro-choice.
Thus there are four and only four possibilities: that it is not a person and we know that, that it is a person and we know that, that it is a person but we do not know that, and that it is not a person and we do not know that. Now what is abortion in each of these four cases? In case (1), abortion is perfectly permissible. We do no wrong if we kill what is not a person and we know it is not a person-e.g., if we fry a fish. But no one has ever proved with certainty that a fetus is not a person. If there exists anywhere such a proof, please show it to me and I shall convert to pro-choice on the spot if I cannot refute it.
(abortion)Werner Fornos, Population Institute
By Brian Elroy McKinley
How anti-abortion activists misrepresent the biblical record
People don't take time to read their own Bibles.This website talks about the few biblical verses that anti-abortionists cite to demonstrate that abortion is murder. But there are others that would seem to make the case for abortion.
This is one of the verses commonly cited to support the stance the abortion is murder: "For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for Thou art fearfully wonderful (later texts were changed to read "for I am fearfully and wonderfully made"); wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." Psalm 139:13-16
But the Bible also says this:
"And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Exodus 21:22-25
In Leviticus 27:6 a monetary value was placed on children, but not until they reached one month old (any younger had no value). Likewise, in Numbers 3:15 a census was commanded, but the Jews were told only to count those one month old and above - anything less, particularly a fetus, was not counted as a human person. In Ezekiel 37:8-10 we watch as God re-animates dead bones into living soldiers, but the passage makes the interesting note that they were not alive as persons until their first breath. Likewise, in Genesis 2:7, Adam had a human form and a vibrant new body but he only becomes a fully-alive human person after God makes him breathe.
Making a judgment against people in God's name, when God is not behind the judging, is nothing short of claiming that our own beliefs are more important than God's.
U.S.: The Battle Over AbortionNovember 9, 2005, Chicago Tribune
Since Roe vs. Wade turned 30, the battle over abortion has intensified. Anti-abortion advocates are working to chip away at the landmark ruling that affirmed a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy. Abortion supporters are rallying to keep the issue in the public consciousness. In the wake of the Alito nomination, interest groups on both sides revved up their public relations machines. On a state and national level, the status of abortion has seesawed. In the last several years, here are the more relevant events concerning abortion:
U.S.;: Defying Stereotypes on AbortionJune 25, 2006, Baltimore Sun
The profile on the average woman who seeks abortion, drawn from abortion statistics collected by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, contradicts a lot of assumptions out there about the woman who seeks an abortion. She is a mom, in her 20s, she's attended college, earns a manageable living and is either living with the father or in a long-term relationship with him and has a child. She is not someone's careless teenage daughter.
It is surprising that a woman who has given birth would find herself back in this position.
It is educated women in their 20s who are having most abortions.
And while abortion rates have been decreasing for all women there have been only small declines in the rates for women in their 20s.
There were 1.3 million abortions in 2000, one abortion for every three births.
But 70% were to women in their 20s and early 30s. 80% were to unmarried women, but only 25% to women living in poverty.
She is almost as likely to be white 4% as she is to be a member of a minority.
60% of abortions are to women who have one child.
Though they make the decision not to give birth to another child they don't take the necessary steps to prevent pregnancy.
An estimated 40 million abortions will take place in the developing world in 2012. Most of these procedures will be clandestine and unsafe, taking a terrible toll on women's lives. Reducing the number of unsafe abortions is essential for improving public health. And it's the basic right of every woman to decide whether and when to have a child-without having to put her health or life at risk.
U.S. abortions fell 5% during the recession, perhaps because women are more careful to use birth control when times are tough, researchers say. Both the number of abortions and the abortion rate dropped by the same percentage.
Women are "more careful about birth control," said Elizabeth Ananat, a Duke University assistant professor of public policy and economics who has researched abortions.
Not all states send in data on abortions. While experts estimate there are more than 1 million abortions nationwide each year, the CDC counted about 785,000 in 2009 because of incomplete reporting.
Mississippi had the lowest abortion rate reported, at 4 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. The state also had only a couple of abortion providers and has the nation's highest teen birth rate. New York, second to California in number of abortion providers, had the highest abortion rate, roughly eight times Mississippi's.
Nationally since 2000, the number of reported abortions has dropped overall by about 6% and the abortion rate has fallen 7%.
A government study released earlier this year suggested that about 60% of teenage girls who have sex use the most effective kinds of contraception, including the pill and patch. That's up from the mid-1990s, when fewer than half were using the best kinds.
There are also there is an increased use of IUDs, T-shaped plastic sperm-killers that a doctor inserts into the uterus. Earlier this year the Guttmacher Institute reported that IUD use among sexually active women on birth control rose from less than 3% in 2002 to more than 8% in 2009.
IUDs essentially prevent "user error," said Rachel Jones, a Guttmacher researcher.
Also on the increase is the use of the morning-after pill, a form of emergency contraception that in 2006 was approved for non-prescription sale to women 18 and older. In 2009 that was lowered to 17.
The economy, which was in recession from December 2007 until June 2009, is likely another factor. Americans ere still worried about anemic hiring, a depressed housing market and other problems.
John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health, said: "The economy seems to be having a fundamental effect on pregnancies, not abortions."
The majority of abortions are performed by the eighth week of pregnancy, when the fetus is about the size of a lima bean.
Black women have an abortion rate four times that of white women .
"Life begins at conception" is the phrase frequently invoked by anti-choicers seeking to eliminate women's basic right to control over their own bodies, and it is the premise of policies pushed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and fundamentalist evangelicals. It is the cornerstone of the so-called personhood laws attempted in both Colorado and Mississippi, and the basis for the "Sanctity of Life" bill co-sponsored by Congressmen Paul Ryan and Todd Akin. The result of all of these efforts, if they succeeded, would be a total ban on abortion without exception, and bans on many forms of contraception, in vitro fertilization, and health care for women who are or who may be pregnant - in other words, a radical shift in women's lives.
"Life begins at conception," suggests a question: are women people with the same fundamental rights as men, or are they essentially incubators whose ability to participate in society and the economy, and, quite literally, whose ability to live is dependent on whether they are, might be, or might become pregnant.
But the phrase is highly - and purposefully - misleading because it confuses simple biological cell division both with actual pregnancy and with actual, legal personhood, which are all very different things.
Vice President candidate Congressman Paul Ryan said he was pro-life - not simply because of his Catholic faith, but also because of reason and science, giving the example of when he and his wife saw the seven week ultrasound of their child, and when they saw heartbeat, even though the little 'baby' was in the shape of a bean, they were convinced that life begins at conception.
Of course life begins at conception. Having a child requires, as a first step, the successful integration of a sperm and an egg, or fertilization. By "life," we mean the essential starting place of a potential human being; a human being is the end result if the fertilized eggs go through the process of cell division, successfully implant in the uterus and develop into healthy embryos, and subsequently go successfully through the many other phases of development leading to their births.
The fact that life begins at conception is why women and men use birth control to prevent it from happening. Humans don't need modern "reason and science" to tell them they get pregnant from sex; as Homo Sapiens they have been conceiving, carrying, and bearing babies for at least some 160,000 years, and they've been trying to prevent pregnancy and induce abortions for just as long.
Evidence of condom use has been found in cave drawings in France dated between 12,000 and 15,000 years old and in 3,000 year-old illustrations in Egypt. Humans have used pessaries, herbs, and other objects to create barriers to fertilization when having sex, and have used many other more dangerous and less effective means in the hopes of preventing fertilization, a subsequent pregnancy, and later, the birth of a child.
Paul Ryan needed science to believe his wife was pregnant and that his daughter's "life" began with conception, while most of us don't need an ultrasound to know that "life" begins with conception and is a frequent consequence of having sex.
The question is not when life begins, but when does pregnancy begin? Does personhood begin at conception? Is a fertilized egg, blastocyst, embryo, or fetus a person with rights that take priority over those of the woman upon whose body it depends?
Women know that pregnancy leads to having a baby, they don't need 'evidence'.
Do women have the moral agency and fundamental rights to decide whether or not to commit themselves not only to the development of a life within their own bodies, but to a lifelong tie to another human being once a child is born?
Life begins with conception, but pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg successfully implants in the uterus and develops into a healthy embryo; implantation begins six to 12 days after fertilization. There is no pregnancy until implantation happens, which is why any method that prevents fertilization or implantation can not cause an abortion. 50%-80% of fertilized eggs never successfully impant and end in spontaneous miscarriage (and before a woman even knows she is pregnant) because of insufficient hormone levels or an non-viable egg or for some other reason.
Hormonal contraception, including emergency contraception, works to prevent fertilization in the first place. If you don't like abortion at any stage, you should be a supporter of contraception, and emergency contraception, which needs to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse to prevent fertilization from taking place.
Anti-choicers who support "personhood" legislation intentionally or unintentionally misrepresent the mechanisms of action of contraception and the medical definition of pregnancy to blur the lines between contraception and abortion. There is this lie perpetuated by the USCCB and fundamentalist evangelicals, which is a precursor to promoting their goals of eliminating both contraception and abortion, making abortion the equivalent of murder, and by extension, controlling women's bodies and their economic and social choices. This is exactly the goal of so-called personhood amendments that have been the subject of several ballot initiatives and of the "Sanctity of Human Life" act co-sponsored by Ryan and Akin.
In December 2011, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (who in recent years converted to Catholicism) told a reporter that he believes that human life does not begin at conception but at "implantation and successful implantation" because if you say life begins at conception "you're going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions." Shortly thereafter, however, Gingrich "clarified" his statement. to the global Catholic network, ETWN, and reiterated his belief that "human life begins at conception" and that "every unborn life is precious, no matter how conceived," vowing to support pro-life legislation aimed at the ultimate goal of legally protecting "all unborn human life."
The term "personhood" has no medical or scientific definition. The Vatican teaches that a fertilized egg is a "person" with full rights under the law. However, Jewish law and tradition does not recognize an egg, embryo, or fetus as a person or full human being, but rather "part and parcel of the pregnant women's body," the rights of which are subjugated to the health and well-being of the mother until birth. The United Methodist Church recognizes the primacy of the rights and health of women. Islamic scholars, like Jewish scholars, have debated the issues of "ensoulment" and personhood, and continue to do so with no over-riding consensus.
Roe v. Wade allows abortions up until fetal viability, except that the "viable fetus must yield to the woman's right to have an abortion to protect her health and life."
Women who face unintended and untenable pregnancies and choose abortion overwhelmingly prefer to terminate a pregnancy as early as possible. According to Guttmacher Institute: nearly 62% of women who terminate a pregnancy do so before nine weeks of pregnancy, before any fetus is involved. Nearly 80% of such abortions occur before 10 weeks, and nearly 90% by the end of the first trimester. It should be noted that anti-choice laws and policies such as banning early and safe medication abortion, mandated waiting periods and unnecessary ultrasounds - all serve to push early abortions later than they otherwise would be, and are, in fact, responsible for a large share of such abortions.
Women know what being pregnant means, more than any fetal heartbeat, sonogram, ultrasound, or lecture on pregnancy can show. When considering an abortion, women weigh the responsiblities they have... to themselves and their own futures, to any born children they have or any they may plan to have at a future date. It is about whether or not a woman wants to and is able to make a lifelong emotional, financial, and physical commitment - often at substantial cost to herself and/or to her family - to the person who will exist if a pregnancy is successfully brought to term; it's not just about getting through the "inconvenience" of a pregnancy.
