World Population Awareness

Is Abortion Murder?

When is it murder?

The development of a human being is a process of transformation: sperm and egg => fertilized egg => zygote => embryo => fetus => baby.

Sperm and egg: ingredients for a baby Millions of eggs produced by a woman are never fertilized and do not produce a baby. Millions of sperm produced by a man never fertilize an egg and do not make a baby. (no religion considers the sperm and the egg 'human life' until they unite) Other facts:

  • Ovulation occurs around fourteen days after the start of a woman's cycle
  • Sperm can live in the fallopian tubes up to 7 days. A woman is fertile four to five days before ovulation and only one day after ovulation.
  • Since the egg lives only 24 hours, so conception can only occur with 12-24 hours of ovulation.
  • The fertilized egg remains in the fallopian tube about 3 days
  • The fertilized egg, called a zygote, becomes a solid ball of cells, then it becomes a hollow ball of cells and is called a blastocyst. Before implantation, five to six days after fertilization, or 6-12 days after ovulation, the blastocyst implants in the uterus.
  • Family planning at this stage: delayed marriage & abstinence | rhythm method | breastfeeding | condoms | diaphram | sterilization | withdrawal (unreliable) | spermacides | the sponge | chemical contraception

    Egg production is stopped by oral contraception, the patch, vaginal rings, implants, and injectables. Sperm production is stopped by the male pill

    Day 1 - fertilisation (conception)

    A sperm enters the egg

    zygote - size: 0.14 mm (teensy)

    Day 2 - zygote divides

    Day 3

    The sperm and egg combine within 24 hours after ovulation. The body will not know it's pregnant until the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, some 5 to 12 days after ovulation. Either of these points can be seen as the moment of conception.

    Family planning methods used before implantation of the zygote in the uterus

  • Emergency Contraception (morning after) pills impede sperm and delays or blocks ovulation. It has not yet been shown to cause a change in the uterus to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall. The pill known as Ella is effective up to 5 days after taking, but has no effect once the zygote is implanted in the uterine wall.
  • IUDs, on the other hand, create an environment where the zygote cannot implant. Most doctors and most women do not consider this abortion because pregnancy begins after implantation.
  • Breast feeding suppresses ovarian function which results in the thinning of the uterus, which would prevent implantation if there were an egg to fertilize. No one objects to breast feeding, so why object to artificially blocking ovulation or preventing implantation?
  • 5-7 days from ovulation:
    Pregnancy begins with the implantation in the uterus

    Research now suggests that only about half of all zygotes implant in the uterine wall and become embryos, the rest fail to continue dividing and expire 2

    Most women do not know if they are pregnant at this point. After implantation, a pregnancy test can be used. If a woman does not suspect pregnancy, she will probably not notice until she misses a period, two weeks, on average, after ovulation.

    RU486 (also known as Mifepristone) non-surgical / medical abortion is taken by pill or injection. Having some side effects, it is not the ideal choice for every patient.

    2 weeks

    The embryo grows his or her first brain cells. The embryo's body is divided into three layers. The outer layer of cells in called the ectoderm, and will develop into the outer layer of the skin and the nervous system. The middle cells, or mesoderm, develops blood, bone, cartilage, and muscle. The endoderm, the inner layer, develops eventually into mucus membranes and glands.

    Menstrual regulation Although pregnancy may not be confirmed, many women seek menstrual regulation (MR) services because they fear they may be pregnant. The procedure, a manual suctioning of the uterine contents, is also used to regulate the menstrual periods. The procedure takes 10 minutes. It is being practiced all over the world. In some countries, it is equated with abortion. In others, it is not considered abortion, especially if it is done before knowing if there is a pregnancy.

    Day 22 (about 3 weeks) - heart starts to beat

    no bigger than the head of a pin

    Day 29

    5 weeks

    6 weeks

    about 1/2 inch

    The nervous system is ready for purposeful and even co-ordinated movements

    Menstrual regulation is given as late as 10 weeks from date of last period (age of fetus = 8 weeks) in Vietnam, and up to only 14 days (age of fetus = 7 days) in India. In Bangladesh is can be done up to 8 weeks of the last period (age of fetus = 6 weeks) and is not considered an abortion, which is illegal except to save a woman's life. In the U.S., manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) is done up to 10 weeks after the last menstrual period.

    7 weeks

    RU486 medical abortion is taken to 9 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period (7 weeks after conception).

    8 weeks

    It is now technically called a foetus because it's organs are complete, although not fully functioning.

    Abortion Dilation and suction curettage - also known as D&C, or vacuum aspiration, gently empties the uterus with machine-operated suction. A curette (narrow metal loop) may be used to clean the walls of the uterus. This method is used six to 14 weeks after the last menstrual period (age of fetus: 4 to 12 weeks)

    Anti-abortion depiction of an 8 week fetus - found on a poster in Ecuador

    Click here for the developmental description of an 8-week fetus. Intestines are just now migrating from the umbilical cord to inside the body. Bones in the legs are just beginning ossify. This fetus is a long way from standing. I would say this is a human being in the making. The mother has not yet felt the stirrings of 'life'.

    9-10 weeks

    The fetus touches his or her own face and sucks his or her thumb, and makes breathing and swallowing motions

    Until 1869 the Catholic Church maintained that life commenced 40 days after conception. The Bible says nothing about when the spark of life is struck--the notion that sacredness begins when sperm meets egg hinges on the assumption that it is God's plan that each act of conception should lead to a baby. 2

    12 weeks

    Abortion at 12 weeks 90% of abortions are done in the first trimester.

    14 weeks

    'Life' is felt as faint stirrings by the mother

    about 3 inches

    20 weeks

    About 20 to 30% of women bleed or have cramping at some time during the first 20 wk of pregnancy; half of these women spontaneously abort. In up to 60% of spontaneous abortions, the fetus is absent or grossly malformed, and in 25 to 60%, it has chromosomal abnormalities incompatible with life; thus spontaneous abortion in > 90% of cases may be a natural rejection of a maldeveloping fetus. About 85% of spontaneous abortions occur in the 1st trimester and tend to have fetal causes.

    24 weeks

    This is the age at which the law considers a baby "viable", or able to survive outside the womb. This is a legal distinction, not a medical one. 23 weeks is the earliest date at which premature babies have survived.

    24 weeks - Age at which the fetus can first feel pain, according to an June 2010 BBC News article.

    Abortion after 24 weeks Only 1% of abortions are performed after 24 weeks. Reasons for performing an abortion this late are:

  • The fetus is dead.
  • The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would place the woman's life in severe danger.
  • The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would grievously damage the woman's health and/or disable her.
  • The fetus is so malformed that it can never gain consciousness and will die shortly after birth. Many which fall into this category have developed a very severe form of hydrocephalus (5000 cases a year). The fetal head can be as large as 50 centimeters (nearly 20 inches and contain nearly 2 gallons of liquid which must be drained before birth)
  • Cost of a 2nd-trimester abortion in the U.S. (2006): $1,260 - compared to $430 (2006) for an abortion in the first trimester.

    Partial Birth Abortions These total perhaps 0.2% of all pregnancies. They are normally performed in emergency situations where a delivery is posing an extreme danger to the woman. This might be a threat to her life, or might cause her to be seriously injured, perhaps permanently disabled.

    38 weeks

    This is the age at which a baby should, ideally, be born. The baby's lungs are fully functional and his or her immune system is ready for the outside world


    More on human embryonic development here also here

    Footnote 2. Gregg Easterbrooke, Abortion and Brainwaves, The New Republic, Jan 31, 2000


    When Does Human Life Begin? Aristotle and Ensoulment

    WOA website   By: Karen Gaia

    Pro-life proponents claim that human life begins at conception, which could lead to the conclusion that abortion is murder. However, 'life' is a quality that plants, bacteria, dogs, termites, humans, and other living entities have. Life is described as "A distinctive characteristic of a living organism from dead organism or non-living thing, as specifically distinguished by the capacity to grow, metabolize, respond (to stimuli), adapt, and reproduce." .. Biology Online Dictionary

    The Catholic Church uses ensoulment as a criteria to determine if a fetus is worthy of protection from abortion. The determination of when this ensoulment occurs during the development stages of a human -- from conception to birth -- has changed over the last several centuries.

    Catholics claim they have been anti-abortion pretty much forever. While it is true that they considered it was a sin, they did not always treat it as the crime of murder.

    From the time of Aristotle and up until the 19th century, Catholics based their timing of ensoulment in the human zygote on the embryology of Aristotle.

    Aristotle's On the Generation of Animals was produced in the latter part of the fourth century B.C. It was the first work to provide a comprehensive theory of how generation works and the first scientific work on embryology.

    Chapter 3 of Book II defines the degree of "aliveness" at various stages of embryological development. This is the section in which Aristotle discusses three different types of human souls: a nutritive soul, imbued from the very beginning; a sensitive soul, imbued later; and finally the intellective soul, imbued forty days after conception for a male embryo and eighty days for a female embryo. The nutritive soul, also called the vegetative soul, is the essence possessed by all living things , including plants, and can be considered the lowest level of soul. The sensitive soul is what separates plants from animals, and provides animals the ability to move and to interact with the world around them. The intellective soul is what separates humans from all other animals, and allows humans to think and reason.

    Until the late 19th century, most popes and Catholic's alike did not believe that the soul was infused at conception. Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) said that an embryo wasn't human until it was 40 days old and therefore was not homicide to kill an embryo less than 40 days from conception. His successor, Sixtus V, disagreed completely. Sixtus V's successor, Gregory XIV (1590-1591), said to pretend that Sixtus V's were never issued. For centuries Catholic leaders varied in their beliefs on if the soul was infused at conception or not, and if abortion was allowed, especially when it threatened the husband's marriage/honor and/or the women's life.

    An article which claims to prove that ensoulment occurs at conception is at . Its claim is based on modern understanding of the development of the human from conception to birth, but it did not seem it very convincing. "Having all the necessary genetic information and immanent activity heading towards full maturation, the full development of the human body is already in dynamic process; therefore, the human soul must be there."

    Doesn't this same argument apply to the egg and the sperm before they unite? After all, they are the two essential parts of a human 'person'.

    But once an egg is fertilized, the pregnancy has a 31% chance of ending in a miscarriage. Often this happens even before woman knows she is pregnant. . Does this sound like "heading for full maturation"?

    Up to 70% of first-trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal anomalies. Examples inclulde blighted ovum: where no embryo forms; intrauterine fetal demise: where an embryo forms but stops developing and dies before any symptoms of pregnancy loss occur; and molar pregnancy: where both sets of chromosomes come from the father - there is usually no fetal development. These do not sound like "heading for full maturation".

    Is the notion that ensoulment occurs at conception believable when there are so many miscarriages? The potential to become human does not exist for these products of conception.

    Every woman should have the right to do what they want with their body. About 30% of women will have had at least one abortion in their life if current abortion rates continue.

    Why should the religious beliefs of a patriarchal church outweigh the beliefs of women that they have the right to terminate a pregnancy they don't want or that would be a threat to their life, or that would interfere with the well-being of her family? doclink

    What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?

    January 20, 2018, Christian Bible Reference Site

    Prior to 1973, abortion was legal in some of the 50 states of the U.S., usually with restrictions. In 1973, the United States Supreme Court, in its Roe v. Wade decision, ruled that a woman has a right to an abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, the states are still allowed to regulate abortion during the second trimester and prohibit it during the third trimester. Since that time, abortion has become one of the most controversial and divisive issues within society.

    Pro-life activists represent one extreme of opinion. They believe life begins at the instant of conception. Therefore, abortion is murder and is prohibited by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:13). They strongly support laws banning all or almost all abortions.

    Abortion is never mentioned in the Bible, despite the fact that it has been practiced since ancient times by a variety of means. However, a number of Bible passages have been cited as evidence that a fetus is truly a living human being and deserves the same protection. They may well state some general principles that are relevant, but none of them were originally intended as statements about abortion.

    The following three passages and others are sometimes cited as evidence that abortion is wrong. However, when read in context, it seems clear that was not the intended message.

    Luke Chapter 1 tells about God's intervention in the miraculous births of Jesus and John the Baptist.

    (NIV, Luke 1:39-44) At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

    Jeremiah Chapter 1 is about Jeremiah's call as a prophet.

    (NAS, Jeremiah 1:4-5) Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

    Job Chapter 10 is Job's plea to God to relieve his unfair suffering.

    (NIV, Job 10:2, 8-9) I will say to God: ... "Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?

    The passage below from Genesis Chapter seems to suggest that a person is not living until he or she takes a first breath after birth. Life is equated with breath throughout the Bible.

    (NIV, Genesis 2:7) The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

    However, Genesis Chapter 2 is actually about God's creation of mankind as special and spiritually-aware beings.

    The passage below seems to say that causing death to a fetus is not as serious a crime as causing death to a person, but it is actually just part of a long section specifying the punishments for various crimes.

    And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely 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, (NAS, Exodus 21:22-24)

    However, the belief that life begins at conception does not have clear support from medical science, the Bible, religious tradition or legal tradition.

    Abortion, infanticide and child abandonment were permitted under Roman law at the time of Jesus.

    Some early Church fathers (e.g., Tertullian) wrote against abortion, and it has been considered sinful throughout Church history. However, early Christians apparently did not view abortion as murder until well beyond conception. In the thirteenth century, Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote that a soul enters the body at 40 days after conception for males and 80 days for females. That became church doctrine for many centuries, and abortion before that time of ensoulment was not considered a mortal sin. The belief that life begins at conception apparently has its origins in an 1869 decree by Pope Pius IX that abortion at any point in pregnancy was cause for excommunication.

    English common law apparently tolerated abortion until "quickening," the first detectable fetal movements, around the fifth month. Similarly, abortion was largely unregulated in the U.S. until the mid 1800s. Laws against abortion were passed around 1900, but the primary reasons had to do with the injuries and deaths resulting from unskilled abortions and a struggle between opposing factions for control of medical practice.

    Polls typically show that about 28% of people in the U.S. say abortion should be legal in all circumstances. Another 17% say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. A majority, 54%, favor legal abortion in some circumstances. The Roman Catholic Church is strongly associated with the movement to outlaw abortion, but the polls actually show that the views of Catholics on this issue do not differ from the rest of the population.

    Many people have deep and serious doubts about the morality of abortion. At the same time, they believe abortion may be the lesser of evils in some cases. Situations thought to justify abortion include, with varying degrees of acceptance, danger to the mother's life, defective fetus, rape, incest, teen pregnancy, risk to the mother's physical or emotional health, unstable family situations, mental retardation of the mother, etc.

    Before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout the U.S., many women living in areas where abortion was not allowed simply traveled to states or countries where abortion was legal to terminate their pregnancies. Those who could not afford that option often sought out someone to perform the procedure illegally. Some sympathetic doctors were willing to help. But many illegal abortions were performed by unqualified practitioners, and many women suffered exploitation, sexual abuse, injury, infection, sterility and even death at the hands of these "back alley" practitioners. Despite some claims to the contrary, the mainstream of medical opinion is that legal abortions are very safe, with less risk to a woman's physical and mental health than continuing a pregnancy.

    Some politicians exploit the abortion issue for political gain by inflaming people's passions and fears. A very small number of activists have harassed and deceived women seeking abortions, illegally blockaded clinics, harassed doctors and committed acts of violence, including murder. Such actions are clearly against Bible teachings and are not condoned by mainstream Christian denominations. However, the actions of a few have created an unfavorable view of the pro-life movement in the minds of many.

    There is no general agreement among Christians, Christian theologians or Christian churches about what situations could make terminating a pregnancy the right and moral choice. However, most would agree that it is not a step to be taken if satisfactory alternatives are available. A woman or couple faced with the choice is left with medical counseling, pastoral counseling, advice of family and friends, and prayer to help with the decision.

    The strong emotions surrounding the abortion issue may lead those on both sides of the issue into the sin of self-righteousness. But Jesus and other New Testament leaders taught by word and example not to condemn or shun or discriminate against those we consider to be "sinners" (Matthew 7:1-2, 9:10-13, Luke 7:36-48, 18:9-14, John 8:1-11).

    A number of churches, including United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Presbyterian (USA) and United Methodist, do not approve of abortion as a means of birth control. However, they support the right of a woman to obtain an abortion, if she deems that is the best choice in her circumstances, and they favor keeping abortion legal. Other churches, including Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist, oppose all abortions and favor making abortion illegal.

    The Roman Catholic says: 2270. Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

    2271. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. ... From Catechism of the Catholic Church, (c) 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.,

    Southern Baptist: Procreation is a gift from God, a precious trust reserved for marriage. At the moment of conception, a new being enters the universe, a human being, a being created in God's image. This human being deserves our protection, whatever the circumstances of conception. From Position Statements, Copyright (c) 1999 - 2001, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention,

    United Methodist: The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection. We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life. doclink

    I Am Pro-abortion, Not Just Pro-choice: 10 Reasons Why We Must Support the Procedure and the Choice

    I believe that abortion care is a positive social good -- and I think it's time people said so
    April 24, 2016, Salon   By: Valerie Tarico

    The author writes: "I am pro-abortion like I'm pro-knee-replacement and pro-chemotherapy and pro-cataract surgery.' When birth-control fails or childbearing is not what a woman wants, abortion is part of a set of tools that help women and men to form the families of their choosing.

    A lot of people believe, often secretly, that abortion care is a positive social good. It's time we said so.

    Choosing whether and when we bring a new life into the world is one of the most important decisions a person can make. It is too big a decision for us to make for each other, and especially for perfect strangers.

    1. Being able to delay and limit childbearing is fundamental to female empowerment and equality. A woman who lacks the means to manage her fertility lacks the means to manage her life.

    Women who plan on being professional women won't get there unless they have effective, reliable means to manage their fertility. In generations past, nurses and teachers were usually spinsters, because avoiding sexual intimacy was the only way women could avoid unpredictable childbearing and so be freed up to serve their communities in other capacities. But if you think that abstinence should be our model for modern fertility management, consider the mass graves that get found every so often under old nunneries and Catholic homes for unwed mothers.

    2. Well-timed pregnancies give children a healthier start in life. Rapid repeat pregnancies increase the risk of low birthweight babies and other complications. Wanted babies are more likely to be welcomed into families that are financially and emotionally ready to receive them.

    3. Parenting takes twenty dedicated years of focus, attention, patience, persistence, social support, mental health, money, and a whole lot more. The idea that women should simply go with it when they find themselves pregnant after a one-night-stand, or a rape, or a broken condom completely trivializes motherhood.

    4. Planned childbearing helps couples, families and communities to get out of poverty, according to decades of research. Having two or three kids instead of eight or ten is critical to prospering in the modern industrial economy. Justice dictates that the full range of fertility management tools including the best state-of-the-art contraceptive technologies and, when that fails, abortion care be equally available to all, not just a privileged few.

    5. Reproduction is a highly imperfect process, with flaws and false starts at every step along the way. Many more eggs and sperm are produced than will ever meet; more combine into embryos than will ever implant; more implant than will grow into babies.This systematic culling makes God or nature the world's biggest abortion provider.

    In humans, an estimated 60-80% of fertilized eggs self-destruct before becoming babies, which is why the people who kill the most embryos are those like the Duggars who try to maximize their number of pregnancies.

    But the sometimes horrible defects slip through. A woman's body may be less fertile when she is stressed or ill or malnourished, but some women conceive even under devastating circumstances. Like any other medical procedure, therapeutic contraception and abortion complement natural processes designed to help us survive and thrive.

    6. Morality is about the well-being of sentient beings who can feel pleasure and pain, preference and intention, who at their most complex can live in relation to other beings, love and be loved and value their own existence. In this moral universe, real people count more than potential people, hypothetical people or corporate people.

    7. Contraceptives are imperfect, and people are too. In the real world, 1 in 11 women relying on the Pill gets pregnant each year. For a couple relying on condoms, that's 1 in 6. Young and poor women -- those whose lives are least predictable and most vulnerable to being thrown off course -- are also those who have the most difficulty taking pills consistently. For them abortion access a matter not only of compassion but of justice. 1 in 500 women relying on an IUD or implant gets pregnant each year. But there are barriers of cost and misinformation associated with these methods.

    8. I believe in mercy, grace, compassion, and the power of fresh starts. Sometimes people make mistakes or have accidents that they pay for the rest of their lives. The price we pay for a lapse in attention or judgment, or an accident of any kind isn't proportional to the error we made. Who among us hasn't had unprotected sex when the time or situation or partnership wasn't quite right for bringing a new life into the world? In this regard, an unsought pregnancy is like any other accident.

    9. In baby making, the future is always in motion, and every little thing we do has consequences we have no way to predict. Any small change means a different child comes into the world. Parenting begins before conception. How and when we choose to carry forward a new life can stack the odds in favor of our children or against them.

    10. Abortions of unhealthy or ill-timed pregnancies allow women and couples to have healthy babies who are truly wanted. The author's friend told her: "I was only going to have two children. my abortions let me have these two when the time was right, with someone I loved."

    Those who see abortion as an unmitigated evil often talk about the "millions of missing people" who were not born into this world because a pregnant woman decided, not now. But they never talk about the millions of children and adults who are here today only because their mothers had abortions -- real people, living out their lives. doclink

    Does Human Personhood Begin at Conception?

    Catholic Educators Resource Center   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. doclink

    What is Abortion? - Why Abortion is Not Murder

    Even if we granted the most generous possible terms to the anti-abortion camp, even if we pretended the fetus was fully rational and contemplating Shakespeare in the womb, abortion would still not be murder.
    April 13, 2018, Harper's BAZAAR   By: Jennifer Wright

    An op-ed piece written by Jennifer Wright was recently (April 2018) published in Harper's Bazaar in response to some prominent conservatives' claims that abortion is murder. Idaho State Senator Bob Nonini has gone as far as suggesting the death penalty for women who have abortions.

    Many in the conservative camp have ignored the facts when it comes to the abortion debate. The consensus among scientists is that before 21 weeks, fetuses cannot live unsupported and before 24 weeks the a fetus lacks the brain development to feel pain. Also been researchers think that the majority of fertilized eggs do not even make it to birth. Many against abortion claim that it causes women psychological damage, however 95% said it was the "right decision for them" according to a 2015 study. Those who choose abortion are also accused of being promiscuous or irresponsible by not using birth control. The fact is premarital sex is now widely accepted in America and more than half of those who elect to have an abortion used contraception.

    The argument of many pro-lifers is that life is sacred and should not be taken. However, when one's life is a threat to another, there are many situations where it is considered universally acceptable to take that life. Pregnancies pose risks to women, and, in fact, America has the worst rate of maternal death in developed countries. And poor women face even greater risks - 73% of women seek abortions because they are "financially unready." On top of that pregnancies can be fraught with complications and many are left scarred physically by childbirth.

    The Castle Doctrine allows homeowners to use force (sometimes deadly) against trespassers in their homes when they have reason to believe they pose a threat, but a woman's is not given the same leeway with her body. In addition it is common belief that bodies are assumed to belong to the soul inhabiting them in life and in death. In the U.S. organs cannot even be harvested from a dead body without consent, even though removal of the organ would not harm those already considered brain dead. Forcing a woman to carry a fetus to term would be akin to the government using her body without her consent. And, if anybody, rather than the government, were to force a woman to have a baby against her will, it would be clear how wrong that request was.

    Finally, making abortions illegal will not lead to fewer abortions. It will only result in more women dying from unsafe abortion procedures. Pro-lifers want to shut clinics like Planned Parenthood, but that would also result in birth control being less accessible to those in need, which, in turn, would most likely lead to a higher rate of unsafe abortions. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The Bible does not say when "life" begins. The word life has many meanings, but science has defined life to include plant life and animal life as well as human life in the definition.

    About Half of U.S. Abortion Patients Report Using Contraception in the Month They Became Pregnant

    Postabortion Contraceptive Counseling Can Help Individuals Prevent Future Unintended Pregnancies
    January 11, 2018, Guttmacher Institute

    The Guttmacher Institute conducted a survey of U.S. abortion patients in 2014, which showed that 51% (half) of those surveyed reported that they had used a contraceptive method in the month they became pregnant. This was a slight decrease from 54% of abortion patients in 2000. The methods most commonly used by abortion patients in 2014 were condoms (24% of patients) and the pill (13%).

    "Contraceptive methods are highly effective at preventing unintended pregnancies, but no method -- and no user -- is perfect," says Rachel Jones, author of the analysis. "Abortion patients should have access to the full range of contraceptive counseling and services to support them in preventing future unintended pregnancies."

    The share of abortion patients relying on condoms decreased from 28% to 24% between 2000 and 2014, but there was a small but significant increase -- 7% to 9% -- in the share of patients who relied on withdrawal. Use of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods among abortion patients increased from 0.1% in 2000 to 1% in 2014. It is also possible that some abortion patients became pregnant shortly after they stopped using LARCs or other contraceptive methods.

    In 2014, about 37.8 million U.S. women aged 15-44 were using a contraceptive method. But only 471,000 abortions were provided to patients who reported they were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Between 2000 and 2014, the overall number of abortions in the United States declined significantly, and available evidence suggests that improvements in contraceptive use contributed to the abortion decline.

    Contraception has been found to be effective at pregnancy prevention and it has numerous health, social and economic benefits. Abortion patients who were not using contraception at the time they became pregnant may benefit from receiving information during postabortion counseling about their risk of pregnancy, and about the full range of contraceptive options available to them and how to use those methods consistently and correctly. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: condoms and withdrawal are much less effective than the pill in preventing pregnancy, and even with the pill, the chances of becoming pregnant is 60% over 10 years of use. LARCs are much more effective at preventing pregnancy.

    Meet Dr. Willie Parker, a Southern Christian Abortion Provider

    May 6, 2017, New York Times   By: Nicholas Kristof

    While many feminists see abortion as a matter of choice, some Christians see it as murder.

    Then there are people like Dr. Willie Parker. "I am protecting women's rights, their human right to decide their futures for themselves, and to live their lives as they see fit," says Parker.

    Dr. Parker is black, feminist and driven by his Christian faith to provide abortions in the South, where women seeking to terminate a pregnancy have few options.

    Since childhood, Parker had been taught that abortion was wrong, and for the first half of his career as an OB-GYN, he refused to perform abortions. But then he had an epiphany that his calling was to help women who wanted to end their pregnancies.

    Christianity's ferocious opposition to abortion is relatively new in historical terms.

    The Bible does not explicitly discuss abortion, and there's no evidence that Christians traditionally believed that life begins at conception. St. Thomas Aquinas, the father of much of Catholic theology, believed that abortion was murder only after God imbued fetuses with a soul, at 40 days or more after conception.

    One common view was that life begins at quickening, when the mother can feel the baby's kicks, at about 20 weeks. When America was founded, abortion was legal everywhere until quickening, and it wasn't until the 19th century that states began enacting laws prohibiting abortions, beginning with Connecticut in 1821.

    Even in the modern era, religion has taken a more complex view of abortion than is generally realized. In the 1960s, ministers and rabbis formed the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, advising pregnant women how to obtain abortions. More than 100,000 women sought their services.

    In 1968, a symposium held by Christianity Today suggested that "family welfare" concerns were good enough reasons for an abortion. The Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions in 1971, 1974 and 1976 calling on church members to work for the legalization of abortion in some situations.

    In 1972, a Gallup survey found that Republicans were more likely (68%) than Democrats (59%) to say abortion should be "a decision between a woman and her physician." That's partly because abortion was seen as a Catholic issue but not a Protestant one, and most Catholics were Democrats.

    "I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” the Rev. W. A. Criswell, one of America's Southern Baptist leaders, said.

    Yet today it's taken as self-evident among conservative Christians that life begins at fertilization. Parker accepts that a fetus is alive - but says that life doesn't begin at conception, because an egg is alive as well, and so is a sperm. "Life is a process,” he writes. "It is not a switch that turns on in an instant, like an electric light.”

    Parker objects that much of the critique of abortion is based on bad science - yet doctors are sometimes legally obliged to provide incorrect information to patients. Medical opinion is that a fetus cannot feel anything like pain until about 29 weeks, long after most abortions occur, he notes.

    Parker tells of seeing a woman whose fetus had Potter syndrome, in which the lungs do not develop. The woman declined an abortion for religious reasons, and the baby was born at full term and then died a painful death because she couldn't breathe.

    "In this case, an absolute reverence for life led to a situation that, to my eyes, consisted of nothing less than pure cruelty,” he writes. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: One out of three pregnancies end in abortion. About one-third of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Perhaps as many as one-half of fertilized zygotes are malformed and are absorbed into the body, the mother never knowing she is pregnant.

    The Public Health Implications of the FDA Update to the Medication Abortion Label

    June 30, 2016, Guttmacher Institute   By: Rachel K. Jones and Heather D. Boonstra

    During the last 15 years, mifepristone has been prescribed in combination with misoprostol for abortions. Over 2.75 million U.S. abortions were done this way with very few serious problems. Last March the FDA approved new labeling for mifepristone (also known by its brand name, Mifeprex©) that expanded the recommended usage window from 49 days to 70 days from conception. Although doctors may write off-label prescriptions in all but three states, many view the FDA labels as guides to appropriate and legally defensible practice.

    The number of abortions in the U.S. has been declining since the 1990s, but the share of mifepristone abortions has increased from 6% of all abortions in 2001 (one year after the drug was approved) to 23% in 2011 (the most recent year for which data are available). According to CDC data, during this last decade the timing of abortions has shifted to earlier in the first trimester. This was likely due in part to a desire to use Mifeprex in accordance with its label recommendations. Just 37% of all U.S. abortions fit into the old recommended window. But since the new labeling, physicians have been prescribing Mifeprex more often during the fifth or sixth week, which has more than doubled the number of eligible applications.

    Midlevel providers -- such as nurse midwives, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can now administer medication abortion, which could increase access and reduce cost. But anti-abortion state legislators have enacted laws to outlaw this change. Thirty-seven states allow only physicians to provide medication abortion, which can result in longer wait times or longer travel distances to reach an approved clinic. Thirteen states make medication abortion more difficult by requiring in-person counseling before use or multiple trips to the clinic.

    Other label updates reduce barriers and make medication abortion more affordable. A new regimen calls for just one tablet in place of three. And since the label now allows women to take the tablets at home with a follow up call to their providers, they can make fewer trips to the clinic. Some providers use telemedicine to deliver services in rural areas. The provider does all required screening and counseling from a remote computer. After completing the prerequisites, the provider releases a cash-register type drawer containing a single dose of mifepristone at the patient's location. While this procedure has proved safe and effective, eighteen states prohibit telemedicine abortion by requiring that the provider issue each pill in person. doclink

    According to the Washington Post, an Ohio law restricting how abortion pills can be used was written to keep Ohio women safe, according to the bill's sponsor, Ohio state Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr. (R), who has introduced several antiabortion bills, including an outright ban. But a review of thousands of medical files from before and after the Ohio law took effect found that:
    Negative side effects from mifepristone were more common after the law went into effect. (15.6% after the law, up from 8.4%).
    Women who had medication abortions after the law was passed had three times the odds of requiring an additional treatment.
    Before the law was passed, 4.9% of women required additional treatments. Afterward, that ratio jumped to 14.3%.
    Mifepristone use declined by 80% in Ohio between 2010 and 2014 while non-medication abortions stayed constant over the same time period.

    Demand for Abortions Soars in Countries Hit by Zika Outbreak, Study Finds

    Women in Latin America, where abortion is often illegal, are seeking online help in unprecedented numbers in response to the virus linked to birth defects
    June 22, 2016, Guardian   By: Sarah Boseley

    With the spread of the Zika virus, women living in countries in Latin America have given rise to a soaring demand for abortions because Zika has been connected with severe birth defects, reports a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    In unprecedented numbers, they are accessing the website Women on Web, which has helped those in countries where abortion is illegal to obtain pills which will terminate an early pregnancy. In Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador the requests for help have doubled, while in other Latin American countries they have risen by a third.

    Anxiety rose as golfer Rory McIlroy pulled out of the Olympics in Rio, concerned about his family getting a Zika infection.

    The World Health Organization advises travelers to the Olympics to practice safe sex using condoms or abstain for eight weeks after their return.

    Many women living in Latin America in areas where mosquitoes readily breed are unable to protect themselves against the mosquitoes and do not have the option of termination in the event of an unwanted pregnancy.

