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Abortion Essay Research Paper Abortion in today

Abortion Essay, Research Paper Abortion in today’s society has become very political. You are either pro-choice or pro-life, and there doesn’t seem to be a happy medium. As we look at abortion

Abortion Essay, Research Paper

Abortion in today’s society has become very political. You are either pro-choice

or pro-life, and there doesn’t seem to be a happy medium. As we look at abortion

and research its history, should it remain legal in the United States, or should

it be outlawed to reduce the ever growing rate of abortion. A choice should

continue to exist but the emphasis needs to be placed on education of the

parties involved. James C. Mohr takes a good look at abortion in his book

Abortion in America. He takes us back in history to the 1800s so we can

understand how the practice and legalization of abortion has changed over the

year. In the absence of any legislation whatsoever on the subject of abortion in

the U.S. in 1800, the legal status of the practice was governed by the

traditional British common law as interpreted by the local courts of new

American states. For centuries prior to 1800 the key to the common law’s

attitude towards abortion had been a phenomenon associated with normal gestation

as quickening. Quickening was the first perception of fetal movement by the

pregnant woman herself. Quickening generally occurred during the mid-point of

gestation, late in the fourth or early in the fifth month, though it would and

still does vary a good deal from one woman to another (pg.3). The common law did

not formally recognize the existence of a fetus in criminal cases until it had

quickened. After quickening, the expulsion and destruction of the fetus without

due case was considered a crime, because the fetus itself had manifested some

semi-balance of a separate existence: the ability to move (pg3). The even more

controversial question: Is the fetus alive? Has been at the forefront of the

debate. Medically, the procedure of removing a blockage was the same as those

for inducing an early abortion. Not until the obstruction moved would either a

physician or a woman regardless of their suspicions be completely certain that

it was a "natural" blockage-a pregnancy-rather than a potentially

dangerous situation. Morally, the question of whether or not the fetus was

"alive" had been the subject of philosophical and religious debate

among honest people for 5,000 years. Single pregnant woman used abortion as a

way to avoid shame. The practice of aborting unwanted pregnancies was, if not

common, almost certainly not rare in the United States. A knowledge of various

drugs, potions and techniques was available from home medical guides, from

health books for woman, for mid-wives and irregular practitioners, and trained

physicians. Substantial evidence suggest that many American women sought

abortions, tried the standard techniques of the day, and no doubt succeeded some

proportions of the time in terminating unwanted pregnancies. Moreover, this

practice was neither morally nor legally wrong in the vast majority of

Americans, provided it was accomplished before quickening. The important early

court cases all involved single woman trying to terminate illegitimate

pregnancies. As late as 1834 it was axiomatic to a medical student at the

University of Maryland, who wrote his dissertation on spontaneous abortion, that

woman who feigned dysmenorrhea in order to obtain abortions from physicians were

woman who had been involved in illicit intercourse. Cases reported in the

medical journals prior to 1840 concern the same percentages (16,17). Samuel

Jennings quoted Dr. Denman, one of the leading obstetrical writers of the day to

reassure his readers, "In abortions, dreadful and alarming as they are

sometimes it is great comfort to know that they are almost universally void of

danger either from hemorrhage, or any other account." Again, the context

was spontaneous by the then induced abortion, but in a book with such explicit

suggestions for relieving the common cold, woman could easily conclude that the

health risks involved in bringing on an abortion were relatively low, or at

least not much worse than childbirth itself in 1808, when Jennings wrote in his

book (18). Mohr continues with the first dealings with the legal statues on

abortion in the United States. The earliest laws that dealt specifically with

the legal status of abortion in the U.S. were inserted into Americans criminal

code books between 1821 and 1841. Ten states and one federal territory during

that period enacted legislation that for the first time made certain kinds of

abortions explicit statute offenses rather than leaving the common law to deal

with them. The legislation 13, 14 and 15 read. Every person who shall, willfully

and maliciously, administer to, or cause to be administered to, or taken by, any

person or persons, any deadly poisons, or other noxious and destructive

substance, within an intention him/her/them, thereby to murder, or thereby to

cause or procure the miscarriage of any woman, then being quick with child, and

shall be thereof duly convicted, shall suffer imprisonment, in the newgate

prison, during his natural life, or for such other terms as the court having

cognizance of the offense shall determine (21). Consequently, it is not

surprising that the period was not one of vigorous anti-abortion activity in

state legislation. One of the exceptions was Ohio. In 1834 legislators there