Without recourse to safe abortion care, an unintended pregnancy is a forced pregnancy and a forced birth, and amounts to reproductive slavery. Only one person - the woman in question - has the right to decide whether, when, and under what circumstances to bring a new person into the world. The vast majority of women who have an abortion know they are ending biological life that they can not or do not want to sustain because the commitment to an actual child is a moral commitment they are not able, willing, or ready to make, or can not make for reasons of health or life.
If you have no choice and control over your body, you are less than an actual person in the eyes of the law. If conservatives are so worried about abortion the closer a pregnancy gets to viability, then anti-choicers would be making sure both contraception and early, safe abortion were widely available. And when you reduce a complex reality to a slogan like "personhood", you actually minimize the personhood of women.
August 22, 2012, Huffington Post By: Jason Silverstein
Pro-life advocates should hold fundraisers for family planning providers, such as Planned Parenthood, not lobby to defund them. As the Centers for Disease Control in 2008 said: "providing women with the knowledge and resources necessary to make decisions about their sexual behavior and use of contraception can help them avoid unintended pregnancies and thus reduce the number of women seeking abortion."
According to a 2011 study, 43% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion while Intended pregnancies account for only 4% of abortions.
Access and correct use contraception reduces the percent of unintended pregnancies to 5%, reports the Guttmacher Institute. However, lack of available family planning services disproportionately punishes the poor. Though most women experienced decreases in abortion from 2000 to 2008, the abortion rate among poor women increased by 17.5%, as their rate of unintended pregnancy climbed to more than five times greater than high-income women.
Women who are uninsured or underinsured depend on publicly-funded family planning through Medicaid and the Title X Family Planning program. Mitt Romney claims that slashing Title X is a good way to slash spending. However the annual cost of unintended pregnancies is between $9.6 and $12.6 billion, estimates the Center on Children and Families of the Brookings Institution . Preventing unintended pregnancies will save taxpayers as much as $6.2 billion. California's Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment (PACT) Program provides publicly-funded family planning services, including contraception. In 2007, Family PACT helped women avert an estimated 296,200 unintended pregnancies and 122,200 abortions, which corresponds to an estimated total-cost savings of $4.05 billion (from conception to age five).
For the five years 2001-2006 $170 million was withheld from the international family planning initiative of the United Nations Population Fund. Linda Whiteford, an anthropologist at the University of South Florida, researched the consequences of the withheld funds and reported that the results of this "pro-life" policy were "10 million unwanted pregnancies, 4 million induced abortions, 23,500 maternal deaths, 385,000 infant and children deaths." Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine demonstrated that increasing family planning and contraceptive use has decreased maternal deaths by 40% in developing countries by reducing unintended pregnancies and, thus, reducing high-risk pregnancies and increasing space between pregnancies.
Family planning initiatives are pro-life initiatives.
In 2010, contraception accounted for 33.5% of Planned Parenthood's affiliate medical services. By providing family planning services to nearly 2.2 million patients, Planned Parenthood estimates averting approximately 584,000 unintended pregnancies and 277,000 abortions. Paul Ryan's proposal to turn Medicaid into a state-controlled block grant would jeopardize the ability of poor women - who are already at high risk for unintended pregnancy and abortion - to access health care services.
July 20, 2012, New York Times
In the country of Georgia in mideast Asia, women in 2005 had on average 3.1 abortions in their lifetimes - giving Georgia the highest documented abortion rate in the world. Compare that to the U.S. rate of .02. The Georgian number as dropped to 1.6 in 2010 a 48% decline.
The reason: women in Georgia finally got the pill, thanks to a campaign funded by USAID and the UNFPA that educates doctors and nurses here, markets birth control on television and subsidizes the cost of condoms, pills and IUDs.
This success story underscores a simple truth: more contraception equals fewer abortions. However, when the fertility rate drops below replacement, as in the case of Georgia, the issue of contraception becomes a hot topic and, in Georgia, the government has refused to cover contraception in the state-funded healthcare program for the poor.
Denying poor women safe contraception won't solve the problem of population decline, though; it will only encourage them to use abortion as a primary means of birth control, as they have done for decades. Today 40% of women in Georgia's rural areas can't afford birth control ($9-$12 per cycle) without the subsidies provided by the USAID-UNFPA program.
In addition the Orthodox Church in Georgia condemns both contraception and abortion. Also many Georgian women distrustful of the hormones in birth-control pills, saying they will make them sterile, give them cancer or make them fat. Others believe the pills don't really work, which is partly because for many years Georgian women were not instructed on how to use them correctly.
Over 22,000 women in England and Wales are having two or more abortions by the age of 25. And one-third of all terminations (189,574 last year) are done for women who have had at least one already.
The number of abortions in England and Wales rose 8% more than in 2000, according to Department of Health figures. Increasing numbers of women (76%) are having abortions early in their pregnancy, at under 10 weeks' gestation.
A small number of women who had an abortion last year had already terminated seven pregnancies.
A spokesman for the Prolife Alliance said: "Whatever is being done in the UK in the way of sexual health education, at whatever age, it is clearly not impacting significantly on unplanned pregnancies."
A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said: "Numbers have remained stable despite increasing investment in, and promotion of, longer-term methods of contraception. This shows how difficult it is for women to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Abortion is not a problem in itself. For many women abortion is a back-up to their contraception."
A Department of Health spokesman said: 'We welcome the continued fall in teenage pregnancies. Abortions are traumatic and stressful and should never be seen as a form of contraception. Women and men need to make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and think about contraception before having sex. There is a wide range of information and advice available from GPs and sexual health centres who can advise on the best type of contraception tailored to patients' health and lifestyle needs."
Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the author of the bill that would end ending federal funding of Planned Parenthood said it is "morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortions."
However, only 3% of Planned Parenthood's federal funding goes toward abortion and it's limited to pregnancy caused by rape or incest or when a woman's life is in jeopardy. About a third of its funding goes toward contraception, and the rest goes to testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screening and prevention.
Federal funding of abortion - with those exceptions - was banned in 1976 by the Hyde Amendment.
Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, which operates clinics throughout Riverside, San Diego and Imperial counties, gets 60% of its funding from the federal government, funneled through the state.
"Every year, Planned Parenthood prevents nearly a million unintended pregnancies, half of which would have ended in abortion," said a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. "We do more to end the need for abortion than any other organization in the country."
Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute. 40% of those pregnancies are terminated by abortion. For abortion opponents, denying funding for the leading provider of contraception makes no sense.
Unsafe and Illegal Abortions
Hospitals for the poor in Kenya have no beds to spare. Yet up to 40% of those beds result from desperate women having failed abortions under unsafe conditions. Some drink disinfectants or herbal concoctions or get injured in backstreet clinics where devices such as bicycle spokes, knitting needles, sticks and pens are used in place of surgical instruments.
Three years ago a new constitution made it legal to end a pregnancy when a woman's life or health is at risk. However, what most often places a woman's life at risk is a resort to unsafe procedures.
Money talks in Kenya's two-tier system. Rich and educated women routinely procure safe abortions in private hospitals, citing medical guidelines that allow termination in the interests a of woman's mental or physical health. But public hospitals turn women away because the penal code says that women who abort illegally can be jailed for seven years. Consequently, the government estimates that 800 unsafe abortions occur every day, leading to the deaths of thousands of women each year.
Monica Ogutu, of the Kisumu Medical and Education Trust, a charity that provides medical services and education in western Kenya, claimed in a recent paper that hospitals are inundated by abortion-related problems. Many of the women admitted fall between 17 and 25. She says the government should improve access to family planning and adopt policies that ensure women can procure safe abortions. "Men are a huge let-down." she says. Some actually tell their women statements such as: "Contraceptives are for sex workers. I do not want to see those tablets in my house" -- notwithstanding that the women don't want to conceive.
Kenya Medical Association secretary Lukoye Atwoli reported that pregnancy resulting from rape or incest was one of the main reasons Kenyan women became suicidal and depressed. High levels of sexual violence, poverty and limited access to family planning result in 43% of Kenyan pregnancies being unwanted.
Safe abortions have the potential to transform women’s health abroad, but funders still balkApril 21, 2014, AlJazeera America By: Jill Filipovic
Dr. Grace Chiudzu, the head of the maternity ward at a hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi, said the common issues her patients face are bleeding, infections, and abortion complications. 60% of the population in Malawi live in poverty and 1 in 36 women dies while pregnant or during childbirth. However President Joyce Banda puts health high on the national agenda. Malawi's donors, including the United States, the Gates Foundation and many others, have thrown support behind Banda's Safe Motherhood Initiative to save the lives of the many Malawian women who die or are seriously injured while pregnant or giving birth.
However, abortion is not addressed.
At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, unsafe, illegal abortion was highlighted as a leading cause of maternal death and a driver of gender inequality. Two decades later, maternal mortality is down, but the proportion of maternal death and injury caused by unsafe abortion has not changed.
Since the Cairo conference at least 1 million women have died from unsafe abortion, said Liz Maguire, president and CEO of the reproductive health advocacy group IPAS. "More than 100 million have been injured. All of these deaths and injuries are entirely preventable."
Unsafe abortion is the third leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide. The World Health Organization identifies safe abortion care as one of seven necessary interventions to ensure quality reproductive, maternal and child health care. Early-term abortion is a simple procedure and, when done by a trained provider, remarkably safe.
Many groups that focus specifically on maternal health do not advocate for abortion to be legal, accessible and safe.
A traditional leader in Malawi whose work to decrease child marriage and ensure no woman dies in childbirth has been highlighted in The New York Times and at major international conferences - Chief Inkosi Kwataine - said that "bortions are not very common." Yet in 2009, an estimated 29,500 women in Malawi were treated for complications from unsafe abortion, and unsafe procedures were the cause of almost 1 maternal death in 5.
U.S. foreign policy, in the form of the Helms Amendment, exacerbates this global public health crisis, perpetuating a culture of stigma, silence and inaction around a leading killer of women.
40 years ago Helms was passed as part of the backlash against Roe v. Wade. Helms prevents U.S. funds from paying for abortions overseas "as a method of family planning" or to "motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." But in practice abortion is often not even discussed, let alone provided, even for women facing life-threatening complications and rape and incest survivors who, even under the Helms Amendment, should be allowed access to abortion care. Agnecies in countries receiving U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance, are often not allowed to attend meetings where abortion is discussed. And there's censorship in training materials.
Then, in addition to Helms, the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, blocks not only USAID funding from paying for abortion, but also pulls any U.S. funds from other organizations that provided abortion with their own non-U.S. dollars, or advocated for abortion rights or provided any information about abortion at all - even counseling, information about legal abortion or referrals to legal providers. That policy was instituted by Ronald Regan, repealed by the Clinton administration, reinstated by George W. Bush, and removed by Barack Obama. Many organizations that receive U.S. dollars remain wary of abortion care, knowing the political tides may change.
The Mexico City Policy had devastating effects. By 2002, shipments of USAID-funded contraception to 16 countries were halted; many NGOs cut HIV/AIDS services; and clinics that were often the only providers of family planning tools, STI testing and treatment, HIV treatment and prenatal and well-baby care were shuttered.