    The researchers have published some of the emails to Women on Web which reveal their fears. "I need to do an abortion because of the great risk of infection with Zika here ... Please help me. My economic situation is extremely difficult," a woman in Brazil said.

    A woman in Venezuela said: "We are going through a really serious situation for the economic and humanitarian crisis unleashed by Zika. There are no treatments, contraceptives nor pills to abort. I want to terminate my pregnancy but I cannot."

    "There is a huge surge,” said researcher Dr Catherine Aiken, academic clinical lecturer in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology of the University of Cambridge. "It's over 100% increase in demand in some of the countries we looked at - almost 110% increase in Brazil.” In those countries with no Zika outbreak, there was no such rise in demand.

    Women on Web helps women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant obtain an abortion, after an online consultation with a doctor. They will tell a woman where she can get the pills locally that will bring about an abortion or, if necessary, send them to her.

    However, women who live in very poor rural areas have no internet and are in very dire straits and will be driven to less safe methods of illegal and underground abortion. doclink

    United Nations Committee Affirms Abortion as a Human Right

    January 25, 2016, Huffington Post   By: David A. Grimes

    A 17-year-old woman in Peru was diagnosed as having a fetus with anencephaly -- a fetal anomaly that is routinely lethal -- at 14 weeks' gestation. She was forced to continue her pregnancy and deliver the doomed fetus because a hospital director refused her request for an abortion. The fetus survived only four days. Abortion is legal in Peru in this circumstance. In 2005 the United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded that Peru had violated several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and it ordered financial compensation to the woman. This marked the first time a United Nations Committee had held a country accountable for failing to ensure access to safe, legal abortion.

    Anencephaly is an uncommon (1/1000 pregnancies) but devastating neural tube defect. The human embryo starts as a tube, which subsequently closes at both ends at around 4 weeks. If the bottom fails to close, then spina bifida occurs. If the top fails to close, major parts of the brain, skull, and scalp are missing. Many fetuses with this condition die during pregnancy or childbirth, and those born alive usually die soon thereafter. The average duration of survival after birth is 55 minutes.

    83% of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of anencephaly choose abortion, according to a study by the CDC. The proportion choosing abortion varied by severity of the fetal anomaly. Among more than 5,000 women in five countries who received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, 92% chose abortion. With Turner syndrome and Klinefelter syndrome the proportion who chose abortion was 72% and 58%, respectively. For spina bifida (meningomyelocele) the proportion was 64%.

    Where legal abortion is not an option, and when women continue these doomed pregnancies, the risk of maternal complications appears to be high.

    Although Peru in 2014 adopted national guidelines for safe abortion services which should provide clarity for health care providers and for women in the years ahead, few women have apparently been able to access safe, legal abortion since adoption of the guidelines. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Only 1% of abortions are performed after 24 weeks, most because of fetal defects.

    Invented Traditions: No, Christianity Doesn't Forbid Abortion

    September 8, 2015, Juan Cole   By: Larry Badendyck

    The "Pro-life" argument notes that the life history of every human starts with the fertilization of an egg, and every healthy fertilized egg has the potential to turn into a person. Therefore, it is argued, every healthy fertilized egg is a person. Furthermore, the pro-life position argues, there is the sanctity of every individual human being, an assertion at the center of the Christian message and supported by both scripture and accepted Christian doctrine.

    However, voluntary abortion is not mentioned in either the Old or the New Testament. Yes, God forbids murder. But if abortion is murder, why does God not mention it? Not once. Induced abortions must have occurred or been attempted; abortion is hardly a modern invention.

    The anti-abortion argues that this passage asserts the personhood of the fetus, and, therefore, by implication, supports the case against abortion: Psalm 139: "Thine eyes did see my substance, and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." But the subject of the psalm is divine omniscience, God's ability to survey past, present and future. To extend a thought in the mind of God to the personhood of a fetus is a sign of intellectual and moral desperation.

    The belief that anti-abortion doctrine has always been firmly and centrally located in the main sources and articulations of Christian doctrine is unfounded. The primary canonical interpreters of the Christian tradition show as little interest in the question of abortion as scripture does.

    It wasn't until the latter part of the nineteenth century, more than 1800 years of effective silence on the subject, that Pope Leo XIII declared the simultaneity of conception and personhood.

    Murder is, after all, the unjustifiable killing of an innocent human being. Unless it can be shown that the blastocyst is not a person, the pro-choice position surrenders its philosophical and moral credibility.

    According to Christian doctrine supported by scripture, personhood is the miraculous union of a mortal body, brought into existence through natural processes, and an immortal soul, created by God.

    St. Augustine of Hippo said: "It is not the act of mating, or the insemination that matters, it is God who gives the form. It is not the mother, who conceives, carries, bears, and feeds that matters, it is God who effects the miraculous combination of an immaterial with a material substance, with the former in command, the latter in subjugation. God unites them to make a living soul." ... (City of God XXII, 24)

    A viable body must precede the soul. In practice the Catholic Church agrees: the Church has never authorized the baptism of fetuses or zygotes. It certainly has never baptized embryos, not before Leo's pronouncement, not after.

    The question 'when does ensoulment occur?' figures in every legislative attempt to limit abortion. And anti-abortionists argue: 'if we do not know, we cannot take a chance'. The fetus, the embryo, even the zygote just might be a person, so we must treat it as if it were.

    Even St. Augustine admits he does not know: "As for abortions which have been alive in the mother's womb but have died there, I cannot bring myself either to affirm or deny that they will share in the resurrection." ... (XXII, 13)

    However, in the Bible, Genesis says God created man in his own image. Augustine takes the a citation from St Paul: "This can be taken as referring to the inner man," and concludes that Genesis was referring to "a kind of mind" (XXII, 20). Therefore, what God does when he creates a person by that miraculous combination of an immaterial with a material substance is thus to install "a kind of mind."

    And a prerequisite for a mind, therefore, a person, is an adequately developed brain and central nervous system. Ensoulment, then, cannot occur until at the sixth month of pregnancy at the earliest.

    Augustine does not make explicit the mind/brain implication, but a thousand years later, Dante does -- in the Purgatorio: "...once the brain's articulation in the embryo arrives at its perfection the First Mover turns to it, rejoicing in such handiwork of nature, and breathes into it a spirit, new and full of power, which then draws into its substance all it there finds active and becomes a single soul that lives, and feels, and reflects upon itself." ... trans. Sinclair Purgatorio XXV (69-75)

    Dante was not addressing abortion; his purpose was to explain the unique human individual and that individual's eternal fate, distinguishing Christian teaching from all of those other religions that see the end of life as the absorption of the individual into some vast cosmic wholeness. Nevertheless, Dante presents a potent, preemptive refutation of Leo XIII's assertion of the biological fallacy, in essence the biological heresy.

    In his Divine Comedy Dante is defending "a doctrine essential to a Christian view of things -- the direct and independent creation of the individual soul, as against the heresy that the soul comes into being like the body, by mere natural descent." ... trans. Sinclair Purgatorio 1334

    This central Christian doctrine was sustained and refined for over 1800 years of teaching until repudiated by Leo XIII.

    Augustine is consistent with modern neuroscientists: in the words of Michael S. Gassaniga, one of the best: "The fertilized egg is a clump of cells with no brain; the processes that begin to generate a nervous system do not begin until after the 14th day. No sustainable or complex nervous system is in place until approximately six months of gestation. In judging a 'fetus' and granting it the moral and legal rights of a human being I put the age much later [than 14 weeks] at 23 weeks when life is sustainable and the fetus could, with a little help from a neonatal unit, survive and develop into a thinking human being with a normal brain." ... "The Thoughtful Distinction between Embryo and Human," Chronicle of Higher Education 4/8/2006

    As St. Paul says: "the spiritual does not come first, the physical body comes first, and then the spiritual." ... 1 Corinthians 15:35

    Thus attributing personhood to the zygote is guilty of what has been called the "biological fallacy," the equation of "person" with the physical body. doclink

    Africa's Abortion-Rights Breakthrough

    July 5, 2012,

    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. doclink

    Abortion in the United States - Video

    April 12, 2011, Guttmacher Institute

    Guttmacher abortion video. One out of every three American women will have and abortion by age 45. doclink

    Abortions Via 'Telemedicine' Are Safe, Effective, Iowa Study Finds

    July 20, 2011, MSNBC

    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. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: this sounds like a good way to avoid challenges from abortion opponents.

    Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States

    Guttmacher Institute

    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.

    In 2006, publicly funded family planning services helped women avoid 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, which would likely have resulted in about 860,000 unintended births and 810,000 abortions. doclink

    13 Million Abortions a Year in China

    February 26, 2011, The Straits Times (Singapore)

    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.

    Last year, several universities in Shanghai held their first-ever sex education talks, attracting packed audiences. But cheap contraceptives are not available to students. doclink

    The Choice is Yours

    November 28, 2010, The Observer

    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. doclink

    Contraception Reduces Number of Abortions LTE

    August 31, 2003, Buffalo News

    It is unfortunate that individuals may use this column to further their religious and personal views by promoting incorrect medical information.

    According to the Food and Drug Administration and the American Medical Association, emergency contraception does not cause abortion under any circumstances. It allows a woman who has been attacked or coerced into sex, or has had contraceptive failure, to prevent pregnancy.

    What people like a previous letter writer don't want to acknowledge is that emergency contraception, and contraception in general, decrease the number of abortions by reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, something we should all want.

    Millions of women around the world have used emergency contraception safely and effectively. The FDA has approved it for short-term dosage for the prevention of pregnancy. No drug is completely without risk, but a review of government reports shows that it is remarkably safe and effective. We need emergency contraception to be readily available over the counter to any woman who wants it.

    Finally, it was stated that emergency contraception is "another ploy to subvert parental authority." I submit that if your child is having sex, and you don't know about it, your parental authority is already lacking.

    JAMES HUFNAGEL Wilson doclink

    U.S.: Abortion Bill Fails in Waning Republican House

    December 6, 2006, Reuters

    The House of Representatives failed to pass a bill that would have required doctors to offer painkillers for fetuses before they abort them.

    It would have required abortion providers to give pregnant women a brochure stating that fetuses can feel pain and would have required abortion providers to offer pregnant women anesthesia for their unborn children during an abortion.

    Democrats who opposed the bill said it had no basis in science and interfered with the doctor-patient relationship. doclink

    U.S.: Study Shows Difficulty of Estimating Rates of Self-induced Abortion

    National Partnership for Women and Families

    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. doclink

    Post-Feminism, R.I.P.

    May 15, 2004, Nation, The

    The March for Women's Lives in Washington on April 25 was the biggest pro-choice demonstration in history. Organizers put the number at 1.15 million. The political reverberations could be significant. The antichoice strategy by the Bush Administration has been premised on the expectation that a whittling away of women's reproductive rights will have little consequence. The pro-choice movement's response is to unmask the anti-woman agenda. These are not measures that are popular with voters. After congratulating the throngs Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton noted that if all we do is march, that will not change the leadership of this Administration. Recently the Vatican has been bullying Presidential candidate Kerry, just one salvo from an antichoice establishment heady from a string of legislative successes - Bush flack Karen Hughes suggested on CNN that the marchers, unlike most Americans, had failed to learn to "value the dignity and worth of human life" after 9/11. The importance of the march should not be discounted. Activists and organizers deserve to savor their achievement as they take the fight to the next stage. doclink

    U.S.: Utah Bill Reduces Women to Incubators

    Guardian (London)

    It's hard to get an abortion in Utah, and a new bill opens the door to prosecuting women who 'intentionally' miscarry.

    The new version "designates the 'intentional or knowing' miscarriage as criminal homicide" and "stipulates that a woman can be charged with homicide for 'the death of her unborn child', unless the death qualifies as legal abortion".

    Utah already requires parental consent for minors seeking abortions, a 24-hour waiting period to terminate a pregnancy, subjects women seeking abortions to state-directed counselling which discourages abortion, and allows public funding for terminations only in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality, or threat to the women's life or physical health.

    There were 6 abortion providers in the whole of the state in 2005, and currently the state has only one licensed abortion clinic.

    Utah has become a frontline in the war against legal abortion. Roe is still in place, but anti-abortion activists are battling to render it an impotent statute, hollowed out by state legislation that chips away at abortion rights.

    Legal abortion is only worth as much as the number of women who have reasonable and affordable and access to it, and that number is dwindling: 88% of counties in the US have no abortion provider - a figure that rises to 97% in non-metropolitan areas. This can put legal abortion out of a woman's reach.

    Anti-choice activist's current strategy is to make legal abortion as inaccessible as possible and criminalise everything else.

    Terminating a pregnancy by any other method than the one which has been most ruthlessly restricted - via piecemeal legislation and the defunding of clinics and the unfettered terrorising of abortion providers - is illegal.

    In Utah, women have a technical legal right to abortion, but little means to exercise that right.

    In pursuit of ensuring that women's right to abortion is as limited as possible, the state has opened the door to prosecuting women who miscarry after having a drink of caffeinated coffee or a beer or a cigarette, or take a vigorous walk, or miss a prenatal care appointment, or shoot up heroin, or go to spinning class, or any one of a number of things that pregnant women do every day, good and bad, if there's someone who will testify she was trying to miscarry; she told me.

    The state has conferred personhood on foetuses, and reduced women to incubators. This comes from the same lot who won't properly fund childhood education or support universal healthcare. doclink

    U.K.: Dozens of Girls as Young as 12 Are Being Given Abortions

    June 28, 2009, Telegraph

    The statistics from the Department of Health revealed that, in England and Wales, over 450 teenagers below the age of 14 terminated pregnancies in the years between 2005 and 2008. Twenty-three girls were aged 12 and 52 teenagers terminated four or more pregnancies before they reached their 18th birthday.

    Some claim that the statistics are evidence that Labour's policies on teenage pregnancy had failed. The Tories plan to introduce policies advocating more targeted use of long-acting contraceptive injections for teenagers who had already had an abortion.

    64,715 repeat abortions were carried out across all age groups last year - the highest level on record and a rise of 22% in a decade. 46 women had aborted at least eight pregnancies.

    The new figures showed a 16% rise in terminations after at least 26 weeks.

    The rates of abortions for teenagers as a whole had fallen by 4.5% in the past year, according to Government officials. doclink

    Compromise Needed on Both Sides of Abortion Issue

    June 9, 2009, Stockton Record - Lee Miller

    Bishop Stephen Blaire feels sex education needs to be based on respect for the gift of human sexuality, but it is more logical to base it on society's interest in our youths' understanding of all aspects of human sexuality, including the environmental and economic consequences of population growth.

    This would include the right to abstain from sex, and the right to acquire and correctly use contraception if they do not abstain. It includes all aspects of respecting and protecting one's partner. This would help ensure fewer unintended pregnancies and God's "gift" of sexually transmitted diseases.

    The moralistic abstinence approach of the GOP and some churches has resulted in an increase in teen pregnancy and the waste of taxpayer money. Hormones are obviously not very amenable to moralistic persuasion, as the church should know based on the number of lawsuits it has endured for clerical sexuality run amok.

    The bishop thinks pregnancy help centers should encourage women to carry children to term whether they want to or not. Women are equipped to make the best choice, based on their circumstances, whether to give birth or terminate a pregnancy, than those politicians, priests and prelates who would deny women the right of choice. Why do they believe embryos more than equal to a thinking person?

    If you don't like abortion, don't have one. Most bishops and politicians have never been pregnant and thus are impaired in their ability to make moral choices for other people. How can the church, which has lobbied against contraceptives for at least the past two centuries, condemn abortion when it promotes unplanned pregnancies by advocating Vatican roulette as the only valid means of fertility control not only for Catholics but for all humans? doclink

    US Texas: Contraception Bill Tentatively OK'd

    Dallas Morning News

    Unmarried teenage mothers in Texas, except those living with their parents, would be allowed to obtain contraceptives on their own, under legislation tentatively approved after much debate.

    The measure would allow 16- and 17-year-old girls who have a child to receive medical examinations and contraceptives from family planning services without the approval of their parents, but not allow an abortion or emergency contraception without parental consent.

    Texas and Utah are the only two states with laws that prohibit girls under the age of 18 from accessing prescription contraceptives without the consent of their parents.

    The bill was prompted by reports that Texas has the highest percentage(24%) of repeat teen births in the nation. Any restriction could lead to more pregnancies, based on studies showing that 70% of teens said they wouldn't use contraceptives if they had to get the approval of their parents. doclink

    Pope to US Speaker Pelosi: Reject Abortion Support

    February 18, 2009, Jakarta Post

    Pope Benedict XVI told Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic who supports abortion rights, that Catholic politicians have a duty to protect life at all stages of its development.

    Benedict spoke of the church's teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, an expression often used by the pope when expressing opposition to abortion.

    Benedict said all Catholics especially legislators, jurists and political leaders should work to create "a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."

    Pelosi did not mention the allusion to abortion. doclink

    U.K.: More Units Offering Abortions

    January 21, 2009, Press Association Newsfile

    The British Government has been trying to find ways to make it easier for women under nine weeks pregnant to gain access to abortions.

    The procedure, known as early medical abortion (EMA), involves two trips to a clinic, hours or a day apart, to take pills which induce miscarriage.

    Providers argue that women should be allowed to take the second pill at home after receiving medical instructions.

    At present, the pills can only be administered at licensed sites. The Health Secretary has the power to change this. But private clinics can use the existing law to work with GPs and offer EMA in GP surgeries.

    The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) runs one abortion clinic within a GP surgery in Wolverhampton.

    The charity, has also received approval to run another clinic in a GP surgery in Newcastle.

    A pilot scheme for the Government found that none of 172 women who underwent nurse-supervised terminations in a GP surgery suffered any complications or safety problems.

    This is a less expensive method for the NHS to provide than a surgical termination and it is suitable for local provision. A Department of Health study showed that there is no reason why the method could not be provided outside of a hospital setting with appropriate back-up care.

    Opponents claimed it is going to make it easier for women to have an abortion without counselling. More and more women will have abortions in haste, wake up and then regret it.

    Providing EMAs in a community setting is about increasing the choice for abortions, and improving early access that carries less risk of complications. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Sure some women will reqret it. But many others will be thankful for the less traumatic, more convenient method.

    U.S.: Forced to Abort

    January 18, 2009, Washington Times

    Many women say they have been pressured into abortions they did not want. For years, the pro-choice movement has circulated horrid tales of back-alley abortions. In a society in which abortion is legal, many women and teens are pressured to abort their child.

    Women are coerced to abort by husbands or boyfriends who do not want the responsibility or expense of a child; by parents who are ashamed of a teen pregnancy or by counselors, pastors and health professionals who insist this is in a woman's best interest. Women are often threatened by male companions who take them to their abortion appointment, and women are encouraged to abort by the staff at these clinics. About 64% of women say they were pressured to abort.

    Americans need to think about the many ways women feel pressured to abort, and then suffer severe emotional and psychological consequences.

    A simple solution is for states to pass a bill that would require health professionals to screen for coercion and to counsel against an abortion in instances where there is a high risk that the woman is not freely consenting. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Of course there will be women who are pressured into abortion; however this article seems to claim that more women are pressured than are willing to undergo an abortion. There needs to be hard evidence on this, not some person's gut feeling. In my case, no one pressured me for an abortion for four pregnancies, and I willingly had my own abortion. We must be careful not to put roadblocks in women's way to make this very difficult decision in their lives.

    Canada: Fewer Hospitals Performing Abortions

    April 3, 2007, Ottawa Citizen (Canada)

    The number of Canadian general hospitals offering abortion services has declined from 17.8% to 15.9% since 2003, according to a study conducted by a national pro-choice group. Women in Ottawa face an average wait of up to six weeks.

    In Ontario, 33 out of 94 hospitals performed abortions in 2006. Only one in Ontario provides abortions north of the Trans-Canada Highway, and many women face up to a 14-hour drive for the procedure.

    A researcher called hospitals across Canada posing as a pregnant woman and inquired about receiving an abortion and 75% of staff members reacted with disbelief, confusion or a complete lack of knowledge.

    Overall, Quebec's private clinics are a common destination for women from Ontario.

    One of the reasons for the decline in abortion accessibility is a lack of trained providers. doclink

    Brazil Doles Out Morning After Pills

    November 20, 2007, Christian Science Monitor

    As part of a new fight against Brazil's unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions, the country's most populous state is offering "morning after" contraceptive pills and 90% off contraceptive pills at pharmacies.

    Federal Health officials are offering to train teachers to give sex education and offering condoms to pupils. The Health Ministry wants men to take more responsibility and is offering free vasectomies.

    These are part of a wide-ranging and controversial new initiative to address women's health issues and reduce the number of illegal abortions and complications.

    We want to give access to the poorest citizens and let them choose what course of action to take. One of the main goals is to slash the number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies. In 2004, the last year for which figures are available, 7 in every 100 Brazilian women between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth. Accurate figures are impossible to determine because abortions are illegal in this Roman Catholic country, but the Health Ministry estimates 1 million abortions are performed each year.

    Many unplanned pregnancies go to term with around 1 in 3 pregnancies unwanted.

    The medical costs of back-street abortions are enormous, with 240,000 women hospitalized each year suffering from complications caused by illegal procedures. The government slashed 90% off the price of contraceptive pills in government-run pharmacies and it will spend more than $50 million in doubling the number of free contraceptive pills it gives to state clinics from 20 million to 50 million.

    Sao Paulo State has made the morning after pill available at pharmacies in metro stations. One city council tried to ban the pill but was denied by a judge who ruled the ban unconstitutional.

    The Catholic church has protested. Bishop Orlando Brandes, underlined that the church is "radically against" any attempts to make contraceptives easier to get. Proponents stress that they see the pill as a last recourse to avoid pregnancy. doclink

    Democrats Lose Fight to Ease Restrictions on International Groups That Offer Abortions

    December 17, 2007, The Associated Press

    Democrats have backed down on their insistence that the 2008 Foreign Aid budget reverse President Bush's ban on providing aid to family planning groups that offer abortions.

    A measure to ease restrictions was stripped from a $500 billion-plus spending bill, which includes $35 billion for the State Department and foreign aid programs.

    Congress is expected to pass the bill this week.

    Democrats blamed the White House for threatening to block the bill if it included the measure.

    "This adherence to an illogical position diminishes our influence around the world" said Rep. Nita Lowey. Bush has prohibited any assistance to organizations overseas that perform or promote abortion.

    Democrats say an unintended consequence is a shortage of contraceptives, particularly in poor rural areas. In June, the House voted to allow any overseas organization to obtain U.S.-donated contraceptives.

    The Senate followed suit with a measure that would have reversed Bush's ban entirely. "If we provide contributions or anything of value to pro-abortion organizations in other countries, we enable them to expand abortion," said Rep. Christopher Smith.

    "It is unconscionable for a president to ignore the majority of the members of Congress, Americans and the best interests of millions of human beings because he is blinded by his own narrow beliefs," said Amy Coen. doclink

    MPs Back Lower Time Limit for Abortions

    October 29, 2007, Telegraph

    There is strong support in the UK Parliament for reducing the upper time limit for abortion. Two thirds of said they were ready to cut the 24-week limit.

    Legislation to be introduced in the Queen's Speech could be used for the first major change in the law for 17 years.

    Last week the health minister said there was no scientific basis for reform.

    Pro-life campaigners claim that almost seven million have been performed since the 1967 Abortion Act.

    More than half of the MP's were against any easing of restrictions while 53% said nurses should not be allowed to perform medical abortions. The same number opposed allowing women to take abortion drugs at home.

    Campaigners are looking to use the planned Human Tissues and Embryos Bill as a means of changing the current law.

    The MP for Congleton said the limit should be cut to 18 weeks. "There is no reason for babies to be killed when they are sentient human beings." She added: "We have abortion on demand in the UK for social reasons."

    The MP for Cardiff Central said a reduction in the number of late abortions was possible without changing the law.

    "We should be making it easier for women to have abortions earlier," she said. "Together with ensuring better sex education and access to contraceptives."

    The Commons science and technology committee is due to report and is not expected to recommend a reduction in the upper limit. It has heard evidence that 42% of babies born at 23 weeks survive, thanks to improvements in care.

    The abortion rate last year was almost 200,000. The majority were carried out under 13 weeks' gestation.

    Family Planning Association said: "This survey is a particular group of MPs who seem out of touch with the needs of women and the opinion of all the professional health organisations."

    The law last changed in 1990 when the limit was cut from 28 weeks to 24 in most cases. Later abortions are legal if there is a risk to the mother or a risk the child will be handicapped. doclink

    Pro-choice Lobby Seeks Change in Law to Ease Restrictions on Abortion

    August 27, 2007, Guardian (London)

    The Global Safe Abortion Conference is being viewed by a coalition of pro-choice charities as a platform to press for reform and will use the London event to highlight proposed changes, including an end to the requirement for two doctors' signatures to have an abortion and permitting licensed nurses or midwives to carry out some abortion procedures.

    It represents a shift by pro-choice groups in the UK who have not sought a high-profile debate on legal change. Battle lines are being drawn after the government acknowledged that the forthcoming Human Tissues and Embryos Bill could potentially change abortion law.

    Pro-life campaigners are expected to seek to amend the bill, because scientific advances mean a foetus is now viable earlier.

    It is likely that pro-choice parliamentarians would respond with amendments at ease restrictions on abortion access.

    The debate will be heightened by the Commons science and technology committee examining the latest scientific developments relating to abortion.

    The Marie Stopes conference will highlight a series of objectives, organisers claim, to modernise the law and bring it into the 21st century.

    Campaigners say a woman should need only one doctor's signature to obtain an abortion. The British Medical Association said one signature was sufficient only in the first trimester.

    They also want an end to the restriction that only doctors can perform abortions, arguing that non-surgical procedures including medical abortion via the abortion pill could be carried out by trained nurses.

    Advances in medical care mean that the 40-year-old law is in some ways holding us back from providing the optimum care we could do.

    Pro-life organisations say abortion levels have risen to 200,000 a year in the UK. An alliance of pro-life charities and church groups, called the conference an overt political gesture, and said its supporters are realising that the country is much more favourable to their position, which is to reduce the number of abortions. doclink

    Doctor Protests May Hinder Portugal's New Abortion Law

    July 15, 2007, Age

    A large number of doctors in Portugal were refusing to carry out a law permitting abortions up to the 10th week of pregnancy.

    The law allows doctors to be "conscientious objectors" and at least nine public hospitals out of 50 could not guarantee the procedure.

    Portugal's parliament found 59% support for change.

    The Roman Catholic country only allowed terminations if a woman had been raped, if her health was in danger or if the foetus was malformed.

    Catholic Church officials called for continued respect for doctors who refuse to perform abortions and contend that abortion is a serious sin.

    18,000 Portuguese aborted illegally in 2005. doclink

    Uganda: 297,000 Abortions Recorded Annually

    July 20, 2007, The Monitor (Uganda)

    297,000 women have abortions in Uganda every year which represents an abortion rate of 54 per 1,000 women aged between 15-49 years.

    This is attributed to ignorance among women of their reproductive rights which include the right to health care and protection, equality and freedom from discrimination and the right to choose whether or not to marry and set up a family.

    A survey found that 84% of the public had heard about reproductive health rights but were unable to cite any. Most abortions are done outside health centres which puts mothers at risk of death and infection.

    Among women aged 20-49, 17% per cent were married by 15 and more than 50% were married by 20, 26% of men were married compared to 74% women. doclink

    Court: Women Who Are Forced to Abort Pregnancies Can Seek U.S. Asylum

    June 6, 2007, Associated Press

    A federal appeals court ruled that women who are forced to abort their pregnancies by governments can be awarded asylum in the US.

    Courts have allowed victims of forced sterilization to seek asylum and now the same protection should be given to victims of forced abortions and their spouses.

    China's family planning policy implemented in the late 1970s limits most urban couples to one child and families in some rural areas to two to control population growth and conserve natural resources.

    Human rights activists complain the policy has led to forced abortions, sterilizations and a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio. doclink

    Argentina: Abortion - No Longer a Taboo Subject

    May 28, 2007, InterPress Service

    An alliance of organisations in Argentina presented to Congress a draft law for the legalisation of abortion. This is the first time that parliament has been presented with a draft law drawn up by civil society to demand the decriminalisation of abortion. The proportion of people in Argentina who believe abortion should be decriminalised is 46%. The proportion of respondents who said abortion should be illegal shrank to 13%.

    Under the draft law, all women would have the right to choose before the 12th week of pregnancy and would have access to a safe abortion, free of charge.

    The legislation would also grant the right to late-term abortion to rape victims, women found to be carrying a severely malformed fetus, or women whose health or life is endangered by the pregnancy.

    In Argentina, the woman who undergoes an abortion and the person who practices it are subject to prosecution, except in cases involving the rape of a mentally disabled or ill girl or woman, or when the mother's health or life is put at risk by the pregnancy.

    But doctors tend to demand judicial authorisation, with the delay and risks to the mother's wellbeing.

    A 20-year-old mother of three died of jaw cancer after she became pregnant and the hospital refused her radiation therapy, to avoid endangering the fetus. An abortion was denied and both the mother and the newborn baby died.

    Between 450,000 and 500,000 clandestine abortions are practiced every year and 37% of pregnancies end in abortion. Poor women must resort to unsafe abortions in unsanitary conditions. Over 27% of maternal deaths are from unsafe abortions.

    Public opinion has been against abortion but is yielding despite the influence of the Roman Catholic Church.

    This is also occurring in other Latin American countries.

    Abortion in Argentina is no longer a taboo issue, the health minister has stated that it should be decriminalised and ordered the distribution of a guide to improve the treatment received in public hospitals by women suffering post-abortion complications.

    The climate today for introducing a proposed draft law is more positive, because of the growing support for legalised abortion. The national campaign for the right to legal, safe and free abortion, has helped spark debate on the issue every time a controversial case has appeared. doclink

    Portugal: President Approves Abortion Law, Despite Reservations

    April 17, 2007, The News (Portugal)

    In Portugal, President Cavaco Silva signed a law permitting Portuguese women to opt for abortion through the tenth week of pregnancy. Lawmakers acted after a referendum last February indicated a majority of Portuguese supported change of the country's restrictive abortion law, despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.

    Turnout for the referendum was insufficient to make the results binding. Cavaco Silva urged parliament to assure that women be informed of adoption options and the health risks associated with abortions. doclink

    U.K.: Abortion Crisis as Doctors Refuse to Perform Surgery

    April 17, 2007, The Independent (UK)

    Britain is facing an abortion crisis because doctors are refusing to be involved in the procedure. This threatens to plunge the abortion service into chaos.

    More than 190,000 abortions are carried out each year in England and Wales and the NHS is struggling to cope. The reluctance of NHS staff to be involved has led to a doubling of abortions paid for by the NHS, which are carried out in the private or charitable sector, from 20% in 1997 to almost 40%.

    Ethical and religious convictions has led to an increase of "conscientious objectors". Public opinion remains firmly in support, but the growing number of doctors refusing to do the work means there may soon not be enough to meet demand.

    Many doctors felt that, with contraception freely available on the NHS, there was "no excuse" for women who got pregnant accidentally. In the US, where abortion is more politicised, groups of young doctors were committed to providing terminations which was seen as "worthwhile and heroic" because of the pressures they operated under, but in Britain it was regarded as low status and unglamorous.

    The decline in medical abortion is occurring as demand is rising. The number of terminations has doubled since the early 1970s. One in three women has an abortion at some point in her life.

    The situation has been aggravated by the cut in junior doctors' hours, which means doctors must pick and choose the areas to work in.

    Now people are given the option of opting out of the bits of the job they don't like doing and if two or three say 'No thanks', it makes it easier for others to follow.

    It is difficult and upsetting work and it is done with obvious reticence. We are seeing more doctors who are reluctant to be involved in the process.

    There is an increasing number of young doctors who are not participating in the training. There is a new core curriculum being introduced in August and we must ensure abortion care is part of core training.

    For an abortion to be legal, it must be certified by two doctors.

    Most young doctors have no experience of what life is like on inner-city housing estates. Their working hours have been cut, they don't get the breadth of clinical experience they once had. doclink

    U.S.: Bills Put Pro-choice Movement on Alert

    March 11, 2007, Beaufort Gazette (US)

    Healthcare bills in the S.C. legislature have local pro-choicers worried that policymakers will try to define when life begins.

    A House bill requires pregnant women seeking an abortion to sign a document stating that she has seen ultrasound images of her embryo and is aware of alternatives to abortion and medical assistance benefits. Physicians must estimate the age of the fetus before it is aborted.

