“Difference of opinion leads to inquiry, and inquiry to truth.” –Thomas Jefferson
Long since the 7-2 decision made on January 22, 1973 in the Roe v. Wade case, abortion has been a debate. During that time, the abortion procedure was declared a ‘fundamental right.’ When it comes right down to it, individuals are either proponents (pro-choice) or opponents (pro-life). A poll completed in 2009 by Gallup, indicated that 51% of Americans were pro-life and 42% were pro-choice. Even within these groups, it can be broken down further still. A proponent may be someone who believes that abortion should be used as a last resort or that there should be unrestricted access to women. An opponent may state that, under no circumstance should abortion be allowed, or that it will be accepted for cases of rape, incest, and when the woman’s life is at risk. The most common procedure is a surgical abortion, this involves the use of a suction device to remove the contents from the pregnancy. The second most common procedure is a medical abortion. Sometime during the 7th-9th weeks of pregnancy is when this pill is given. It is known most widely by the name of ‘RU-486,’ this medication will induce labor and cause a ‘natural’ miscarriage.
There are several important dates that surround this controversial topic, some of the most significant ones are explained next. In the early 1900’s most states actually banned abortion due to physician influence. When the year 1965 came around, all 50 states had banned abortion. For some individual states though, there were some omissions made. In 1973, the case of Roe v. Wade was the first bit of involvement at the Federal level. During this case it was decided that there would not be any legislative interference during 1st trimester abortions. However, they did give states the ability to regulate this procedure during 2nd and 3rd trimesters. They were only allowed to do this if it was related to the health of the mother. From the time that Roe v. Wade was implemented in 1973, up until 2005, there were 45 million legal abortions performed. Meaning that 1 out of 5 pregnancies ended in an abortion. Of those abortions, 55% were chosen to occur by women between the ages of 20-29. On June 29, 1992, the case of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey upheld the constitutional right (5-4) to have an abortion. It was at this same time that the trimester framework was abandoned. November 5, 2003, George W. Bush signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. This would rid the dilation and extraction (partial-birth) procedures during abortions after the fetus reached 21 weeks of gestational age. The act defines a partial birth abortion as,
“An abortion in which the [provider] deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until… the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or… any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that...