In 1994, the Leahy Amendment was passed, stating that the Helms provision against motivating abortion "shall not be construed to prohibit the provision, consistent with local law, of information or counseling about all pregnancy options." This would have allowed USAID-funded groups to inform women of all their legal reproductive options - including abortion. However the Leahy Amendment is largely ignored. IPAS and other organizations have been pressing the Obama administration to correctly implement Helms, to little avail.
In Ethiopia, where abortion is legal, a woman living in an area where health facilities receive USAID support will be denied abortion care, whereas a woman living in a different district funded by another donor will have access to safe care, Maguire said.
Merck for Mothers, a 10-year, $500 million initiative to reduce maternal mortality focuses largely on two causes of maternal death: hemorrhaging and preeclampsia. It emphasizes that a woman dies every two minutes from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. "That's 800 women a day," it claims. But it doesn't include safe abortion. What it doesn't say is that 1 out of every 8 of those women dies of an unsafe abortion. Five million more women seek care for complications from unsafe procedures. Even more are injured but don't go to a hospital or clinic.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a major funder of family planning tools worldwide - but Melinda Gates publicly insists that "we're not talking about abortion."
"Stigma is the key barrier," said Ellen Israel, of Pathfinder International, a global leader in sexual and reproductive health. "It's why women hide. It's why they don't come. It's why they come late. It's why, even if misoprostol is available in the market, women don't have information on how to take it so it will work."
Even in countries with the lowest abortion rates, the number of procedures never reaches zero. Where abortion is legal and accessible, it's usually very safe. Where it's not, women die.
Abortion access allows women to be equal players in society. There is no way for a society to achieve the real objective - full gender equality - without abortion rights.
Development groups increasingly understand that women must be able to plan their families. The returns compound themselves: Girls are able to go to school, women are healthier and able to live independently, and families are more prosperous, economies grow. As the Gates Foundation says, "Every dollar spent on family planning can save governments up to 6 dollars that can be spent on improving health, housing, water, and other public services." But abortion must be a part of that solution. Women cannot achieve equality without the right to both prevent and end pregnancies.
There is some hope. Recently, leaders from over 30 countries called for the decriminalization of abortion and a renewed commitment to the provision of safe abortion services.
Traditional leaders called 'queen mothers' in Ghana, learned under an Ipas program that abortion is allowed under Ghanaian law, and are now champions in their own communities, helping women access services, including contraceptives and safe abortion. Pathfinder International partners with nurses and community outreach workers in Ghana to provide care and reduce stigma around the procedure.
In Nepal abortion was legalized in 2002 and trained providers were placed in all 75 Nepalese districts. Between 1998 and 2009, Nepal's maternal mortality rate was cut in half and the amount of post-abortion complications in the country now hovers around 2%.
Much of the opposition to safe and legal abortion originates in the United States - and it is both well organized and well funded. To push for women's rights, advocacy and health organizations need real attention paid to the high cost of unsafe abortion. They need significant funding, greater resources and stronger political will.
New Study Provides First Abortion Estimates for the Country State and AgeDecember 19, 2013, Guttmacher Institute
The theory that high levels of unintended pregnancy result in high abortion rates, has been demonstrated to be true in Mexico with 54% of all unintended pregnancies ending in induced abortion.
One million abortions take place in the country each year, even though abortion is highly restricted throughout Mexico, except in the Federal District of Mexico City.
The high abortion rate indicates that family planning programs are not keeping pace with women's desire to limit and space their births.
About 4 million Mexican women are at risk for unintended pregnancy -- they want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using a modern contraceptive method.
"Family planning programs must be improved to ensure that women-and young women in particular-can easily access counseling and the range of contraceptive options they need," said Dr. Fátima Juárez, lead author of the study.
Approximately 12% of married women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using any method of contraception. About 27% of sexually active young women aged 15-24 are not using a contraceptive method, resulting in high abortion rates among adolescents aged 15-19 (44 per 1,000) and young women aged 20-24 (55 per 1,000).
In Tabasco, the Federal District, Mexico State, and Baja California Sur, the abortion rates for women aged 20-24 are at least 80 per 1,000.
The study found that more than one-third of all women having a clandestine abortion (36%) experience complications that need medical treatment from a health facility, but an estimated 25% of them do not receive the care they need. Almost none of the women having unrestricted abortions had problems.
In Syria thousands of people have been killed and two million have crossed over into Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey. In fact, the population of Lebanon has increased 25%. CARE predicts that half of Syria's 22 million citizens will be displaced or in need of assistance by the end of the year.
75% of the displaced people in and around Syria are women and children, many of whom will be sexually assaulted during the conflict. For women who become pregnant as a result of rape have few options, with abortion being illegal, and hundreds of thousands of women from the region undergo unsafe abortions every year, putting women's life and health at risk.
Unfortunately U.S. law, under the 1973 Helms Amendment, restricts the use of our humanitarian assistance from providing abortion care, even if women have been raped.
In cultures around the world, women who are raped may have been brutally attacked in her own home by an enemy soldier, or exploited by a teacher or relative, but societies continue to see women, implicitly or explicitly, at fault. It has been reported that the Syrian government soldiers will rape female relatives in front of prisoners in order to torture men accused of opposing the government.
Leading humanitarian organizations like the International Rescue Committee are legally barred from providing safe and compassionate abortion services as part of their emergency medical services, leaving victims to compound their trauma either with a forced pregnancy and motherhood, or an unsafe abortion risking death and injury.
Access to safe abortion remains the neglected taboo in discussions about reproductive health and family planning.
In Ireland, which has restrictive abortion laws, Savita Halappanavar was denied a termination of pregnancy during a threatened miscarriage and subsequently died of sepsis in the hospital in October 2012. Her death sent an outcry throughout the developed world. While maternal deaths are now rare in developed countries, any such death is usually avoidable. The Irish Government should thoroughly review and reassess its ambiguous abortion law.
In the developing world, of about 350,000 maternal deaths all but about a 1000 happened in developing countries, the majority in Africa, according to 2008 figures. The leading causes are post-partum haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis, obstructed labour, and complications from unsafe abortions.
Of an estimated 43.8 million abortions per year, 49% are classified as unsafe and nearly all (97%) in Africa are unsafe. About 47,000 women each year die from unsafe abortion and another 5 million women suffer disabilities related to unsafe abortions. Without access to legal and safe abortions, many women will continue to die needlessly.
The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to give women choice over when and how to plan their families and avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Through access to contraceptives almost 300,000 maternal deaths were averted in 2008. Yet, there are still about 222 million adolescent girls and women worldwide who lack access to family planning.
At the London Summit on Family Planning in July, US $2.6 billion in new donor money was pledged to give an additional 120 million adolescent girls and women access to contraceptives by 2020. However $4.1 billion is required to reach everyone who has unmet needs.
A UNFPA report that came out in November estimates that making voluntary family planning available to everyone in developing countries would reduce costs of health care for women and newborn babies by $11.3 billion annually. The report makes a strong case that family planning delivers immeasurable rewards to women, families, and communities. Women must be allowed to take part in society beyond reproduction. Adolescent girls' lives should not be restricted by early childbirth, lack of education, and poverty. Deaths and disability from childbirth and unsafe abortions should become a scourge of the past.
The 2014 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the 2015 post-Millennium Development Goals project will give us the opportunity to make the strongest effort possible to give every woman in every country the right and choice to decide when and how to plan a family. Sustainable development requires the full participation of women in society worldwide.
Women in all parts of the world have abortions. And they have them for similar reasons. Where it is illegal, many women still resort to abortion, even when that means breaking the law.
Some of the highest abortion rates in the world are in Latin America and Africa, where abortion is highly restricted in almost every country - but where many women have unintended pregnancies.
The lowest abortion rates are in Western Europe, where the procedure is legal and widely accessible - but where effective contraceptive use is high and unintended pregnancy rates are low.
The way to reduce abortion is not to outlaw it, but to help women avoid unintended pregnancies in the first place.
In the developing world, 222 million women want to avoid pregnancy but are not using a modern contraceptive method. For many, the limited contraceptive services and methods available to them do not meet their needs. Others lack access to family planning services altogether. And some women need better counseling and more power to make their own childbearing decisions.
If these needs were met, unintended pregnancies would decline from 80 million to 26 million annually and there would be 26 million fewer abortions each year and thousands of women's lives would be saved.
Unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal death, with 47,000 deaths every year from complications of unsafe abortion. Virtually all of these deaths occur in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws.
August 29, 2012
A study titled "The Health Systems Cost of Post-Abortion Care in Ethiopia," by Michael Vlassoff of the Guttmacher Institute, estimated the cost to the health system of providing post-abortion care (PAC), based on research conducted in 2008. PAC consumes a large portion of the total expenditure in reproductive health in Ethiopia. Investing more resources in family planning programs to prevent unwanted pregnancies would be cost-beneficial to the health system.
Ethiopia spent US$7.6 million in 2008 to provide care for post-abortion care complications, an average of $36 per woman treated. The study also found that every dollar spent on family planning services would save $6 in post-abortion care services.
The treatment of incomplete abortions is both the most common and the least costly post-abortion care procedure in Ethiopia, costing an average of $24 per procedure. Treatment of shock and sepsis costs approximately $40, while treating the most serious complications, such as uterine perforation and related illnesses, costs almost $153 per intervention. Women suffering from complications that arise from unsafe abortion pay more than 75% of the total cost of their treatment, a much higher proportion than they pay for other reproductive health services.
While the study only looked at the direct costs of post-abortion care, such as drugs, supplies, personnel and hospitalization fees, the authors noted that including indirect costs, such as capital and overhead, which were not investigated in the study, would bring the national total cost of pos-tabortion care provision to at least $11.5 million.
Of the estimated 382,000 abortions in Ethiopia in 2008, about 75% were carried out under unsafe conditions. The researchers found that 58% of women who had had an abortion experienced complications that required medical treatment. However, many of these women did not receive the medical care they required, indicating that current service provision is insufficient. Also, despite growing modern contraceptive use in Ethiopia, about 1.7 million unintended pregnancies occur every year, largely due to unmet need for contraception.
The Helms Amendment, which passed in 1973 - more than 40 years ago, prevents U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used to pay for abortion as "a method of family planning" or "to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." in 1994 Congress passed legislation to clarify that women in countries receiving aid could be counseled on all pregnancy options, including abortion. However, the Helms Amendment still inhibits funding to family planning agencies.
According to Al Jazeera, in Ethiopia, "a woman living in an area where health facilities receive USAID support will be denied the abortion care that is legal in her own country, whereas a woman living in a different district funded by another donor will have access to safe care." More than 100 women die each day from complications of unsafe abortions. These deaths often occur in poor countries that receive aid from the U.S. for other medical treatments.
U.S. anti-abortion rules endanger women around the world. WHO studies show that where women can access safe abortions, fewer women have unsafe abortions, and a study in Nepal showed that legalizing abortion cut the maternal mortality rate in half.