    President-elect of Planned Parenthood Health Systems, said these bills and Congress' Right to Life Act violate women's rights.

    A meeting was headed by the president of Planned Parenthood South Dakota, talked about the $3 million campaign to sway South Dakota's 190,000 largely conservative voters.

    Planned Parenthood has a single S.C. affiliate clinic in Columbia and seven more in North Carolina and West Virginia

    The nonprofit plans to open another clinic in Charleston and eventually reopen a clinic in Beaufort County.

    The affiliate relies on donations and patron fees to operate. South Carolina doesn't allocate state funding to the nonprofit, whereas other states, including Georgia and Florida, do.

    A local center offers alternatives to abortion and pushes abstinence instead of birth control as a way to reduce pregnancy.

    The center plans to convert to a health clinic that offers ultrasounds and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

    It is hoped the installation of ultrasound will reduce the number abortions in the area. More than 80% of women seeking an abortion change their minds once they see images of their fetus.

    The agency is opposed to Planned Parenthood, when it comes to its belief that unwanted pregnancy could largely be reduced through comprehensive sex education and expanding access to contraception.

    Beaufort County community leaders are trying to close the rift between opposing views. A representative from Planned Parenthood sits on a subcommittee with about other representatives to meet the common goal of reducing teen pregnancy.

    The state agency issues prescription and over-the-counter birth control to women age 15 and older without parental consent and also educates on abstinence. doclink

    Portuguese MPs Vote for Abortion

    March 9, 2007, BBC News

    Portugal's parliament has voted to legalise abortion on demand, after a referendum failed to settle the issue in the mainly Catholic country.

    The bill allows the procedure until the 10th week of pregnancy.

    Last month 60% of voters backed the measure in a referendum, but the result was voided because of a low turnout.

    To become law, the bill must be signed by President Cavaco Silva. Currently abortions are allowed only in cases of rape or of a health risk to the mother.

    The legalisation was supported by the ruling Socialists, the Communists, the Left Bloc and the Greens. doclink

    South Korea: 27 Per Cent of Sexually Active Teenagers Have Abortions

    January 19, 2007, Korea Times

    According to a recent survey of 2,898 middle school and high school students in Seoul, 26.9% of female high school students engaging in sex have had an abortion.

    About 27% of middle school students and 47.9% of high school students believed that having sexual relations before marriage was not a problem.

    1.1% of middle school students said they have had a sexual relationship and 7.5% of high school students. The average age for their first sexual relationship was 13.3 for middle school students and 15.2 for high school students.

    Among those who had sex, 32.8% said that they had their first experience after drinking, only 17.7% had used birth control. Only 32.3% of respondents used birth control in their most recent relationship.

    Teenagers have insufficient knowledge and understanding of AIDS. They said it could be contracted through mosquito bites (64.9%), kissing (59.2%), from water glasses (57.5%), from toilet seats (54.7%) and through homosexual relationships (53. 1%).

    58.6% said that HIV was a disgusting disease. 52.1% said they would not sit next to a person with HIV and 43.2% would not eat meals with people with AIDS. 45.4% said that those patients should take all the responsibility for the disease since it results from their sexual behaviour. doclink

    U.S.: Democrats Rethinking Abortion Issue in 2008 Campaign; Some Candidates Looking for a Compromise Position

    February 7, 2007, ABC News (US)

    Instead of pledging to protect a woman's right to choose, pro-choice Democrats are highlighting the need to reduce the number of abortions.

    It's a political tactic that could make voting for a pro-choice Democrat more palatable for moderates.

    Most Americans - 62% - support Roe v. Wade, most have mixed views when it comes to parental consent, late-term abortions and emergency contraception.

    Democratic presidential candidates are not spending much time talking about protecting choice.

    NARAL argues that pro-choice Democrats' change in tactics is partially due to its efforts. The group released a candidate guide emphasizing a message that focuses on solutions for preventing pregnancies. So Democrats are using their newfound power in Congress to pursue legislation focused on preventing unwanted pregnancies and providing support for women who proceed with unintended pregnancies. doclink

    U.S.: McCain Says Overturn the Law That Legalized Abortion

    February 19, 2007, Associated Press

    Presidential candidate John McCain said the law that legalized abortion should be overturned.

    The top court has narrowly upheld the law, with the presence of an increasing number of more conservative justices raising the possibility that abortion rights would be limited.

    McCain backing comes in part from his support for the Iraq war. McCain is trying to build support among conservatives who question his opposition to a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He says it should be regulated by the states.

    Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday railed against "slash and burn" politics in Washington and promised to restore a sense of hope and community to the country.

    He called for more education funding and the return of significant numbers of U.S. troops from Iraq by March 31. He also promised to reform the health care system. John Edwards criticized the Bush administration for failing to engage directly with Iran. America's relationship with Iran was a hot topic amid reports the Iranian government was shipping armor-piercing weapons to militias in Iraq.

    Bill Clinton remains highly popular in New York and helps his wife attract minority voters away from Obama. His wife has made affordable health care a priority in her campaign. In a poll last week, Clinton got 47% of Democratic voters in New York, Obama.16%, Al Gore, 11% and John Edwards, 7%. doclink

    Teen Abortion Rates Jump in Major Chinese City During Holidays

    February 19, 2007, Press Trust of India

    Abortion rates among teens in Hangzhou have shot up this month as students rush to a free clinic to terminate their pregnancies while on vacation.

    We only had two or three abortion operations a day, said the director of the centre which provides free consultations and abortions for students, but since the winter vacation started, we will be doing about 10 abortions every day, and most of them are 16 to 21 year old students.

    Most pregnant students don't want their schools and classmates to know so they think the vacation is a good time for an operation and recovery. Doctors have warned that too many abortions make the uterine wall thinner and could lead to sterility.

    A survey showed 4.6% of middle school students had sex compared with 4.2% in high schools. doclink

    Portugal Will Legalise Abortion

    February 12, 2007, BBC News

    Abortion will be legalised in Portugal despite the fact that the turnout was less than the 50% required, but of those who did vote, 59.3% backed a proposed change to the current law that will allow abortion until the 10th week of pregnancy.

    Currently abortions are only allowed in cases of rape, a health threat to the mother or serious foetal abnormality.

    "Our interest is to fight clandestine abortion and we have to produce a law that respects the result of the referendum."

    The leader of Partido Popular, which campaigned against the change, said the prime minister was acting hastily.

    Portugal currently has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European Union together with Ireland, Malta and Poland.

    Many Portuguese women go to Spain for terminations or resort to illegal abortions and end up with infections or other serious complications. In a 1998 referendum, voters upheld the law by 51% to 49%, but the result was declared void as nearly seven out of 10 voters stayed away.

    The idea of sending someone to prison for having an illegal abortion is universally unpopular - the offense carries a jail sentence of up to three years. doclink

    Lawmakers Kill Near-Ban on Abortions

    February 13, 2007, Associated Press

    Sen. Scott Renfroe asked state lawmakers to outlaw nearly all abortions in Colorado.

    Opponents and supporters were given only an hour each to speak about the proposal before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 to kill the measure.

    The Greeley Republican had pledged to support an abortion ban and had modeled the proposal after one passed in South Dakota last year. Voters later rejected it.

    Renfroe's bill would have banned abortions except those to save the life of a mother. The bill states that pregnancy begins at fertilization.

    A coalition of abortion rights groups said the focus should be on preventing unwanted pregnancies and there is a movement to "rob every woman of the right to make fundamental choices over her body."

    The House Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved a measure that required hospitals to tell rape victims about the availability of emergency contraception.

    Rep. Anne McGihon, amended the measure to allow pharmacies to post a sign if they don't keep the drug in stock. doclink

    U.S.: Abortion Restriction Bill Approved

    February 6, 2007, Associated Press

    A bill was passed by the state House in South Dakota which would require a doctor who is about to do an abortion to offer the pregnant woman an opportunity to view a sonogram of her unborn child. If a woman prefers not to look the doctor must document her refusal and get her signature.

    Rep. Hunt said the requirement will more fully educate women before they decide whether or not to have abortions.

    If abortion doctors do not offer opportunities to view sonograms, women could later sue those doctors.

    Rep. Clayton Halverson, D-Veblen claimed "It's an undue burden."

    The House turned back a change in the bill so that women do not have to sign a form.

    The bill, approved 43-24, next goes to the state Senate. doclink

    Populous Province in Central China Bans Retail Sale of Abortion Drugs

    January 2, 2007, Xinhua General News Service

    Retailers in central China's Henan Province are banned to sell abortion drugs as in an effort to keep gender balance.

    Those who violate will have illegal profits confiscated and face fines ranging from 385 to 2,564 dollars U.S. Any pregnant woman who has her baby aborted illegally will face a fine of 256 U.S. dollars.

    This is a support for regulations to ban fetal gender selection by abortion. Only under the following conditions should abortion be allowed: the fetus has serious defect; continuation of gestation will harm the pregnant woman or she has divorced or lost her spouse.

    The ratio between newborn boys and girls in Henan, which has more than 100 million residents, was 118.46 : 100.

    The gender imbalance reflects a view, dating back thousands of years, that boys are more valued than girls. In some rural areas where labor is short, sexual discrimination is especially obvious. doclink

    U.S.: Archbishop Fires 1st Salvo at Gov. Ritter; the Catholic Leader Blasts a Plan to Restore State Funds to Family-planning Clinics That Offer Abortion.

    January 16, 2007, Denver Post (US)

    Catholic archbishop Chaput calls the Democrat governer's pledge to lift restrictions on state-funded pregnancy prevention and family-planning programs "seriously flawed public policy."

    Governer Ritter, a Catholic, wants to lift an order by his predecessor, Republican Bill Owens, also a Catholic, that restricted groups that perform abortions from getting state money for family planning and pregnancy prevention.

    Only family-planning groups that can segregate state funds from money spent on abortions would be eligible. Chaput's believes Catholic politicians must adhere to church teachings. Much of Chaput's ire focused on Planned Parenthood, which lost nearly $400,000 in state funding. Planned Parenthood specializes in preventing children," Chaput wrote. Chaput questioned whether it's possible to segregate money for abortion and family planning. Planned Parenthood may not seize the opportunity if the restrictions are lifted, given the high costs of restructuring to meet the state's demands. Chaput did not challenge Ritter's abortion stance during the campaign. doclink

    U.K.: Most 'Favour Right to Abortion'

    November 28, 2006, BBC News

    Most people think women have a right to an abortion, but the number is falling. 63% agreed that if a woman wanted an abortion she should not have to continue with pregnancy - down from 65% in 2001.

    Women were split over "social" abortions, while a majority of men approved of them.

    The support for a woman's right to choose and the age of the abortion laws mean the time is right for a relaxation in the regulations that require the agreement of two doctors. Power should be given to nurses to dispense the abortion pill. Fewer people had "very strong" opinions. As at least one in three women in the UK can expect to have an abortion. Abortion is a necessary back-up to birth control for couples who want to plan their families. doclink

    U.K.: 100 Teenage Girls a Month Are Having a Second Abortion

    December 22, 2006, Daily Mail (UK)

    MORE than 100 teenage girls a month are having their second abortion. Some are on their third termination before 18, with at least one girl having had six abortions.

    In 2005, 1,316 girls under the age of 18 had a second abortion while 90 were on their third. The statistics showed how the Government's sex education strategy had failed.

    Among those 18 to 24 in England and Wales, 16,474 had a second abortion while 3,060 were on their third.

    Among the over 30s, 482 had their fifth abortion in 2005, 92 were on their sixth and 29 their seventh abortion.

    Figures showed an increase on the previous year, with 44 women had been through eight or more abortions. Twenty were under the age of 30.

    The statistics show that 14 women had had their sixth abortion before the age of 25.

    The Government has a target to halve teen pregnancies by 2010. This is a failure of the sex education that has been forced on girls for more than ten years.

    It promotes safer sex using condoms but these figures show the reality.

    They are not being protected against the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases affecting young people. Girls say they no longer have a defence against having sex because of the overwhelming pressure from those promoting pills and condoms.

    The Government is determined to reduce the demand for abortions by improving access to contraception and the strategy was working because teenage conception rates were at their lowest levels for 20 years. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the defense against having sex is that condoms and birth control pills do fail occasionally, and especially condoms. Part of the failure is not using birth control or condoms correctly. The condom is a male's responsibility, but the young lady has to live with the consequences if the male is not careful about the condom.

    U.S.: Fewer Abortions in South Dakota in 2005

    December 7, 2006, Associated Press

    In South Dakota last year 805 abortions were performed, down from 814 in 2004. 658 were performed on South Dakota residents, down 12 from the previous year.

    The government and other groups need to prevent unplanned pregnancies and improve access to affordable birth control for everyone who needs it.

    Abortion statistics are compiled from forms the women complete before receiving an abortion. Women can choose from a variety of answers why they are having an abortion, or no answer at all.

    In 2005, the most common answer was "they did not desire to have the child." The second-most common was they "could not afford the child."

    Rape or incest received nine responses in 2005, down from 23 in 2004.

    Of the 805 women getting abortions, 82% were from S Dakota, 11% from Minnesota, 5% from Iowa and the rest from other states.

    The majority of women were 20 to 29, and 7% not married.

    The average cost of an abortion in S. Dakota was $400 to $449. doclink

    Drop in Female Births Prompts Alarm in India

    December 19, 2006, Associated Press

    Lawmakers and women's rights activists expressed alarm that about 7,000 fewer girls than expected are born each day in India. The spread of ultrasound technology has resulted in a large-scale "disappearance" of girls. One study estimated that 10 million fewer girls were born here than expected in the past 20 years.

    UNICEF estimated that 7,000 girls go unborn each day in India, where a ban on targeting female fetuses for abortion is widely flouted.

    Many districts report a ratio of 800 females born for every 1,000 males.

    According to the latest census figures in India, the number of girls per 1,000 boys declined from 945 to 927 between 1991 and 2001. doclink

    U.S.: Missouri Panel's Report Links Immigration to Abortion

    November 14, 2006, Associated Press

    A Republican-led legislative panel report claims that abortion is causing a shortage of American workers.

    The report also says that "liberal social welfare policies" have discouraged Americans from working and have encouraged immigrants to cross the border illegally.

    All 10 Republican members signed the report, six Democrats did not. Some of the Democrats called the abortion assertion ridiculous and embarrassing.

    "There's a lot of editorial comment there that I couldn't really stomach," Rep. Trent Skaggs said Monday. "To be honest, I think it's a little delusional."

    Emery, who equates abortion to murder, defended the assertions.

    National Right to Life estimates that there have been more than 47 million abortions since the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. The immigration report estimates that there are 80,000 fewer Missourians because of abortion. Suggestions for stopping illegal hiring varied without any simple solution. "The lack of traditional work ethic, with the effects of 30 years of abortion and expanding social welfare policies have produced a shortage of workers and a lack of incentive." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: If you wish to comment on this article, send an email to

    Portugal Faces Abortion Vote with Uncertain Outcome

    October 20, 2006, Age

    Portugal faces a referendum next year on its laws against abortion, with polls pointing to a close fight. The mainly Catholic country approved a government proposal to ask voters whether to make abortion on demand legal during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

    The national referendum must be approved by the president. Abortion is currently allowed only in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape, a malformed foetus or if the woman's health is in danger.

    Women can be jailed for up to three years for an illegal abortion. 53% of voters favour loosening the law, while 21% are opposed. 10% had no opinion or refused to answer while 16% said they did not intend to vote.

    The poll found over 70% of voters agree that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or when the woman's life is in danger only 34% said it should be legal when the woman does not have the means to raise the child.

    Another poll found 47.9% backed abortion on demand during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy with 39.9% opposed.

    Older people, rural residents and those with less education are more opposed to loosening the abortion laws. Campaigners for reform argue the existing laws force thousands of poor women into life-threatening operations, while their rich counterparts travel abroad to have abortions.

    Family planning agencies estimate between 20,000 and 40,000 back-alley abortions are performed each year in Portugal. Some 4,000 women headed to the Los Arcos clinic in the Spanish city of Badajoz last year to have an abortion.

    In a 1998 referendum voters upheld the existing abortion laws by 51%, but 7 out of 10 stayed away from the poll.

    More than half of the nation's registered voters need to cast ballots for a referendum to be valid.

    The Prime Minister has vowed he will actively campaign in favour of changing the abortion laws. doclink

    Texas Supporting Alternatives to Abortion; Some Family-Planning Tax Money Going to Programs That Encourage Childbirth.

    September 23, 2006, Statesman

    Annunciation Maternity Home is a residence for those 14 and older who are pregnant or recently gave birth. Some have been kicked out of their homes or a boyfriend or family member had pressured them to have an abortion.

    The home is receiving taxpayer dollars for up to 15 young women who chose to have their children.

    It is the first site in a new state program that promotes childbirth over abortion and diverts $2.5 million a year from the state's $54 million family planning budget.

    The initiative is run by a group that includes lawyers and business owners.

    Critics have attacked the program for not funding medical care, and promoting a religious and political agenda.

    With the money shifted away from family planning, each year 16,000 fewer low-income women are getting medical treatment and tests.

    State officials counter that women's health services under Medicaid, including contraception and health screenings, will expand in January and serve an additional 84,000 low-income women in 2007.

    There are about 200 organizations in Texas that could be eligible.

    Most are often faith-based organizations that provide pregnancy tests and parenting classes and connect pregnant women with community resources. Some are adoption agencies, about 20 are maternity homes.

    Annunciation Maternity Home has a day care, a charter school and the home.

    It has served 100 young women who stay up to two years, since it opened five years ago.

    The girls attend classes in the mornings, and in the afternoons, parenting, nutrition, conflict resolution. In the evenings, they cook dinner. The home provides transportation to doctor's appointments, often paid for by public assistance.

    The state has paid the network about $600,000 in federal money in startup costs.

    The network will distribute that money to the homes or centers for specific services up to one year after the child is born. All services are free to clients.

    To qualify for the program, they will be permitted to tell pregnant women about abortion procedures but will not be allowed to show them graphic images of abortions.

    Counseling and therapy, by definition, is supposed to be neutral.

    If a woman chooses abortion, the counselors invite her back for post-abortion counseling. doclink

    U.S.: Reconsidering Teen Abortions: Will Telling the Girls' Parents Help?

    September 27, 2006, Chicago Sun-Times (US)

    The Illinois Legislature passed a law in 1995 requiring parental notification in the case of abortions for women under 18. But the state Supreme Court determined that since no rules had been drawn up about parental notification that it would block the law. It has remained that way for more than a decade.

    Parents rightfully want to be involved in their teenagers' lives, and all parents want what is best for their children. But good family communication cannot be mandated by government and laws.

    Half of the Illinois girls seeking abortions at Hope Clinic for Women across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. are terrified of their parents' reactions.

    An abortion is not a complicated procedure, and abortion providers do their utmost to give the best care because doing what they do requires a concern for women's rights.

    There are fewer places to obtain an abortion and more state laws make it difficult. Few of the women believe in parental notification but they understand the agony of a young woman who is making the decision to terminate a pregnancy.

    Parents can prevent teen pregnancies by talking openly with their children, and giving them good information about birth control and safe sex. Banning abortion or requiring parental consent won't end sex between minors or prevent pregnancies. doclink

    We've Had Abortions, Say 5,000 Americans as Crucial Vote Nears

    October 7, 2006, Guardian (London)

    More than 5,000 women from the US revealed they have had abortions. Most of the names are of women who have joined the petition out of fear that the tide is turning against legal abortions in America.

    South Dakota votes on whether to overturn a state law banning virtually all abortions, except those to prevent the woman's death. Should the ban be upheld it would be up to the supreme court and be used to challenge Roe v Wade. Pro-abortion campaigners warn that the effects would be widespread.

    Seventeen states have anti-abortion laws that would automatically come into force.

    Anti-abortionists have dismissed the petition, saying that when they saw the petition "the evil practically jumped off the page". doclink

    Ireland: USI to Lobby for Abortion Services

    March 22, 2006, Irish Times

    At the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) 2006, annual congress delegates voted to lobby the Government to develop greater access to abortion. Newly elected USI welfare officer Kelly Mackey said they will lobby to ensure that abortion is one of the main issues at the next general election. Over 6,000 Irish women go to the UK every year to have abortions. Later the new president of the USI said the union had lost its focus by straying away from education and welfare. After being elected unopposed, Colm Hamrogue (24) said he intended to make the USI relevant to every student when he takes up his post in July. doclink

    Norway Supports International Abortion Fund, Distances Itself for Bush Policies

    March 9, 2006, Associated Press

    Norway pledged support for a global abortion fund, and declared its opposition to the U.S. stand on the issue. Norway would give at least 10 million kroner (US $1.5 million, euro 1.25 million) per year to a safe abortion fund being set up by the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Norway disagrees with George W. Bush's policy of withholding support to organizations that promote safe abortion. It said has a negative impact on efforts to prevent the spread of HIV. Norway's coalition government is intent on securing women's reproductive health, and decriminalizing abortion worldwide. Britain also pledged to support the fund with a 3 million pound (US $5.2 million, euro 4.4 million) initial pledge. doclink

    U.S.: Granholm to OK Bill on Abortion; Doctors Would Have to Give Women the Option of Viewing An Ultrasound Before Having the Procedure.

    March 20, 2006, Detroit News

    Gov. Granholm is expected today to sign a bill that would require doctors to give women getting an abortion the option to see an ultrasound of their fetus. The bill was drafted in coordination with abortion-rights groups, but some anti-abortion activists said the law will be a victory. "The bill would expand Michigan's "informed consent law" that requires certain information be given, although there is no requirement it be read, to a woman who seeking an abortion at least 24 hours prior to the procedure. It includes a summary of the abortion procedure and depictions of fetal development. The new measure does not require an ultrasound be taken, only that if one is done, the medical provider must give the woman the choice to view the image. Granholm is Catholic, but has received financial backing from abortion-rights groups. Until now, she has opposed legislation proposed by the state's anti-abortion lawmakers. doclink

    U.S.: Senator Proposes Banning Most Abortions

    March 2, 2006, Associated Press

    Sen. Crowell filed a bill Wednesday that would generally ban abortions in Missouri except to prevent a woman's death. Violation of the law would face a sentence of five to 15 years in prison. Last week, South Dakota voted to allow the procedure only to save a woman's life and the Gov. is inclined to sign the bill. Crowell hopes his measure reaches the U.S. Supreme Court. Crowell also filed to change the state constitution to prohibit abortion and said the Roe v. Wade decision was wrong, and urged lawmakers to join him to protect the sanctity of unborn life. Abortion supporters vowed to fight the bill. The Missouri Legislature has an anti-abortion majority and has enacted restrictions to the procedure over the years. Last year they passed a measure allowing parents to sue people who help their minor daughters get an abortion without their consent. It also requires doctors who perform abortions to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion takes place. doclink

    Bush Disagrees with South Dakota Abortion Ban

    February 28, 2006, Agence France-Presse

    George W. Bush opposes a S. Dakota abortion ban that forbids the procedure in cases of rape or incest, saying he favors such exceptions. "My position has always been three exceptions: Rape, incest, and the life of the mother," the US president said. The bill contradicts the precedent when the US Supreme Court ruled that bans on abortion violate a woman's constitutional right to privacy. The bill grants no allowances for women who have been raped or are victims of incest. Doctors who perform abortion would be charged with a crime. It also prohibits the sale of emergency contraception and asserts that life begins at fertilization. A leading pro-choice group has vowed to challenge the ban in federal court. Advocates do not deny they aim much higher than South Dakota, but are hoping the bill will offer a full assault on legal abortions now that the balance of power in the Supreme Court appears to have shifted. doclink

    U.S.: Blunt, Anti-Abortion Group Concerned About Bill Banning Abortion

    March 2, 2006, Associated Press

    Missouri's largest anti-abortion group expressed reservations about proposed legislation to ban most abortions in the state as it could lock the state in a legal battle, which may not yet be winnable. Sen. Crowell introduced measures asking voters to prohibit abortions except to save the life of a woman but told reporters: "I think we need to focus on legislation that will reduce the number of abortions in our state not set up court battles. Crowell hopes his measure would result in a legal challenge that reaches the US Supreme Court. A similar ban recently passed the S. Dakota legislature. But some fear there aren't enough votes on US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Planned Parenthood said "His proposals would also not take into account at all the health and safety of women, and this is this is the same body trying to make it harder for women to access legal contraception." Crowell's abortion legislation would make it a felony to perform an abortion when not saving a women's life, punishable by a prison sentence of five to 15 years. Governor Blunt noted that Missouri law already states that life begins at conception. doclink

    Justices Send Back Parent-notification Law; Lower Court Must Modify New Hampshire Abortion Measure Instead of Striking it Down

    January 19, 2006, Washington Post

    The Supreme Court ruled that federal judges should not have struck down an entire New Hampshire law that requires teenagers to notify their parents before having an abortion and ordered a lower court to come up with a more limited solution that would protect minors' health in emergencies. The New Hampshire law, adopted in 2003, allows an exception to parental notification if a pregnant teenager's life is at risk but does not address whether the procedure may be performed if she faces other non-life-threatening health emergencies. The justices did not rule on that broad claim but did agree with New Hampshire yesterday "that the lower courts need not have invalidated the law wholesale." The court's precedents hold that states may not restrict access to abortions necessary to protect the life or health of the mother; and, in a very small number of cases, immediate abortion is necessary to avert irreversible health damage. That means, that it would be unconstitutional to apply New Hampshire's law to minors facing "significant health risks." All but six states have some form of statute that says girls younger than 18 must involve at least one parent or guardian in the decision to terminate a pregnancy. New Hampshire's version makes it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion on a minor unless the doctor has written proof that at least one parent has been notified, or the doctor certifies the girl will die without an abortion. But the New Hampshire statute does not explicitly let a doctor proceed when the girl may be about to suffer serious injury short of death. Yesterday's opinion barely touched whether the New Hampshire law is constitutional, and how the court should go about deciding its constitutionality. The Bush administration supported New Hampshire in yesterday's case, telling the court it "may have direct relevance" to its partial-birth appeal. There is enough space on the court's calendar for a hearing and ruling before the current term ends in June. doclink

    Abortion Pill Debate Heats Up Ahead of Conscience Vote

    February 8, 2006, ABC (Australia)

    There are accusations of unfair tactics as Parliament prepares to vote on the abortion drug RU-486. Senators will have a conscience vote on whether to take control over the drug away from the Health Minister and give it to the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Senator Allison has accused some who are campaigning against the change of using misleading arguments and unreliable surveys. The arguments opposed to abortion are rather thin. They've suggested this drug is unsafe and yet they're not prepared to see the test whether its safe or not. But some claim they not telling the complete truth in the risks of RU-486 in comparison to surgical abortion. It is expected that the conscience vote will be just as heated. doclink

    UK Mother Loses 'Right to Know' Case

    January 23, 2006, BBC News

    A UK mother has lost her court battle for a parent's "right to know" if teenage girls are being advised on abortion. The High Court rejected a review of guidelines which state terminations do not need parents' consent. Her Queens Counsel, Philip Havers had told Mr Justice Silber she did not say that doctors could not carry out treatment without parents' consent but that she had the right to be notified. She believes current guidelines "undermine" her role as a parent. Philip Sales, appearing for the Health Secretary, urged the judge to dismiss the application for judicial review on the basis her arguments had "absolutely no foundation in law." He said the UK had "a very serious problem" with high teenage pregnancy rates, and confidentiality was a key component to reduce conception rates and improve sexual health. doclink

    Abortions at Home Are Safe According to UK Pilot Study

    February 16, 2006, Guardian (London)

    Abortion services for women who seek a chemically induced abortion could be transformed should the Department of Health's (DoH) evaluation confirm initial findings. Shirley Butler, the project manager told the Guardian: "We haven't had any significant problems apart from one woman who had a slightly heavy bleeding. In my opinion medical abortions outside of acute hospitals seem to be safe." The results were preliminary and were now being officially evaluated. Chemical abortions are available before the 12th week of pregnancy. Women who request it take one tablet of mifepristone at a hospital then return two days later to take four doses of misoprostol which causes a termination within hours. Under the trials they took both sets of pills within local community clinics to test the theory that it is safe to be at home. A DoH spokeswoman said the scheme had not yet been evaluated: The Chief Executive of the FPA, supported the study: "Medical abortion is a highly safe and effective procedure. Completing the second stage at home can provide greater comfort and privacy." doclink

    Eu Challenges Vaticans Draft Abortion Treaty: Pope Proposes Conscience: Opt Out for Slovakia: Lawyers Warn of Breach of Unions Obligations

    January 5, 2006, Guardian (London)

    A legal panel has attacked a draft treaty between Slovakia and the Vatican that would have restricted medical treatment such as abortions and IVF. The group warned that the treaty could place Slovakia in breach of its obligations as a member of the EU. The treaty would allow healthcare workers in hospitals founded by the Catholic church to refuse to perform abortions or carry out fertility treatment if they believe such work conflicts with their faith. The EU group said religious organisations should have the right not to perform activities that would conflict with beliefs. But it added: It is important the exercise of this right does not conflict with the rights of others, including the right of all women to receive medical services or counselling without discrimination. Approximately 70% of the population in Slovakia is Catholic and there is a risk that the right to exercise objection of conscience in healthcare will make it impossible or difficult for women to receive advice or treatment. Pope Benedict XVI is keen to extend the Vatican's influence across eastern Europe. Pope Benedict tried directly to influence members of the convention drawing up the ill-fated EU constitution to demand that the constitution refer to a Christian God. This failed and campaigners welcomed the findings by the EU panel. The draft also discriminated in favour of Christians in certain areas to the detriment of those of other faiths or none. doclink

    Ralph says: Just another reason we must maintain separation of religion and governance.

    Australia: Evidence Shows RU486 May Be Safer Than Surgical Abortion

    November 21, 2005, AAP (Australia)

    The Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is backing an effective ban on the pill RU486 to be lifted. The drug should be made available to Australian women. The evidence suggests it may be safer than surgical termination of pregnancy. John Howard signalled he would offer Liberal MPs a conscience vote on the issue. In Australia, women wanting to use RU486 have to apply through their doctor for government approval. The Australian Democrats plan to move an amendment which would remove Mr Abbott's powers to grant approval for the drug's use. Mr Abbott has cited health department advice which warned it could be dangerous for women in rural and remote areas because its use requires medical supervision and access to emergency care. But that advice has been discredited by experts. The first decision a woman makes is whether or not she wishes to have a termination of pregnancy and why she would prefer a surgical or a medical termination. Practitioners would have good evidence so they could discuss that with the woman so she can make an informed decision. doclink

    Australia: One in Four Pregnancies Terminated

    December 14, 2005, The Australian

    The 2003 figure shows 84,000 pregnancies are terminated each year - less than the 100,000 figure cited by anti-abortion Australian Health Minister Tony Abbott. And young women 20-24 have more than one abortion for every two live births. Abortions performed after 20 weeks, were uncommon, with only 325. Almost 95% were performed within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Women in their early 20s were most likely to have an abortion, with 32 in 1000 between the age of 20-24 having an abortion compared with six in every 1000 in the 40-44 age group. There is significant evidence that women feel rushed into a quick decision to terminate, without exploring other options. The figures point to the need to address the conditions that compel women to have terminations but counselling should not be used to try and reduce the abortion rate. The federal Government should provide funding to provide non-directive counselling on all options. The rate would be lowered only through education about sexual health and contraception. doclink

    Voters Defeat Abortion Notification Proposition

    November 9, 2005, Associated Press

    A million-dollar signature gathering campaign to back proposition 73, which would make it a constitutional amendment to notify parents 48 hours prior to a minor having an abortion, was defeated by 53% to 47%. California would have been the 35th state to make such a constitutional amendment in the United States. However, Californians made it clear that in the end it was the teens of California that they were looking out for. Many of the concerns heard from Californias included parental relationships with the minor children, the complexities of seeking judge waivers for abortion rights, and teens traveling to other states where they would not have to seek approval for the procedure. In addition the 'death of the unborn child' language stirred controversy during the campaign because the question of whether human life begins at conception, later in pregnancy or at birth is central to the debate over whether abortion should be legal or constitutes murder. Opponents argued that the wording could eventually be used to limit stem cell research. Many individuals started to explore the language used in the measure and that was what swayed the vote for the proposition. doclink

    U.S.: Judges: Alito Unlikely to Overturn Roe

    November 3, 2005, Associated Press

    Judges who have served with Samuel Alito say he would push the Supreme Court to the right, likely favoring new abortion restrictions. Five current or former judges described Alito as thoughtful, intelligent and fair with respect for precedent-setting decisions and none thought he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. He is an intellectually honest man and doesn't have personal predilections to foist upon the American people but supports tighter abortion restrictions. They disputed liberal and conservative interest groups that the former Reagan lawyer is a right-wing ideologue. Senior Judge Edward Becker described Alito as more reserved than the caustic and sometimes divisive Scalia, who often seeks to dominate questioning. He writes opinions with no ideological overtones. Alito has written opinions that outlawed a school anti-harassment policy barring demeaning comments about race, religion or gender as overly broad; and struck down a state law barring companies from buying alcohol ads in college newspapers. Alito has been the lone dissenter on a number of cases, including a decision striking down a Pennsylvania spousal notification law for abortions. Some of Alito's colleagues say one reason is the modesty and collegiality of Alito. "Whatever quality you think a judge ought to have, whether it's scholarship or an ability to deliberate or fairness or temperance, Sam has each of these to a highest degree." doclink

    Family Planning Prevents Abortions

    Why Marching for Life Now Means Attacking Contraception

    Poor Women Are Vulnerable as GOP Turns Up the Heat
    January 19, 2018, Who.What.Why   By: Kirsty Vitarelli

    Anti-abortion activists, emboldened by conservatives controlling the White House and Congress, and courts stacked with like-minded judges, are setting their sights on a new target: The elimination of federal funding for family planning services.

