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Abortion And Voluntary Euthanasia. Essay

3730 words - 15 pages

What is meant by "Abortion"?The oxford dictionary defines abortion as "removal of a baby from the womb before it has developed enough to survive." It is the expulsion of a foetus before twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy.There are five basic methods of inducing an abortion. The first is dilation and curettage where the opening of the womb is stretched and a sharp loop-shaped tool scrapes the sides of the uterus. The foetus can then be removed using forceps. The next method is suction-curettage, which is when a tube inserted into the uterus creates a strong suction, and the foetus is drawn out. Dilation and extraction is used after the twelfth week of pregnancy. Here, the foetus is physically cut into pieces and then removed by suction. The fourth method is using a saline injection which is usually only preformed after fourteen weeks of pregnancy. A long needle replaces some of the mother's amniotic fluid with a toxic salt solution. This toxin both burns the foetus's outer layers of skin as well as poisons it's system. The foetus will go into a coma and die a few hours later. Labour to expel the dead foetus begins about twenty-four hours later. The last method is a hysterotomy. This is only used when the saline injection method is impractical. The foetus is actually delivered, as it would be in a caesarean. The baby is often born alive but later dies due to exposure and neglect.Abortions are preformed for numerous reasons, most of which fall into one of four categories: to preserve the physical and mental health of the mother, to prevent pregnancies resulting in rape or incest, to prevent pregnancies of seriously handicapped babies and for social or economic reasons. In 1967, the Abortion Act was passed which legalised abortions. Before this, "back street" abortions where taking place in unlicensed clinics, causing death and injury to many women. The Abortion Act does not completely pass control to the potential mother; so technically, "abortion-on-demand" is still non-existent. In fact, the Abortion Act removes the choice from the woman and gives it to the doctor, as she must have the permission of two doctors who feel it is necessary for an abortion to take place. In 1973, the Supreme Court published the following guidelines to abortions:First trimester: During the first three months of pregnancy, the state must leave the abortion decision entirely to the woman and her physicianSecond trimester: During the second three months, the state may only enact laws that regulate abortions in ways "reasonably related to maternal health." This simply means that a state may determine who is qualified to perform the abortion and where the abortion may take place. The state may not, however, enact any laws, which safeguard the lives of the unborn.Third trimester: After the woman's sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, the law may forbid her to have an abortion that is not determined to be necessary to preserve her "life or health." The Court went on to define the...

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