The Bush administration's ban on funds to family planning clinics which offer abortion counselling is affecting the supply of condoms to countries hit by HIV/Aids. Clinics have had to close in a number of African countries because the organisations refuse to sign a declaration that they will not offer or discuss abortions. The Population Action International said that the policy reduces access to family planning services and weakens HIV/Aids prevention. Many clinics have closed, which are the only provider of sexual healthcare, because of a cutoff of funds from USAID. About $430 million can only go to organisations that have signed the anti-abortion pledge. USAID is the most important donor of condoms, delivering more than a third of all donated supplies. By 2002, the policy had ended shipments of USAID-donated condoms to 16 developing countries whose family planning associations refused to sign the pledge. USAID's condom supplies to a further 13 countries have been cut because the main family planning organisation will not sign.
The Global Gag rule has a chilling effect on post abortion care. Organizations who are afraid of losing their funding are not providing post abortion care - even though post abortion care is an exception to the Mexico City Policy. Consequently, women are dying, and those who are not are losing the opportunity to learn about family planning.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted to repeal the gag rule on international family-planning assistance. The restriction blocks the use of U.S. money by any organization that even mentions the availability of abortion to women. Even if the House of Representatives goes along with the Senate, the president might veto the repeal.
An amendment proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer authorizes foreign policy programs to ensure that America's foreign policy reflects America's values. It gives poor women around the world control of their lives and their futures. The Global Gag Rule denies U.S. family planning aid to foreign health care providers that use funds to provide legal abortions, provide counseling on legal abortion, or publicly support legal abortion within their countries. The effects have been dramatic. In the developing world, health care providers have been unable to agree to ignore their responsibilities to provide women with information about their legal options. In Kenya, clinics have closed leaving tens of thousands of poor people without services. In Ethiopia, contraceptive supplies have run out, leaving thousands of women at risk for an unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Rather than preventing abortion, the Global Gag Rule only makes unsafe abortion more likely.
Pro-life Obama has repealed the Mexico City "gag rule" which prevents American dollars from going to groups that offer abortion services. But some are urging the Obama administration to delay that until he can put it in a broader "abortion reduction" agenda.
First the religious left's explanation of what the Mexico City Policy or Global Gag Rule does is inaccurate. The Global Gag Rule was first put in place by Ronald Reagan, to deny funding to international family planning organizations unless they agreed to specific curtailments as set by the US on the medical services and information they provided to their patients. Health centers in developing nations, which help women and men plan their families and avoid unintended pregnancies, would not be allowed to provide abortions discuss abortion or even hang a poster that mentions abortion.
In countries like Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, imposition of the global gag rule has meant the loss of funds for the contraceptive supplies and services needed to prevent unintended pregnancies. If a woman is in need of a life or health saving abortion? The health center is censored from providing a referral or even telling her that is what she needs.
If you block funds to family planning organizations for family planning and contraception provision, this usually leads to abortion.
The Global Gag Rule was put in place to appease anti-choice voices. President Obama understands that these nods or gestures are are harmful to women and global society's efforts to grow and evolve.
During the November 2014 midterm elections, American voters decisively rejected ballot measures in two states that sought to define human personhood -- with all its attendant legal rights -- as starting at fertilization. Personhood measures would make it possible to ban some common FDA-approved contraceptive methods as well, because personhood proponents assert that these methods work by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg.
Even though prominent U.S. antiabortion groups like Americans United for Life (AUL), Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), the Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have publicly kept their distance from fights over personhood amendments, they have not shied away from asserting in other contexts that certain methods of contraception are actually methods of abortion.
In the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, certain for-profit employers were granted an exemption from the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) contraceptive coverage guarantee. During this debate, the view that emergency contraceptives and IUDs constitute abortion was expressed in legal briefs, press statements and elsewhere.
The claim that contraception is an abortifacients contradicts the facts laid out in detail in an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in October 2013 by numerous medical associations, led by Physicians for Reproductive Health and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. A contraceptive method, by definition, prevents pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, fertilization or implantation. Abortion ends an established pregnancy, after implantation.
Because of the scientific fact that most fertilized eggs naturally fail to implant in the uterus, the legal definition of pregnancy reflects also the scientific definition, and this has long been accepted by federal agencies, and by U.S. and international medical associations.
The amicus brief describes evidence showing that hormonal and copper IUDs and the emergency contraceptives Plan B and ella have never been shown to disrupt an existing pregnancy, so none can accurately be called an abortifacient. Plan B and ella work primarily by preventing ovulation; they can work for up to five days after sex, because sperm can survive in a woman's body for that long. The hormonal and copper IUDs work primarily by preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. Only the copper IUD, when used as an emergency contraceptive, appears capable of preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, which, by medical definition, preceeds pregnancy.
The antiabortion movement has a long history of strategically using outdated information and outright junk science to restrict access to reproductive health care, from the supposed mental health impact of abortion to discredited assertions that abortion causes breast cancer.
Part of the problem is that the label on Plan B that states that Plan B "may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium) does not reflect the most current research, But updating FDA-approved labels is a time-consuming and expensive process and so it is not uncommon that such labels do not keep pace with the underlying science, such as the label on the birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin which say that they work primarily by suppressing ovulation, but also state that "other possible mechanisms may include...endometrial changes that reduce the likelihood of implantation.
Court briefs filed by various antiabortion groups in support of Hobby Lobby's refusal to cover certain contraceptives assert that the case is about the company's right to refuse on religious grounds to facilitate abortion. The brief from USCCB contains numerous references to objecting companies being forced to cover "abortion-inducing drugs and devices." AUL states that the the ACA's contraceptive coverage guarantee is a "back door abortion mandate" that requires employers to cover "life-ending drugs that have been deceptively labeled as contraception, despite the fact that the guarantee explicitly extends only to FDA-approved contraceptive methods. SBA List also refers to the guarantee as an "Abortion Drug Mandate," while the Heritage Foundation says it requires "coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and devices."
The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) says that Plan B can lead to "embryo death" by preventing implantation and that "IUDs work by either killing the embryo or by preventing the embryo from implanting." AUL claims that "ella can kill an embryo even after implantation has occurred,"
While claiming that the ACA's contraceptive coverage guarantee that emergency contraceptives and IUDs constitute abortion, groups like AUL, SBA List and USCCB pretend in other contexts that they hold no such views. In February 2014 article by USCCB's Richard Doerflinger discussing the decline in U.S. abortion rates. Doerflinger consistently refers to IUDs and emergency contraception as "contraceptives" or "contraception," never mentioning these methods' supposed abortifacient qualities and accepting without question the mainstream definition of abortion as the termination of an established pregnancy.
There are hundreds of policies in effect that regulate and restrict access to abortion care across the United States, both at the federal and, especially, the state level. Treating some contraceptives as abortifacients and applying the full range of existing abortion restrictions to them would have a dramatic impact. If the myriad hardships and indignities to which U.S. women who obtain abortions are often subjected were applied to IUD and emergency contraceptive users, the effect would border on the bizarre. For instance, women who self-administer Plan B would potentially run afoul of state laws that prohibit self-inducing an abortion or practicing medicine without a license. Another example: a physician in Missouri inserting an IUD would be required to do so in an ambulatory surgical center and would also need hospital admitting privileges.
Attacks have already been made on public insurance coverage (under Medicaid, Title X national family planning program, and other federal or state programs) and other public funding for some contraceptive methods by claiming they cause abortion.
The influential organizations behind this anticontraception agenda have compartmentalized the debate, which allows them to pick and choose when contraception should be viewed as abortion and when it should not. They are essentially able to pursue a "personhood" argument in areas where doing so is politically feasible, but at the same time feign moderation by keeping the full-fledged, politically toxic "personhood" agenda at arm's length. This deception is part of a deliberate, long-term strategy to limit women's access not only to safe and legal abortion, but to common methods of contraception as well.
Despite the fact that black people are being killed by police at twice the rate of white people, pro-life extremists want you to believe that a very different black genocide is quietly taking place.
Billboards appeared stating things like, "Black children are an endangered species," or "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb," or "Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted" (with the image of President Barack Obama). While these heavy-handed ads have almost all but disappeared, other anti-abortion groups have adopted the tactic of framing abortion as a calculated assault on black people. In California, New Jersey, and Virginia, a group called the Radiance Foundation put up billboards that simultaneously shamed black single mothers and black women who choose to have an abortion.
It's not like these groups actually care about black lives. They only care about advancing their anti-abortion agenda and capitalizing on the political cachet of the Black Lives Matter movement.
After the "Center for Medical Progress" released deceptively edited videos that claimed Planned Parenthood employees profited from the sale of fetal tissues, an new anti-abortion campaign named the fetal tissue in the Center for Medical Progress video Emmett, saying the fetus the tissue was from "is the Emmett Till of the pro-life movement," referring to Emmett Till, the black Mississippi teen who was brutally murdered in 1955 after allegedly "flirting with a white woman."
The logic connecting a black boy who was murdered in the Jim Crow South to a sample of fetal tissue voluntarily donated to a health provider is virtually non-existent.
"Things like this feed the stereotype that black women are inherently bad people who are going to hurt their children simply because they may need an abortion at some point in their lives," said NARAL board member and activist Renee Bracey Sherman." A lot of these organizations tend to play off the fact that black women are five times more likely to have an abortion than their white counterparts, but don't actually look at the root cause of that, which is lack of access to consistent contraception. In Texas, people are splitting [birth control] pills between family members because they're so hard to get."
These groups are doing nothing to make sure that black children have the right to an education, have a roof over their head, or can play in the park without being killed.
Anti-abortion groups frequently claim that abortion clinics systematically set up shop in black communities, which has lead to "black genocide. They tout abortion as the number one killer in the black community. But according to the Guttmacher Institute, only 6% of abortion providers are located in majority black neighborhoods; 60% are located in majority white neighborhoods.
An organization, SisterReach, in Tennessee, is combatting the rise of patronizing, anti-abortion billboards with messaging of their own. A poll from 2013 shows that eight in ten African Americans support abortion and the majority believe that "efforts to prevent unintended pregnancy are preferable to making abortion illegal."
"I don't deserve to be shamed for my reproductive health decisions, even when it's an abortion," one of SisterReach's billboards read. "Trust me to make the best decisions for myself, my family, and my community."
About half of Texas abortion clinics have closed their doors following the passage of House Bill 2. As a result, in the last year, some women in Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin have waited up to 20 days to obtain the procedure.
Under HB 2, doctors who perform abortions are required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic. A separate provision, currently blocked from enforcement by the Supreme Court, would require Texas abortion facilities to meet the same standards as so-called ambulatory surgical centers.
In Dallas, wait time in Dallas has increased from five days to as long as 20 days.
Purvi Patel entered a hospital for heavy bleeding after a miscarriage in July 2013. She said she was only two months pregnant at the time of her miscarriage. She admitted that she'd put the fetus in a dumpster, emphasizing that she'd thought it to be dead.
Patel had been hiding the pregnancy from her conservative Hindu family and it is believed that she did not receive prenatal care.
She was alleged to have taken abortifacients she purchased online from a pharmacy overseas. Expert witnesses at her trial estimated her gestation to be past Indiana's 20-week window for legal abortion. The prosecution put forth a bizarre and highly disputed "lung float" theory, asserting that because the fetus's lung floated when tested, Patel had actually delivered a living, breathing baby and left it to die.
She was convicted and sentenced-to 20 years in prison for neglect of a dependent and "feticide" related to her own abortion attempt.