    For 45 years, the "pro-life" movement has gathered in Washington around the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision to protest the legalization of most abortions in the US.

    Recently the Trump administration announced that it was strengthening protections for medical providers whose religious beliefs prompt them to refuse to perform abortions or to offer other contraceptive services.

    Title X, a provision in the Public Health Service Act of 1970 - is federal grant legislation that secures federal funding for family planning services. It is the only grant legislation approved annually, and is constantly under threat of defunding because of this status. Of the 38 million American women who use contraception, over half - 20 million - rely on publicly funded contraceptive care.

    "Without contraceptive coverage, many women would need to pay more than $1,000 out of pocket to start using a highly effective method such as a intrauterine devices (IUDs), a contraceptive implant or sterilization; that would amount to nearly one month's salary for a woman working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour," reports the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization. Other forms of contraception are less costly - as low as $9 a month from Target and Walmart. But, with the exception of emergency contraception, birth control pills require a doctor's prescription, an associated visit and insurance costs.

    The theory supporting threats to Title X is that life begins at the moment egg and sperm meet, which increasing numbers of anti-abortion advocates and lawmakers embrace. They equate highly effective, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) like IUDs and contraceptive implants with abortion itself, believing these methods would dislodge a fertilized egg - a view which is not scientifically accurate.

    IUDs and implants primarily prevent fertilization, not implantation - there is no zygote, so there is nothing to abort. However, buoyed by the Supreme Court's ruling upholding Hobby Lobby's religious right to deny access to LARCs, and President Trump's seeming eagerness to please his base, anti-abortion advocates are seeking to promote their ideology in a number of ways, including going after Title X funding.

    Title X in the beginning was championed by both sides of the House - its main sponsor was George H.W. Bush and was signed into law by President Nixon." The idea was that women and couples - regardless of their employment or insurance status - should have the opportunity to plan whether and when they would start a family.

    However during Ronald Reagan's presidency, there was more anti-abortion ideology involved in the politics and policies of family planning.

    Three-quarters of all women in the US who underwent abortions in 2014 were either living in poverty or had low incomes of roughly between $11,000 and $22,000. If federal funding is removed, these low-income households would suffer the most, physically and financially.

    An amendment to the recent tax bill fostered the idea that personhood begins at conception by proposing that unborn children could be beneficiaries of college savings plans. The language was cut before the tax bill passed.

    House appropriators agreed to defund Title X entirely, eliminating the program - $286 million - from the 2018 budget, but Senate appropriators did not cut the program from their spending bill.

    Trump has appointed prominent anti-contraception advocates to his Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in an attempt to keep a promise to his evangelical followers. Valerie Huber, an advocate of abstinence over contraception will continue the push to defund Title X.

    A rider in the House Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies spending bill would block Planned Parenthood from any federal money in 2018, and effectively "end the nation's family planning program.”

    President Trump signed a law last spring allowing states to withhold federal money from organizations that offer abortion services. Many of these organizations also provide important contraceptive services to the poorest in society, services which would also be threatened.

    60% of Americans believe abortion should remain legal. Some physicians remember the time before Roe v. Wade and worry that overturning it would slide the country back to the days when more than 200 women a year died from septic shock due to "back alley” abortions, or became infertile after suffering permanent injury inflicted by barbaric tools.

    45% of pregnancies in the US are unintended, and about 4 in 10 of those end in abortion, according to Guttmacher. Three-quarters of all women in the US who underwent abortions in 2014 were either living in poverty or had low incomes of roughly between $11,000 and $22,000. If federal funding is removed, these low-income households would suffer the most, physically and financially.

    Title X funding is intact - for now. But "the Trump administration in its first year and Congress under its current leadership have very openly hostile views and agendas against reproductive health and rights. doclink

    This is How Many Women Get Pregnant on Birth Control - It's Shocking

    No birth control claims to be 100% effective and these alarming statistics reveal that's certainly true
    August 7, 2017, Daily Star   By: Laura Hampson

    No form of birth control is 100% effective, according to a study by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

    51.2% of women who have abortions were using birth control.

    24.1% of abortions performed were on women who were using a hormonal method of contraception like the pill, the implant, IUDs or a coil when they fell pregnant.

    27.1% of abortions were on women using a condom or a diaphragm.

    The pill is the most popular form of contraception but long-term forms are quickly catching up.

    The pill is estimated to be 91% effective while condoms are just 82% effective.

    Long-term contraceptives or the pill can also make periods irregular or stop them all together which can mask the symptoms of pregnancy.

    This could be why women are having late-term abortions (past 20 weeks) because they were using long-term methods so didn't take notice of pregnancy symptoms.

    BPAS' chief executive Ann Furendi said: "When you encourage women to use contraception, you give them the sense that they can control their fertility -- but if you do not provide safe abortion services when that contraception fails you are doing them a great disservice.

    The most effective forms of contraception available in the UK are the coils (IUD and IUS) and the implant, which are both 99% effective.

    Natika Halil, the Chief Executive of the Family Planning Association said: "The way they are typically used means that 6 in 100 injection users and nine in 100 people using the pill, patch or vaginal ring will get pregnant each year, but women may not always be aware of this.

    "If you forget your contraception or think it might have failed it's important to know how to access emergency contraception and that it's available for free from GP surgeries, contraception and sexual health clinics." doclink

    Black Women and Abortion - New Data Tells An Old Story

    August 10, 2016, InsideSources   By: Marcela Howell

    A new Guttmacher Institute study shows that more than half of women denied coverage for abortion under the Hyde Amendment are women of color. Also recent data shows that while black women comprise only 14.9% of women of reproductive age, they make up 27.6% of abortion patients.

    Now that the Supreme Court has ruled against a restrictive law in the most significant abortion rights case in recent history, and with the Hyde Amendment being reconsidered, it's time to understand the barriers to reproductive health that black women still face.

    Many times anti-abortion activists and politicians have exploited black women's experiences to justify an anti-choice agenda. For example the "Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act,", a ludicrous, disingenuous bill that exploits stereotypes about black women to ban so called "race-selective" abortion, which offensively presumes that black women use their wombs to commit genocide.

    Those who oppose abortion have never seemed to understand why some women need this health care, or else perhaps they would support access to safe, effective and affordable birth control, the surest way to prevent the need for abortion in many instances.

    Decisions about pregnancy and when to become a parent are some of the most important decisions we make in our lives. Women, and black women in particular, must be able to make these decisions for ourselves. But black women are disproportionately harmed by restrictions and coverage bans.

    Nationally, the rate of abortion is dropping alongside the unintended pregnancy rate. The reasons for this are relatively straightforward. The advent of more highly effective birth-control options (such as the patch and the ring), and specifically Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (IUDs and implants, often referred to as LARCs) are largely credited for the decline. In addition, increased insurance coverage for birth control and increased access to emergency contraception may have played a role.

    When women have access to a wide range of safe and effective birth-control options, unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion decrease.

    The use of LARCs, especially the IUD, more than tripled between 2007 and 2012. But black women aren't using LARCs at the same rates as whites and Latinas. In fact, black women are less likely to use any form of contraception. Eighty-three percent of black women who are at risk of unintended pregnancy currently use a contraceptive method, compared with 91% of Latinas and white women, and 90% of Asian-American and Pacific Islander women.

    This is due, in part to the fact that black women are more likely to be low-income, earning just 63 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and it's harder to get birth control if you can't afford it. But black women still have higher rates of abortion even when controlling for income, according to a 2008 report by the Guttmacher Institute.

    To benefit from the birth-control revolution in which we find ourselves, you need: education and full information about your options, access to a health care provider, health insurance, resources, transportation, the ability to take time off of work to get to an appointment, someone to watch your kids while you're at the doctor, documentation of your immigration status, freedom from domestic abuse wherein a partner sabotages birth control or refuses condoms, and so on. At every point, black women have fewer resources, economic and otherwise, to take advantage of these new technologies. In addition, some may also have reservations about a medical system with a long history of abusing and exploiting our bodies for profit.

    For white and wealthy women, abortion is rarer and paradoxically more accessible, while women of color and low-income are more likely to need an abortion and less likely to be able to afford or access one.

    Black women need to have access to reproductive health providers who listen to their concerns and treat them with respect and dignity. We need to increase health insurance coverage, including expanding Medicaid in all 50 states, and lift the bans that deny insurance coverage for abortion. We need to fund fully comprehensive sexual education in our schools so that black girls understand how their bodies work, how contraception works, and feel empowered to negotiate in relationships.

    What black women do not need is more restrictions on abortion, or politicians telling us how to live our lives.

    To attain reproductive health we must address all the obstacles black women face: racism, sexism, economic injustice, social stigma, violence, the list goes on. In other words, we must treat black women as whole, complex and unique human beings. doclink

    Abortion Worldwide

    May 27, 2013, Guttmacher Institute

    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.

    A full transcript is available: or see our fact sheet for data references: doclink

    US Abortions Drop 5 Percent During Recession; More Birth Control, Bad Economy Likely Causes

    November 21, 2012, Washington Post

    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 .

    About 85% of those who got abortions were unmarried. doclink

    U.S.: Life Begins at Conception: That's Not the Point

    November 4, 2012, RH Reality Check   By: Jodi Jacobson

    "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. doclink

    U.S.: Pro-Life Advocates Should Support Family Planning

    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.

    Cutting access to family planning only undermines the pro-life agenda at both a heavy fiscal and moral cost. doclink

    Georgia: From Abortion to Contraception

    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.

    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.

    So far only 36% of Georgian women use any modern birth control. doclink

    U.K.: 22,000 Young Women Have a Repeat Abortion

    Daily Mail

    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." doclink

    Women Seeking An Abortion Turn to the Internet Rather Than the Boat to England

    May 26, 2011

    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. doclink

    U.S.: Abortion Opponents Should Support Planned Parenthood

    March 2, 2011, The Desert Sun (California)

    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.

    In a perfect world, people would abstain from having sex until they're ready to have children. That's not going to happen. The worst consequence is the tragedy of abortion. doclink

    Abortion Rate Drops to Lowest Level Ever; Spread of Birth Control and Sex Education Credited with Decline in Ex-soviet Bloc

    July 28, 2005, Prague Post

    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. doclink

    Contraception Yes, Abortion No

    Bill Denneen

    By Bill Denneen I remember when I wrote that word on the backboard in my Biology Class at Santa Maria High School in 1960. I thought the roof would fall in. We accept things like cell phones figuratively 'overnight' but social change is so painfully SLOW. I have come to the conclusion we Biologists look at 'life' differently than 'regular' people. Sex for Biologists is the process by which DNA gets resuffled. It is a process that replaced asexual reproduction very early in the evolution of life on this planet. Isogametes/conjugation (sex) came in when life was single cell organisms (e.g. bacteria, paramecium). Sex takes DNA from two organisms of the same species and makes an entirely new recombination of the DNA which is the basis of evolution. The study of biology is essentially a study of evolution.

    All organisms produce more offspring than could possibly (sp?) survive (e.g. the weeds in your garden). Only the best adapted to the changing environment survive to continue these new characterists---thus the evolution of life on planet earth.

    Jan. 22 is the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision over 30 years ago to legalize abortions. The president is leading a growing movement to make abortion illegal again. Typically in Santa Maria a group parades from City Hall to Planned Parenthood (PP-SM). This year the group was probably the largest ever (about 200 people). The group is called 'Pro-Life'---they are against abortions. I am too. For a number of years I would be the only one on the Pro-PP-SM side. Last year a group of about 40 were there with candles---what a beautiful sight for me. This year the same so I walked down the middle of the street between the two groups with my large sign reading: FAMILY PLANNING NOT ABORTION and on the flip side CONDOMS NOT ABORTION. It was music to my ears to hear the cheers from the PP-SM side---"yeh Bill".

    I too am opposed to abortion but feel contraception is the alternative. We are not intendended for 'abstinence only'---Bush must have slept through his college Bio-classes. How old were you at first intercourse? The average age is now 17 but lower for the less educated.

    When I was born there were less than 2 billion people on this tiny crowded planet, we are now pushing 7,000,000,000.---a true 'explosion'. The Central Coast (e.g.Nipomo) is the fastest growing area of the entire planet (7.7%). Nipomo IS the future---yuck!. An article in the Santa Maria Times last April carried an article about a local women (my age) who begat 18 children who begat 236 grandchildren (I have 2). I feel this is a terrible tragedy. It takes intelligence, motivation and knowledge NOT to have so many babies. I would guess she and I had about the same amount of sexual activity but hers was devoid of contraception.

    I feel that we as a species have a choice of increasing the death rate or lowering the birth rate. As a Biologist I would say our average 'natural' life expectancy prior to about 2000BC was probably 25 or 30. In 1900 in the US it was about 40. Today it is pushing 100. As I tell my senior nutrition buddies we GOF's (Grand Ole Fellows) are an abnormality and it is not "natural" for us to even be here let alone the concept of a 'natural death'.

    You might wonder why I am SO concerned about "choice". In WWII I was a medic in the Navy. Post WWII while going to college I worked on an ambulance near Boston. We picked up young gals in puddles of blood which I had never seen in the Navy. They had tried to abort themselves with coathangers (abortion and contraception were illegal in MA at the time). Sex for me as sailor was a just a fun activity (until then). With that wake-up I became a lifelong supporter of contraception, vasectomies, and Planned Parenthood.

    Every child has a basic right to be born planned, wanted and loved----not the result of lack of knowledge about contraception, contraceptive failure or too much to drink. Sixty percent of pregnancies in the US are unintended (accidents). My Doctor friend had this to say about the subject: "I did my internship (1963-64) and surgical residency (1967-1973) at Highland General Hospital in Oakland. My training spanned the years in California when abortions became legal. Needles to say, I was one of the doctors that you would have brought the unfortunate ladies to. We saw not only the severe bleeding but also septic abortions--- infections from dirty instruments. These infections carried a very high mortality from septic shock."

    I am opposed to abortion. We are painfully moving from ignorance about reproduction to an open dialogue. To measure your acceptance of this change here is a 'pop quiz'. Consider the following terms. If there are any you would not use talking with your kids or consider 'nasty' you are part of the problem: vagina, stud, condom, slut, cervix, penis, masturbation, orgasm, sexual intercourse, oral sex, mutual masturbation, emergency contraception. Back in 1960 when I wrote "contraception" on the backbroard 'sex' was dirty but the air was 'clean'. We are finally accepting sexuality as a natural/clean activity ----while the air has become 'dirty'. doclink

    Report: Unsafe Abortions Kill 70,000 Annually

    October 13, 2009, Google News

    Increased contraceptive use has led to fewer abortions worldwide, but deaths from unsafe abortion remain a severe problem, killing 70,000 women a year, according to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute.

    38,000 of the deaths - over half the total - are in sub-Saharan Africa, which also has the lowest rates of contraceptive use and the highest rates of unintended pregnancies, and only 28% of married women using contraceptives.

    "In almost all developed countries, abortion is safe and legal," ... "But in much of the developing world, abortion remains highly restricted, and unsafe abortion is common and continues to damage women's health and threaten their survival."

    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities disagreed with the reports call for further easing of developing nations' abortion laws.

    A key reason for the drop in abortions was that the portion of married women using contraception increased from 54% in 1990 to 63% in 2003 as availability increased and social mores changed. 2003 was the last year information was available.

    Abortions worldwide are declining even as more countries liberalize their abortion laws. Since 1997, only Poland, Nicaragua and El Salvador substantially increased restrictions on abortion, while laws were eased significantly in 19 countries and regions, including Cambodia, Nepal and Mexico City.

    40% of the world's women live in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, which includes 92% of the women in Africa and 97% in Latin America. Regardless of whether abortion is legal or is highly restricted, it occurs at roughly the same rate, but there is the high rate of deaths and medical complications from unsafe clandestine abortions in the restrictive countries. "Too many women are maimed or killed each year because they lack legal abortion access."

    19.7 million of the 41.6 million abortions in 2003 were unsafe - either self-induced, performed by unskilled practitioners or carried out in unhygienic surroundings.

    The report recommended that access to modern contraceptives and improve family planning services be expanded, that safe, legal abortion services are available to women in need, and that the coverage and quality of post-abortion care be improved, which would reduce maternal death and complications from unsafe abortion.

    "The Catholic Church has informally at least stopped fighting against contraception to the degree it once did and put more of its energies into fighting abortion," Sharon Camp of the Guttmacher Institute said. "On the ground there are priests and nuns who refer people to family planning services."

    A representative of the Catholic Bishops Conference said any priest or nun making such referrals was veering from church policy and that use of artificial contraception could increase a women's health risks and said they would fare better using natural family planning methods approved by the church.

    "The bad news," says Susan Cohen of Guttmacher, "is that where most of the poor women live, throughout the developing world, unsafe abortion remains high, and women are dying as a result of it." ... "It's so preventable, and that's the tragedy." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: as a user of various forms of contraception for 40 some years, I have no doubt that the risks of pregnancy and unsafe abortion far outweigh the risks of contraception. Also, natural family planning seems to work well for couples in their 30s and later, but not for couples under 30, according to a study that I read about several years ago.

    U.S.: New Rules Would Threaten Right to Contraceptives

    July 17, 2008, Planet Wire

    Reproductive health advocates were outraged by reports that the administration plans to require recipients of federal health programs to hire people who object to abortion and many kinds of birth control.

    The report said the draft change in rules would require hospitals, clinics, researchers, medical schools and state and local governments to sign "written certifications" of non-discrimination against such applicants. The proposal would define "abortion" as "any of the various procedures that results in the termination of the life of a human being between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: we saw this coming. Religious conservatives will not be happy until women can no longer prevent pregnancies except by abstinence. Barrier methods will come under attack after contraceptives are banned.

    Abortions Down 25% From Peak; but a Study Says More Women Are Choosing Medication, Rather Than Surgery, to End Pregnancies.

    January 17, 2008, Los Angeles Times

    The number of abortions in America has plunged to 1.2 million a year, down 25% since peaking in 1990. In the early 1980s, 1 in 3 pregnant women chose abortion, now it is closer to 1 in 5.

    Women are gravitating to medication abortions, and expel the embryo in the privacy of their homes. The FDA approved the pills for use through the seventh week of pregnancy.

    By 2005, the pills accounted for 13% of all abortions.

    The Guttmacher report came to no conclusions about why the abortion landscape had changed. Abortion rights advocates suggested women may be avoiding unwanted pregnancies, thanks in part to the morning-after pill. Activists have pledged to lobby to make all forms of birth control cheaper and more widely accessible. They also plan to push states to require sex-education classes that teach about contraception.

    Dwell too much on abortion, and the broader liberal agenda will bog down, said a consultant who developed the strategy. Conservatives, are eager to keep the focus on abortion and contend that the more women learn about the procedure, the less likely they are to choose it. Some of the material is false or misleading, for example, warnings that abortion raises the risk of breast cancer or causes post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of the counseling brochures use photos of fetal development through nine months, though 90% of abortions take place in the first trimester.

    Abortion opponents plan to lobby to expand this type of counseling.

    Some of the biggest drops in the abortion rate have come in states that do not impose tight restrictions.

    The data suggest that the decline in abortions may be due to a shift in women's attitudes. The antiabortion movement should focus on continuing to "change hearts and minds."

    The number of abortion clinics nationwide was down 15%,(48). But other health centers and doctors in private practice filled the gap by offering medical abortions.

    Abortion clinics have been besieged by protests, but it's harder for protesters to identify a physician in private practice.

    Missouri recently required doctors who dispense the abortion pill to turn their offices into full surgical suites. But a judge put the law on hold, pending a legal challenge.

    There is little popular support for restricting such abortions.

    Most doctors who prescribed the abortion pill work in urban areas, so access to abortion had not improved for rural women.

    More than 1 in 4 abortion patients reports traveling at least 50 miles to reach a provider. It was difficult to persuade abortion doctors to share information about their practice because they feared reprisals from protesters. doclink

    Abortion as Uncommon as it was in Grandma's Day

    March 20, 2008, AAP Newsfeed

    Young Australian women are as unlikely to have an abortion as their grandmothers. Researchers credit increasing condom use and the nation's enthusiasm for having children. Less than 5% of women born in the 1980s have had an abortion, a drop from 14% 10 years ago.

    The study involves about 4,500 women of all ages whose reproductive history was mapped over their lifetime.

    Women born before 1945 had below 5%, but this increased rapidly with the legalization of abortion, the sexual revolution and the pill.

    We've seen is a dramatic downturn for the latest group born between 1976 and 1990.

    These women were past the 20 to 25 peak when women were most likely to abort.

    The findings were linked to changing attitudes to safe sex.

    Probably more significantly, the occurrence of HIV and AIDS has vastly increased condom use. The drop could be linked to the recent rise in the birth rate, seen mostly among older women. doclink

    US Colorado: Proposed Colorado Measure on Rights for Human Eggs

    November 18, 2007, New York Times*

    A proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution that would give legal rights to fertilized human eggs will cause a heated local debate over abortion. If passed this would give Colorado the most sweeping rights of the unborn.

    The proposal must go through other steps including gathering of enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

    If passed, the measure would ask voters whether inalienable rights, due process rights and equality of justice rights should be extended to "any human being from the moment of fertilization."

    Naral Pro-Choice Colorado, said state courts could be swamped by suits claiming specific rights for a fertilized egg that the ballot measure did not clarify.

    It lays the foundation for a potential onslaught. The language would open challenges to birth control, oral contraception and intrauterine devices, which make the uterine wall inhospitable to the developing egg.

    A lawyer said the real impact would be in its asking a profound philosophical and moral question.

    The whole issue centers when does life begin. Though "abortion" would not appear in the the proposal, it would effectively make an abortion illegal.

    The Colorado Democratic Party thought the measure was timed to highlight divisions over abortion in Colorado. But it could play into the US Senate race, by forcing candidates to talk about the subject. doclink

    U.S.: As Abortion Rate Drops, Use of RU-486 is on Rise

    January 22, 2008, Washington Post

    The abortion pill RU-486, on the market since 2000, has become an alternative, making abortion less clinical and more private. RU-486-induced abortions now account for 14% of the total, and more than one in five early abortions are performed by the ninth week of pregnancy.

    The pill has helped slow the decline in abortion providers, as more physicians discreetly start to prescribe the pill.

    When the Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone in 2000, some predicted it would revolutionize the abortion experience. But the impact has been happening gradually as it slowly and steadily is becoming integrated into the medical system.

    Women take the pill in the doctor's office and then go home, where they take another drug, misoprostol, to trigger contractions, causing a miscarriage. Standard abortions cost about $400, the pill can cost the same to about $100 more.

    About 150,000 of the 1.2 million abortions in the US in 2006 were done with medication. In some European countries, more than 60% of abortions are performed with the drug.

    One doctor in Albuquerque said she does not use the pill at one of her offices but does offer it along with standard abortions at a clinic where she works. At another clinic, she provides only the pill.

    Women who want this have really done their homework. They know exactly what the process is and really have made a very conscious decision about their choice. doclink

    Millions of Women at Risk of Unplanned Pregnancy in Developing Nations

    July 17, 2007, Guttmacher Institute

    More than 100 million married women in developing countries have a need for contraception, and yet are not using a method of contraception. About 15% of married women and 7% of never-married women in developing countries have an unmet need for contraception; but that proportion varies by region, country and socioeconomic characteristics.

    A study says that one-third of pregnancies in developing countries are unintended. Young women and married women in rural areas are most likely to have unmet need. Reasons include concerns about possible health and side effects and the belief that they are not at risk of getting pregnant. Few are unaware of family planning options. The proportion of women with unmet need is greatest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Family planning programs have made strides in reducing unmet need and educating women about contraception, but there is a long way to go.

    The study recommend making available a range of contraceptive methods, providing counseling and education and improving contraceptive technologies. Investing resources in those regions, countries and population subgroups with the highest unmet need will ensure family planning programs will reduce the unmet need for contraception and, the number of women experiencing unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortion. doclink

    Abortion in the Philippines: a National Secret

    September 5, 2007, Reuters

    Backstreet abortions may become more common as a US aid program plans to stop distributing contraceptives in the Philippines in 2008. This will leave birth control under the influence of Catholic bishops who advocate unreliable natural birth control. Most women who seek abortions are married with several children and too poor to afford another baby.

    The procedure, which can involve pounding the lower abdomen to trigger a miscarriage, is called a massage.

    One woman refused to let her husband take her to the hospital because of the shame of what she had done and they couldn't afford the medical bills.

    Before her abortion, she had no access to artificial family planning. If she had, she says she wouldn't have become pregnant.

    Under President Gloria Arroyo, a devout Catholic who relies on the support of politically powerful bishops, the government promotes natural family planning methods such as abstinence when the woman is ovulating.

    Poor people rely largely on USAID, the main supplier of contraceptives in the country for the past 30 years.

    But USAID has started phasing out to end the donation programme in 2008, in line with Manila's goal of self-reliance in family planning.

    The government's reluctance to take up where USAID leaves off will push up the country's rate of abortions, which is twice as high as in western Europe, where terminations are legal.

    The natural family planning method is a good effective option, said the executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life.

    Over half of women who have had an abortion in the Philippines were not using any family planning and of those that were, three-quarters were using natural methods. Both methods have high failure rates.

    The population, of 89 million, is expected to swell to 142 million by 2040 and is straining the country's infrastructure and choking efforts to cut poverty.

    Women who abort in the Philippines risk a prison sentence of up to six years; anyone assisting faces a similar sentence.

    Only one in four women have a surgical procedure. The 4,000-15,000 peso cost is beyond the pockets of most women.

    Over 30% ingest either cytotec, an anti-ulcer treatment they can buy in pharmacies, or herbal concoctions. Around 20% take hormonal drugs, or other medications and alcohol. Some starve themselves or fling themselves down stairs. Among poor women seeking abortions, over 20% get massages from hilots or insert catheters in their vaginas.

    A lack of information about artificial contraception and myths about their side-effects was putting some poor people off using them.

    Ignorance and rumours, sometimes spread by pro-life groups and members of the clergy, have led some Filipinos to believe that the contraceptive pill is made from placenta and the tablets cause cancer.

    Abortion is rarely discussed in the Philippines, but nearly 80,000 women are treated in hospitals every year for complications from induced abortion.

    At least 800 women are estimated to die every year from complications. doclink

    Brazil's Lula Says Abortion Issue Cannot Be Ignored

    May 8, 2007, Reuters

    President da Silva said on the eve of a visit by Pope Benedict to Brazil that abortion was a public health issue. He was personally opposed to abortion but because of Brazil's social conditions, some pregnant women needed help and the state needs to treat this as question of public health. Pope Benedict has denounced abortion and birth control as immoral.

    Abortion is illegal in Brazil but at least two hundred thousand abortions are performed each year.

    Brazil's new health minister called for a plebiscite on abortion earlier this year.

    "If we had good family planning and sex education, we would not have the number of unwanted pregnancies" Lula said.

    Brazil has the world's largest Catholic population but Protestant groups have been making inroads for decades. doclink

    Chile: President Stands Her Ground on Emergency Contraception

    April 17, 2007, Latin America Press

    When Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced that the country would provide emergency contraception to "everyone who requires it" she was aware of the storm that would ensue.

    Six years ago, as health minister, Bachelet proposed giving sex abuse victims access to the emergency contraceptive pill, at drugstores by doctor's prescription.

    A flurry of lawsuits, counter suits, injunctions, and constitutional challenges have pitted pro-life forces led by the Catholic Church against Bachelet's government, backed by women's rights organizations and health professionals.

    Before the Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling and banned the sale of Postinal, considering it abortifacent, the governmental drug licensing agency had already approved a second product, Postinor-2.

    Even though Postinor-2 has the same components as Postinal, the Santiago Court of Appeals ruled that the plaintiffs could not represent unborn babies and that scientific or ethical determinations about when life begins are out of the court's realm of competency.

    Bachelet signed into law the Regulations on Fertility that permit women over 14 to obtain Postinor-2 without parental consent.

    Chilean law enacted in recent years lowered the statutory age at which minors may be tried as adults and the age of informed sexual consent to 14 years of age from 16.

    Mayors of the Independent Democratic Union party, influenced by traditional Catholic doctrine, vowed to block the distribution of emergency contraception in public clinics in their municipalities, while congressional advocates have filed protective orders against these mayors. A final ruling from the Constitutional Tribunal is expected later this year.

    Midwives or doctors at public health clinics administer Postinor-2, prefaced by counseling on birth control methods.

    Family planning programs in Chile began in the mid-1960s, when an average 550 women died annually due to complications related to childbirth. During the same period, and with therapeutic abortion still legal in Chile, an estimated 300 women died each year as a consequence of illegal abortions.

    Then-President Eduardo Frei Montalva a devout Catholic, put aside his personal beliefs to initiate free distribution of birth control methods to save women's lives. The 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet maintained this family planning practice, but a lack of consensus within the Junta on penalties delayed the banning of therapeutic abortion until Bishop Jorge Medina interceded to urge the regime to enact the prohibition in September 1989, six months before the inauguration of the first democratically elected government in 17 years. doclink

    Abortion Rate at Highest Ever

    February 8, 2007, Telegraph

    A total of 5,992 abortions were carried out last month at the Marie Stopes nine UK clinics, a rise of 13% on the 5,304 figure for January 2005. The charity believes this increase could have been caused by Christmas drinking, leading to unprotected sex.

    In total, 61,983 abortions were performed at Marie Stopes clinics in the UK in 2006.

    We may be seeing the consequences of the festive season. The charity offered emergency contraception in an attempt to encourage women to keep emergency contraception at home.

    Some family planning groups called it irresponsible.

    MSI has called for a Government-funded education campaign to alert women and men to the importance of preventing unwanted pregnancies and STIs. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), has seen a higher than usual number of women for abortion treatment this January. Closure of family planning facilities, GPs and pharmacists during the holiday period means contraceptive access is reduced.

    Making emergency contraception available over the counter has caused controversy.

    A professor argued that making it easier for women to get emergency contraception had no effect on abortion rates and education was the key to cutting the figures. doclink

    U.S.: Abortion Foes' New Rallying Point: Contraception

    September 24, 2006, Chicago Tribune

    A vocal group of Christian conservatives is arguing to mount a concerted attack on contraception.

    Their voices were raised at an unusual anti-abortion meeting that drew 250 people to condemn artificial birth control. Experts assailed contraception on the grounds that it devalues children, harms relationships between men and women, promotes sexual promiscuity and leads to falling birth rates. Conservative leaders are watching to see if the anti-contraception rhetoric gains traction. Of interest is how closely evangelical Christians are willing to align themselves with Catholics on the issue. That alarms abortion-rights advocates, who warn that birth control could become a battleground:

    The best way to reduce abortion is to make sure contraception is widely available.