made attempted abortion a misdemeanor without specifying any stage of gestation,

and they made the death of either the woman or the fetus after quickening a

felony (39,40), Alabama enacted a major code revision during the 1840/1841

session of its legislature that made the abortion of "any pregnant

woman" a statuate crime for the first time in that state, but pregnant

meant quickened (40). A code revision in Maine in 1984 made attempted abortion

of any woman "pregnant with child" an offense, whether such child be

quick or not." Regardless of what method was used (41). The first wave of

abortion legislation in American history emerged from the struggles of both

legislatures and physicians to control medical practice rather than from public

pressures to deal with abortion per se. Every one of the laws passed between

1821 and 1841 punished only the "person" who administered the

abortifacients or performed the operation; none punished the woman herself in

any way. The laws were aimed, in other words, at regulating the activities of

apothecaries and physicians, not at dissuading woman from seeking abortions

(43). The major increase in abortion in the U.S. start in the early 1840’s three

key changes began to take place in the patterns of abortion in the United

States. These changes profoundly effected the evolution of abortion policy for

the next 40 years. First, abortion came out into the public view; by the

mid-1840’s the fact that Americans practiced abortion was an obvious social

reality, constantly visible for the population as a whole. The second

overwhelming incident of abortion, according to the commentary observers began

to rise in the early 1840’s and remained at high levels through the 1870’s.

Abortion was no longer marginal practice whose incident probably approximated

that of illegitimacy, but rather a wide spread social phenomenon during that

period (46). Third, the types of woman having recourse to abortion seem to

change; the dramatic surge of abortion in the U.S. after 1840 was attributed not

to the increase in illegitimacy or a decline in marital fidelity, but rather to

the increase use of abortion by white, married, Protestants, native born woman

of the mid and upper class who either wished to delay their child bearing or

already had all the children they wanted (46). The increased public visibility

of abortion as stated by Mohr may be attributed largely to a process common

enough in American history: commercializations. Several factors were involved in

the commercialization of abortion, but the continued compensation for clients

among members of the medical profession stood out because that compensation was

so intense many marginal practitioners began in the early 1840’s to try and

attract patients by advertising in popular press their willingness to treat the

private ailments of woman in terms that everybody recognized as significantly

their willing to provide abortion services (47). During the 1840’s Americans

also learned for the first time not only that many practitioners would provide

abortion services, but that some practitioners had made the abortion business

their chief livelihood indeed, abortion became one of the first specialties in

American medical history. The popular press began to make abortion more visible

to the American people during the 1840’s not only in its advertisements, but

also in its coverage of a number of sensational trials alleged to involve

botched abortions and professional abortionists (47). One indication that

abortion rates probably jumped in the United States during the 1940’s and

remained high for some 30 years thereafter was the increased visibility of the

practice. By the 1950’s, then, commercialization had brought abortion into the

public view in the United States, and the visibility it gained would effect the

evolution of abortion policy in American State Legislatures. At the same time, a

second key change was taking place: American woman began to practice abortion

more frequently after 1840 then they had earlier in the century (50). During the

week of January 4, 1845, Boston Daily Times advertised Madame Restell’s Female

Pills; Madame Drunette’s lunar pills which were sold as "a blessing to

mothers . . . and although very mild and prompt in their operations, pregnant

females should not use them, as they may invariably produce a miscarriage":

A second piece of evidence for high abortion rates for the period of was

existent during that time of flourishing business and abortifacients medicine

(53). The East River Medical Association of New York obtained an affidavit form

the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in 1871 declaring that a single

manufacturer had produced so many packages of abortifacient pills "during

the last twelve months" that 30,841 federal revenue stamps had been

required of him(59). Beginning in 1840 several Southern physicians drew

attention to the fact that slave women used cotton root as a abortifacient, and

they considered it both mild and effective. Although regular physicians never

prescribed cotton root for any purpose in normal practice, druggists around the

country were soon beginning to stock it. By the late 1850’s, according to the

Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, cotton root had "become a very

considerable article of sale" in New England pharmacies. In 1871 " a

druggist in extensive trade " informed Van de Warker "that the sales

of extract of cotton-wood had quadrupled in the last five years" (59).