Her case immediately became a rallying cry among pro-choice advocates who point out that pro-lifers have long maintained that the criminalization of abortion would target only shady providers, not the women seeking them. Patel's case reflects a nationwide climate in which the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling that fetuses are not separate people with separate rights is routinely challenged.
Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), noted that anti-abortion measures defining life as beginning with conception "are providing the grounds for locking pregnant women up."
In a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Paltrow and her co-author identified more than 400 arrests, detentions, and forced medical interventions for which a woman's pregnancy was a "necessary factor" between 1973, the year of the Roe v. Wade decision, and 2005.
More than 80 percent of the cases identified by NAPW involved a charge of using an illegal substance, most often cocaine, harking back to the now debunked "crack baby" hysteria of the crack-cocaine era.
"Basically, since the 1980s, prosecutors started charging pregnant women who use drugs with crimes like child endangerment or delivering drugs to a minor... and in almost every state except South Carolina and Alabama, the courts invalidated those prosecutions," Linda Fentiman, a Pace University professor specializing in health and criminal law said.
The first woman to be convicted of homicide by child abuse due to her behavior during pregnancy was Regina McKnight, who was arrested in 1999 and then sentenced to 12 years in prison for a stillbirth she allegedly caused by taking cocaine. The Supreme Court of South Carolina overturned her conviction in 2008, ruling that McKnight had received inadequate counsel and was convicted on the basis of "outdated" assumptions about the harms of prenatal exposure to cocaine. As an amicus brief filed with the court explained, "Cocaine is no more harmful than nicotine use, poor nutrition, lack of prenatal care, or other conditions commonly associated with the urban poor."
It has long been established in the medical community that criminalizing addiction during pregnancy may actually deter women from receiving prenatal care, jeopardizing the health of both the mother and the fetus.
In New York, Jennifer Jorgensen is currently appealing her conviction of manslaughter in the death of the fetus she was carrying when she caused a car wreck that killed two other passengers in another vehicle. Jorgensen was acquitted of driving under the influence and manslaughter related to those deaths, but the manslaughter charge for the fetus inside her belly at the time of the crash (which died after an emergency C-section later) stuck.
Many couples who use in vitro fertilization (IVF) produce more embryos than they can use. Many of these couples frequently donate an embryo they had conceived but didn't use to medical research in the hope that their choice will help doctors find cures for debilitating and fatal illnesses such as Huntington's disease and ALS.
Planned Parenthood, like many fertility clinics, allows women to donate to medical research tissue from an embryo or fetus they will not carry to term. Planned Parenthood receives no profit for this, only reimbursement for its costs.
But when there is an abortion involved, there is a striking difference.
In some states a woman seeking an abortion must receive state-directed counseling designed to discourage her from the procedure. She must then wait at least 24 hours until she can continue. In other states, women are forced to undergo unnecessary and invasive ultrasounds, watch or listen to a description of the ultrasound, and hear a lecture on how the embryo or fetus is a human life. Clinics in some states must provide them with medically inaccurate information on the risks of abortion. After all that, women often cannot have an abortion without waiting an additional one to three days, depending on the state.
In contrast, all couples donating embryos have to do is sign a form. There are no mandatory lectures on gestation, no requirement that they be explicitly told that personhood begins at conception, nor are they required to view a picture of a day-five embryo. There are no compulsory waiting period for them to reconsider their decision.
There are an estimated 400,000 to 1 million frozen embryos in the United States.
The ugly truth about abortion restrictions is that they are often less about protecting life than about controlling women's bodies. They view contraception, like abortion, as a "license" to have non-procreative sex. If anti-choice lawmakers cared as much about protecting life as they did about women having sex, they could promote laws that prevent unwanted pregnancy.
IVF patients want to be a mother. Abortion, on the other hand, thwarts conservative ideals about a woman's proper role as a wife and mother.
It seems that anti-choice organizations are going after the more politically vulnerable group. IVF patients are richer and more often white while poor people have less access to affordable effective contraception and instead have to resort to abortion.
Cutting Planned Parenthood's funding would have no effect on abortion, which isn't funded by federal grants.
In 1971, New York was one of the few places in the country where abortion was legal. Women who hitchhiked or drove from all over the Midwest and New England to reach an abortion clinic.
Roe v. Wade was supposed to put an end to women crossing state lines for their abortions. But over the last four years, abortions have become more and more difficult to obtain. Even where laws can't quite make it impossible for abortion clinics to stay open -- they are closing down at a rate of 1.5 every single week -- they can make it exhausting to operate one. In every corner of America, four years of unrelenting assaults on reproductive rights have transformed all facets of giving an abortion or getting one.
Activists have been calling it the "war on women." But the onslaught of new abortion restrictions has been so successful, so strategically designed, and so well coordinated that the war in many places has essentially been lost.
Women trek hundreds of miles north from Dayton, Ohio, or east from South Bend, Indiana, for an abortion at a Detroit Michigan center. Or they drive from Kentucky to New Jersey, or fly from Texas to Washington, DC,. Some are already miscarrying-probably after taking pills or herbal concoctions they got from the internet. A few have tried to open their cervix by digging into it with a sharp object.
Most abortions today involve some combination of endless wait, interminable journey, military-level coordination, and lots of money.
Texas is a prime example. In 2013 Texas state Senator Wendy Davis spent 11 hours filibustering a bill that threatened to shut down more than three-quarters of Texas' 41 abortion clinics. But Republican Gov. Rick Perry called the Legislature back for a special session and the bill soon passed.
One portion of the bill-known as HB 2-required all abortions to take place in what amounts to a mini-hospital. Another section required clinics to make administrative pacts with local ERs, which wiped out clinics in areas where all the hospitals are Baptist or Catholic, or susceptible to political pressure.
The measure reduced the number of abortion clinics in Texas from 41 clinics to 22; today, there are 18. Today there is a swath of Texas 550 miles wide without a single abortion provider.
Abortion clinics weren't the only victims: a Planned Parenthood clinic, felled by dramatic cuts to the state's family planning budget, has been replaced by a crisis pregnancy center, a pro-life clinic where women are told scientifically debunked claims about supposed links between abortion and breast cancer or thoughts of suicide.
Whole Woman's Health operates four clinics in Texas. Three of them may succumb to HB 2. But CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller sued the state, claiming that the distances women would be forced to travel constitute an "undue burden"-the legal standard the Supreme Court established in 1992 for striking down an abortion restriction.
Miller won in district court, but lost when the state took the case to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In June, the US Supreme Court put the 5th Circuit's decision on hold-for the time being, all 18 clinics remain open pending the high court's decision in the fall as to whether it will hear the case. Because the lawsuit offers the court a chance to clarify the definition of "undue burden," it could be the most important -- or detrimental -- decision on abortion rights in two decades. If Miller loses, Texas will be free to shut down all but 10 clinics.
Miller is not waiting for that. Her newest clinic for Texas women is across the state border-in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Almost half of the patients at Whole Woman's Health in Las Cruces come from Texas. It's an hour's drive from the large city El Paso, which has already lost one of its two clinics. Some patients have driven six hours from Lubbock, even 10 hours from the Dallas suburb of Waxahachie.
Ironically, the fact that Miller opened a clinic in Las Cruces is now being used to fight her lawsuit: El Paso women would live 1,100 miles, round-trip, from the nearest Texas abortion clinic -- but, state lawyers noted, her clinic in New Mexico is only an hour away from El Paso.
The goal of abortion opponents is to shift the parameters on what are publicly -- and therefore politically -- acceptable options between two extremes. As this political theory goes, apply the right pressures, and over time the window can shift and radical ideas can become mainstream. Many abortion opponents have abandoned violent protests and clinic bombings to push for restrictions that purport to be about informed consent (waiting periods) or safety (surgical facilities).
Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life (AUL), claims that Roe v. Wade implicitly permits abortion for any reason at any time during pregnancy. AUL, which has written most of the model abortion legislation adopted across the country, is responsible for the recent wave of restrictions.
A clinic in southern New Jersey is seeing more and more patients from Virginia -- they travel that far because clinics in Maryland and Delaware are overbooked -- and the Midwest, where many clinics have shut down. Ohio has closed 7 of 16 clinics since 2011.
Thirteen states, including Texas, have introduced laws that require women to make an extra clinic visit -- usually for anti-abortion counseling -- 24, 48, or even 72 hours before they can get the procedure. Sarah Roberts, a researcher with the University of California - San Francisco, found that Utah's three-day waiting period caused the average woman to delay her abortion eight days. The delay cost women money (in Texas, an average of $141) and forced them to have to tell more people about their abortions. Roberts met one woman who couldn't get an abortion because the delay prolonged her pregnancy to the second trimester.
Fewer abortion clinics also means longer waits, which can mean a more complicated and expensive procedure.
For the "ambulatory surgical center" (ASC) where Texas wants to abortions to take place there are strict square footage standards and requirements for pricey equipment-like scrub sinks and air filtration systems-that doctors simply don't need for first-trimester abortions, costing about 40% more in utilities and property taxes. That is, if they can raise the funds -- several million dollars -- to build them.
In addition to Texas, 24 other states have passed legislation to require many abortions to be performed in such facilities. Mainstream medical groups are unequivocal that the vast majority of abortions do not require such precautions. 90% of abortions take place in the first trimester. The procedure is typically performed while the woman is under mild sedation or awake and under local anesthesia. The doctor places a speculum in the vagina, dilates the cervix, and uses a suction device -- which can be electrical or as simple as a small plastic syringe -- to remove the pregnancy from the uterus.
Abortion is 40 times safer than a colonoscopy.
AUL's Yoest disagrees: "I find it really offensive when they make these kinds of arguments. The abortion industry wants to try to convince the American public that they should be allowed to maintain unsafe businesses under the guise of access."
"In my clinics, staff have scrubs on, but they can hold a patient's hand," Miller told me. Women wait for their turn in a reception area, she added, and they wear their own clothes. But in surgical centers like this one, all the patients are naked beneath their hospital gowns. "There's no individuality." Clinics can't use heating pads any more, because they might harbor bacteria. These are appropriate safety measures for facilities where surgeons cut people open -- but that's not what happens in a first-trimester abortion.
For the last 15 years, abortion hasn't necessarily required a "procedure" at all, now that the FDA gave its approval to RU-486 -- -a.k.a. the abortion pill. More than 2 million women have ended their pregnancies using medication alone. The ease, privacy, and efficiency offered by this method comes with great advantages.
In Iowa Planned Parenthood has seven clinics in the state where women can get the two types of pills necessary for an abortion: Mifeprex, which blocks progesterone, a hormone that is vital to a pregnancy, and misoprostol, which causes uterine contractions that flush out the pregnancy.
Medication abortion is ideally suited for a rural state like Iowa because the doctor's role is fairly uncomplicated. A doctor assesses a woman's chart and vitals, explains how the pills work, and hands them over. The doses are spaced one to two days apart, and women can take the second dose at home. Because few Iowa doctors are willing to provide abortions, and the population is so dispersed, Planned Parenthood started to link patients to doctors over video chat-what's called "telemedicine." At any one of its seven clinics, a nurse seats a patient in a sparse room with a computer monitor. The doctor and the patient talk via video feed. Then, with a remote control, the doctor opens a drawer next to the woman containing her pills.
