, Research Paper
An abortion is the removal of a developing baby from the womb of his or her mother using surgical, mechanical, or chemical means (Podell 11). The most common way of performing an abortion is called vacuum aspiration. This procedure is usually done during the first trimester of one s pregnancy. Surgical abortions are usually not performed before seven weeks and by that time the baby has identifiable arms and legs. Knowing that a child is slowly beginning to develop inside of a woman s uterus makes them feel more attached to the child. If they are considering the option to abort this child, they begin to question the safety of abortions and the risk factors involved when receiving one. Although abortions are said to be safe, there are many contrasting side effects that can leave the mother scared psychologically or physically for a long period of time.
Abortions have been practiced since the beginning of civilization. They were the dirty little secrets of the ages, commonly performed, but rarely spoken of. Without the existence of reliable birth control technology, abortion was the only way to limit the size of a family. Women had many reasons for wanting to go though with an abortion, but the most common of those dealt with a woman s health or to prevent their families from discovering that they were having premarital sex (Whitney 44).
During the 1920 s, hospitals were devoting whole wards to patients with abortion related complications. There were three main ways to obtain an abortion. The first was to assure a private doctor that an abortion was done to save a mother s life or preserve her health. This inturn would make the abortion legal, and able to be performed in a hospital under the safest conditions available. The second was to find an illegal, but safe abortionist who would do the procedure for a large fee. The last resort in obtaining an abortion was to have one performed by an ally man . These abortionists were usually auto mechanics, bartenders, or even real estate agents. Many poorer women tried doing the procedure themselves. They used scissors, knives, or even crochet hooks hoping to lose the pregnancy. Because of these drastic measures, abortion related infections were most common and harmful among these women (Pawder 1).
The abortion rate was at an all time high during the Great Depression. Many women and families did not have the money to raise and support another child. During the mid 1900 s as many as 1,200,000 women were undergoing illegal abortions each year (Tribe 41). Abortions were so common that close to eight hundred women had bought abortion insurance to cover the cost of illegal abortion fees. It was not until the late 1960 s when abortion rates were beginning to drop. The drop was due to better contraception and the high cost and risk involved when receiving an abortion. In 1973 about 750,000 abortions were performed (Flanders 13). In that same year, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in all fifty states, during all nine months of pregnancy, for reasons either medical, social, or otherwise.
The effects after an abortion vary. There are many things to take into consideration when trying to determine how a woman will react after receiving one. When determining the psychological effects after an abortion, one must look at the patient s previous psychiatric history. For women with a previous history, a number of problems may occur. For women without a history of psychiatric problems, abortion can be a stressful experience. Even though the most common response after an abortion is relief, there are still many reasons to feel grief and loss.
Many women grieve not only for the loss of the child, but also for themselves. They feel that they have lost the image of them portrayed as perfect people who never make mistakes. Women feel a sense of identification and connection with the developing child. Once the child is gone though, so to is the connection. Hormone changes might also make a woman feel sad or moody, but this only lasts until their hormones settle back down.
Researchers on the after-effects of abortions have identified a pattern of psychological problems known as Post-Abortion Syndrome. Women suffering from this may experience drug and alcohol abuse, personal relationship breakdowns, repeated abortions, communication difficulties, damaged self-esteem, and even attempt suicide. This syndrome may last five to ten years before emotional difficulties surface (NRLC Org. 1).
There are also many physical complications after an abortion. The patient can come down with a number of side effects and various infections and diseases. Women may experience excessive bleeding, tears in the cervix or uterine wall, and blood clots. Women can also experience complications in future pregnancies which include premature delivery or miscarriages. There is also strong evidence that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. Other complications include hepatitis, mild fever, and unintended surgery. The most severe of all these complications after an abortion is death. As many as one hundred women die from abortion complications in the United States each year. The risk of death increases according to the complexity of the abortion technique (NRLC Org. 1).
A question that comes up frequently in society is the safety of abortions. When a women is seeking an abortion she is usually under drastic circumstances. Meaning that this woman will do anything to have the child aborted. Not many women actually take the time to investigate abortion clinics and the professionals that administer the abortions there. The doctor performing the abortion is usually a stranger whose skill and experience the woman knows little of. This in the long run is not the most pre-cautious move when making the decision to abort. Many pro- lifers feel that a doctor s motivation is money and that he or she has no care for the patient. Abortion is not the safe procedure its advocates claim it to be. More mothers die from the complications of legal abortions than from illegal abortions in all previous years” (Landmark 2).
So why are there still so many abortions continuing to go on? The answer lies in the hospitals and abortion clinics. Since abortion is a confidential procedure, there is no evidence to support all these claims being made. The best one can do is research the professional abortionist and learn about their past medical background.
The majority of all abortions performed today are done for social, not medical reasons. A woman either doesn t feel ready for the baby at the time or her partner does not want her to have a baby. Since there is more support and help for pregnant woman today, they feel more comfortable about their decisions to abort. In the United States about one in every three pregnancies never comes to term because the woman has an abortion. However, 98% of these abortions are for reasons other then rape, incest, or the mother s life. This clearly shows that women of today are aborting their babies because they are either too young, not financially secure, or are just not ready to take on all the new responsibilities that come when having a child.
At present day there are 1.5 million abortions a year in the United States. It is said that in the future the debate will grow more quarrelsome. Advances in medical science could shift the point at which a fetus is able to survive outside the womb of its mother or in an artificial womb (Flanders 33-34).
Abortions are an irreversible procedure. Once a woman goes through this life changing experience she can not get back what she has lost. Research has concluded that when women receive an abortion they are at a high risk of numerous psychological and biological complications. If more research is done on this topic and made public, the safety of these abortions will improve and abortion rates will decrease.