Judging by advertisements in the German-language press in New York after the

Civil War. Abortion was apparently on a commercialized and relatively open basis

in the German community by then. Female specialists, quite candidly announced

their willingness to provide for German women the services then touted so openly

in the English-language press. Many practitioners offered abortifacient

preparations for sale and several made less than subtle allusions to their

willingness to operate. A Dr. Harrison, for example, invited German women to his

office with the promise that" all menstrual obstructions, from whatever

cause they might originate, will be removed in a few hours without risk or

pain"(91). Mohr advises us who was performing the abortions. Only the

affluent, generally speaking. Could offer temptations that were worth the risk

to a regular of being found out by his colleagues. The two groups of regulars

most vulnerable to proffered bonuses for abortions were young men struggling to

break into the viciously competitive laissez faire medical market of the 1840s

and the 1850s and older practitioners losing their skills and their reputations

during the 1860s and 1870s, when modern medicine took long strides forward and

physicians unfamiliar with the new breakthroughs began to fall behind (95). The

founding of the American Medical Association in 1847 may be taken as the

beginning of this long-term effort, the goals of which were not fully realized

until the twentieth century. Mohr leads us to believe that the physicians were

launching a crusade against abortion for there own finical benefit. While the

founding of the AMA did not instantly alter the situation, it did provide an

organizational framework within which a concerted campaign for a particular

policy might be coordinated on a larger scale than ever before. Ten years after

its creation a young Boston physician decided to use that framework to launch an

attack upon America’s ambiguous and permissive policies toward abortion

(147-148). The young physician was Horatio Robinson Storer, a specialist in

obstetrics and gynecology. Storer, an activist who "kept things stirred up

wherever he was, "sensed that his elders were growing restive about

abortion and that the time was right for a professionally ambitious leaders to

take advantage of the still unfocused opposition of regular physicians to

abortion. Horatio Storer laid the groundwork for the anti-abortion campaign he

launched later in the year by writing influential physicians all around the

country early in 1857 and inquiring about the abortion laws in each of their

states (148-149). Reactions around the country continued to bode well for the

success of Storer’s national project. Still another prominent professor of

obstetrics, Dr. Jesse Boring of the Atlanta Medical School, who was at the AMA

meeting in 1857, when Storer called for action, came out publicly against the

" prevalent laxity of moral sentiment of this subject, as evidenced by the

increasing frequency of induced abortions"(155). Between 1860 and 1880

physicians all around the nation worked hard at the job of "educating

up" the public attitude toward abortion in the U.S., and by the end of that

period they had made some significant progress (171). Public opinion is turned

to make abortion illegal the popular press and church had joined with the

leaders of the charge the physicians. Mohr continues to state that the

anti-obscenity movement rose to prominence during the 1870sunder the leadership

of Anthony Comstock, the well-known head of the New York Society for the

Suppression of Vice. In the 1873 Comstock persuaded Congress to pass " and

Act for the Suppression of Trade in and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and