The process saves many women an 8-9 hour round-trip. But abortion foes have managed to ban telemedicine abortions in 17 states since 2011. They have also legislated the dosage of medication a woman may take. Today's recommended dosage is different from the original dosage approved by the FDA in 2000. However, five states have now passed laws requiring doctors to prescribe abortion pills according to the original, outdated FDA guidelines.
Those older dosages are harder to tolerate -- failure rates more than double, and almost every woman experiences at least one severe side effect like nausea, vomiting, or cramps. Most doctors will not prescribe drugs with the older dosages.
One provider, David Burkons in Ohio, uses the old dosages. He said: "I explain there could be these effects," .. "And still, there are people who, this is what they want to do." Patients must make four trips to his office: one to hear him read a script describing the fetus, which is required by the state, one for each dose, because the old guidelines prevent them from taking the second dose at home, and a fourth time for a follow-up. Women often bleed after the second dose-only now it's in their cars instead of at home. And the procedure currently costs an extra $160. Some of his patients have experienced incomplete abortions -- an inevitable outcome when using the outdated dosage -- and an anti-abortion group is using this to close down his abortion operation.
Because of the extra time and money involved in getting a medical abortion, the abortion patient population has been skewed toward women who are white, educated, and insured, says Ushma Upadhyay, a researcher for the UC-San Francisco project who has been studying Ohio. And the number of medication abortions has plummeted. One Ohio clinic group provided 2,172 medication abortions the year before the law went into effect. In the three years after this number dropped 75%
The Center for Choice, an abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, had to close in 2013 due to a new law requiring abortion clinics to enter into a "transfer agreement" -- a contract with a local hospital to take any patients having complications. But all of Toledo's hospitals refused to make a deal with the clinic.
Joffe, the UC-San Francisco researcher, points out that in the past, anti-abortion activists targeted providers and made them victims of sustained violence. Protesters chained themselves to the front doors of clinics, a radical tactic that turned public opinion in clinics' favor.
Today, clinics are more preoccupied with state-sanctioned harassment. "In some ways, this is worse," Joffe says. "Why are these pro-choice fanatics making such a fuss? It's not policemen coming to get the protesters off your back anymore. It's inspectors coming to shut you down."
In Michigan, a new law requires a woman to print and read anti-abortion literature 24 hours before her abortion. When she prints the documents, they bear a time stamp. At least once a week, a woman appears at the clinic who read the documents the day before but couldn't print them until the morning of her procedure. Some women cannot print the document in their home because they use phones instead computers. The clinic staff has to turn the women away, and the women become furious and take it out on the staff, which is very demoralizing.
There are signs that self-abortion attempts are on the rise. Renee Chelian, who runs an abortion clinic in Detroit Michigan, says there are fewer women each year who can recall what abortion was like before it was legal. "What they don't know anymore, what's gotten lost in the history, is how many women died trying to give themselves abortions," she said.
In a poll conducted by Reuters/IPSOS 54 percent of of Americans think the government should continue the current funding for contraception and other nonabortion services. Even when pollsters use the false accusations made in the videos in their questions, fewer than 40% of respondents were willing to agree with defunding the organization.
Alito's confirmation would not produce the votes sufficient to overturn the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Even if Roe is reversed, states will be free to preserve abortion rights, and many almost will. Polls consistently show that most people in the U.S. want abortion to be legal. In a unanimous decision authored by Sandra Day O'Connor, the high court backed away from directly interfering with a New Hampshire law saying a lower court should not have struck down a parental-notification requirement entirely, and ordered the judges to come up with a limited version that would protect the health of girls seeking abortions in emergency situations. The environment here in Missouri is so hostile, with four abortion doctors left in the state the option for a pregnant woman was the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, an eight-hour round trip by car and another trip for a follow-up exam that lasted about five minutes. The whole episode cost her a little more than $600. Increasingly, the question of how difficult it is to get an abortion, if you can get one at all, depends on where you live and how much money you have. State legislatures passed 52 new laws restricting abortion and few states were more active than Missouri. Governor Blunt summoned a special session to pass bills that allow civil suits to be brought against anyone who helps a Missouri teen obtain an abortion without a parent's consent and require doctors who perform abortions to have privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. The Missouri legislature is back in session with a list of bills, including one to protect pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for morning-after pills, give tax credits to centers that discourage abortions, and require pain relief be given to fetuses that are aborted after 20 weeks. Pollsters say that Americans' views on abortion have shifted relatively little since Roe v. Wade, and that sometimes they are contradictory. In a survey for instance, 65% said they oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, but nearly an identical percentage said they would like to see more legal restrictions. Among the most popular: mandatory waiting periods, parental and spousal notification, and a ban on all late-term abortions. The Guttmacher Institute found that the two most common reasons for an abortion are that "having a baby would dramatically change my life" and "I can't afford a baby now." Most Americans say they think abortion should be illegal in those circumstances. A majority of Americans said they supported abortion only in the case of rape, when the mother's life or health is endangered or when there is a strong chance of serious birth defect. Even before many of the restrictions went into effect, the abortion rate and the overall number of abortions in the U.S. were on the decline. In 2000, the abortion rate was 21.3 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, down from 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women in 1980 and 1981. Economic growth, better contraception and safe-sex practices probably all contribute to the trend. But a 2004 study found that states that have adopted laws regulating abortion experienced a larger decline than those that have not. Reductions are particularly steep, in states that restricted the use of Medicaid funds to pay for poor women's abortions and those that required pre-abortion counseling about fetal development and abortion risks. Some have different theories. The 24-hour waiting period and the reduction of the numbers of clinics do not reduce abortions. They increase later abortion. A 2000 study in Mississippi found that the percentage of second-trimester abortions increased after the state adopted mandatory counseling and waiting periods. Fully 24% of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic's first-trimester abortions are being done with mifepristone, formerly called RU-486. And finally, there is the so-called morning-after pill. The Planned Parenthood affiliate in St. Louis performed about the same number of abortions in 2004 as in 2003. But in the same time period, the number of morning-after kits they dispensed jumped, to 8,000 from 6,500. Missouri has become the first state to extend its parental-notification law beyond its state line, a move aimed across the Mississippi River at the Hope Clinic, that sits in Granite City, Ill. A recent morning found a waiting room filled with anxious-looking young women, with a few boyfriends, husbands and children. Because Illinois has no parental-notification law, Hope Clinic had been the easiest option for Missouri teens seeking to get an abortion without telling their parents. But the new Missouri law has Hope demanding proof of age of all prospective patients. Thirty-two states require that women receive pre-abortion counseling. In three states, a description of the basic procedure is offered; in three others, women are told that the fetus may feel pain. In Illinois, counseling is not mandatory, but if a fetus is viable, the woman must be offered anesthesia for the fetus. Waiting Twenty-four states that mandate counseling also require that women wait, usually 24 hours, between counseling and an abortion. The Supreme Court last week instructed an appeals court to reconsider a New Hampshire parental notification law that it had struck down. Ohio prohibits a procedure known as dilation and extraction throughout pregnancy. Three other states have outlawed the procedure when there is a viable fetus. Seven other states have blanket bans on "partial-birth" abortion on the books, but a Supreme Court ruling makes these laws unenforceable.
The number of women from Ireland seeking abortions in England has fallen for the ninth successive year.
Pro-life group Precious Life said the decline in women traveling to England for an abortion shows "the pro-life battle is being won in Ireland". However pro-choice campaigners claim these statistics do not show the full picture.
Many other women go to Scotland or further afield in Europe for an abortion and there is an unknown number of women who obtain tablets over the internet to terminate a pregnancy.
Dr Audrey Simpson, director of the Family Planning Association (FPA) Northern Ireland, said: "These statistics show that criminalising abortion does not stop women having abortions. It is time for politicians to bring Northern Ireland into the 21st century and provide women with the same health care services that are free and available in the rest of the UK."
The 1967 Abortion Act applies only in England, Scotland and Wales, making it virtually impossible for women in Northern Ireland to obtain an abortion on the NHS. Northern Ireland is the only country in the UK where abortion is illegal. There abortion is only permitted for rape, incest, or where the fetus is diagnosed disabled.
In 2004, Czech women had 27,574 abortions, five times fewer than in the 1980s and gave birth to 97,664 babies. It shows women have gained the freedom to plan their families. In 1989, nine in 10 pregnancies were aborted. Couples used risky methods. They wanted to have sex when their parents weren't home. The only other method was abortion. In the late 1980s Czech doctors performed about 116,000 abortions a year; by the mid-1990s the number dropped to 58,000. It has more than halved since with a corresponding rise in the use of contraceptive pills. A 29-year-old dentist says 90% of her friends take birth-control pills. It's a big freedom to decide when to have a child. Her grandmother wanted two kids, but she had three kids and two abortions. Communist leaders sought total control over citizens, and sexual liberty, discussing sexuality, wasn't welcomed. During the Cold War, limited access to contraceptives resulted in high abortion rates. In 1980s Russia, abortion rates were two times higher than birth rates, and Russian women had an average of six abortions in their lifetimes.
More American women are having babies they didn't want, but researchers say they don't know if attitudes about abortion are changing. U.S. women of childbearing age who were surveyed in 2002 revealed that 14% of their births were unwanted at the time of conception as against only 9% in 1995. One anti-abortion group said the numbers reflect a "pro-life shift," while others suggested it might mean less access to abortion. In 1995, for every 100 pregnancies, 26 ended in abortion, in 2002, 24. The statistics together suggest but don't confirm that a greater percentage of unintended pregnancies resulted in births rather than abortions. The pro-lifers suggested that more women may be carrying pregnancies to term because of increasing availability of information that show it's a baby from an early time. The number of U.S. abortion providers fell from 2,400 in 1992 to 1,800 in 2000. The surveyed women were between the ages of 15 and 44. Researchers only recently completed their analysis of survey questions.
Sex-selection abortions have been banned to keep parents from aborting their unwanted female fetuses. The ban was put into affect after realizing that there is an imbalance in the mainland's population. For every 117 males born, there are 100 females. Worldwide the ration is 105-107:100. Under the new regulations, doctors are unable to have an ultrasonic scan done just to find out the sex of the fetus. In addition, "only government-approved centers will be allowed to conduct scans, perform abortions and issue morning-after pills." Since the introduction of the one-child policy more preference and discrimination has occurred to female children. The infant mortality rate is 27% higher than males in the mainland and it has been thought that the male children will provide more economic stability for the parents raising them. Any practitioner that provides and ultrasonic scan for only finding the sex of a child will face fines and imprisonment based on the new ban. However, a black market for scanning may come from the recent ban. '"If we do not do something to control the male-to-female sex ratio, where will the men turn to find a wife when they mature?" deputy Ren Yuling asked. "The numbers mean that some people will never have their needs for a spouse met, and so they often move into dangerous territory." According to some estimates, by 2020 there will be more than 50 million mainland bachelors unable to find a bride.' Officials fear that the unbalanced male: female ration will cause civil unrest, encourage the trade of kidnapped brides and prostitution.