    What's likely, experts suggest, is a chipping away at access to contraceptive services including cuts to federal programmes that pay for birth control. Meanwhile, 91% of Americans agreed that couples should have access to birth-control options. The main argument is that chemical contraception causes abortion and if we believe life begins at the moment of conception, we have to defend it against chemical attack.

    Another argument against contraception, is that it harms relationships between men and women. There is disagreement over making contraception an ideological and political target.

    Anti-abortion organizations have long adhered to a strategy of making abortion their focus to maximize political success. doclink

    Chinese Province Bans Sale of Abortion Drugs

    January 4, 2007, Agence France Presse

    Henan province has banned the sale of abortion drugs as part of its efforts to maintain the gender balance. Vendors of abortion drugs will face fines of up to 20,000 yuan (2,564 dollars), while pregnant women who have their babies aborted illegally will face a fine of 2,000 yuan.

    The move is a measure to ban fetal gender selection by abortion in the province. An abortion is legal when the foetus has serious hereditary disease and continual pregnancy will harm the mother, or if she has divorced or lost her spouse.

    The ratio between boys and girls in Henan, with a population of 100 million , was 118.46 to 100, higher than the world average ratio of 103-107 to 100. Henan's authorities have blamed the gender imbalance on the use of ultra-sound technology that allows families to identify the sex of fetuses. Generally boys are favoured over girls.

    If such birth ratios continue, China will have up to 25 million men with no hope of finding a female mate between 2015 and 2030. doclink

    Vatican Refuses to Sign Convention Over Right of Disabled Unborn to Life

    December 19, 2006, Catholic Online

    Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio of the Holy See's permanent mission to the U.N., stressed that "The Holy See has consistently called for disabled individuals to be completely and compassionately integrated into society." He noted that the inclusion of a clause in the UN treaty that requires access be provided to "sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programs" may be used to deny the very basic right to life of disabled unborn persons and he is imable to sign it.

    The convention requires nations to adopt laws prohibiting discrimination and covers rights the right to life. The Holy See opposed inclusion of such a provision in the convention "because in some countries reproductive health services include abortion". doclink

    Philippines: Unmet Needs Resort to Abortion: Family Planning Group

    December 10, 2006, Sun Star (Philipines)

    Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) explained that unmet needs in reproductive health are reasons for abortion.

    FPOP aims to promote the rights of women to exercise their options for better reproductive health.

    The scope of abortion is so extensive and the consequences so staggering that dwindling supplies of contraceptives have forced women to resort to abortion.

    With half of Filipino families living in poverty, many are unable to buy contraceptives, which used to be available for free. For the last 30 years the country has been receiving donations from USAID that is scheduled to phase down all contraceptive assistance to the Philippines by 2007.

    Violence against women has familiar signs: a violated body and the emotional trauma. At least one out of ten women had been victims of physical harm by someone close to them.

    The assault on the rights of women to exercise their options for better reproductive health is violence of another kind. doclink

    Experts Condemn 100,000 Deaths a Year From Abortions

    November 5, 2006, Xinhua General News Service

    Millions of women need better access to contraception to prevent deaths from unsafe abortions. Family planning, contraception, is a basic need in reproductive health. About 123 million women do not use contraceptives, with some unaware of their availability or benefits. Ten to 30% of maternal deaths are caused by abortions, most from illegal procedures.

    Of 46 million abortions carried out yearly, 20 million were clandestine and generally unsafe.

    Religion plays a dominant role in Asia such as Muslim Indonesia or the predominantly Catholic Philippines. Governments have to overcome opposition to contraception from religious leaders.

    A report is expected to show that progress on preventable deaths in women was unacceptably slow. Maternal mortality is a very serious problem. doclink

    Half of Abortions Are Repeats for Women; Most Were Over 30 and Were Using Contraception at the Time, Study Finds

    November 22, 2006, Reuters

    About half of U.S. women who had abortions in 2002 had undergone at least one previous abortion.

    Women who had repeat abortions tended to be over 30, to have more children, and most were using contraception. This suggests we need to do a better job helping women prevent unwanted pregnancies.

    Most of the women seeking abortions were poor or low-income, and 60% had at least one child.

    One in 3 US women had a baby they had not planned for, and 1 in 10 have had more than one.

    The 'wall of separation' that the federal government has erected between family planning and abortion is leading to more abortions. Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania will not give any clinic state family planning funding if it has any relationship with an abortion provider. doclink

    Africa: Anti-abortion Laws a Silent War Waged Against Women

    March 24, 2006, Push Journal

    At a conference attended by more than 140 researchers, key government officials, and health practitioners from 16 African countries, discussions are focusing on termination of pregnancy, and how the findings can influence policy.

    Abortion is prohibited in most African countries, except in cases where the mothers life is in danger, resulting in many women resorting to unsafe abortions.

    The WHO says that 4.2 million unsafe abortions occur in Africa every year, resulting in about 30,000 deaths.

    We need to ask ourselves whether we will allow old laws to kill women. If we have a law that kills people, we need to review it.

    South Africa, with legalised abortion on request, has reduced the number of deaths. Before the law was established, there were 425 deaths from abortion every year. Now the number is less than 20.

    However, it was noted that changes to abortion laws did not in themselves put a stop to unsafe abortions.

    Laws must ensure that these services are available for the poorest.

    It is important to provide contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

    The low level of contraceptive usage in Ethiopia - only 14% of married women in 2005 - has shown the need for more community health workers to provide information about contraceptives, and distribute them.

    30,000 of these workers are required; to date, government has trained 9,000, who have visited a third of the country's 15,000 villages.

    Kenya is also faced with the need for more personnel to provide reproductive health services.

    The biggest constraint is the lack of enough health workers to offer these services. doclink

    Philippines: Women Willing to Spend on Family Planning

    February 24, 2006, Business World

    The Filipino 2004 Family Planning Survey reported that more than 9 in 10 women who were using or intend to use modern family planning methods would be willing to pay for their contraceptive method. The figures echo the provincial sentiment that respondents were willing to pay an average of P23.40 for contraceptive pills and P33.40 for injectables they are presently paying about P5. The majority of users obtain their supplies from health centers either at a subsidized rate or for free. The contraceptives are from foreign donors who have decided to phase out their donations beginning 2003. Consumers are turning to private sources. 65% family planning users obtained their supplies from the public sector in 2004. The various sectors have been called on to work together to meet the need for family planning including scientific natural family planning method. According to the 2004 Survey, 49.3% of married women are using a family planning and 35.1% use a modern method. The city of San Fernando called on married women who were practicing family planning method to vie for the first "Ginang Fernandina" crown to recognize family planning users and promote family planning. Pageant organizers hope the event would sustain interest in responsible parenthood as the local government devises plans to provide for the family planning needs of the community. The reigning "Ginang Fernandina's" answer to the interview question of What is the difference between abortion and family planning? was "Abortion means you are killing an innocent, defense-less child. Family planning means that you are planning your family so that it does not grow too big. This will enable you to provide your children with a good education and adequate food." doclink

    Hungary Considers Birth Control Subsidy to Cut Abortions, Costs

    March 24, 2006, Bloomberg (US)

    Hungary may consider subsidizing birth-control pills to reduce unwanted pregnancies. State support for the pill, could encourage women to avoid unprotected sex. Hungary's contraceptives maker has been pushing the idea for years. This may help Hungary's health insurance system, which spent 1.4 billion forint ($6.9 million) to end pregnancies in 2004. Kokeny, a former health minister, has been a leading campaigner for responsible sex. Hungary's abortion rate has dropped 42% since the end of communist rule, but remains one of the highest in the region with 55 for every 100 live births. It probably has to do with the sexual culture and the price of contraceptives, as well as the material well-being. Richter, which claims a 34% share of Hungary's oral contraceptives market, has argued subsidies for birth control can ultimately save money. A month's supply of pills costs about 1,500 forint ($6.90) in Hungary, where the average person takes home $572 a month. Lower prices for birth control will mean fewer abortions, meaning fewer subsidies, but the goal is to help Hungarian women. doclink

    Philippines: Shattering the Stereotype

    February 18, 2006, Philippine Daily Inquirer

    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%. doclink

    U.S.: Bill Targets Plan B Access

    February 16, 2006, The Baltimore Sun

    Touching on the sensitive question of when life begins, Maryland legislators are looking at a bill sponsored by Sen. Sharon M. Grosfeld, that would give pharmacists the ability to provide women with Plan B. Supporters say the legislation would prevent unintended pregnancies by allowing women to get the pill when it is most effective - within hours after sexual intercourse. But opponents say this is essentially an abortion. Some conservatives are adamant that doctors should control access to the pill and in the case of minors only with parental consent. The bill states that licensed pharmacists and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would develop a protocol. Pharmacists who want to opt into the program would be required to complete a training program and pay certain fees. The FDA has blocked attempts to make the pill available over the counter, citing questions about its safety. doclink

    Life After Roe

    March 5, 2006, Washington Post

    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. doclink

    U.S.: Protestants Endorse Family Planning

    February 22, 2006, Manila Standard (Philippines)

    Protestant bishops have taken a bold stand on artificial birth control and endorse family planning bills because they will solve the unchecked population growth and help bring down poverty. The Protestant bishops support the policy allowing couples to choose when and how many children to raise. They also endorses the use of birth control devices and tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men. By spacing the pregnancy, the mother's reproductive health is protected and the child in the womb will be healthier. Contraceptives "do not kill life because these do not destroy fertilized eggs but prevent fertilization and when egg is not fertilized, life has not begun. No life is taken away," Abortion is being done because of unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. In the Philippines, 473,408 women undergo abortion annually, because the government has not done its part to provide information and access to family planning. Of the number, 80,000 of these women die of complications. Both the mother and child can be saved by passing this bill. One of three pregnancies in Metro Manila result in abortion. Although contraceptive use has increased from 40% in 1993 to 47.8% in 1998, unmet need for contraception still remains at a little over 50%. Filipino women who resorted to induced abortion could not avail modern family planning because of the high cost of contraceptives, the stigma attached to the methods of service, the devolution of health services to local government, which discourage the use of modern family planning, and misconceptions about modern family planning. The government has yet to come up with a national policy on family planning, prompting the local governments to adopt their own ordinance according to the local executives' whims. Lawmakers are batting for a national policy that will make sex education a mandatory part of the curriculum from grades 5 up to high school. Under the proposed law, schoolchildren will be taught about safe sex, responsible parenthood, abstinence before marriage and the use and application of condoms, pills and other contraceptive devices and natural family planning methods. But the Catholic church branded the proposal as "promiscuity." The bishops wanted the sex education to be done by the parents and assigned five prominent bishops to lead the rallies against the bill. The stand of the Church is that only natural family planning is the only "godly way" of limiting the size of a family. The majority of 12.8 million married women in the Phillipines have a high "unmet need" as their fertility rate of 3.7% overtakes their desire for 2.7%. Most women desire two to three children but they give birth to more than three, even five children due to lack of access to contraceptives. 10 women die of pregnancy and childbirth-related causes daily. doclink

    Pope Restates Life Begins at Conception

    February 28, 2006, Irish Times

    Pope Benedict reaffirmed that life begins at conception, and embryos are "sacred and inviolable" even before they become implanted in a mother's uterus. The Pope said the Church had always proclaimed the "sacred and inviolable character of every human life, from its conception to its natural end. Implantation usually begins about a week after the egg is fertilised and is usually complete after about 14 days. The Pope appeared to be trying to cut short any debate that the period between conception and implantation could be seen as a time for manipulation on embryos. He did not make a distinction between embryos created naturally and those generated outside the womb through in-vitro fertilisation. The Catholic Church holds that in-vitro fertilisation is morally wrong, but scientific advances have presented it with ethical issues regarding embryos created outside the womb. He made no reference to debates among scientists and ethicists about what to do with the growing number of "surplus" artificially generated embryos preserved in fertility clinics around the world. doclink

    Until 1869 the Catholic Church maintained that life commenced 40 days after conception. The Bible says nothing about when the spark of life is struck--the notion that sacredness begins when sperm meets egg hinges on the assumption that it is God's plan that each act of conception should lead to a baby. ...Gregg Easterbrooke, Abortion and Brainwaves, The New Republic, Jan 31, 2000

    U.S.: Unintended Pregnancy Linked to State Funding Cuts; First-of-its-Kind Study Cites Impact on Teenage Girls and Poor Women

    March 1, 2006, Washington Post

    The nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute released a study in February. From 1994 to 2001, many states cut funds for family planning, restricting access to birth control and placed controls on sex education. These trends help explain why more than 3 million pregnancies in the US each year are unintended. The most powerful way to decrease abortion is to reduce unintended pregnancy. The first report to measure the impact of state actions on reproductive health care, is based on a census using the recent available data. Advocates over abortion were reluctant to comment, but experts on family planning praised an agenda both sides could support. Whether pro-choice or pro-life, everyone ought to agree that preventing unintended pregnancies is good. Despite gains, the US still lags behind most industrialized nations in reducing abortion and teenage pregnancy. In 2002, 21 in 1,000 American women age 15 to 44 had an abortion. Unintended pregnancy in the US is twice as high as in most of Western Europe. The problem is acute for the nation's estimated 17 million adolescent girls and low-income women. In 2000, federal health officials set a goal of reducing unintended pregnancies by 40% within 10 years. For every state that has invested in reproductive health care or passed laws permitting pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception without a prescription, at least another state that moved in the opposite direction. California, New York, South Carolina and Alabama have made the greatest strides in helping low-income women receive health care and contraception. Every $1 spent on family planning saves $3 in health care costs related to a pregnancy. doclink

    Family Planning Row in Guatemala

    February 2, 2006, BBC News

    A power struggle has erupted in Guatemala over a family planning law. The law was vetoed by President Berger, but congress decided to enact it unilaterally. The legislation requires the government to promote the use of contraceptives and provide sex education classes. Guatemala has one of the highest birth rates in Central America, and infant mortality and malnutrition are among the highest in the region. After revoking the presidential veto, congress ordered the publication of the bill in the official state gazette. The government claimed this was "irregular" because only 80 legislators voted against the veto. President Berger and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church have vowed to present legal challenges. The Archbishop of Guatemala City, Rodolfo Quezada Toruno, said the bill was a "culture of death" and compared the effect of contraceptives with that of "bullets". Representatives of women's groups who had gathered outside the congress building welcomed the rejection of the presidential veto. doclink

    U.S.: Contraception the Best Truce in Abortion War

    January 22, 2006, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    The Center for Reproductive Rights estimated that 30 states would declare abortions illegal within a year of a high court decision overturning Roe. If you want to decrease the number of abortions, join us in a campaign to increase contraceptive use. If advocates of family planning don't capture public attention, conservative extremists eliminate access to contraceptives. They will roll back the clock to a time when women had little control over conception. They have declared war on women's rights. Ultraconservatives have succeeded in blocking over-the-counter sales of the "morning-after" pill. Women have reported that druggists have gone so far as to question them about their marital status before filling a prescription. At the federal level, the fight to preserve Roe is probably already lost. Bush has three more years in which to stack the court with foes of abortion. A few years ago, the Planned Parenthood Federation sold T-shirts on which the wearer advertised the fact that she had had an abortion. Abortions should be, safe, legal and rare but more than a million are still performed annually. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that nearly half of all pregnancies among American women are unintended. doclink

    For All the Debate in Washington, the Battle Over Abortion is Actually in the States, Which Are Imposing More Limits Than Ever. Missouri is a Case Study

    January 30, 2006, Time

    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. doclink

    U.S.: Lawmakers Tout Pregnancy Prevention Proposal

    January 25, 2006, Associated Press

    Lawmakers of both parties outlined legislation to prevent unwanted pregnancies by greater access to emergency contraceptives and family planning services. The proposals would require pharmacies to issue emergency birth control prescriptions and emergency room workers to inform rape victims about access to such contraceptives, and supply them if requested. Anti-abortion lawmakers are backing proposals that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions, prohibit abortion providers from offering sex education courses to schools and create tax breaks for donations to pregnancy centers that encourage births. Bray, Bean and Jones voted against a bill that imposed new requirements on abortion providers and allows parents to sue people who help their minors avoid Missouri's parental consent law when getting abortions. Parker did not vote on the bill, which was passed overwhelmingly in a September special session. Bean said whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, we all come out ahead if we can prevent teen pregnancie. The two bills, would also place in state law a family planning and women's health program eliminated from the budget in recent years. doclink

    Easing Family Planning Rules Leads to Fewer Abortions and More Baby Girls, Chinese Province Finds

    December 15, 2005, UNFPA

    Sixteen months after lifting birth-spacing rules for rural families, there are fewer abortions. The new policy, coupled with incentives to counter son preference, result in a more balanced sex ratio. Family planning workers are providing more information and offering a choice of contraceptive methods. Hospital deliveries have increased. Success has led Hainan authorities to abolish birth-spacing restrictions throughout the province. More than 800 other counties have followed its lead. Nationwide standards have removed birth targets and quotas, in line with UNFPA-supported counties. Among contraceptive users, fewer women are undergoing sterilization and more opting for reversible methods, especially intrauterine devices. Condom use has also increased. In July 2004, Hainan authorities agreed to let Changjiang County lift the birth spacing requirement and 4 months later, they lifted the requirement throughout the province. Family planning workers are listening to their concerns, providing more information and offering a choice of contraceptive methods. "Lifting birth-spacing rules is an important step towards a fully voluntary approach to pregnancy," says UNFPA Representative Siri Tellier. We would like China to eliminate any economic penalties for out-of-plan births." "In cases of pregnancy outside the regulations, we may communicate with the client. But if she and the family insist on having the baby, she will have it." "There are strict procedures for collecting the social compensation fee. Families with more babies tend to have a lower economic status. Collection of the fee from poor families can be postponed." UNFPA has recommended that the fees be phased out. Changjiang family planning centre offers prenatal ultrasound exam, but staff will not disclose the sex of the foetus. Staff routinely visit the township's 28 villages to provide family planning services and to promote safe motherhood. Nearly all of the pregnant women plan to deliver their babies at the hospital. The county now pays about three fourths of the costs of a standard delivery. The township has experienced a slight increase in births since the policy was changed, but a two thirds reduction in abortions. The practice of aborting female foetuses after using ultrasound to determine their sex, although outlawed, is believed to have continued. Chinese authorities say that they have become more active in responding to this problem, as a part of overall efforts to improve women's status and living standards. Provincial officials say there are clear indications that the sex ratio imbalance has declined significantly. In addition to mounting advocacy campaigns promoting gender equality and the rights of girls and women, Hainan has experimented with economic incentives. Couples that only have daughters get a larger housing subsidy than those with sons. Those with only one child receive a special pension when they turn 60. To encourage enrollment of girls, school fees were eliminated for all children in 2003. But changing underlying attitudes will take time. doclink

    US Federal Survey Shows Unwanted Births Up

    December 20, 2005, Associated Press

    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. doclink

    The Mystery of Japan's Falling Abortion Rate

    November 6, 2005, Manichi Daily News (Japan)

    In 2004, there were 301,673 reported abortions in Japan, 18,157 fewer than the year before. The rate of abortions has dropped across women of all child-bearing age groups. The suggested reasdons are: 1. Fewer kids are experiencing sex. 2. Women choosing to give birth rather than abortion. 3. Information about birth control is starting to filter through the media and schools. 4. It is easier to gain access to emergency contraception. 5. A growing number of women are using the Pill. When the first AIDS patient was discovered in the US in 1981, there was a movement in Sweden to encourage the use of condoms. Widespread use of the Pill became less frequent with the belief that condoms would prevent both AIDS and pregnancies. But as the number of people using the Pill declined, there was a rise in abortions. In 1987, the WHO suggested women should use the pill to control pregrnancies but use condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS. After a year or so, the abortion rate went down. Women should regard the Pill as the prime form of contraception and condoms should be used as a means of preventing sexually transmitted diseases. doclink

    Multiple Choice - Abortion

    November 28, 2005, New Republic

    Exhale, which calls itself "pro-voice," counsels women some of whom have been through multiple abortions. Their numbers are growing. Close to half of the 1.3 million abortions performed in the US each year are repeat abortions. Most repeat abortions are a woman's second, yet 18% percent were at least their third. Rape and incest victims account for about 1% of abortions. The reluctance of liberals and pro-choice advocates to consider the repeat-abortion phenomenon has obscured a growing public health issue. Women having repeat abortions are more likely to be minorities, poor, and victims of sexual abuse. Abortion is a symptom of larger social problems. Realizing this means accepting that there's some credibility to conservative views on abortion. The U.S. abortion rate has declined to 2% of women between the ages of 15 and 44, or 1.3 million women. These numbers show that a lot of women getting abortions are doing so because they don't have control over their destinies. They paint a disturbing picture of repeat abortion showing that in women's lives many other things that have gone awry. A study of 1,145 women found that those getting repeat abortions in 1998-1999 were more likely to have a history of sexual abuse. It is time that pro-choice advocates begin to treat abortion as a public health issue, rather than a political problem. Pro-life groups argue that the recriminalization of abortion will force women and men to become more conservative and traditional. But women who abort need the help and social support that neither side has been willing to give. The reluctance to address repeat abortions has caused U.S. abortion services to lag behind those elsewhere in the world. Since 1993, the leading international family planning groups have been trying to address the repeat abortion problem, motivated by concerns about unsafe abortions. The WHO has advocated post-abortion care and counseling. Though U.S. abortion services are safer from a medical standpoint, secular post-abortion care and counseling services ought to be made available as a routine part of women's health care to help women control their lives after abortion, linked with birth control, and avoid crisis once again. There are some post-abortion services available in the US, though the efforts are piecemeal. Atlanta's Feminist Women's Health Center, one of the oldest abortion providers in the country, offers a shot of the long-acting contraceptive Depo-Provera and post-abortion counseling. Planned Parenthood has begun to offer post-abortion counseling services and made sure that all women who leave their post-abortion follow-up visit are provided with birth control. It could be argued that providing poor women with job-training and life-counseling after abortion might do as much to reduce repeat abortions as birth control. Reaching out to men with counseling and contraceptive information might also make a difference. Women who get repeat abortions are less likely to be single, and one-third were accompanied to their abortion by the man who had impregnated them. The high rate of daily birth control pill use reported among women seeking repeat abortions, suggests that this may be less effective than the weekly patch or Depo-Provera. Pro-choice liberals must protect women from the poverty and abuse that often lead to abortion. Three decades after Roe v. Wade, liberals should still follow women's leads. doclink

    U.S.: For Those Who Believe in the Sanctity of Life; Why Morning-after Pill is Pro-life and Not Abortion in Disguise

    November 17, 2005, Chicago Tribune (US)

    Most Americans are more comfortable with birth control than they are with abortion. The pro-life movement has opposed the morning-after pill as abortion in disguise. Anti-abortion groups argue that by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, it destroys a fetus. That reputation has been enough to deter the FDA from approving over-the-counter sales of the medication known as Plan B. But the reputation is groundless. The best scientific evidence indicates that the morning-after pill serves to block fertilization, while having no effect on implantation and that makes it contraception. A drug once believed to produce abortion prevents abortion. Many groups that oppose abortion have no use for Plan B. But they're aiming at the wrong target. A consensus among experts that "there is no scientific evidence the pills prevent implantation--and considerable evidence they work mainly by blocking the release of an egg from the woman's ovary, so no embryo is formed." The GAO report agrees. The drug can prevent pregnancy by impeding sperm and delaying ovulation, but it has "not been shown to cause a change in the uterus that could interfere with implantation of a fertilized egg." Breast-feeding is known to cause uterine changes that can prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted. Just as nursing is morally and ethically permissible because it advances worthy purposes, so is the morning-after pill. If emergency contraception were widely and easily available, it could prevent a lot of pregnancies that would end in abortion. doclink

    U.S.: Controversy Continues around Allowing Emergency Contraceptive Drug to Be Sold without Prescription

    August 5, 2005, NPR

    Luke Vander Bleeck is a pharmacist who fills prescriptions for monthly birth control pills, but not for emergency contraception. He told a US House committee that his problem is not one of chemical makeup, but of intent. He says his understanding of emergency contraception is that it can stop an egg from being fertilized, which he doesn't object to, or it can stop an already fertilized egg from implanting itself, to which he does object. But most doctors say that fertilized egg alone does not constitute the beginning of a pregnancy but consider a pregnancy as beginning when a fertilized egg has implanted itself in the uterus. Exactly when pregnancy begins is more than a medical question, says Rachel Gold of a reproductive research group. It's a critical distinction because how you define when a pregnancy begins is how you distinguish between what is preventing a pregnancy and what is terminating a pregnancy. The federal government has long agreed that pregnancy begins at implantation. If the purpose of the drug is to prevent implantation, it is not considered an abortion. But abortion opponents say asking when pregnancy begins is the wrong question. The American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. say that "It's not that important when pregnancy starts. An individual human being starts at fertilization. He did prescribe birth controls when he practiced, but didn't prescribe emergency contraception, because he wasn't sure how it worked. A further complication is the confusion between emergency contraception and RU-486, which does cause an abortion, the two are completely different. Emergency contraception does not have an effect on an established pregnancy while RU-486, is designed to interrupt an established pregnancy. doclink

    China: Little Sex Knowledge Means More Abortions

    June 9, 2005, Xinhua General News Service

    At least 60% of the women in Shanghai who had an abortion last year did not use contraception. 54% of the married women who had an abortion did not use contraception and the figure soared to 80% among unmarried women. Many women count the days when they think they are "safe," which is not reliable. More than 44% had at least two abortions. Some women become pregnant 10 days after an abortion. The city has about 4.2 million women between 19 and 45. Surgery can result in other gynecological illnesses and mental suffering. About 40% percent of women fall into a deep depression after an abortion. doclink

    U.S.: A Prescription for Contention

    June 24, 2005, Daily News (New York)

    Unlike RU-486, designed to induce early miscarriage, pills like Plan B are supposed to prevent pregnancy. Made from a synthetic form of progesterone, the pills are 89% effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The Alan Guttmacher Institute says Plan B pills prevent ovulation, which is important because sperm can live in a woman's body up to six days. It can also prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. For those who believe that life begins when the sperm fertilizes the egg, preventing implantation means abortion. They also question the safety of morning-after pills by exposing women to this dose of hormones. But birth control pills are taken daily and often for years, rather than a concentrated dose taken in one day. doclink

    Push to Make Abortions Rare

    May 23, 2005, White House

    Abortion politics drives elections and is beneath the confrontation over President Bush's judicial nominees. But thoughtful leaders are beginning to coalesce around a movement to make abortion safe, legal and rare. Public policy should make it easier for women to choose alternatives including adoption and contraceptives. A campaign to encourage sexually active adults to use contraceptives is long overdue. The US has a higher rate of unintended pregnancies than other industrialized nations. Nearly half of all pregnancies among American women are unintended; and almost half are terminated by abortions, in 2002, 1.29 million. We celebrate outsized sexuality while neglecting to encourage birth control. Ads for Viagra appear more frequently than ads for contraceptives. A small group of religious extremists include curbing contraceptive use as a means of hammering women back into a dark age. One has blasted women who work outside the home and denounced "intentional childlessness" as one of the causes of the decline of traditional marriage. Those extremists include the growing number of pharmacists who refuse to fill legally prescribed contraceptives. Many reasonable Americans agree that an unintended pregnancy is to be decided by the mother, her doctor and her loved ones; and, there are too many abortions in this country. 94% of Americans believe that contraceptive use is morally acceptable. doclink

    Philippines: Viewpoint: Race Suicide

    April 2, 2005, Standard, The

    Abortion is the act of terminating a pregnancy by drugs, surgical procedures, an accident or because the womb is incapable of nourishing and hosting another life. Abortion is illegal in the Philippines, but 400,000 abortions are performed every year. If unwanted pregnancies are prevented, we would not be killing millions of the unborn. Some are convinced that contraception and abortion are the same. Contraception prevents conception, therefore there is no fetus to be flushed out, therefore there is no baby to abort and no abortion. Conservative groups have introduced a new word to the vocabulary: race suicide to refer not only to abortion, which is a grievous sin according to Catholic teaching, but also to the sought-for effects of artificial contraception, from which fewer babies would result and because of which the human race, so they claim, would be decimated. Abortion is a horrible thing to happen to both the fetus and its mother and must never be allowed except in the most extreme cases. But abortion is not the consequence of contraception. It is not the result of prevention. Abortion, not contraception, is the instrument of race suicide. At the rate of 400,000 aborted babies every year, that is the face of race suicide. doclink

    Druggists Refuse to Give Out Pill; Say Their Religion Forbids the Use of Contraceptives

    November 9, 2004, Push Newsfeed

    Some pharmacists refuse on moral grounds to fill prescriptions for contraceptives and states have proposed laws that would protect such decisions. Mississippi enacted a statute that allows health care providers, including pharmacists, to not participate in procedures that go against their conscience. South Dakota and Arkansas had laws that protect a pharmacist's right to refuse. Ten other states considered similar bills. The American Pharmacists Association has a policy that druggists can refuse to fill prescriptions if they object on moral grounds, but must make arrangements so a patient can get the pills. In Madison Wisconsin, a pharmacist faces disciplinary action for refusing to transfer a woman's prescription for birth-control pills to another druggist or to give the slip back to her because of his religious views. The House of Representatives passed a provision that would block federal funds if they make health care workers perform, pay for or make referrals for abortions. While some pharmacists cite religious reasons, others believe life begins with fertilization and see contraceptives as capable of causing an abortion. A Texas pharmacist at an Eckerd drug store wouldn't give contraceptives to a rape victim. The American Pharmacists Association says it is rare that pharmacists refuse to fill a prescription for moral reasons and less common for a pharmacist to refuse to provide a referral. Medical workers, insurers and employers increasingly want the right to refuse certain services. In Wisconsin, a drive is underway to revive a proposed law that would protect pharmacists who refuse to prescribe drugs they believe could cause an abortion or be used for assisted suicide. doclink

    Planned Parenthood California/Nevada- Abortions Account for Only 3% of Medical Visits

    Planned Parenthood

    In 2002 there were 426,014 medical services visits to Planned Parenthood in California and Nevada. Of these, 270,712 were visits for family planning services, and testing/ treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases. 56,227 visits were for pregnancy testing and counseling visits; 35,673 for prenatal care; 10,537 for abortions provided; 313 for sterilizations; 22,208 for counseling and testing visits for HIV\AIDS; 17,193 for adult general care visits; and 14,841 were for pediatric visits doclink

    Vietnam: 20 Percent of Babies Born to Young Mothers Annually

    August 10, 2004, Vietnam News Agency

    According to the Health Ministry in Ha Noi, 20% of babies are born annually to mothers under 19. About 300,000 under 20's become pregnant with 80% ignorant of contraception. 30% of abortions are of unmarried women. The shortage of information on reproductive health is blamed for the high abortion rate. Many women feel hesitant about using family planning services. doclink

    Contraceptive Pill Crisis in Mynamar

    January 21, 2004, UNFPA

    Many urban and rural women in Myanmar are unable to afford the pill, leaving them vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion. Condoms are available at subsidised prices, but are unpopular in rural areas. The recent UNFPA survey reveals that 44% of married women who do not want more children are not using any form of contraceptive. This plus virtually no access to safe abortion puts women's lives at risk. Treatment for unwanted pregnancy often involves inducing a miscarriage with sharp objects that can lead to infections and sepsis. Many women do not want more children because it leads to further poverty. doclink

    Mexican Church Attacks Pill Use

    January 28, 2004, BBC News

    The Mexican Government has allowed the use of the morning after pill, but Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera said that when they produce an abortion, it is murder. A priest in charge of health said that, although those who took the pill would not be officially excommunicated, they would be excommunicated by their actions and compared the use of the pill to genocide. The government has defended its sanctioning of the morning-after pill, which went through with approval of the female condom. The Health Department's ex-Reproductive Health director said that in Mexico, it wasn't possible earlier to include the pill in official family planning laws because of the opposition of conservative groups who absurdly qualified it as abortive. Around 40% of Mexico's 2.1 million pregnancies a year are unplanned. doclink

    China: Sex-selection Abortions Banned to End Population Imbalance; Mainland Doctors Performing Ultrasound Scans Will Not Be Able to Tell Parents the Gender of Their Babies Under a New Law

    March 25, 2003, South China Morning Post

    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. doclink

    Abortion Must be Legal, Safe and Rare

    December 12, 2003, Kathleen M. Sullivan/Naples

    I often wonder how we could harness the passion of anti-abortion activists to work for voluntary family planning. If the goal is a reduction in abortions, why don't we work towards universal access to safe and affordable contraception? The simple truth is that a woman who is not pregnant does not seek an abortion. doclink

    The Sanctity of Human Life

    Population Institute

    We do not promote abortions as a method of family planning. The Population Institute believes that family plannning programs are the best way to help avoid unwanted pregnancies and save the lives of the thousands of women who die each year from unsafe abortions. We also maintain that when couples have access to effective family planning methods, the needless deaths of 11 million children every year can be greatly reduced. doclink

    U.S. Birth, Abortion Rates Both Fall

    November 1, 2003, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that pregnancy, birth and abortion rates dropped during the 1990s. For every 1,000 women ages 15 to 44: the pregnancy rate dipped 12% to 102.1; total pregnancies went down 7% from 6.78 million in 1990 to 6.28 million in 1999; the birth rate fell 9% to 64.4 from 70.9; the abortion rate declined 22% to 21.4 from 27.4. The teen pregnancy rate reached a historic low. Teens are having less sex and using more contraception. The birth rate for unmarried women is half that for married women, but unmarried women have abortions four times as often. In 1990, unmarried pregnant women were more likely to have an abortion than a birth. By 1999, they were more likely to give birth. doclink

    Winner of Population Award Does Not Accept Abortion as a Family Planning Method

    June 19, 2003, Werner Fornos, president of Population Institute

    "We support all means of family planning, from natural methods for those for whom it works, to modern medically approved methods," Fornos said. "We do not accept abortion as a method of family planning. For abortion, like war, is a failure of society to come to grips with a much more fundamental problem, in this case, the prevention of unintended pregnancies."