Articles of Immoral Use. " As a result of that law, it became a federal

offense to ?sell, or offer to sell, or?give away for offer to give away, or

?have in?possession with intent to sell or give away,?instrument, or other

article of indecent or immoral nature, or any article or medicine?for causing

abortion, except on a prescription of a physician in good standing, given in

good faith?(196). Under the law of 1873 Comstock himself became a special

agent of the national government empowered to enforce the act’s provisions. In

this capacity Comstock became the country’s best known pursuer of abortionists

for the remainder of the 1870s. In early spring of 1878 he finally succeed in

arresting Madame Restell herself, after purchasing abortifacient preparations

from her. The popular press trumpeted the arrest loudly, and when Madame Restell

committed suicide on the day before her trial the story became an instant

national even international, sensation. As a symbolic act, the Restell suicide

of April 1878 may well have marked a turning point in public opinion in the

United States (197). The anti-abortion legislation begins Mohr tells us. Between

1860 and 1880 the regular physicians’ campaign against abortion in the Untied

States produced the most important burst of anti-abortion legislation in the

nation’s history. At least 40 anti-abortion statutes of various kinds were

placed upon state and territorial law books during that period. Some 13

jurisdictions formally outlawed abortion for the first time, and at least 21

states revised their already existing statutes on the subject. More

significantly, most of the legislation passed between 1860 and 1880 explicitly

accepted the regulars’ assertions that the interruption of gestation at any

point in a pregnancy should be crime and that ate state itself should try

actively to restrict the practice of abortion (200). Consequently, after four

decades of rapid change, American abortion policy re-estabilized during the

final two decades of the nineteenth century while legislative responses typical

to the 1860s and 1870s wove themselves deeply into the fabric of American law.

There they would remain through the first two thirds of the twentieth century

(245). The Roe vs. Wade case is told by Mohr so bring up to today’s law in

practice. A single, pregnant woman, assigned the pseudonym Jane Roe by the court

to protect her privacy, took action in 1970 against Henry Wade, the district

attorney of Dallas County, Texas, where Jane Roe lived, in an effort to prevent

him from enforcing the Texas state anti-abortion statute on the grounds that it

violated the United States Constitution. The law that Jane Roe wanted struck

down dated form the 1850s. After hearing the case argued in December 1971, and

reargued in October 1972, the Supreme Court finally rendered its decision in

January 1973. Jane Roe "won" the case in a technical sense, for the

majority ruled that Texas anti-abortion sense, for the majority ruled that the

Texas anti-abortion statue was indeed unconstitutional as drafted. Moreover, all

similar statues then in effect in other stated were likewise declared to be

unconstitutional. By itself this portion of the decision would not only have

undone all that the physicians’ crusade of the nineteenth century had brought

about, but would have left the nation with an abortion policy considerably more

tolerant of the practice than the common law had been two hundred years earlier

(247). Roger Rosenblatt gives us his opinion on abortion. My stand on abortion

is conventionally. Pro-choice: Every woman in America, in my opinion, ought to

have the legal right to choose an abortion. The belief that a clear-cut

intellectual or moral compromise is available to the issue, is wrong. If

abortion is considered murder, how can it ever be entirely acceptable to those

who oppose it, even though they may allow certain exceptions to the rule. If

it’s not considered murder, on what grounds would those who favor abortion

rights want them restricted? Nor do I believe that the question of when life

begins, over which there is so much scientific and spiritual haggling, is

pertinent or useful to the debate. I would be perfectly willing to concede that

life begins at conception, yet I would still advocate a system in which the

killing of an unborn child is preferable to forcing an unwilling mother to give

birth. And I do not believe that community rights in this matter are equal to

individual rights. While the rights of the community are not to be ignored, the

final decision should be the individual woman’s no matter how misguided she may

be thought or how strongly the rest of society disapproves (1-10). Dr. Hodgson

said that she did not think abortion constituted killing at all. The

obstetrician said, " I think I have done a humane service for lots of women

in this world. I don’t look upon (abortion) as killing, because I do not

consider that any embryo or fetus is a person. It is a potential person

"(24). The killer of women is illegal abortion and that is why women should

have a choice. The question is, when you have a woman’s life and her needs and

her health on the one side and the developing fetus on the other, a choice has

to be made. And the choice should be left to the individual. Father McBrien

stated his personal and religious morality forbade his approving of abortion in

any situation, but even in this he was willing to accept his role as an American

citizen, which requires people to live with several things they dislike (28).