For the first time in 14 years, legal abortion in the US is in jeopardy. The Supreme Court announced it would review the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Lawmakers vowed to litigate South Dakota ban all the way to the high court. The court told the abortion rights side it could no longer use racketeering laws to halt protests at abortion clinics. Twenty years from now, we'll be back where we are today unless we move beyond Roe which is increasingly obsolete as a framework for managing decisions about reproduction. It must be up to reproductive rights supporters to give the public abortion reduction within a framework of autonomy. The first point is the so-called "partial birth" abortion ban. Second is the South Dakota law. The third is the potential retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens. They'll reignite the cycle of victory, backlash and defeat. Six years ago, anti-abortion groups faced a choice: Add a health exception to the federal partial-birth bill, or refuse and gamble that a future court would uphold the ban. The gamble paid off. Roe is more than three decades old, was a 7 to 2 decision, has been used as a basis for subsequent Supreme Court opinions and was reaffirmed 14 years ago. Roe affects many women and is popular. There's no chance a Roberts-Alito-Stevens court would overturn Roe, but the ruling could set off a political explosion. Because the South Dakota ban so flagrantly defies Roe, lower courts will probably strike it down quickly. Abortion rights groups will take it straight to the high court, hoping to make Roe a central issue in the 2008 elections. The court might refuse to hear, or it might sit on the case until after the elections. In short, 2008 will look a lot like 1989, with a surge of pro-abortion rights voting and a frightened retreat by anti-abortion politicians. But the House, Senate and White House will be up for grabs and abortion rights supporters could find themselves in control of the federal government. The last time they were in power, they tried to enshrine Roe in federal law and subsidize abortions through Medicaid and President Bill Clinton's health insurance proposal. Improvements in neonatal care have made fetuses viable earlier than was possible in 1973. Meanwhile, sonograms and embryology have made people aware of how well developed fetuses are while vulnerable to abortion. Second-trimester abortions are becoming easier to avoid. In 1973, fewer than 4% of abortions took place before the ninth week of gestation. By 2000, the percentage was nearly 60 and rising. And by 2002, two-thirds of clinics were offering pills that abort pregnancies in the first seven weeks. Technology is helping women avoid unwanted pregnancies. Emergency contraception was almost unheard of a decade ago. Some activists are fighting these pills but polls suggest that even most people who oppose legal abortion would tolerate the pills. Contraceptive use rose 11% from 1982 to 2002 and the abortion rate dropped by about 30%. Technology can't avert all our failings or tragedies. There will always be abortions. But when you look at the trends you can begin to envision a voluntary exodus from abortion. Maybe, if we spend the next 10 years helping women avoid second-trimester abortions, we won't have to spend the next 20 or 40 years defending them. The road out of Roe won't be easy. Conservatives are fighting early abortion pills, morning-after pills, sex education and birth control. But that's a more winnable fight, and a more righteous one.
A study on abortion in the Philippines has found that the majority of women undergoing induced abortion are Catholic mothers with three or more children, married and/or living in with a partner. The study found that 9 of every 10 women undergoing abortion are married or in a consensual union; half reside in an urban setting; more than half have at least three children; and the majority are Catholic. Of course, there is a large number of "young women in trouble" seeking abortion. About 46% attempted abortions are sought by young women age 24 and below, 7 out of 10 have had either a high school or college level education, but the majority are poor. Interviews with women who have undergone abortion indicate that they are often forced into it by an untimely or unplanned pregnancy which threatens their health, or the survival of their children. A great number of women seeking abortion were nursing babies below one year old. Filipino women wanting to space births or have less children are unable to practice family planning. In 2003, the National Health Demographic Survey (NDHS) pegged unmet need at 45% among women who said they did not want a child in the next two years, or wanted no more children but were either using no contraceptive method at all or were using a traditional method. The estimated number of abortions annually were 27 per 100,000 women. Unsafe abortion accounts for a large percentage of the total number of women dying from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth each year. The correct and consistent use of contraceptives prevents the incidence of abortion. In Russia and Eastern and Central Europe abortion rates dropped by up to 50% because of the increased use of modern contraception. In Turkey, there was an 87% decline in abortion. In Kazakhstan by increasing modern contraception by 10%, the general abortion rate dropped by 13%.
Booklets handed out to women seeking an abortion in Idaho contain and misleading information, abortion rights groups say, but an official said they are fair.
The chief of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's said that it's a balanced approach. The law requires nearly all women seeking to terminate a pregnancy to receive three booklets and wait 24 hours before being allowed to undergo the procedure. Idaho had an informed consent law since 1983, but the state attorney general deemed it unconstitutional because it allowed no exceptions for medical emergencies. The new Idaho law includes such exceptions.
The new law penalizes health care providers who don't provide the booklets and allow a woman to make an informed choice.
The new law doesn't make exceptions on who must get the booklets and they emphasize the risks of abortion but not childbirth.
The coordinator for Right to Life of Idaho said many women who have abortions did not receive information first and might have made different choices if they had had that information.
The state avoided the controversial issues that some other states include in their booklets. Rep. Bill Sali, R-Kuna, an abortion opponent, insisted on discussing what he said is a link between abortion and breast cancer. House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, a breast cancer survivor, took offense, and she and the rest of the Democratic delegation walked out.
Advisers at some federally funded pregnancy centers, mislead about the risks of abortion, falsely telling callers it raises the risk of breast cancer, infertility and mental illness. Twenty of the 23 centers reached by the investigators provided misleading information. Female staffers posed as pregnant 17-year-olds and called the resource centers that have received grants from the Compassion Capital Fund.
One center told a caller that an abortion would 'affect the milk developing in her breasts' and that the risk of breast cancer increased by as much as 80%, a statement that was taken down after a public clamor by scientists and doctors.
Callers were also told that a first-trimester abortion would raise the risk of infertility. Contrary to research, 13 centers told the caller that the psychological effects of abortion are severe, long-lasting, and common.
BET viewers were seeing Obama's life story turned into an anti-abortion ad, sponsored by catholicvote.org. A camera zooms in on a fetus in a womb as these words appear on the screen: "This child's future is a broken home. He will be abandoned by his father. His single mother will struggle to raise him. Despite the hardships he will endure this child will become the 1st African-American President." The ad ends with a photograph of President Obama and this message: "Life: Imagine the Potential."
The ad is the first in a series that will use the same tag line. "Abortion is the enemy of hope".
Note: just to give you an idea of the lies perpetuated by the anti-abortion folks:
United Nations Member States, after a final two week session of negotiations, reached agreement on the Post 2015 Agenda,"Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development".
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets purport to "leave no one behind"; however, the inclusion of target 3.7 to "ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services" and 5.6 to "ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights" make children in the womb the group most likely to be left behind as the world experiences an unprecedented fifteen year push for access to abortion beginning in January 2016.
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) pose as legitimate reproductive health centers. They have a track record of outright lying to women and work to dissuade people from exercising the right to choose. They often advertise as if they provide abortion services, drawing people in by promising free reproductive health services, including free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and options counseling.
CPCs hide that they're almost entirely funded by national anti-choice umbrella organizations and that the mission of these organizations is to manipulate women into not choosing abortion by giving them false medical information.
CPC workers are well-trained to lie to women about physical and mental health issues they claim are associated with abortion.
While posing as legitimate reproductive-health clinics - locating in medical buildings or near a real abortion clinic, wearing white lab coats, calling themselves counselors - CPCs purposefully do not provide the medical services that pregnant women need, whether to continue a pregnancy or to terminate a pregnancy.
A politically hostile and anti-woman sentiment is playing out in Ohio, where local and state legislators are using women's access to reproductive health care as a tool to jockey for power. We are seeing varying degrees of this in states across the country, but the anti-choice movement's "war on women" most recently came to a head in Ohio following the tragic death of Lakisha Wilson, a 22-year-old mother who had sought an abortion during her secon...
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Between 2008 and 2011 the rate of abortions had fallen to its lowest level since 1973, according to the Guttmacher Institute. But the Americans United for Life called the report "an abortion industry propaganda piece short on data and long on strained conclusions." Such groups didn't seem to like the messenger, probably because the report made a persuasive case that the right-to-life movement cannot take credit for the decline in abortions.
Over a hundred laws related to abortion have been enacted by states since 2008, most aimed at limiting access to the procedure. However the research concluded that most of the new laws had had little impact on the number of abortions. Instead, much of the decline is probably attributable to more effective contraception, some of it available through the federal funding -- "Uncle Sugar," in Mike Huckabee's creepy coinage -- that Republicans like to rail against. Right-to-lifers could be promoting contraception and touting its success in averting unwanted pregnancies, but that doesn't seem to be news that they want to hear, let alone spread.
The decrease in abortions has been accompanied by a decrease in the birth rate, suggesting not that fewer women are choosing to terminate pregnancies but that fewer women are getting pregnant in the first place. California, New York, and New Jersey have shown notable drop in abortion rates even though they have not enacted new restrictions. Rates dropped all over the country, although the new laws are concentrated primarily in the Midwest and the South. Most of the restrictive laws were passed in 2011, and the decline was already under way in 2008.
Pregnancy rates and birth rates tend to fall when times are tough. Also a shift toward more effective birth control does seem to have played a role. Between 2002 and 2009, the proportion of contraceptive users who relied on long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like IUDs and implants rose from 2% to 9%. Since LARC methods (unlike condoms or the Pill) are more than 99% effective, even a relatively small increase in usage can have an impact. The number of low-income and poor women who use long-acting methods provided by publicly funded birth-control services has increased. According to the report, between 2006 and 2010 "the estimated number of unintended pregnancies averted by federally funded family-planning programs" rose from 1.9 million to 2.2 million.
Most Americans think that if an abortion is to be performed it should be done early in the pregnancy. Yet the new restrictions have tended to produce the opposite effect, resulting in later abortions. Between 2008 and 2011, the percentage of medical abortions (induced by the drug mifepristone, the so-called abortion pill) went from 17% in 2008 to 23% in 2011, of all non-hospital abortions -- even as the over-all rate declined. These are early abortions: they are performed before nine weeks' gestation. They can be done almost as soon as a woman receives a positive pregnancy test. From the public-health, reproductive-choice, and moral-comfort points of view, an increase in the percentage of abortions performed this way is beneficial.
Yet there is legislation to ban medical abortions. One approach has been to short-circuit programs that allow mifepristone to be prescribed through telemedicine where a woman receives an ultrasound and talks to a counsellor at a satellite clinic, and then video-conferences with a doctor in another location. The doctor could remotely unlock a drawer in the clinic and the necessary medication was dispensed to the woman. The program's safety record and women's reported satisfaction with it were solid. (It was especially helpful in rural areas.) In 2010 Iowa elected an anti-choice Republican governor who appointed new members to the state medical board which subsequently ended the program. Legislatures in fourteen other states have prohibited the use of telemedicine for medical abortion. significant scale in those states.
When conservatives attack the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, or federally funded family-planning programs, they are working against the forces that are rendering abortion less common. Undermining contraception and early abortion sabotages the future that most people want, one that expresses both their values and their common sense: fewer unintended pregnancies and fewer abortions, too
In a 2008-2010 study of 9,000 women in St. Louis, who were given access to contraceptives at no cost, it was found the women chose those contraceptive methods that were most effective, and as a group they had strikingly lower rates of teen pregnancy and abortion. Many of the women were poor and uninsured.
These findings highlight how valuable is the provision in President Barack Obama's health care law which requires that insurance provides women access to contraception without co-pays.