    He noted that at the 1994 U.N. population conference in Cairo, the world's nations agreed that abortion should never be used as a method of family planning - and they then defined reproductive health care so it could not be confused with abortion. doclink

    Unsafe and Illegal Abortions

    Trump 'Anti-Abortion' Law Boosts Abortion, STDS and Cancer

    April 19, 2017,

    President Trump recently signed a new law that allows states to deny federal money for birth control, STD testing, pregnancy care and breast and cervical cancer screenings to any clinic that also provides abortions.

    This won't stop abortion because it is already illegal to use federal money for an abortion, except for rape, incest, or to save a woman's life.

    If states strip federal grants from clinics poor women will have a hard time getting reliable birth control, which would lead to more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions.

    After Gov. Christie cut all state funding for family planning in 2010, New Jersey saw a spike in gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, breast and cervical cancer cases, and tens of thousands of women are no longer getting treatment. The women served by closed clinics were not picked up by other providers, as Christie promised.

    The year after his cuts, family planning providers statewide saw a 24% drop. Texas was similarly unable to make up for the gap in services after slashing its family-planning budget by two-thirds, closing 50 clinics. In the first 18 months, Medicaid pregnancies increased by 27%.

    If we replicate this nationally, the increase in Medicaid pregnancies would cost taxpayers an additional $130 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

    The federal money this new law targets was going to low-income women who have no insurance, allowing them to pay for their screenings and contraceptives on a sliding scale. About 4 million have been relying on it, according to Planned Parenthood.

    Trump wants to go further: to ban poor women on Medicaid from getting any care at clinics that also offer abortion services, by denying them reimbursements. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: About one-third of pregnancies end in abortion. A multitude of studies show that making abortion illegal does not stop abortion. It only makes it unsafe and many women die as a result of unsafe abortions.

    When Abortion was Illegal: Untold Stories (1992)

    June 3, 2012, KTEH San Jose Public Television

    This Academy Award-nominated film features compelling first person accounts which reveal the physical, legal, and emotional consequences during the era when abortion was a criminal act. Remembrances include those of women who experienced illegal abortions, doctors who risked imprisonment and loss of their licenses for providing illegal abortions, and individuals who broke the law by helping women find safe abortions.

    Until the mid-1800s abortions were legal and available in the United States. Both the state and the Church permitted abortions if they occured before quickening - when the mother first perceived fetal movement. In 1847, the newly formed American Medical Association began a campaign to professionalize medicine outlining what they called quackery, including in its ban midwives who had provided abortion in the community for centuries. During the 2nd half of the 19th century Victorian society began condemning women seeking abortions as selfish and immoral, shirking the duties of motherhood. By the turn of the century both birth control and abortion were illegal in most states. If a woman needed medical treatment after a botched abortion, she faced a dangerous and humiliating situation, even though infected or bleeding she was required to testify against her husband or lover, and the abortionist, before she could receive medical care. doclink

    Don't Get Pregnant

    February 27, 2016, Durango Herald

    "The Zika virus provides a glimpse into a future we should do everything possible to avoid, a terrifying reminder why the fight for a stable physical planet is the fight of our time." ... Bill McKibben

    "Don't get pregnant until 2018" is the advice given women in El Salvador. Yet only two thirds of married women there are using modern contraception.

    The Zika virus, declared "public health emergency of international concern", is the cause of the Salvadorian government's warning against pregnancy. "We'd like to suggest to all the women of fertile age that they take steps to plan their pregnancies, and avoid getting pregnant between this year and next...." This quote from Deputy Health Minister Eduardo Espinoza is frightening.

    Although it hasn't caused an epidemic in Africa where it was first identified, it is raising havoc in the Americas. Zika virus symptoms are usually mild: eye inflammation, fever, rash and joint irritation-but the majority of infected people have no symptoms at all. There is no treatment for Zika disease. Mosquitoes of the Aedes genus spread Zika, dengue and other diseases, and it may also be spread by sex.

    The best way to avoid getting Zika is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes-insect repellant, dress appropriately and avoid areas where mosquitoes live. So far Colorado is safe from Aedes. Climate change has recently increased the range of Aedes mosquitoes. Air travel has allowed the virus to spread like lightning. Humans have destabilized the planet, as McKibben states.

    The Zika story in the Americas is still being written, but began last year. Brazilian doctors noticed a huge increase in the incidence of babies born with small heads-microcephaly. They found an association with the mothers having had Zika virus infection early in pregnancy.

    I am terrified that brain scans of affected babies show other serious abnormalities usually associated with profoundly impairment. There are dozens of causes of microcephaly, but most of them are associated with cognitive and other problems.

    The CDC recommends avoiding Zika when a woman is, or could become, pregnant. If the mother could have been exposed to the virus during pregnancy, it recommends ultrasounds to monitor fetal head growth.

    What is so concerning is that where Zika is found, family planning services may be spotty. Fortunately El Salvador, where women are supposed to abstain from pregnancy for the next 2 years, has had a pretty successful reproductive health program. It is regrettable, however, that El Salvador is one of only 6 countries worldwide that outlaw abortion for any reason.

    Beloved Pope Francis recently gave Catholic women who are at risk of Zika virus permission to use "artificial" contraception. This is great news for the millions of women where Zika is a threat, and will hopefully encourage governments in those areas to make contraception easily available.

    One of the reasons that the U.S.A. liberalized of our abortion laws was that we had a viral epidemic that caused severe fetal damage. Fortunately, immunization has made rubella a disease of the past.

    What happens if a woman is infected with Zika in pregnancy and ultrasound shows that her fetus has microcephaly? The Salvadorian punishment for having an abortion is 2 to 8 years in prison for the woman and up to 12 years for the doctor. Nevertheless hundreds of women risk having an illegal abortion. Often they cause their own abortions by thrusting a knitting needle or piece of wood into their uterus. Tragically, suicide is not uncommon among pregnant women in El Salvador.

    Here is a hypothetical situation. Luisa, a Salvadoran campesina, has two healthy children. She was taking birth control pills, but her clinic ran out. Shortly after conceiving her third pregnancy she had what she thought was a cold with a mild red rash. During a routine ultrasound at 5 months the doctor said everything was ok except the fetus's head seemed small, and she could see calcifications in the brain. What can Luisa do? If this baby's brain was severely damaged she couldn't afford to take care of it, and her other two children would suffer because of the family's very limited resources.

    What is wrong with a society that puts women in such a difficult bind? Rape is common in El Salvador, yet a woman who has been raped or is carrying a terribly compromised fetus has no legal recourse. Climate change and international travel make it more important that women everywhere have access to family planning and safe abortion services.

    Originally published in the Durango Herald doclink

    Botched Abortions Result in 40 Percent of Kenya Hospital Admissions

    April 25, 2014, Thomson Reuters Foundation   By: Katy Migiro

    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. doclink

    In Global Health, Abortion Bears the Scarlet A

    Safe abortions have the potential to transform women's health abroad, but funders still balk
    April 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. doclink

    High Levels of Unintended Pregnancy in Mexico Result in High Abortion Rates

    New Study Provides First Abortion Estimates for the Country State and Age
    December 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.

    The study, Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Mexico: Causes and Consequences, was by Fátima Juárez, of El Colegio de México, and Susheela Singh, of the Guttmacher Institute. doclink

    Women in Syria Need More Than Guided Missiles

    October 13, 2013, Huffington Post   By: Anu Kumar, Executive Vice President, Ipas

    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.

    How can it be that our tax dollars are used for targeted missile strikes but not for providing safe abortion care to women in desperate circumstances? doclink

    Women's Choice is Key to Reduce Maternal Deaths

    November 24, 2012, Lancet

    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. doclink

    Worldwide Abortion

    October 12, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

    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. doclink

    Improving Contraceptive Services in Ethiopia Would Save Lives and Reduce Health Care Costs

    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. doclink

    Keeping Abortion Legal, Safe Aids Women

    March 21, 2012, Durango Herald

    © Richard Grossman MD, 2012 ... First printed in the Durango Herald

    Many years ago I worked for three weeks in Swaziland, South Africa. A memory still haunts me.

    Most mornings we saw one or two young women through the emergency ward. Almost all of these women were from surrounding communities, were "visiting an auntie" and they hadn't eaten breakfast. All were carrying early pregnancies and reported bleeding. Indeed, on examination there was blood and the cervix had started to open.

    Bleeding and cervical dilatation in pregnancy usually ends up as a miscarriage, and can lead to a serious infection unless a D&C is done to empty the uterus.

    Another doctor told me this pattern had been happening for a long time. We surmised that some doctor in this city was using instruments to make it appear that these patients were about to miscarry. It would be easy to instrument the cervix, tell the young woman to go to our hospital in the morning and to skip breakfast. "I hope all goes well tomorrow at the hospital. And have your boyfriend wear a condom next time," I can imagine that doctor saying.

    In Swaziland, abortion is only legal to save a woman's life. The physician who opened the cervix was taking a big risk, allowing him to charge an outrageous fee.

    Don't laws that prohibit abortion decrease its frequency? No, apparently not. Norway, known for its excellent medical statistics, found that the incidence of abortion did not rise when it was legalized in 1978. This finding was borne out by a recent article in the world's premier medical journal, Lancet.

    The study looked at all the world's countries. Eighty-four have liberal abortion laws; the remaining nations (like Swaziland) prohibit abortion, with few or no exceptions.

    Outlawing abortion does not prevent women from terminating unwanted pregnancies. Where it is illegal, however, women are subjected to unsafe procedures and risk their health and very lives. Surprisingly, this study found the incidence of abortion is higher in places where it is outlawed. This may be because these are also places where women are not esteemed, and where contraception is difficult to obtain.

    Wherever laws permit safe abortion, two observations are made. Maternal mortality from unsafe abortions decreases drastically and women are treated with more respect.

    More surprises are to be found in another research paper from England. It is an exacting review of the psychological effects of abortion. Although many studies in this field are of poor quality, the researchers found 44 high-quality studies.

    To reduce the possibility of bias and to ensure transparency, the reviewers sent out a request for comments. Several anti-abortion (as well as pro-choice) organizations responded, and their comments influenced the final report.

    The questions the multi-faceted panel of experts set out to answer are: How prevalent are mental-health problems in women who have an induced abortion? What factors cause poor mental-health outcomes after an abortion? Are mental-health problems more common in women who have an abortion compared with women who deliver an unwanted baby?

    The report's findings are summarized:

    Unwanted pregnancies are associated with an increased risk of mental-health problems, and the rate of problems is the same whether women had an abortion or gave birth.

    The most reliable predictor of post-abortion mental-health problems was having a history of mental-health problems before the abortion.

    There are additional factors associated with an increased risk of mental-health problems specifically related to abortion, such as pressure from a partner to have an abortion and negative attitudes toward abortions in general.

    The study recommends: "It is important to consider the need for support and care for all women who have an unwanted pregnancy because the risk of mental-health problems increases whatever the pregnancy outcome. If a woman has a negative attitude toward abortion, shows a negative emotional reaction to the abortion or is experiencing stressful life events, health- and social-care professionals should consider offering support, and where necessary treatment, because they are more likely than other women who have an abortion to develop mental-health problems."

    We are lucky in La Plata County to have wonderful assistance for women carrying unintended pregnancies. The Pregnancy Center supports women who plan to deliver, while Planned Parenthood provides access to safe, compassionate abortions. I am concerned, however, that the people who demonstrate outside Planned Parenthood may not provide accurate information to women who are considering abortion. The demonstrators may have a negative influence on those women who are at risk for mental-health problems.

    Richard Grossman practices gynecology in Durango. Reach him at doclink

    In Latin America and the Caribbean, Unmet Need for Contraception and Unsafe Abortion Are Widespread

    January 21, 2012, RH Reality Check

    On the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court that legalized abortion and changed the course of history for women in the U.S., we remember that women in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to struggle for this basic reproductive right.

    95% of abortions in Latin America are unsafe, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Where abortion is illegal, women often turn to inadequately trained practitioners who employ unsafe techniques or attempt to self-induce abortion using dangerous methods. In Latin America and the Caribbean, complications from unsafe abortion results in the hospitalization of nearly one million women each year, and causes one in eight maternal deaths, according to the WHO. Poor and rural women are disproportionately affected.

    Obtaining a safe abortions is difficult if there is fear of legal consequences, social stigma, high cost, or lack of access to trained health professionals. Banning abortion does not reduce the numbers of women who attempt it; in fact, the abortion rate is much higher where it is illegal.

    In Latin America and the Caribbean, only 6 of the 34 countries -- accounting for less than 5% of the region's women ages 15-44 -- allow abortion without restriction.

    In 2007 the Mexico City government lifted the ban on abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. There MEXFAM (IPPF/WHR) provides safe abortion services. Where the law is more restrictive, MEXFAM works to reduce the public health impact of unsafe abortion.

    Nearly half of sexually active young women in Latin America and the Caribbean have an unmet need for contraception. Providing contraception will not only reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, and the number of abortions, but also empower women by giving them the freedom to choose when and if they have children. doclink

    Countries Banning Abortion See Higher Rates of Unsafe Procedures

    January 20, 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek

    A recent report from the Guttmacher Institute, published in Lancet, has shown that countries restricting abortions have higher rates of unsafe abortion than those that allow abortion. Most countries in Africa or Latin America restrict abortions, with the exception of South Africa in Africa and Guyana, French Guiana, Cuba and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico in Latin America.

    Africa's unsafe abortion rate was 28 per 1,000 women of childbearing age and Latin America's was 31 per 1,000, compared to western Europe and North America with less than 0.5 per 1,000 unsafe abortions.

    Unsafe abortion is defined by WHO as a procedure for terminating a pregnancy that is performed by an individual lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that doesn't conform to minimal standards. Gilda Sedgh, who led the study, said that restricting abortions means women have more difficulty locating practitioners and the ones they do find are less likely to be adequately trained.

    Beverly Winikoff, a professor of clinical population and family health at Columbia University, said in Lancet: "The data continue to confirm what we have known for decades: that women who wish to terminate unwanted pregnancies will seek abortion at any cost, even when it is illegal or involves risks to their own lives."

    Globally, unsafe abortions, almost all of which occur in developing countries, accounted for 350 times the rate associated with legal abortions in the U.S. 58 countries, with 39% of the world's population, allow abortion without restriction as to reason; 73 countries allow it to preserve health or for socioeconomic reasons, and 68 countries, with 26% of the global population, prohibit the procedure or only permit it to save a woman's life.

    The country of South Africa, in 1997, was the first and only in Africa to legalize abortion, resulting in a decline of abortion-related deaths of 91% between 1994 and the average rate from 1998 -2001.

    Nepal made abortion legal in 2002, before which abortion-related complications accounted for 54% of hospital-treated maternal illnesses (1998), compared with 28% in 2008-2009.

    Eastern Europe has the highest rate of abortions due to higher preference for small families and because effective methods of birth control such as the pill and intra-uterine devices are not used as often. Unsafe abortion rates in the region are much lower than in other developing countries, with the exception of Poland, where abortion is restricted.

    Making abortion legal is not enough to lower the unsafe abortion rate. Women need to know about the law; there needs to be health-service guidelines for abortion and providers are needed to obtain training and provide abortion services, doclink

    The Pro-choice Point of View in Poland

    Euro News

    Poland's anti-abortion law was passed in 1993, due to pressure from the Catholic Church. In theory, the law allows abortion on medical grounds, criminal grounds and genetic grounds. But in practice you can not get an aborttion on those grounds, according to Wanda Nowicka of Poland's Federation for Women and Family Planning.

    Today, some people are pushing to try to restrict this law even further. We had already 2 attempts to introduce a full ban on abortion. The first was in 2006 and now in 2011.

    A full ban of abortion would include abortion in case of putting at risk of womens life - women may lose their lives. The doctor would choose saving the fetus over saving the womans life. Even now, without this provision anti-choice doctors evoke the conscience clause often. And in the case of conflict between the health of women and the life of a fetus, very often they choose the life of the fetus.

    "The anti abortion law in Poland did not stop abortions. It means that women are having abortions, but they are having them in the so-called "abortion underground". It is usually provided by medical doctors which means that they are relatively safe.

    The underground may be doing from even 80,000 up to 200,000 abortions per year.

    With the chilling effect of this law women must continue pregnancy against their will or against their health status and with all the consequences of that... Or they choose illegal abortion even though they are entitled to have a legal abortion. Or they go to other countries for abortion. Or, a new trend is buying abortion pills by internet. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: this is what we face if abortion becomes illegal here in the U.S.

    Nepal: Breaking the Taboo

    March 1, 2011,

    In Nepal, in 1996, a Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) of 539 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births was reported. The number was reduced to 281 by 2006, representing a decline of 48% over a period of ten years.

    In September 2010, Nepal became the recipient of a UN Award from among 49 least developed countries for the significant MMR reduction and subsequent contribution towards achieving UN Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims to improve maternal health by reducing the MMR by three quarters and achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015.

    The Nepal MMR is the outcome of coordinated efforts in executing various targeted programmes and projects by governmental and non-governmental organisations, but it also has coincided with the period when abortion was legalised in 2002, so many health sector stakeholders have linked the achievement to abortion policy reform.

    According the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 19 million abortions worldwide are unsafe. And anywhere from 10%-50% of women undergoing these abortions requires medical care for severe complications later, with more than 68,000 dying each year.

    Unsafe abortion predominantly exists where abortion is illegal, or where it is legal but safe services are inadequate, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia.

    Because of the stigma attached to abortion, women and girls in rural areas prefer to use traditional remedies, which beyond being unsafe, sometimes can be fatal. Unsafe abortion causes half of the maternal deaths in Nepali hospitals even today. Statistics on abortion suggest that unsafe abortion in Nepal was widely practiced as a family planning method before its legalization.

    When abortion was legalised in 2002, a woman was allowed to terminate a pregnancy of up to 12 weeks of gestation, or longer (up to 18 weeks) in the event of rape or incest, or anytime if carrying the child puts the life of the mother at risk. There were a drastically increased number of registered abortions after abortion was legalised.

    Providing better and equitable access to safe abortion has become even more important considering the still high fertility rate among adolescents. About 21% of adolescent girls are already pregnant or become mothers of their first child by the time they are 15-19 years old.

    Empowering rural youth by providing formal and informal education on sexual and reproductive health and family planning would be an effective strategy to enable adolescent girls to make informed decisions on timely marriage, planned pregnancies and safe motherhood.

    An intervention strategy featuring additional service centers, increased awareness-raising and targeted advocacy initiatives and capacity-building of female community health volunteers will help limit not only the number of fatal cases from unsafe abortion but also reduce unplanned pregnancies. doclink

    Abortion is Safer Than Having a Baby, Doctors Say

    February 26, 2011, Telegraph

    In the draft guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for all doctors, nurses and counsellors advising women contemplating terminations, the first recommendation on "what women need to know" says: "Women should be advised that abortion is generally safer than continuing a pregnancy to term."

    The guidance also says that women who are deciding whether to have an abortion must be told that most do not suffer any psychological harm. Until now, their advice has been that while rates of psychiatric illness and self-harm in women are higher among those who had an abortion, there was no evidence that termination itself was likely to trigger psychological problems. doclink

    Philippines Women's Groups Call for Legalised Abortions

    August 17, 2010, Channel NewsAsia

    More and more women would die from unsafe abortions in the Philippines, warned the country's women's groups. According to the Centre for Reproductive Rights, more than half a million Filipino women undergo illegal abortions every year. Of these, an estimated 90,000 women suffer complications with about 1,000 dying eventually.

    The women's groups said it is time for the predominantly Roman Catholic country to allow for safe and legal abortion, to save thousands of women from undergoing crude and unsafe procedures. "The criminalisation of abortion has not prevented the procedure, but made it unsafe. In all cases, the ban leads to one frightening direction - that of painful risky and potentially fatal methods of pregnancy termination," Centre for Reproductive Rights Melissa Upreti said. Although abortion is illegal in the Philippines, government hospitals are mandated to provide post-abortion care treatment to women.

    In the Dr Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital for instance, more than half of the women who seek treatment are for complications arising from illegal and unsafe abortions.

    Dr Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital Dr Emmanel Ganal said most abortion cases were due to unwanted pregnancy.

    "Those that are induced are usually unwanted pregnancies. It's either they don't want the pregnancy, or they have reasons like they want to go abroad so they induced it. They take some medications to remove the pregnancy," he said. For now, women's rights groups are hoping that the new Congress would be able to pass a controversial Reproductive Health bill, that the influential Catholic Church opposed last year.

    That piece of legislation would uphold the use of artificial contraceptives and institutionalise sex education in schools.

    That would hopefully help prevent more cases of unsafe abortion in the country. doclink

    Kenya: Church Under Attack Over Stand on Abortion

    July 17, 2010, The Standard

    Religious leaders campaigning against the proposed Constitution have been accused of favouring the life of the unborn child over that of the mother.

    "I am baffled by the one-sidedness of trying to protect fetal life while turning a blind eye on the thousands of women who die seeking abortions every year," said Buettner in her monthly Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights situation report, published on Gender Across Borders, a global feminist blog.

    A cross section of religious leaders, mainly from the mainstream churches, have ganged up against the draft laws set for a referendum vote on August 4.

    The church leaders claim the proposed law allows "abortion on demand".

    The bone of contention is Section 26(4) of the proposed law that says: Abortion is not permitted "unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law."

    Buettner, a social justice worker and freelance human rights policy researcher, points out that 15,000 women die annually of pregnancy-related complications and more than a third in unsafe abortion.

    "Maternal mortality rates in Kenya are among the world's highest. Direct medical causes for maternal death include haemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour and unsafe abortion," she cautions.

    Contraceptive prevalence in Kenya hovers around 30% and the fertility rate is between four and five children per woman.

    As in all poor countries with high maternal mortality rates, the severity of these problems is driven by social factors.

    In Kenya, health systems are lacking and infrastructure issues make it difficult to access resources.

    According to the Centre for Reproductive Rights' report "In Harm's Way: The Impact of Kenya's Restrictive Abortion Law," 2,600 women die every year due to unsafe abortion complications.

    More than half this figure never sought medical care.

    The in-depth report includes stories on women denied the right to choose, including 14-year-old Sarah, who lost her life due to complications from an unsafe abortion; too afraid to go to a doctor as she suffered from a raging infection because she feared being arrested or condemned by the community."

    In Kenya, institutionalised social ideas about women's role and worth is said to be the cause of deaths of thousands of women. doclink

    Another Pill That Could Cause a Revolution

    New York Times*

    A little white pill costing less than $1 each is beginning to revolutionize abortion around the world, especially in poor countries. With this pill, thousands of women's lives could be saved each year.

    Most (5/6) of abortions are performed in developing countries, where poor sterilization and training often make the procedure dangerous. As many as 70,000 women die annually from complications of abortions, according to the World Health Organization.

    The pill, Misoprostol, accomplishes what is called a "medical abortion." While in the United States and Europe the medical abortion consists of two sets of "M" pills: mifepristone, formerly known as RU-486, and then a day or two later the misoprostol. This combination produces a miscarriage more than 95% of the time in early pregnancy. But mifepristone is difficult to obtain in much of the world, because it is used only to induce abortions.

    Misoprostol, however, is widely available and can't easily be banned because it is also used for ulcers and can save lives of women with postpartum hemorrhages.

    When women take misoprostol alone, abortion effectiveness drops to 80-85% - and that's far better and safer than other alternatives.

    Medical abortion causes a miscarriage that is indistinguishable from a natural one. This not only saves lives by preventing botched abortions in countries where abortion is illegal or difficult to attain, but prevents arrest where a woman would seek help in a hospital after a botched abortion. One serious downside is that misoprostol is suspected of causing birth defects, perhaps 1% of the time, but only if it fails and the pregnancy continues to term.

    In the United States, only about one-eighth of abortion are done with pills, mostly because mifepristone must be taken in a clinic. But worldwide, the number of medical abortions is surging, accounting for nearly 70% of all abortions in Scotland, according to Marie Stopes International.

    In some form and strength, medical abortion seems to work "from Day 1 to the end of pregnancy," - but the effectiveness and safety of later-stage abortions still need to be worked out.

    In the United States, the pills can be taken up to nine weeks' gestation. In Britain, inpatient use of the pills is permitted up to 24 weeks.

    For those who are not against abortion, taking pills at home may seem a more natural process than a surgical abortion, resulting in more acceptance.

    Misoprostol on its own can be found all over the world, from Internet sites to over-the-counter pharmacies in Delhi. In India, misoprostol costs just pennies per pill.

    Last year the World Health Organization expanded the use of misoprostol as an "essential medicine" to include treatment of miscarriages and incomplete abortions. doclink

    Abortion Laws Kill Kenyan Schoolgirls

    Guardian (London)

    In Kenya schoolgirls as young as 13 sell themselves for sex to support their families or are raped, then become pregnant and then die from bleeding or infections after an illegal backstreet abortion - which they seek because they don't want to be thrown out of school.

    Thousands of Kenyan women die from unsafe abortions each year. Kenya's abortion fatality rates are substantially higher than in the African region as a whole and more than nine times higher than for developed regions. 35% of maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortion.

    Kenya's abortion law is one of the most restrictive in the world. The Center for Reproductive Rights says Kenya's law has not stopped women having abortions - it has only made them more dangerous. There are conditions under which abortion can be legal, but there is "a maze of misinformation as well as personal, financial, and bureaucratic barriers, due to the stigma, lack of legal clarity, and prohibitive costs surrounding the procedure."

    "In Kenya, a young woman's odds of becoming a victim of sexual violence and becoming pregnant are remarkably high. But if she gets pregnant, she can't get an abortion without risking her life." doclink

    U.S.: Doctor Recalls Horror of Illegal Abortions on the Anniversary of Roe V. Wade

    January 20, 2009, The Orange County Register

    On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that all women had the constitutional right to an abortion.

    But as the national debate on abortion has shown us, the matter is far from settled. The shortage of abortion clinics in some states, the protests and intimidation campaigns against doctors and clinics offering abortion services, and the endless propositions that attempt to chip away at Roe v. Wade leave the feeling that some have forgotten our painful history.

    In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a Los Angeles hospital's 10th floor was treating women who were suffering the ill effects of botched abortions.

    In four small operating rooms, doctors worked from 8 a.m. to 2. a.m. treating women for septic shock, kidney and liver failure or gas gangrene.

    Some women resorted to inserting potassium permanganate tablets, a highly caustic chemical, into their vaginas. But instead of inducing an abortion, this would corrode the vaginal skin and cause hemorrhaging and infection.

    Working on the Infected Obstetrics ward convinced a doctor that women should have the right to a safe abortion. He joined the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties, working to ensure that women who got abortions also received counseling and contraceptive education. doclink

    Dying in the Backstreets

    January 1, 2008, Ms. Magazine

    Abortion is illegal in Kenya, with no exceptions unless the pregnant woman's life is in danger. A 2003 survey showed that 20% of births were unintended and 25% mistimed. Women lack access to, or money for, contraceptives. They may have been raped or victims of incest. They may fear social ostracism if they're single, hope to continue their education, or suffer from maternal exhaustion.

    Evidence shows that more married and working women terminate pregnancies for all sorts of reasons.

    An estimated 300,000 abortions are carried out in the country each year. In public hospitals about 20,000 Kenyan women are treated each year for abortion-related complications. One in 39 Kenyan women will die during pregnancy or in childbirth.

    Women's-rights groups in Kenya have been pushing for a new national law on reproductive rights, but they're not helped by the U.S. global gag rule which has forced a number of clinics to turn down U.S. funds rather than stop discussing abortion. The stigma of abortion is strong in Kenya. Maternity care in general is problematic in Kenya's public hospitals that often suffer from lack of supplies and congestion. The government is committed to providing free maternal health care at public hospitals for indigent women; it hasn't yet offered guidelines on how the policy would be carried out.

    Former Health Minister Charity Ngilu was able to get closed health centers back into operation and if her party comes into government, she can continue what she was doing.

    Without changes being made, in both laws and attitudes, this scene will remain all too common: Another Kenyan woman has a backstreet abortion, nearly bleeds to death and ends up in Ward 1D. doclink

    Doctors Fight No-Abortion Policy

    November 5, 2007, Associated Press Online

    Two weeks after Olga Reyes danced at her wedding, her bloated and disfigured body was laid to rest in an open coffin, the victim of Nicaragua's new no-exceptions ban on abortion. Reyes, a 22-year-old law student, suffered an ectopic pregnancy. The fetus develops outside the uterus, cannot survive and causes bleeding that endangers the mother. But doctors seemed afraid to treat her because of the anti-abortion law, said husband Agustin Perez.

    Nicaragua last year became one of 35 countries that ban all abortions, even to save the life of the mother. The ban has been followed, leaving the country torn between a strong tradition of women's rights and a growing religious conservatism. President Ortega, a former leftist and a Roman Catholic, has refused to oppose the church-supported ban.

    But at least three women have died because of the ban, and another 12 reported cases will be examined.

    Before the ban took effect on Nov. 18, 2006, fewer than a dozen legal abortions were recorded per year in Nicaragua. They were performed only when three doctors agreed a woman's life was in danger. However, the Roman Catholic Church estimates that doctors and other medical staff carried out about 36,000 "secret" abortions a year, because under the old law they had little fear of government reprisals.

    This year the Health Ministry recorded 84 deaths of pregnant women between January and October, compared with 89 for all of last year and 88 the year before.

    Abortion rights groups have disrupted Congress several times, demanding that lawmakers lift the ban. The Roman Catholic Church mobilized nearly 300,000 people to march and sign petitions in support of the ban.

    Law student Reyes was one of three confirmed fatalities. She knew something was horribly wrong, They were sent to Bertha Calderon maternity hospital. There, Reyes was given a cursory exam, and told to return the next day.

    By that time, the bleeding and cramping were worse. Perez said he rushed her to a hospital but after she had an ultrasound that confirmed her condition, they left her in agony for hours. When a doctor at a shift change saw her condition, she was rushed into surgery. She suffered three heart attacks and an exploratory surgery.

    President of Nicaragua's Association of Gynecologists and a supporter of the abortion ban, said doctors are taking the new law too far. Surgery for an ectopic pregnancy isn't the same as carrying out an abortion.

    But he acknowledged that many doctors fear they will be accused of performing an abortion. Some doctors admit to carrying out what they believe are illegal procedures, while others say they won't jeopardize their careers.

    Many are thinking that instead of taking the risk, it is better to let a woman die. Because the people with some medical training who used to do illegal abortions have disappeared, women more frequently take drugs or pull the fetus out on their own using wires or other crude objects.