Brian Elroy Mc, tells us the abortion stance of most Christians is one sided. In

reality there is merely evidence that most people will listen to their pastors

and to Christian radio broadcaster. They merely listen to others who quote a

verse to support a view they heard from someone else. By definition, most

Christians, rather than reading for themselves, follow the beliefs of a Culture

of Christianity – and many of the Culture’s beliefs are based on one or two

verses of the Bible, often taken out of context (5-1). Lets take a look at what

God has to say in the Bible. The commandment against murder. Psalms 139:13-16,

has been used by Christians and taken out of text to serve the point of

ant-abortion. These are used to try and state that the fetus is a human and that

abortion is murder. A lot of verses in the Bible can be taken out of text Palms

10:1, could be used to state that God has abandoned us. Also Job 10:18-19, could

be used to state that the Bible supports ending a pregnancy in the face of a

life without quality. According to Elroy, it’s time to stop the one-sided view

of abortion being proclaimed by Christian leaders. These leaders do not despite

their claims have a biblical mandate for their theologies. It is time to stop

preaching that the Bible contain and undeniable doctrine against abortion

doctors and upon women who have abortions, especially when it’s done in the name

of a God who has no written such condemnations in his Bible. It is time to stop,

because the act of making a judgement against people in God’s name, when God is

not behind the judging, is nothing short of claiming that our own beliefs are

more important than God’s. We must stop, because if we don’t, then indeed the

very type of theological argument being used against abortion can be turned

around and used to proclaim that abortion is biblical (18). Effects on an

abortion and their ridicule that goes along with it can leave scars that can

last a lifetime. These are a lists of questions asked to an unnamed woman who

has become a victim of the anti-abortion propaganda. Lets take a look at how her

decision to have an abortion has changed her life. Q: Why did you have an

abortion? A: I was too young, and pressured by parents to have an abortion as

their religion did not accept premarital intercourse and the child would be

considered illegitamate, even if she and the father were to have wed. Q: How

does it effect you now? A: I’ve got emotional scars, it’s not a quick fix, it’s

a burden that you carry for life. I still think about it. Q: How often do you

think about it? A: Once or twice a month, especially in June, which was the

month I had it done. Q: Do you remember the day? A: Yes, June 7th, 1988. Q: How

did you feel right after it was over? A: Well, after I woke up and came around,

I felt like a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders and I remember my Dad

saying "That’s my Tiger, she’s back" I was back to my old bubbly self,

or so I thought. Q: What kind of advice would you give a young girl in the same

situation? A: Think long and hard, you will always have a sense of doubt, did I

make the right choice or I wonder if I didn’t. Q: Which way would you lean

towards in trying to direct this girl in the same situation? A: I would not

influence her, it’s her decision. I would tell her my story and how it’s

effected my life. Q: When did you realize it would never go away? A: When my

current child was born. Q: Did you think it was a fetus or a live child? A: A

fetus, because there was no heart beat. Q: Are you going to tell your children

about it to change their views on premarital sex? A: When they are old enough to

understand, yes, so they won’t be pressured into the same situation. The

suffering caused by abortion can be about many different feelings, such as

anger, grief, guilt, shame and spiritual injury. The interview with the victim

has clearly shown that these feelings may last a lifetime. This is even more

reason why education before conception, pre and post abortion is so important.

There’s a book called Peace after Abortion that can help heal some of these

feelings she might be experiencing. A word about Pro-Life from Rosenblatt, the

effort to reduce the necessity of abortion, which is the same as an effort to

improve much that needs improving in this country, is to choose life as

whole-heartedly as it is to be "Pro-life." By such an effort one is

choosing life for millions who do not want to be, who do not deserve to be,

forever hobbled by an accident, a mistake, or by miseducation. By such an effort

one is also choosing a different sort of like for the country as a whole-a more

sympathetic life in which we acknowledge, privileged and unprivileged alike,

that we have the same doubts and mysteries and hopes for one another (179).

We’ve got to eliminate the cause of unwanted pregnancies, and if we can work

together, liberals and conservatives, religious people and non religious people

alike, to eliminate the reasons why young women feel that they must have an

abortion when they don’t want to have an abortion, then we can, together, do

something constructive and stop this useless and endless debate about whether

there’s a baby there with a personality or whether or not it’s simply a woman’s

right. It is right that we have the choice, but it would be better if we did not

have to make it.

Elroy, Brian Mc. The Bible and Abortion, Why abortion is Biblical

www.elroy.com/her/abortion.html The Every day Bible, ( New century version )

87-51673. Peace after abortion, an internet site that offers help for women.

www.peacesafterabortion.com Mohr, James C. Abortion in America. New York: Oxford

university Press,1978. Rosenblatt, Roger. Life Itself Abortion in American Mind.

New York: Random House,1992. Unnamed Interview. A women who experienced abortion

first hand.

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