Of the teenagers in the study, there were 6.3 births per 1,000, compared to 34 for teens nationwide in 2010.
As for abortions, there were 4.4-7.5 per 1,000, compared to 13.4-17 in St. Louis metro region, and 20 nationally.
Most adults already knew what the study showed: that the use of contraception is effective in reducing unwanted pregnancy, and in preventing abortions. Such numbers are further evidence that the narrow thinking of anti-abortion groups that also oppose contraception hurts the groups' own cause along with the women they claim to support.
Successful use of contraception enables a woman or a couple to plan for such a major life change. Such planning is also beneficial for society in general, which absorbs many of the cost ramifications of teen pregnancy, unwed motherhood or more children than a household can financially support.
I'm pro-life because I value all human life. This includes the lives of every person living in my country, the lives of children living in poverty, and victims of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in the third world, the lives of criminals on death row, the homeless living in the streets, and soldiers serving our country abroad.
I also value the nascent human life of the unborn.
So why aren't I trying to defund Planned Parenthood, calling abortion doctors "murderers," and petitioning the federal government to overturn Roe vs. Wade?
In fact, why haven't I spent all my money - and demanded that the government do the same - to send meals and vaccines to every person on the planet and provid rooms for all the homeless, and demand our country surrender every war?
Because these actions would substitute ideologies for solutions, and favor short-term irrational emotion rather than long-term pragmatic decisions.
I want the abortion rate in this country - and every country - to plummet. Almost everyone feels that way.
But overturning Roe vs. Wade, or cutting funding for healthcare to low-income women and families is not going to make it happen. It's going to happen by expanding healthcare access, contraceptive use, and sex education.
Russia has had one of the highest abortion rates in the world. But in the late 1980s and 1990s the expansion of contraceptive access in Russia was found to curb the practice. (http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB5055/index1.html)
In Uganda, where abortion is illegal and sex education focuses exclusively on abstinence: the abortion rate there is more than double what it is in the United States. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html?src=tp)
In the U.S. a 46% decline in the odds of an abortion was seen when low-income women had access to healthcare that provided contraception in year-long supplies, according to researchers at University of California (http://healthland.time.com/2011/02/25/want-to-slash-the-abortion-rate-dole-out-a-years-supply-of-birth-control-pills/)
In the Netherlands, where abortion (and prostitution) are completely legal, the abortion rate is the lowest in the world, credited to very comprehensive sex education and easy access to contraceptives, according to the Guttmacher Institute. (http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-women/2009/10/14/abortion-down-contraception-up-recipe-for-health-reform)
An ideological war on abortion that ignores the data and sets its sights on low-income women who lack proper education and resources must stop. The Pro-Life movement must make reducing the rate of abortion the goal, and seek rational methods and solutions that will serve this purpose. If they continue with this righteous ideology without concern for results, then we want the term "pro-life" back. They're using it wrong.
Some anti-choice activists have denounced abortion as black genocide. Operation Outrage, a campaign to publicize the "holocaustic impact" of abortion in the black community, has gained national attention via a billboard campaign that sprang up here and is spreading across the country.
"In Georgia, 60 percent of abortions are done on black women," the leader Davis said at one point, citing state health statistics, although black women comprise just 30% of the state's female residents. Women, she said, are still dying from abortions: "It did not end because we allowed it to become legal."
The Guttmacher Institute reports that illegal abortions "accounted for 17% of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth in 1965." Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, led to dramatic reductions in maternal mortality.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified only nine deaths for 2006 that were related to legal abortion.
Georgia's pregnancy-associated mortality rate is the sixth highest in the U.S. at 20.3 per 100,000 live births for black women and 5.5. per 100,000 live births for white women, according to the Georgia Department of Human Resources' Division of Public Health.
Women in a Kenyan Laikipia health clinic were asked if any of them have friends who had died of illegal abortions. Three out of the four said they did. In fact , unsafe abortion has led to 30 to 40% of maternal deaths in Kenya.
In 2010 Kenyans approved a constitution that moderately eases the country's abortion restrictions. Whereas abortion was previously allowed only with permission from three doctors - one of whom had to be a psychiatrist, an impossibility in most parts of the country - now a single medical professional can certify that an abortion is necessary for a woman's life or health, which can be broadly construed.
Charlotte Smith, director of policy at Ipas, which advocates for safe abortion worldwide and is providing technical support to the government's transition said "I imagine that as in any place that has over 150 years of a very restrictive abortion law, it's going to take a lot of providers a lot of time to feel that they would be protected," even if they support abortion rights.
Physicians can now supervise administration of the pregnancy-ending drug RU-486 via "virtual" counseling and this method was found to be just as effective and acceptable to patients as a face-to-face office visit, a new study finds.
75% of patients who choose that option said they did not prefer having the doctor in the room during the procedure.
94% of the women who chose telemedicine reported that they were "very satisfied" with the procedure, and researchers found that women who received the counseling had no more complications than those who had office visits, according to the new report published in the latest edition of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Almost 50% of pregnancies among American women are unintended, with 40% of these terminated by abortion. 22% of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.
49% of pregnancies among white women are unintended; the figure is 69% among blacks and 54% among Hispanics. Abortions have declined in number from 2000 to 2005.
Annually, 2% of women aged 15-44 have an abortion; half have had at least one previous abortion. At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, about one-third will have had an abortion.
18% of U.S. women obtaining abortions are teenagers; ages 15-17 account for 6%, ages 18-19 11%.
50% of abortions are obtained by women in their twenties;
30% of abortions occur to non-Hispanic black women, 36% to non-Hispanic white women, 25% to Hispanic women and 9% to women of other races.
37% of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28% as Catholic.
45% of abortions are obtained by women who have never married and are not cohabiting.
61% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.
42% of abortions are obtained by women with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level.
Reasons given for abortion: 75% of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; 75% say they cannot afford a child; 75% say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and 50% say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.
54% of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Of these, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently.
46% of women who have abortions had not used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Of these 33% had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy, 32% had had concerns about contraceptive methods, 26% had had unexpected sex and 1% had been forced to have sex.
8% of women who have abortions have never used a method of birth control; nonuse is greatest among those who are young, poor, black, Hispanic or less educated.
About 50% of unintended pregnancies occur among the 11% of women who are at risk for unintended pregnancy but are currently not using contraceptives.
Only 23% of abortion providers offer abortion after 20 weeks and 11% at 24 weeks.
The average amount paid in 2009 for a nonhospital abortion with local anesthesia at 10 weeks' gestation was $451.
88% of abortions occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, 2006.
Fewer than 0.3% of abortion patients experience a complication that requires hospitalization and abortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of such problems as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.
Exhaustive reviews concluded that there is no association between abortion and breast cancer and there is no indication that abortion is a risk factor for other cancers.
In repeated studies since the early 1980s, leading experts have concluded that abortion does not pose a hazard to women's mental health.
58% of abortion patients say they would have liked to have had their abortion earlier.
Thirty-five states currently enforce parental consent or notification laws for minors seeking an abortion.
Nearly a quarter of the world's abortions happen in China. Abortions in China peaked in the 1990s, with official figures saying 14 million were performed.
Abortion has long been the instrument of choice for married couples who do not want daughters and for officials enforcing China's one-child policy for the past 30 years.
It used to be that older, married women were the largest group getting abortions. But today it is mostly younger and unmarried women.
Ms Lily Liu, the Beijing-based country director of Marie Stopes International, a sex health charity, explained: due to better nutrition, girls reach puberty - and possibly become sexually active - earlier, at age 12-1/2 in the 1990s compared with 14-1/2 in the 1970s. And they are getting married later.
In a study it was found that more than 22% of young women were having premarital sex and more than half of this number did not use contraceptives. 20% of these sexually active women have gotten pregnant at least once, and 90% of these aborted the baby.
Another study of women aged 20 to 29 in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai found the abortion rate to be 62%. Only 2% of the women had used contraceptives. And another study showed that 90% of young women have had at least one abortion. One even had 11 within three years.
Most likely these women - migrant workers, white-collar workers and students - were more fearful of parental anger and the stigma of having a child before marriage than of having an abortion.
It is inexpensive and about a four hour procedure to get an abortion in China. But there are possible harmful health effects of abortion.
Most analysts agree that the lack of sex education is to blame. Only 3% of parents talk to their daughters about sex, says one poll. Another poll found that 85% of students learn about sex on the Internet.
Saying out loud that you've had an abortion is, even in Britain, a provocative act. Breaking that taboo recently, women are posting on Twitter the phrase #ihadanabortion in their thousands. What started as a trickle of voices soon became a choir; crowds and crowds of women coming out, liberated and noisy.
It's when you see the lists of names scrolling down the page like water spilling from an overflowing bath, and their tiny but similar stories (ignoring, of course, the tweets from male anti-choice activists bemoaning a "silent holocaust"), that you feel how powerful this might really be in unsmearing the pity and pain associated with abortion, an important part of women's lives that so often goes unspoken of and thereby kept hidden, shameful, and weighty with imagined meaning.
This is the pro-voice movement. While it's not ideal that women must expose their personal medical history in order to defend their own choices, judging by the online response, this is a technique that has an effect. Like the opposite of a sonogram (which anti-choice activists like to use to conjure up an image of a baby, lost, smiling and beating-of-heart) the act of tweeting one's experience removes the horror of the decision, not trivialising but normalising; highlighting how common the choice to abort an unplanned or unviable foetus really is, and how life trundles on afterwards without much changing at all.
The rate of reported self-induced abortion remains relatively low, according to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. However, some abortion providers believe that the actual number of women self-inducing abortion with the use of the ulcer drug medication misoprostol might be substantially higher than the number of reported self-induced abortions.
The study, which included data from about 10,000 patients at nearly 100 abortion facilities in the U.S., found that 1.2% of women seeking abortions reported ever having used misoprostol to try to end a pregnancy on their own. An additional 1.4% said they had used other substances, such as vitamin C or herbs, to try to end a pregnancy. The study also found that foreign-born women were twice as likely as U.S.-born women to report taking misoprostol or another substance to induce an abortion.
A very small proportion of abortion patients reported having used misoprostol to self-induce abortion, whereas some abortion providers believe that a substantial minority of their patients have used this drug. Some providers believe as many as 40% of patients in their practices have taken misoprostol.
The drug, also known as Cytotec, is FDA-approved to treat ulcers, but using the correct dose can effectively abort a pregnancy between 70% and 94% of the time. The low cost of the drug -- about $2 per dose on the black market -- makes it appealing to some women, despite the risks of heavy bleeding and incomplete abortion. Birth defects also are possible if the abortion is not completed.
The rates of self-induced abortion in the study likely are underestimated because they only include women who sought care at an abortion clinic. In the study, about 5% of participants did not answer questions about their use of misoprostol and other substances to induce abortion.
Jones said that to better understand the issue, "we need research on women's experiences with self-induced abortion outside of abortion clinics before we can determine whether enough women successfully self-induce to impact official abortion rates." She added, "Women who feel they cannot carry an unwanted pregnancy to term need the information and resources that will allow them to seek help from trained professionals to ensure a safe procedure."
Many women who seek abortions "are poor or low-income. About 1.2 million abortions were performed in the U.S. in 2005. A procedure within the first trimester of pregnancy costs about $430 in 2006, while a second-trimester abortion costs about $1,260.