    She sees hysterectomies and severe infections that leave women sterile or dead because obstetricians can't take any action that might harm a living fetus. doclink

    Uganda: 297,000 Babies Aborted Yearly

    December 30, 2006, New Vision (Uganda)

    Every year, at least 297,000 foetuses are aborted in Uganda, an estimated 775,000 women have unintended pregnancies each year.

    There is a growing desire for smaller families. A third of all Ugandan women of reproductive age want to stop or delay further childbearing but do not use modern contraceptives.

    A gynaecologist attributed this to inaccessible family planning services and fear of the side effects.

    Only 6 in 10 Ugandan women who experience complications from abortion receive treatment in the country's health system, only 85,000 women are treated in medical facilities for abortion-related complications.

    The increase in abortions was due to restrictive laws - abortion is illegal unless done to save a woman's life.

    Women use sticks and bicycle spokes to help themselves; that has resulted in serious complications and death. doclink

    64 Per Cent of Portuguese Voters Favour Lifting Abortion Ban

    January 5, 2007, Kaiser Network

    About 64% of Portuguese favour lifting the country's ban on abortion which is illegal except when necessary to protect the life or health of a woman or if a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape. The Parliament approved a proposal to hold a national referendum aimed at decriminalizing abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

    The Portuguese Court ruled 7-6 in favour of allowing the referendum, and President approved the referendum that will ask voters: "Do you agree with the decriminalization of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, in the first 10 weeks, in a legally authorized health establishment?"

    Half of the electorate must vote for a referendum to be valid, according to Portuguese law.

    There is a risk of the 'yes' camp winning by voter turnout being less than 50%. Officials say that about 10,000 women annually in Portugal are treated for complications caused by illegal abortions. doclink

    Abortion:Traditional Methods

    November 25, 2006, Lancet (UK medical journal)

    Unsafe abortion methods can be divided into several classes: oral and injectable medicines, vaginal preparations, intrauterine foreign bodies, and trauma to the abdomen. Women in developing countries rely on teas and decoctions made from products. Foreign bodies inserted into the uterus often damage the uterus and internal organs. In the South Pacific and Africa, abortion by abdominal massage is still used.

    These primitive methods show the desperation of the women. Surveys before the legalisation of abortion on request documented the techniques in common use. Of 899 women, 74 had attempted to abort one or more pregnancies; 338 said one of their friends, relatives, or acquaintances had done so. About 80 tried to abort themselves. Nearly 40 used a combination of approaches. The more invasive the technique, the more likely it was to disrupt the pregnancy. Insertion of tubes or liquids into the uterus, were more successful than other approaches. Another method was to place a flexible rubber catheter into the uterus to stimulate labour.

    In diverse regions such as the South Pacific and equatorial Africa, abortion by abdominal massage is still used by traditional practitioners. The pummelling of the woman's lower abdomen is designed to disrupt the pregnancy but sometimes bursts the uterus and kills the woman instead.

    Miscellaneous methods and oral medications, such as laundry bleach, turpentine, and doses of quinine, were commonly used in New York - before abortion was legal. Injection of toxic solutions with douche bags or turkey basters was common. Absorption of soap solutions into the woman's circulation could cause renal toxicity and death. Potassium permanganate tablets placed in the vagina were also common; these did not induce abortion but could cause chemical burns, sometimes eroding through to the bowel. doclink

    Unsafe Abortion: the Preventable Pandemic

    November 25, 2006, Lancet (UK medical journal)

    Every year, about 19-20 million abortions are done by individuals without the requisite skills, or in environments below minimum medical standards, or both. Nearly all unsafe abortions (97) are in developing countries. An estimated 68000 women die as a result, and millions more have complications, many permanent. Important causes of death include haemorrhage, infection, and poisoning.

    The estimated case-fatality rate of 367 deaths per 100000 unsafe abortions is hundreds of times higher than that for safe, legal abortion in developed nations. This ratio is higher in Africa (709), lower in Latin America and Caribbean (100), and close to the worldwide average in Asia (324).

    Morbidity and hospitalisation rates have probably fallen since the early 1990s in response to safer abortion services. Increased use of misoprostol (replacing more invasive unsafe methods) probably partly accounts for reduced complications.

    Legalisation of abortion on request is a necessary but insufficient step toward improving women's health; in some countries, such as India, where abortion has been legal for decades, access to competent care remains restricted because of other barriers.

    The availability of modern contraception can reduce but never eliminate the need for abortion. doclink

    Deadly Toll of Botched Abortions

    November 24, 2006, BBC News

    Unsafe abortions in the developing world kill 68,000 women a year, and lead to 5 million other people going to hospital. Around 19 million unsafe abortions take place each year.

    In developed countries complications from abortion were rare.

    The highest annual rate of hospital admissions was in Uganda, with 16.4 per 1,000 women. The lowest was in Bangladesh, with 2.8 per 1,000 women.

    The average annual rate of hospital admissions was 57 per 1,000 women in all developing regions, excluding China.

    The most effective way of eliminating this cause of maternal illness and death, would be to make legal abortion services available.

    A more immediately achievable goal is to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place through improved contraception. Any procedure to terminate an unintended pregnancy that does not meet basic medical standards is deemed unsafe by the WHO. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: given that, globally, there about 78 million births a year, 19 million unsafe abortions is a huge number. It indicates a large unmet need for ways to prevent pregnancy.

    Latin America's Abortion Restrictions Should Serve as Warning for South Dakota

    March 21, 2006, Kaiser Network

    It's been a long time since the days of back-alley abortions, which is why South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds might not "remember what it was like" before Roe v. Wade. Human Rights Watch reports that "there is a place he could visit if he wants to refresh his memory: Latin America." Experience in the region has shown that barring abortion does not stop women from having the procedure, and offering limited exceptions to an abortion ban does little to improve access to safe abortion. In Latin America, as everywhere else, the best way to stop abortion is to prevent unplanned pregnancies. The abortion ban in South Dakota won't end or cut down on abortions in that state, and it probably will have disastrous effects on womens health and lives. doclink

    Africa: Should Abortion Be Legal?

    February 17, 2006, BBC News

    According to the UN around 34,000 women in Africa die every year from unsafe abortions - that's 40% of the global figure. Most are conducted in dangerous conditions by people who are not qualified to perform the surgery. As abortion is illegal in most African countries, women go to back street clinics for the procedure. Should abortion be legalized? Which circumstances do you think justify abortion? Do women have the right to a safe and affordable termination? Or would that encourage promiscuity? doclink

    UK Supports Global Safe Abortion Programme

    February 18, 2006, Lancet (UK medical journal)

    A report from International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) highlights the fact that poor women are more likely to have unsafe abortions than well-off women. The high mortality and morbidity caused by unsafe abortions leave many families impoverished. 19 million (9%) pregnancies are unsafely terminated every year, resulting in the deaths of 70,000 mothers (13% of the yearly 500,000 maternal deaths). During the past 5 years, organizations have lost millions of dollars in US funding and have had to scale back their work. The Global Safe Abortion Programme aims to plug some of that gap and hopes that the initial UK contribution will attract funding from other countries. In light of the USA's continued refusal to act on the consensus that safe abortions save lives, DFID's pledge will be essential if the third, fourth, and fifth Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have any chance of being reached. doclink

    Abortion is a Reality in the Middle East

    February 9, 2006, Push Journal

    There are no accurate statistics on the abortions performed in the Middle East, as the procedure is illegal, though the levels of tolerance vary with each country. However, doctors confirm that abortions are performed regularly and all too often methods that put the patient's health at risk are used. Early last year, Egypt's highest Islamic authority issued a fatwa stipulating that "it is impermissible for a mother to induce abortion even if it is proven that the foetus is deformed or suffers from mental retardation. Religious authorities in Kuwait have consistently stated that abortion under such circumstances is permissible. Under legislation by the Egyptian Court of Cassation, abortion is justified only if pregnancy and/or delivery pose a high risk to the mother's health or if the baby risks serious deformity. But not to women impregnated by rape. In Egypt, physicians who perform abortions outside of these parameters risk up to 10 years imprisonment. Women are having abortions daily. Physicians described methods by which women have punctured their uteruses to induce abortion. The taboo surrounding unmarried mothers means that many illegal abortions tend to be performed in secret. doclink

    Maternal Mortality Still a Problem in Nigeria

    February 16, 2006, This Day

    Nigeria's maternal mortality rate is one of the worst, with 800 deaths every 100,000 deliveries. Abortion laws are not favourable to women. Many females develop complications from abortion services in the hands of quacks. If Nigeria could reform its abortion laws, such that females would have access to qualified doctors, then the rate of deaths would come down. Current laws give the woman who seeks abortion 7 years imprisonment and the offending quack 14 years. Most women will not came forward in court knowing by so doing they get 7 years behind bars. The government must only punish the offending medical practitioner. Other issues such as poor ante-natal care services, poor health facilities in many health centers results in severe morbidity and mortality in women about to give birth. 20% of pregnant women deliver in unapproved health institutions and many with untrained midwives. The strategies of preventing unsafe abortion includes contraceptives by all females in order to prevent pregnancies. Other ways to combat high maternal mortality includes government ensuring all health centers are well equipped and have adequate trained doctors. doclink

    Limited Access to Contraceptives Leads to Unsafe Abortions in Uganda

    February 6, 2006, Kaiser Network

    Limited access to contraceptives has led to a high abortion rate in Uganda, where the practice is illegal. Researchers found that half of all pregnancies in Uganda are unplanned, and one in every four ends in an induced abortion. About 297,000 abortions are performed annually in the country, from a population of 26 million. The people performing the abortions usually are not trained, and the death rate from complications is high. Treating approximately 85,000 women annually for abortion-related complications requires using scarce medical resources. The researchers recommend that authorities combat the fear that contraceptives cause side effects and increase access to contraceptives. doclink

    Battle to Legalize Abortion Heats Up in Brazil

    January 10, 2006, Reuters

    Scared of being turned in to the authorities in a country where abortion is illegal, poor women are reluctant to admit they induced miscarriage. They're young and afraid. Although abortion is outlawed in Brazil, the country has one of the highest abortion rates in the developing world. The Health Ministry estimates that 31% of all pregnancies end in abortion - 1.4 million a year - mostly clandestine. In the US, where abortion was legalized in 1973, about 25% of pregnancies end in abortion. In the Netherlands, the ratio is closer to 10%. Abortion remains a taboo subject in Roman Catholic Brazil, but that is now changing as civic groups and medical professionals prompt a public debate by championing a woman's right to end an unwanted pregnancy. They want to prevent women from dying in clandestine abortions. In September, the government sent a bill to Congress to legalize abortion. Supporters in the lower house acknowledge its chances of approval are slim. But they see it as a step in taking abortion out of religious dogma and into a matter of civic debate. If approved, it would authorize abortion up to 12 weeks from conception, 20 weeks in rape cases and at any time if the woman's life is at risk or the fetus is unlikely to survive. The abortion battle is also being fought elsewhere in Latin America. Colombia's highest court delayed a lawsuit seeking to loosen the country's abortion laws. Argentina is debating a handful of bills authorizing abortion in some instances. In Uruguay, a bill was defeated by three votes in 2004. In Brazil, activists are trying to frame the debate as a matter of public health. It has to be recognized that women in Brazil have abortions, and that they are putting their lives at risk. Botched abortions are the fourth-leading cause of maternal deaths. Brazil's abortion laws also highlight social inequalities. Well-to-do women resort to safe clinics to end their pregnancies, paying as much as 1,500 reais ($650) for an abortion. Most poor women turn to an ulcer drug called misoprostol, which when inserted into the vagina causes the uterus to contract, expelling the embryo or fetus. It frequently causes hemorrhaging and can cause birth defects when it fails to abort. Doctors estimate that Cytotec is used in more than 80% of all clandestine abortions in Brazil. Anti-abortion activists do not dispute that clandestine abortions are a cause for concernbut the state should not sanction the termination of human life. After sponsoring the bill, the government has distanced itself from it, seeking to avoid conflict. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has also suggested he opposes legalizing abortion. doclink

    Against the Grain: U.S. Abortion Policy From a Global Perspective

    January 20, 2006, Center for American Progress

    After Roe v. Wade, access to safe abortion care reduced maternal deaths and injuries. Despite this, right-wing conservatives began a crusade promoting conservative ideology limiting women's access to safe abortion services. Nearly one-quarter of all women in developing countries suffer illness or injury related to childbirth. One hundred twenty million couples want to delay childbearing but do not have access to modern contraceptive methods. Many more lack access to obstetric care, which leads to 515,000 maternal deaths each year. Approximately 70,000 women die each year due to unsafe abortions and millions are disabled. President Bush reinstated the rule that prohibits foreign NGO's that receive U.S. funds for family planning from providing abortion services, even when these activities are supported by their non-U.S funds. Our foreign assistance is used to impose an ideological agenda. The restrictions cause more unplanned pregnancies, more unsafe abortions, and more deaths and injuries of vulnerable women and girls. In addition, it makes no distinction between the circumstances that lead women to seek an abortion. Whether rape victims, HIV positive or simply too young to have a child, the policies give them only one choice: to continue an unwanted pregnancy or risk their lives by unsafe abortions. In 1994, 179 countries agreed to address the public health impact of unsafe abortion. In the Muslim world, the parameters of the abortion debate, and the fervor, and sometimes violent tactics that characterize the U.S. anti-abortion movement are absent. Efforts are made to limit the number of abortions by understanding the circumstances that lead women to experience unplanned and unsafe pregnancies. While the sanctity of life is critical to all Muslims, debates do not focus on fetal rights or when pregnancy begins, but what is best for women, existing children and their families. These efforts are part of a global trend of abortion law reform in more than 15 countries. The struggle for reproductive justice continues, in Kansas as well as in Kenya. doclink

    Reducing Maternal Mortality Through Safe Abortion

    November 6, 2005, This Day (Nigeria)

    Unsafe abortion has become a recurrent issue and caused untold problems. Reports show there are 123 million women, mostly in developing countries, who are not using contraception. About 38% of all pregnancies are unintended, and 6 in 10 results in abortion. Often contraception is available only in clinics and hospitals, but family planning clinics might discourage younger people from using their facilities. Other barriers include cultural issues, religion, cost, husband/partners refusal, availability, accessibility and fear of side effects. In Nigeria, nearly 3 in 10 women have had an unwanted pregnancy, and 1 in 10 had an abortion. There is an increase in sexual activity among young persons from the age of 10 to 24, and there is need for contraceptive use among them to prevent high risk of unintended pregnancies. Dr. Boniface Oye-Adeniran said, "We believe that if we prevent people who do not want to get pregnant, there will be no unwanted pregnancy. If there is no unwanted pregnancy, there will be no abortion, if there is no abortion there will be no unsafe abortion. If there no unsafe abortion nobody will die from complications of unsafe abortion".
    Health consequences of clandestine abortion brings about serious physical and medical risk for the women. A small proportion die from the more serious complication such as sepsis and hemorrhage. But beyond that, some complications can lead to ectopic pregnancies, to cervico-vaginal fistula, increased risk of placenta previa and to difficulty in carrying subsequent pregnancies to term, and to infertility. The problems women face in marriage depends on where they come from. The average women in the north are Moslems and their religion dictates that a man provides for his wife and family. The average southern woman is more likely to be educated and more likely to have gotten into marriage at an older age than her counterpart in the North. But she may be a victim of an irresponsible husband who doesn't see it as his duty to provide for his wife and children. The average northern woman gives birth at a younger age than the married woman in the south. A woman married in the northern part of the country must always seek her husbands consent to seek or make herself available for healthcare in pregnancy which must be approved by the husband. A woman's condition may worsen while waiting for the husbands consents. Women must make effort to help themselves before others will come and join them. Mrs. Bolere Ketebu-Nwokeafor, of the National Council of Women's Societies Nigeria, said: "here we are facing the stark reality of unsafe abortions and unwanted pregnancy. My strategy is that we must make the best of a bad situation. Playing the ostrich and pretending that the problem is not there will not help us. Where it is possible, we preach abstinence." Unsafe abortion is not the business of just an unmarried young girl. It is better to save the woman who, if she is safe, alive and restored to good state of health can have other babies. The result of a study indicated that about 54.7% of the respondents have heard of contraceptives. The main methods was through the pills, 38.1%, condoms 45.9%, injectable 36.3% and IUD 23.3%. Their main sources of knowledge were through friends 37.6%, radio 29.2% and television 10.3%. doclink

    Nepal: Achham's Cruel Abortions

    December 20, 2005, Katmandu Post

    Although abortion is legal, the lives of many women in the rural districts are blighted as unsafe abortions continue. Hundreds of women in this far-western district have fallen prey to traditional birth attendants while those surviving face lifelong trauma. Health researcher Dr Arjun Sapkota, who is in Achham studying female health there, said pregnant women still go to traditional birth attendants. Health officials said a significant number of women do not want to avail of the services at health institutes and prefer unsafe abortions. The traditional birth attendants employ extremely cruel and painful methods to induce abortions. doclink

    Nepal: Many Still Resorting to Unsafe Abortion

    November 11, 2005, Katmandu Post (Nepal

    Though the government of Nepal legalized abortion three years ago, the number of women resorting to unsafe abortion continues to rise. There is a need to create positive attitude among rural men about abortion rights. A large segment of people do not have any idea about legal provisions relating to abortion and resort to unsafe practices. People also still hold a negative attitude toward abortion. Only about 23% of health service providers know emergency contraception measures. It is equally necessary to train and encourage health workers to prescribe measures. doclink

    Abortion!! a Taboo Women Continue to Practice

    November 21, 2005, The Chronicle Newspaper (Malawi)

    Unsafe abortions are affecting the lives of women who should take a full part in the development of Malawi. Women risk their lives in procedures that can result in reproductive health problems and even death. According to the laws of Malawi, it is illegal to have an abortion and anyone who assists someone else to have an abortion can be charged with a criminal offence. However the law states that an abortion can be performed when the life of the mother is at risk. This involves a process able to stand tests and it must proven beyond doubt that the woman's life is at risk. Despite this women are having unplanned pregnancies terminated. But using people who do not have the proper qualifications and equipment and premises unsafe abortions are being carried out on women leaving many with permanent health problems and, in some cases claiming their lives. Two in five abortions occur among women under 25, and about one in seven who is under 20. In Africa, one quarter of the unsafe abortions are among teenagers 15 - 19. Women who are busy with their education or careers are resorting to abortions because of unplanned pregnancies. Many have the information on family planning and where to access the service but are afraid of being seen as "a bad girl". Being accused of being unfaithful is also a reason why women do not access family planning services. Seen as accomplished and financially stable, older men are considered a "good catch". The man is in control of the sex and the women lack the skill to demand protection. When a woman becomes pregnant, the man will suggest an abortion in order not to disturb her education or career and agree to pay the expenses. Women who cannot access services, will resort to back street abortion and face the possibility of physical harm. Unskilled practitioners, traditional healers, herbs, and self abuse are some of the ways women will have an abortion. An estimated 50% of the women who have unsafe abortions will have complications that need medical attention and if left untreated can cause permanent damage or even death. Millions are left to suffer out the remainder of their lives with injuries related to unsafe abortions. It is unlikely that the goal of reducing maternal mortality rate by 72% will be achieved due to a number of factors. A weak health delivery system, traditional practices that encourage early marriages, cultural beliefs that prevent women from using modern contraceptive methods and less male involvement in family planning initiatives. Unsafe abortions that are affecting women who should be part and parcel of the development in Malawi will continue to take place until the government and its partners discover the reasons for women are risking their lives to carry out the procedure and are addressed adequately. doclink

    In Latin America, the Battle over Legalizing Abortion Is Heating Up

    October 26, 2005, Los Angeles Times

    Two women belonging to a faith-based organization in Sao Paulo are dedicated to promoting abortion rights in a land where none exist. Together with civic groups, some medical professionals and a handful of judges and politicians, they are in the front lines of a battle over faith, morality and individual rights in Brazil. Throughout Latin America, religion and tradition have made abortion a taboo and outlawed subject. Debate over abortion has mushroomed amid moves to lift bans on ending unwanted pregnancies. In Mexico, antiabortion activists have gone to the Supreme Court to stop a newly enacted law under which the "morning-after" pill would be made available in the country's 19,000 government hospitals and clinics. Catholic groups have excoriated President Vicente Fox for liberalizing use of the hormone-based drug. In Uruguay, a bill legalizing abortion that had been approved by the lower house was defeated by three votes. Backers, including trade unions, women's groups, doctors associations and even some Protestant churches, have vowed to keep trying. Colombia's high court is expected to rule by the end of the year on a petition to loosen the country's abortion laws. The influential news magazine declared "It's time to decriminalize." In Brazil, a bill authorizing abortion on demand was introduced by a government minister after deliberations by a high-level commission. Abortions are permitted in Brazil and in many other Latin American countries only in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger, although opponents want even these provisions scrapped. Only Cuba and Guyana have completely legalized abortion. Proponents of relaxing the laws note that the bans do not mean that abortions don't take place but that they get driven underground. About 4 million clandestine abortions are performed in Latin America every year, some of them ending in injury or death to the mother. Botched abortions are the leading causes of maternal mortality in several countries including Brazil. In Brazil, as elsewhere, well-off women resort to clandestine but efficient clinics to end their pregnancies, whereas their disadvantaged sisters must rely on inadequate conditions and incompetent care. Even when women are legally entitled to an abortion, finding a doctor to perform one can be difficult for poor women. Some doctors refuse on religious grounds. An increasing number of Brazilian judges have granted the right to abortion in certain cases of severe malformations of the fetus. Yet even an exception for such rare cases is vigorously opposed by the Catholic Church in Brazil. One Brazilian priest has hurled rubber fetuses at physicians who perform abortions and posted photos of the doctors on his website. Although the legislation working through Brazil's Congress is not likely to pass, abortion rights advocates say momentum is building for a broad-based, grass-roots movement to try to effect change, as has happened in Uruguay. doclink

    U.S.: Abortion Might Outgrow Its Need for Roe v. Wade

    October 2, 2005

    Technology is changing the future of abortion. Even if the court restricts the right to an abortion, the specter of a return to back-alley abortions is not likely. We have better antibiotics and surgical treatments. But also the advent of an inexpensive drug called misoprostol, which the FDA approved for treatment of ulcers, but which has been used in millions of self-administered abortions. This common prescription drug, often known as Cytotec, could emerge as a cheap, relatively safe alternative. Because it was never intended for use in abortions, it has not been widely tested for safety and effectiveness. The drug causes the uterus to contract and expel the embryo or fetus. In the US, misoprostol is used with the abortion drug RU-486. Last year, Americans filled 365,000 prescriptions of misoprostol. A dose sufficient to cause an abortion costs less than $2. It was effective 80% to 90% of the time, if administered by a doctor, slightly lower than its effectiveness in combination with RU-486. Women taking it on their own risk greater rates of failure and higher side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever and chills. Dr. Jerry Edwards, an abortion provider in Little Rock, Ark. said: "Rich women will fly to California; poor women will use Cytotec." In Brazil, where abortion is banned except in rare circumstances, misoprostol is the method of choice for 90% of abortions. Compared with illegal abortions using other methods, the rate of infection with misoprostol was 12 times lower, but among babies born with certain birth defects, a high percentage of the mothers used misoprostol. Researchers still need to learn more about what happens when the drug doesn't work. Currently, if women fail to terminate a pregnancy using RU-486 and misoprostol, they still have a surgical abortion. But if abortion were illegal, many of these women might carry to term. Data suggest it causes birth defects, including facial paralysis and limb defects. In Brazil, if women have problems with the drug, they go to the hospital to be treated for miscarriage. If women in the US start using misoprostol for abortions, someone going through a miscarriage is going to be looked at suspiciously. doclink

    Disconnect in Latin America

    May 12, 2005, Baltimore Sun (US)

    Pope Benedict XVI, presides over a church quite different from the institution inherited by his predecessor. Over the last three decades, the Roman Catholic Church has changed and more than 42% of Catholics live in Latin America. Pope John Paul II was revered for his passion for peace and social justice for the poor. But his ultraconservative positions on sexuality and reproductive freedom were met by neglect or bemused tolerance. The church wields influence over the political and social life of the region; governmental policies regarding sexual and reproductive health rights still reflect that influence. But rigid opposition to personal practices such as family planning, abortion and emergency contraception is widely rejected and ignored. A study found that nearly 90% of Catholics in Mexico, Colombia and Bolivia, believed that adults, and even adolescents should have access to contraception. 95% supported condoms in the fight against HIV. More than 85% said that a person can practice it and still be a good Catholic. Although abortion is outlawed (in all but exceptional situations) throughout Latin America, more than half of those surveyed said that abortions should be permitted in some or all circumstances. When the life of a woman is endangered, that number rises to nearly 80% and drops slightly if only the woman's health is jeopardized. Notwithstanding the church continues to fight every effort to reform restrictions on contraception and abortion. Government decisions in Chile and Ecuador to make emergency contraception available without a prescription are stalled because of intervention by the church. Efforts to liberalize abortion have been thwarted in Uruguay and are under threat in Brazil. A consequence is an epidemic of unplanned pregnancies leading to millions of unsafe abortions, and the deaths of at least 4,000 women every year. The Catholic Church cannot maintain its pre-eminence in Latin America in the face of these contradictions. The church is losing to evangelical denominations whose views on sexual and reproductive freedom are, less harsh than those of the Catholics. Despite this, the cardinals chose a new pope whose record does not inspire hope that the church will adapt. For Latin America, another decade of aggressive, reactionary doctrine on sexual and reproductive health could condemn millions of women to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, misleading or nonexistent sexuality education and severe obstacles to the fight against HIV. At the same time, the church is likely to find itself increasingly irrelevant and diminished. Let's hope that Pope Benedict XVI proves to be a man of his times and not a prisoner of the past. The health and lives of countless women may depend on it. doclink

    Argentina: Maternal Mortality Claims Increasingly Younger Victims

    February 16, 2005, InterPress Service

    Almost one-third of the maternal deaths in Argentina result from abortion, which is illegal. Of the 78,000 patients admitted to public hospitals in 2000 for abortion-related causes, 11,015 were adolescents 15 to 19, and 550 were girls 10 to 14. In many cases, these were the result of rape, sexual abuse or incest. Girls and women between the ages of 10 and 24 make up 27% of Argentina's population. Girls between 10 and 19 total 6.7 million, or 18%. The rise in teenage pregnancy has been attributed to girls becoming sexually active at a younger age, while sex education and family planning services are lacking. The latest statistics reveal that 54% of maternal deaths result from obstetric causes, 31% from abortion complications and 15% from indirect obstetric causes. Over the last five years, there has been a rise in hospital admissions for abortion-related complications. The economic crisis, poverty and unemployment influence the under reporting of maternal mortality: Many people have been cut off from medical coverage, which was practically universal in the times of full employment in Argentina. One-third of poor women had no access to medical coverage, and the majority of women in this situation were between the ages of 20 to 29. In Argentina, there are 20 times more abortion-related deaths than in countries where abortion is legal. There are provinces where oral contraceptives and condoms are not distributed in health care facilities, or the use of intrauterine devices has been rejected. The Ministry of Health failed to incorporate emergency contraceptive products. doclink

    64,000 Travelled Overseas to Terminate Pregnancies

    January 24, 2004, Push newsfeed

    In the Court of Appeal in Belfast, the Family Planning Association is appealing the dismissal of a judicial review. The FPA wants the Department of Health to publish guidelines on when abortions can be performed in Northern Ireland under existing law. Currently abortion is only permissable when the expectant mother's life is in danger or when there is a long term serious threat to her mental or physical health. Since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed in Britain, some 64,000 women from NI have had abortions in England or Wales. doclink

    Anti Choice

    Lessons From Before Abortion was Legal

    Before 1973, abortion in the U.S. was severely restricted. More than 40 years later Roe v. Wade is under attack, and access increasingly depends on a woman's income or zip code
    August 15, 2017, Scientific American   By: Rachel Benson Gold and Megan K. Donovan

    From 2011 to 2016, more than 40 years after Roe v. Wade, state governments enacted a stunning 338 abortion restrictions, and the onslaught continues with more than 50 new restrictions so far this year. At the federal level, the Trump administration and congressional leaders are openly hostile to abortion rights and access to reproductive health care more generally. This antagonism is currently reflected in an agenda that seeks to eliminate insurance coverage of abortion and roll back public funding for family-planning services nationwide.

    When the nation was founded, abortion was generally permitted by states under common law. In the mid-1800s, it started becoming criminalized, and by 1900 almost every state had enacted a law declaring most abortions to be criminal offenses.

    Even so, abortion remained common because there were few effective ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Well into the 1960s, laws restricted or prohibited outright the sale and advertising of contraceptives, making it impossible for many women to obtain -- or even know about -- effective birth control. An estimated 200,000 to 1.2 million U.S. women underwent illegal abortions each year in the 1950s and 1960s, many in unsafe conditions.

    In 1965, illegal abortion accounted for an estimated 17% of all officially reported pregnancy-related deaths. The actual number may have been much higher, but many deaths were officially attributed to other causes, perhaps to protect women and their families. In contrast, only four deaths resulted from complications of legally induced abortion in 2012 of a total of about one million procedures.

    In the pre-Roe era women of means were often able to navigate the system and obtain a legal abortion with help from their private physician. Between 1951 and 1962, 88 percent of legal abortions performed in New York City were for patients of private physicians rather than for women accessing public health services.

    Poor women and women of color often had to go outside the system, often under dangerous and deadly circumstances. In a study of low-income women in New York from the same period, one in 10 said they had tried to terminate a pregnancy illegally.

    It was only in 1967 that Colorado became the first state to reform its abortion law, permitting the procedure on grounds that included danger to the pregnant woman's life or health. By 1972, 13 states had similar statutes, and an additional four, including New York, had repealed their antiabortion laws completely. Then came Roe v. Wade in 1973-and the accompanying Doe v. Bolton decision -- both of which affirmed abortion as a constitutional right.

    The future of Roe is under threat as a result of President Donald Trump's commitment to appointing justices to the Supreme Court who he says will eventually overturn Roe. Should that happen, 19 states already have laws on the books that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion, and experts at the Center for Reproductive Rights estimate that the right to abortion could be at risk in as many as 33 states and the District of Columbia.

    In light of state and federal policy makers' hostility to abortion, a commonsense policy goal would be to provide all women access to quality, affordable contraceptive care. In addition to respecting women's human rights and yielding significant health, social and economic benefits, this step would also lead to fewer unintended pregnancies. In 2014 the U.S. abortion rate reached its lowest level ever recorded, and strong evidence suggests that the steep drop in abortion between 2008 and 2014 was driven largely by improved contraceptive use. Notably, these declines happened in almost all 50 states, including those such as California and New York that are broadly supportive of abortion rights.

    But the Trump administration and congressional leaders are moving in the opposite direction by pursuing plans that would undermine women's ability to obtain the contraceptive care they need. These attacks include attempts to roll back the many gains of the Affordable Care Act, gut Medicaid and undercut the critically important Title X national family-planning program, even while attacking Planned Parenthood, a trusted provider of contraceptive services for millions.

    We need to protect and build on gains already made. Stark racial, ethnic and income disparities persist in sexual and reproductive health outcomes. As of 2011, the unintended pregnancy rate among poor women was five times that of women with higher incomes, and the rate for black women was more than double that for whites. Abortion restrictions -- including the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal dollars to cover abortion care for women insured through Medicaid-fall disproportionately on poor women and women of color. doclink

    New Study Finds Misinformation About Abortion Pervades Across Television

    Study By ANSIRH Found That Depictions Of Abortion in Popular Culture Likely Plays A Role in Promoting Inaccurate Information
    April 24, 2017, Media Matters for America   By: Julie Tulbert

    While abortion is a safe procedure undergone for many different personal reasons, cable news and television often depicts it as dangerous and morally bankrupt based on misinformation from discredited and biased anti-abortion groups.

    Depictions like these could be a contributing factor in the political erosion of abortion rights.

    A study by Media Matters found that 64% of cable news segments about abortion contained inaccurate information. Also, cable news reported inaccurate information about late-term abortion 88% of the time. The study examined segments about abortion or reproductive rights on evening cable news programs on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC from March 7, 2016 through March 1, 2017.

    Television plotlines often depict abortion in inaccurate and stigmatizing ways. In a new study from the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) researched plotlines on American television from 2005 and 2016 where a character underwent an abortion or referred to having obtained an abortion. ANSIRH identified 80 abortion plotlines during this time period and found that 37.5% of them depicted abortion procedures with complications, medical interventions, or other negative health consequences. In real life, only 2.1% of abortion procedures involve these issues.

    The most egregious abortion plotlines involved the supposed long-term consequences characters faced after having an abortion. Of the 80 stories, 23.85 depicted negative long-term consequences for characters who had an abortion. For example, 4% of characters who had an abortion were shown to have committed suicide, 11% were rendered infertile, and even 5% of characters were shown dying. As ANSIRH and Media Matters have pointed out, other studies have definitively shown that mental health is not substantially impacted following an abortion. In addition, having an abortion -- even multiple abortions -- is not likely to have a negative impact on fertility.

    Abortion is a common and safe medical procedure. Although some of the plotlines examined by ANSIRH were set in time periods or places where abortion was illegal (procedures that have higher rates of complications and death), ANSIRH explained that television exaggerates these dangers, which can negatively impact audience's views on contemporary, legal abortion. Even in instances where the storylines depicted legal abortion, ANSIRH still found that a "markedly high" percentage misrepresented the long-term health consequences.

    Right-wing media and anti-choice organizations have worked relentlessly to stigmatize abortion and vilify abortion providers -- resulting in medically unnecessary, harmful laws and decreased abortion access. Television shows ought to stop helping them spread lies and discourage public dialogue about a safe, legal, and common medical procedure. doclink

    How Abortion Stigma Negatively Affects Media Coverage

    January 21, 2016, RH Reality Check

    Carlos Maza of Media Matters for America talks to Erin Matson, co-founder of Reproaction, and Hannah Groch-Begley, research director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, to help break down what abortion stigma is and how the media perpetuates it through faulty, biased coverage. doclink

    Opinion: Murder at Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood

    December 7, 2015, Stockton Record   By: Lee Miller

    Americans should be appalled at the murder of 3 persons at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic. This is one more act of domestic terrorism by the right-to-life brigade of ignorant people who wage war on women and women's reproductive rights. So far, over 200 women's health clinics have been vandalized or burned and 8 doctors and clinic workers who provide abortion services have been murdered. Threats by fanatics abound against health care workers who provide the many services that women need. In fact so many threats are made that a book has been written about them by David Cohen: "Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism."

    GOP candidate for president, Carly Fiorina, who falsely accused PP of harvesting baby body parts for profit from 'a fully formed fetus on the table its heart beating, its legs kicking', but could not produce the video where she claimed she saw this. Could it be that Fiorina's words were the inspiration for the nut-job to go off the deep end to kill three people at PP leaving 6 children without a parent? Last Friday's shooter allegedly said "no more baby parts," clearly echoing Fiorina's misleading take on discredited, edited, videos made by the anti-abortion group attacking PP.

    All the GOP presidential hopefuls deplore abortion rights and their attacks on abortion rights only inspire violence. Do they want to go back to the days of women being butchered in back alleys or self-inducing abortions resulting in unsanitary complications? doclink

    UN Adopts Document on Sustainable Development Goals That Could Be Used to Push Abortion

    August 12, 2015,   By: Marie Smith

    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.

    Click on the link in the headline to see the entire article. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the biggest lie is to call a fetus a child.

    Very few pregnancies (around 1%) are aborted when the fetus is viable. 90% of surgical or medical abortions are done by 12 weeks, before the mother first feels the stirrings of 'life' and still 12 weeks away from being 'viable'.

    About 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. In up to 60% of miscarriages (spontaneous abortion), the fetus is absent or grossly malformed, and in 25 to 60%, it has chromosomal abnormalities incompatible with life; thus spontaneous abortion in > 90% of cases may be a natural rejection of a maldeveloping fetus. About 85% of spontaneous abortions occur in the 1st trimester and tend to have fetal causes.

    Only 1% of abortions are performed after 24 weeks. Reasons for performing an abortion this late are: * The fetus is dead.
    * The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would place the woman's life in severe danger.
    * The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would grievously damage the wo

    Unmasking Fake Clinics

    March 12, 2015, NARAL Pro Choice California

    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.

    At a vulnerable time, CPCs delve into personal details during counseling to try to make women feel guilty about choosing abortion. doclink

    Advancing Reproductive Justice for Black Women and Women of Color in Cleveland

    November 18, 2014, RH Reality Check   By: Jasmine Burnett

    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 second trimester at Preterm, which provides abortions through 22 weeks' gestation.

    After Wilson's death, the media and anti-choice organizations began stirring the anti-abortion discussion at the local and state level, but it was the response from women of color and allied organizations that is setting a precedent. Their work fighting back against these attacks shows that women will not stand idly by and watch their rights be taken away or have others-be it mainstream media outlets, anti-choice organizations, or anti-woman politicians-dictate their health and safety needs. It's a model that other groups around the country should follow, especially in the coming year, when newly elected GOP lawmakers will be fighting hard against them.

    On March 21, a Preterm clinic employee dialed 9-1-1 and reported to the dispatcher that Lakisha Wilson, who had been 19 weeks pregnant, was not breathing. The medical staff at Preterm immediately performed CPR. The ambulance arrived three minutes later and transported her to University Hospital, where she died on March 28, a week later, of "cardiopulmonary arrest immediately following elective abortion of intrauterine pregnancy." The Cuyahoga County medical examiner determined there was no medical error in her procedure at Preterm. (According to a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, abortion is 14 times safer than childbirth.)

    When Lakisha Wilson entered Preterm in March, she had made the same choice that one in three women will make over the course of her lifetime. (Six out of ten of those women, like Wilson, are already mothers.) Four months after her death, however, Ohio Right to Life erected billboards aimed at spreading "awareness about the racial crisis of abortion" through racist campaign ads-not the first time anti-choice organizations erected billboards aimed at shaming and stigmatizing Black women seeking abortion.

    The ads said things like "Stand by me," and "Fatherhood starts in the womb," presuming that abortion is the result of male irresponsibility. Additionally, the messages reinforced negative tropes about Black fatherhood, such as that Black fathers are conditioned to be absent, and that Black fathers are the only men impregnating women outside of marriage. These are extensions of anti-choice myths about Black women and Black motherhood.

    In response to the ads, New Voices Cleveland, a grassroots organization working as part of New Voices Pittsburgh to advance reproductive justice for women and girls of color in the Rust Belt region through education, training, and advocacy, wrote an open letter calling on the groups responsible for the billboards to stand down. But Clear Channel, the media company that hosted the billboards, completely ignored its call for justice, as did Ohio Right to Life.

    "The fact that they did not respond, reach out, or attempt to have a conversation with us, shows how much they do not value Black women," said Maria Miranda, a member of New Voices. (Miranda is also director of development at RH Reality Check.) "Black women said these billboards were offensive and [the groups] ignored it. This speaks volumes to their abilities to engage Black women on this topic. They say they care about Black communities but don't want to talk to Black women who disagree with them."

    Because of my experience battling the racist anti-abortion billboard campaigns in 2011, through the Trust Black Women partnership, I know that developing a strategy in which allies stand with, but not in front of, women of color is integral to this work. The reproductive justice framework, specifically, centers the voices and experiences of women, girls, and the people who are most affected by white supremacy in the United States.

    It is with this in mind that New Voices Cleveland was joined by NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, and Preterm Clinic to retaliate against these anti-woman, racist attacks. They began working together to engage community members in a more positive way around reproductive health care, by launching efforts to de-stigmatize abortion and address health disparities by race and class that affect whether or not a family will receive quality care, if any at all. I assisted in this work, serving as a consultant organizer for New Voices Cleveland.

    The themes they are adhering to as part of this collaborative work include: creating an ethos of collective work, responsibility, accountability, and trust among partner organizations; building a shared voice on reproductive justice issues in Greater Cleveland and in the State of Ohio; coordinating "first-response" work to political and legislative fires; and supporting collaborative efforts over the long-term for advocacy, organizing, and communication strategies. Our pro-active position is crucial because for too long the human rights and progressive movements have only been able to respond defensively to attacks from anti-choice extremists and political conservatives. We are clear that our values have always been rooted in true liberation and in acknowledgement of the difficult decisions that families have to make. These themes are placing the state's leading reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations in a position to lead and bring in more allies and partners that share these values for Ohio women and families.

    The context for these circumstances is informed by the politics of the state government: under Gov. John Kasich's leadership, the legislature is now a conservative super majority in an otherwise purple state. Further, "Gov. Kasich has politicized the Department of Health by appointing Mike Gondiakis, president of Ohio Right to Life (an attorney, not a health-care provider), as a member of the state medical board," explained Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, in a phone interview.

    The political relationships that are brokered on the bodies of women and their families situates reproductive health needs in a conservatively biased, ethically challenged position. "[The right has] looked for opportunities to exploit and abuse their power to close clinics, not for medical reasons, but simply to placate their political base, like the anti-choice movement," Copeland added.

    Overall abortion is a safe medical procedure that has been legal since Roe v. Wade 41 years ago. However, even after the Cuyahoga County medical examiner determined that there was no medical error when Lakisha Wilson took her final breath, mainstream media outlets published articles that attempted to position abortion as an unsafe procedure.

    Celeste Ribbins of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio explained to RH Reality Check that it was "really unfortunate how the media coverage [about Lakisha Wilson] has shamed and their decisions. Abortion and women's health care are complex issues, so I think that it has been oversimplified in some of the coverage." Ribbins added that "the information has been presented in a way that does not help women who may be contemplating what to do about their pregnancy make a truly informed decision about their health" and that her group will help a woman "no matter what, based on all of her options, and she will be educated on those options, whether that be to parent, adopt, or end the pregnancy."

    Nancy Pitts, director of development and communications at the Preterm Clinic, emphasized the safety of abortion procedures and the supportive environment her clinic offers to clients, despite what anti-choicers have instilled in their followers. She said Preterm is "a place of complete human dignity and complete human respect."

    "It's a process coming into the heart of Preterm," she explained, "Everyone has to go through a metal detector and we have a security guard on duty, but once you get inside, we create a welcoming, nurturing space ... in a way that honors people, their experiences, values, feelings, and needs."

    Pitts added that because of the state's 24-hour waiting period law, "we have two waiting rooms .... We know that people spend a lot of time here so we try to create a space where they can be comfortable."

    For now, Preterm continues to meet the needs of the community's most vulnerable. But as the results of this year's elections show, the fight to protect women's reproductive rights, health, and safety in the state is far from over. That's the bad news. The good news is that, as this reproductive justice work in 2014 is demonstrating, women of color leadership and allied organizations in Ohio will not stand by while the rights of Ohio women and families are dialed back to the 1950s and 1960s when birth control was not readily available or affordable and when the only abortions women had access to were those that were unsafe. We will mobilize our allies and convene our partners that are invested in advancing the human rights of Ohio women and families.

    The collaboration with NARAL Pro Choice Ohio, New Voices Cleveland, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, and Preterm Clinic is only the beginning of our strategy to attain reproductive justice for women and girls of color and our families in Ohio, which includes fighting for access to quality care for women even before they become pregnant. While we don't know more about the events leading up to Lakisha Wilson's death, we do know Black women are less likely to have access to preventive care services, which is literally killing them.

    "I never met Lakisha, I only know her through the circumstances of her death, but boy did she spark something from the anti-choice folks," said Maria Miranda. "At the same time, she sparked the voices of Black women to say, 'Wait a minute, not in her name will you shame the choices that we have to make for our families.'"

    "A woman I will never know is part of this history-making moment in Cleveland around getting Black women's voices amplified, and there's something very powerful about that," she added.

    There's also something very powerful about the ways in which Cleveland groups have collaborated around making change in the state. The response from a coalition of women's health organizations was a vital step in advancing reproductive justice for Black women and women of color in the state. Now, advocates must continue to fight back against these racist, anti-choice attacks. As my experience in Cleveland has demonstrated, the way to do this, and ultimately achieve human rights for all, is to put the needs of the people most affected at the center of this work.
    . . . more doclink

    Reading the Numbers

    February 17, 2014, New Yorker   By: Margaret Talbot

    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 doclink

    U.S.: Abortion Control Act: Having Access to Free Contraception is the Key

    October 7, 2012, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    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. doclink

    U.S.: I'm Pro-life. So Why Do I Support Planned Parenthood?

    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. (

    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. (

    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 (

    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. (

    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. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Indeed, why are the Catholic hospitals and institutions hypocritically hiring women they know must be using "baby-killer" contraception and abortion, and then turn around and complain about freedom of religion being attacked when they have to pay for contraception and abortion for these employees? And why don't they excommunicate the 97% of Catholic women who use contraception?

    Georgia Plays Front-runner on Anti-Choice Agenda

    March 3, 2011, Women's eNews

    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. doclink

    U.S.: Obama's Life Story Now An Anti-Abortion Ad

    January 22, 2009,

    BET viewers were seeing Obama's life story turned into an anti-abortion ad, sponsored by 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".

    The ad comes amid heightened anxiety that Obama will abandon or reverse pro-life policies established by President George W. Bush. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The fact is, Obama's mother did not choose abortion. Making this argument is like saying we should give every potential person a chance: including every virgin's egg and every young man's sperm wasted in masterbation. One of them might be a President someday. (But a President in the dark ages caused by overpopulation.)

    Mexico: Legal Abortion No Longer a Distant Goal for Activists

    March 21, 2007, Reuters

    Two draft laws in Mexico could make abortion legal in cases other than those involving rape or a threat to a pregnant woman's life.

    For the first time there is a serious debate on this, and a possibility that abortion will be decriminalised.

    Legislators introduced a draft law that would allow voluntary abortion to be carried out in Mexico City up to the 14th week of pregnancy.

    Senators presented a draft law that would make abortion legal nationwide before the 12th week of pregnancy.

    The conservative governing National Action Party (PAN) announced protest demonstrations and action aimed at blocking the two draft laws. President Calder said that he believes in "the defense of life" and considers the present legislation, which allows -- in most Mexican states -- abortion only in case of rape, a deformed fetus, or a threat to the life of the pregnant woman, adequate for now.

    Only in Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Vatican is abortion illegal under any circumstance.

    In Latin America and the Caribbean, activists are fighting for abortion in nearly every country.

    In Mexico it is estimated that there are up to one million illegal abortions a year. Backstreet abortions are the fourth or fifth leading cause of death among Mexican women. Even in cases of rape, or risk to the mother's life, a legal abortion is nearly impossible.

    Only 15% of the pregnant women interviewed said they really wanted to be having a baby at that time.

    The Vatican is sending Colombian Bishop Alfonso L'pez, to Mexico to support opponents of the new draft laws.

    Conservatives claim that abortion is murder and have advertised in the local press to explain what abortion methods consist of and that at a few weeks' gestation, the fetus has a human form.

    The Coalition for the Rights of All has put videos on the Internet showing how a fetus dies when a woman has an abortion.

    If conservativesthey had "a minimum of integrity" they ought to show the deaths of women who have undergone backstreet abortions.

    Four million abortions a year are practiced in Latin America, and 5,000 women die as a result. Thirty to 40% of women who go through the procedure suffer life-threatening complications.

    The important thing is to have a public health system that improves and extends everything to do with sex education and prevention of unwanted pregnancies.

    The draft laws under debate in Mexico stress that access to contraceptive methods needs to be improved urgently.

    In the present legislative process we found an openness to listen to different points of view, and a resistance to the threats and warnings from the church.

    The Church is threatening to excommunicate those who are in favour of legalised abortion and claims it is only defending the life and dignity of human beings, and "no one should be opposed to that."

    The debate includes the timeworn discussion about whether a fetus at less than 12 or 14 weeks gestation should be considered an individual person or not, and whether or not it feels pain when it is aborted. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: please see WOA!!s Abortion page.

    U.S.: States Fund Antiabortion Advice; Public Grants Surge for the Crisis Centers. Some Ban Contraception Talk

    February 11, 2007, Los Angeles Times

    Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania use public funds to subsidize Christian homes for unwed mothers and programs designed to steer women away from abortion. As a condition of the grants, counselors are barred from referring women to any clinic that provides abortions; in some cases, they may not discuss contraception.

    Most states spend far more money on family planning, but tax dollars to antiabortion groups has surged in recent months. Abortion-rights supporters assert that the funds would be better spent if used to expand access to birth control. In Texas, the state reduced grants to a Planned Parenthood clinic in downtown Austin and began sending money to the Roman Catholic diocese a block away.

    There, counselors collect $1.05 in public funds for every minute they spend encouraging women and teens not to abort. Tax dollars cannot be used for religious purposes, but federal law permits faith-based groups. Crisis pregnancy centers have received tens of millions of dollars from the federal government over the last six years, mostly for abstinence education.

    Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Texas approved funding in 2005. Louisiana, Missouri and Pennsylvania have longer-running programs. Arizona and Kansas have offered one-time grants to antiabortion groups. States will spend at least $13 million this year to dissuade women from abortion.

    Conservatives in several states are pushing to restrict or eliminate public funding for groups that support abortion rights. The vast majority of states send grants to Planned Parenthood, in amounts that dwarf the antiabortion funding. Tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood cover birth control, gynecological exams, cancer screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. When clients come in with unwanted pregnancies, they hear about all of their options. Antiabortion activists pamphlets feature photos of adorable babies and beaming teenage moms.

    U.S. Rep. Waxman, an abortion rights supporter, asked investigators to contact 23 crisis pregnancy centers: 20 gave misleading information, he reported. In Austin, the diocese hands out a booklet, approved by the state, that suggests a link between abortion and breast cancer, though the National Cancer Institute has found no such connection.

    In 2005, Texas lawmakers redirected $25 million to primary-care health clinics, but $5 million of the money was set aside for antiabortion centers. The Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin had to begin charging for services long offered free to low-income women. Since the fees took effect, the clinic has distributed 40% fewer birth control pills and has conducted 50% fewer Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. Several thousand patients have stopped coming.

    Texas antiabortion groups had counseled 660 women and teens with the tax dollars made available by the shift in resources. Last week, the Texas Catholic Conference sent volunteers in turquoise shirts to the Capitol to give lawmakers cakes, and a long list of legislative priorities, first was abolish abortion in Texas. doclink

    U.S.: House Members Urge Amnesty to Reject Abortion Proposal

    November 22, 2006, Kaiser Network

    Seventy-four House members have sent a letter to Amnesty International to reject a proposal that would support access to abortion in cases of rape, incest, sexual assault or to save the life of the woman.

    The group has said forced marriage of young girls and illegal abortions are being discussed. The letter asks Amnesty to remain neutral on the issue of abortion.

    To support abortion, which many believe is a human rights abuse, would undermine Amnesty's reputation and effectiveness, said the letter, which was signed by House Majority Leader John Boehner.

    Amnesty is not debating whether women have the right to an abortion under any circumstances. A decision on the proposal could come during Amnesty's next international gathering. doclink

    U.S.: The Battle to Ban Birth Control

    March 20, 2006,

    Mary Worthington regards contraception as immoral and dangerous. This month she launched No Room for Contraception, a clearinghouse for arguments and personal testimonials on this subject. NRFC joins others on an anti-contraception Web. NRFC doesn't even address abortion; its sole purpose is to "prove" that the pill and the IUD cause health problems and destroy women's fertility and condoms lead to the spread of SRDs by making people believe that sex can be safe, that contraception destroys marriages by rendering sex an act of pleasure rather than one of procreation. The vast majority of Americans support access to birth control: even 80% of anti-choice Americans support women's access to contraception. With the exception of a dwindling number of Catholics, a majority of American women have used or regularly use some form of contraception. Supporters have pressured insurance companies to refuse coverage of contraception and are redefining the very meaning of pregnancy to classify contraceptive methods as abortion. Although its medical arguments are thinly veiled moral and religious arguments, the rising anti-contraception movement, echoed by the Catholic Church, is making significant inroads. After Roe v. Wade was decided, debate focused on abortion but (for anti-choicers) they are not separate issues. The National Right to Life affiliates have opposed legislation that would provide insurance coverage for contraception. Iowa Right to Life lists birth control methods, including the pill, the IUD, Norplant and Depo-Provera, as abortifacients. Contraception lessens the number of abortions. But once one understands what the true agenda of activists like Worthington is, and their attitude toward sexuality, the contradictions vanish. For them, sex should always be about procreation; since contraception prevents conception, it is immoral. They believe that women's biological destiny is to be mothers. Sex and the role of women are linked, because "if you can separate sex from procreation, you have given women the ability to participate in society on an equal basis with men." The anti-birth-control movement has seized recent headlines about emergency contraception to put forth its view that E.C. is tantamount to abortion. Anti-choice activists don't bother to distinguish between RU-486, the "abortion pill," which terminates an early pregnancy, and emergency contraception, which helps prevent pregnancy. The American Medical Association defines pregnancy as the moment when implantation occurs; the anti-choice movement, completely ignoring scientific fact, is attempting to redefine pregnancy as the moment when sperm and egg meet. Once a fertilized egg is considered a human life, it's just a hop to concluding that the standard birth-control pill is an abortifacient. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 15 states have fetal homicide laws that means that one can be convicted of manslaughter or murder for destroying a fertilized egg. The National Institutes of Health convened experts to evaluate the condom's effectiveness at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and they concluded that correct condom use definitively protected against the spread of HIV and gonorrhea, and there was a strong probability of condom effectiveness for other STDs, including human papillomavirus (HPV). The findings were used to declare that condoms don't protect against HPV a wild misappropriation of fact that has nonetheless become a big part of the anti-choice argument against the condom's efficacy. Such subtle shifts have helped anti-choice activists to argue that condoms help spread STDs by giving users a false sense of security. One reason for the new push to restrict birth control may have to do with changes in the Catholic Church although many anti-contraception campaigners insist this has nothing to do with Catholicism. NRFC is filled with discussions of Catholic texts and Bible-study documents. Like the Catholic Church, NRFC opposes the use of contraception even within marriage as it leads to promiscuity, and furthers the idea the sex has nothing to do with childbearing or commitment. Contraception has given women the freedom to put off marriage, to go to college in greater numbers, to bring more wanted children into the world, and to find good jobs and thus bring more wealth into their families; and banning contraception would turn back the clock. doclink


    U.S.: Utah Among Nine States Considering Fetal Pain Legislation

    February 10, 2006, Associated Press

    House Bill 222 would compel Utah doctors to tell women seeking an abortion at 20 weeks or later that their fetus could feel pain, and require offering anesthetic for the fetus. Utah is one of nine states considering fetal pain legislation. In most cases, the legislation only requires that women be notified about possible fetal pain, but some measures state that fetuses feel pain 20 weeks after conception, while others make it a crime for medical providers to deny anesthesia to a fetus if the woman asks for it. In a bill now before Congress, doctors would have to read a script to patients, stating that Congress had determined that abortion causes fetuses as 20-weeks of gestation and later to feel pain. Women would be also required to sign a form stating their acceptance or rejection of fetal anesthetics. There's not consensus on the issue of fetal pain, indeed there is evidence that anesthetics present a risk to women's health. Abortion rights advocates say such laws put the fetus and pregnant woman in conflict potentially jeopardizing the health of the woman. The information that a doctor provides to a patient should be based on the best available science and proven medical practice. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said it knows of no scientific information that a fetus experiences pain. Research suggests the connection between the spinal cord and the brain begins sometime between 20 and 40 weeks of gestation. Doctors said that there is no protocol for administering anesthetic during an abortion; and that the process would differ from intrauteral surgeries, where a fetus can be sedated. Research from the Utah Department of Health indicates that the women who undergo an abortion at 20 weeks or later do so because either their own health is in jeopardy, or because of severe abnormalities that suggest the fetus is no longer viable. In 2003, only two Utah women had abortions after 20 weeks. doclink

    Indiana Abortion Proposal Defines Life as Beginning at Conception

    February 11, 2006, Associated Press

    Indiana women seeking an abortion would be told life begins at conception. Only South Dakota has gone so far in what it orders doctors to tell women, and that law has been blocked by a court. Supporters say it would provide women information before making an irreversible decision, but critics argue it blurs the line between church and state and puts our religion into a statute that's going to be law, without being able to back it up scientifically. Most states say assistance is available for prenatal care, childbirth and infant care if they decide to carry their pregnancy to term. Planned Parenthood challenged South Dakota's law, saying it infringed on doctors' First Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge Schreier blocked enforcement of the law, saying the plaintiffs have a good chance of winning. The Indiana bill also would require abortion providers to tell women that a fetus may be able to feel pain. Indiana bill's House sponsor, said he did not intend to restrict abortion. Supporters say the bill would give women information they need. The Right to Life Committee said many women seeking an abortion are told the fetus is nothing more than "a blob of tissue." Abortion-rights supporters say that we're seeing more and more informed consent laws passed that are politically motivated. Yale Law School Professor said the proposal could withstand free-speech challenges if doctors tell women the information is required by the state and might not necessarily reflect their own views. doclink

    U.S.: Abortion Rights Groups Say Battle Being Lost

    January 29, 2006, Reuters

    In Middle America the decades-old debate over abortion rights has become a full-blown battle. But the view from the pro-choice side is this is a fight they are losing. The expected Senate confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court of Samuel Alito, who is favored by anti-abortion advocates, is seen as a turning point. The pro-choice groups find themselves facing an avalanche of state legislation limiting the disbursement of birth control and restricting sex education. A Pew Research Center survey indicated it as the most important issue before the Supreme Court, and polling shows that Americans are nearly evenly divided on the topic. The appointment of Alito and the flood of anti-abortion legislation are tied to the increasing power of conservative religious groups. In the next 10 years there could be steady changes in the law regarding abortion. Anti-abortion groups acknowledge the increased power of religious conservatives but say there is waning support for abortion. Ultra-sound allows women to clearly view the features of the fetus. Anti-abortion advocates say research into the speed of fetal development, and claims by some women that abortion has scarred them physically and emotionally, have all helped their cause. All fifty states now have anti-abortion legislation in the works. Twenty-six states outlaw abortions for a woman whose pregnancy is at least 12 weeks along. Measures introduced in South Dakota, Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio would ban nearly all abortions even in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Other state laws would extend counseling requirements or waiting periods for women seeking abortions, add parental notification requirements, and set new regulations for abortion clinics. doclink

    Pope Urges Renewed Respect for All Life

    February 8, 2006, Associated Press

    Pope Benedict XVI urged the faithful to develop a new respect for life even when it is "sick or damaged." Benedict stressed the need to protect all human life and cited the late Pope John Paul II who delivered the most forceful condemnation of abortion, artificial contraception, euthanasia and experimentation on human embryos. The description "sick or damaged" life in the church's teaching refers to situations in which life is in particular need of being defended, including deformed fetuses, the severely disabled, terminally ill patients or people in vegetative states. Benedict said people today wrongly think that modern man is the master of life when he is only the custodian. Life depends on God and without God, life disappears, he said. The Italian bishops' conference has said Italian voters should consider issues such as abortion in determining which candidates to vote for. Abortion up to the end of the third month of pregnancy was legalized after a long battle between the Vatican and secular forces. Recently, the abortion pill RU-486 became available in parts of Italy on an experimental basis. The bishops' conference renewed its fight against abortion and RU-486, turning abortion into a campaign issue. Benedict told Italian officials that doctors should not give the abortion pill because it hides the "gravity" of taking a human life. doclink

    The Pope ıs entitled to his opinion as long as he does not interfere with the lives of people of other faiths and beliefs, and as long as he does not impose his morals on other people. Besıdes, until 1869 the Catholic Church maintained that life commenced 40 days after conception.

    U.S.: Abortion Remains High Court's Hottest Issue; but Does Roe V. Wade Really Hang in the Balance?

    October 4, 2005, Push Journal

    Abortion dominates the public debate over the Supreme Court. For many Americans, the long-term outlook for Roe v. Wade remains the issue. Counting O'Connor, six justices on the current court supported Roe v. Wade. An abortion rights group predicts that 21 states, and possibly 9 more states, would likely move quickly to ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. But some legal analysts think fewer states would outlaw abortion completely, though they may restrict its availability. For now, the legal battlefield is busy with cases restricting access to abortion. Later, the court considers a New Hampshire law requiring clinics to notify parents first with no exception for cases involving a young woman's health. All of this unfolds as the number of women seeking abortions continues to decline, to its lowest level in nearly 30 years. doclink

    U.S.: Carter Condemns Abortion Culture

    November 4, 2005, Washington Times

    Former President Jimmy Carter condemned abortions and chastised his party for its intolerance of candidates who oppose abortion, while across town Senate Democrats deliberated whether to filibuster the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. Mr. Carter said his party's leadership hurts Democrats by taking a rigid pro-abortion rights stand. Mr. Carter' statements were "astonishing," said the director of the Culture and Family Institute at Concerned Women for America. "Maybe with Jimmy Carter saying things he never uttered before, more liberals will rethink their worship of abortion as the high holy sacrament of liberalism." Promoting his latest book, "Our Enduring Values," Mr. Carter acknowledged he made mistakes in office. He has been outspoken in condemning Mr. Bush's policy toward Iraq. But he praised Mr. Bush's policy toward war-torn Sudan, and declared that the best treatment he has received since leaving the Oval Office was from the first President Bush, and the second-best treatment he got was during the Reagan administration. The worst treatment he's received, was from President Clinton. Democrats must "let the deeply religious people and the moderates on social issues like abortion feel that the Democratic party cares about them and understands them," he said. doclink

    When poor women's lives through unsafe abortion are at risk, we should care about and understand poor WOMEN and the problems they face.

    Roe vs. Wade vs. Technology

    July 27, 2005, Washington Times

    As the John Roberts Supreme Court nomination fight opens, and the possibility of red-state values threatening to kill the 32-year old constitutional right to an abortion, Roe vs. Wade may face a bigger challenge from medical research being carried out in universities in Europe and Asia. Roe spells out the right of a woman to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability - "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid." In 1973, when Roe vs. Wade was handed down in 1973, prematurely born babies did not survive before 28 weeks of gestation. Today, babies born after only 20 weeks of gestation routinely survive. Recently, scientists in Tokyo have successfully removed goat fetuses from mother goats and placed them in tanks of amniotic fluid stabilized at goat body temperature, while connecting the baby goat's umbilical cord to machines that pump in nutrients and dispose of waste. Another team of scientists are developing a full artificial womb that can receive a just-conceived embryo with the hope that it will successfully gestate for the full nine months. Such methods capable of sustaining a child for the full nine months "will become reality in a few years." The language of Roe vs. Wade would then become factually meaningless. However, if conservatives oppose the technology of stem cell research and cloning, they may also be opposed to artificial wombs. This gives academic ethicists (and amateur ethicists) plenty to think about. doclink

    The Looming Threat to Roe

    November 24, 2004, Daily News

    It is possible that President Bush will appoint justices who will keep the right to choose abortion as it is now: burdened in some states with waiting periods but still obtainable. It's also possible that returning abortion decisions to the states, as overturning Roe would do, will jeopardize the GOP's current majority. A majority of Americans believe abortion should be generally legal in the first trimester. But Bush paid no price for governing from the extreme right in his first term and the only hope to save our privacy rights may be to plan for Roe's eventual demise. If the Supreme Court were to send abortion decisions back to the states, 21 states probably would keep abortion legal, 20 would re-criminalize it, and another nine are a toss-up. Once abortion is criminalized, next on the agenda will be contraception. A significant number of Bush supporters want to legalise the belief that human life begins when the sperm fertilizes the egg. In states where that happens, the pill, IUDs and the patch could be outlawed. The so-called "activist judges" who decided Roe based it on a constitutional right to privacy. If Roe falls, reproductive rights would become a major issue in every election. Without Roe, bills to declare abortion illegal in all 50 states would follow immediately. Some conservative pundits say that pro-choice voters would win this battle eventually but it will take years for the national consensus to assert itself. doclink

    US South Dakota: Hb1191 Would Ban Most Abortions

    March 9, 2004, Associated Press

    Most abortions would be banned in South Dakota by HB1191 with the exception of a woman's life in danger, where a woman's health could be irreversibly impaired by pregnancy. The bill contains no exception for women who become pregnant as a result of rapes or incest. Birth-control measures and contraceptives used before confirmation of pregnancy would not be regulated. Maximum penalties for those who do abortions or provide abortion drugs would be five years in prison and $5,000 fines. There would be no penalty for women who get illegal abortions. The measure says a pregnant woman has a constitutionally protected, relationship with her unborn child, and the state has a duty to protect that interest. doclink