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The History Of Abortion Essay

2845 words - 12 pages

Abortion is the process of intentionally ending a pregnancy. Abortion touches the hearts of many because its consequences result in the loss of a human life. Its controversy stems from the fact that people’s opinions on this matter are rooted in their value systems, religious beliefs, and political socialization. Its prominence in political discussions today is likely to continue given the relationship between unwanted pregnancies and overpopulation. There is often debate about the constitutionality of abortion, as it is not specifically addressed by any doctrine. As a result, there has never been an explicit national law enacted.
This paper will explore the many facets of abortion. For ...view middle of the document...

In the first 5-9 weeks of pregnancy, both chemical and surgical methods are used. An example of a chemical method would be the pill RU 486. It is commonly used to chemically induce an abortion. In this process, the woman swallows the pill, and it restricts the nutrients in the uterus lining to the developing baby by blocking progesterone from being released. One to two days later, the woman takes a dose of prostaglandin, which induces contractions, and the baby is usually aborted within 4 hours. Another method that can be used in this trimester is methotrexate. Methotrexate attacks the cells around the embryo that foster the placenta. It also signals the corpus luteum to break down the uterine lining. Three to seven days later the woman takes a dose of prostaglandin to expel the developing baby as with the first method. Methotrexate is highly toxic and is rarely used. The surgical methods used are suction aspiration and dilatation and curettage. Suction aspiration is the process by which a suction tube is inserted into the womb and sucks out the baby into a collection bottle in separate pieces. Dilatation and curettage is when the cervix is dilated and a loop shaped knife is inserted into the womb where the fetus is cut into pieces and removed. Some of these methods cannot be used or are not safe in later trimesters.
During the second trimester, the dilation and evacuation method is used. In this process, forceps are used to grab parts of the fetus and remove them until the entire body is removed from the womb. Techniques used in the third trimester are geared toward ensuring the baby is dead and delivering it wholly. Salt poising is the process by which amniotic fluid is removed from the womb and it is replaced by concentrated salt through the mother’s abdomen. The baby is poisoned and delivered within 3 days. Prostaglandins are used to induce premature violent labor, the baby does not usually survive, but to ensure the baby is not delivered alive, a salt solution is sometimes used. If all other methods fail, the partial birth method is used. This method is also known as dilation and extraction and involves partially removing the fetus and then collapsing the skull and removing the brain. This method is highly controversial and even illegal in some states. As a last resort, a hysterectomy may be performed. In this process, incisions are made in the abdomen and the fetus is removed. In some cases, the baby has been born alive in spite of using this method.
Constitutionality of Abortion
The first major case in the scope of abortions was Griswold v. Connecticut in 1964. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that a state’s ban on the use of contraceptives to prevent pregnancy violated a married couple’s right to privacy. Estelle Griswold, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, was found guilty of providing illegal contraceptives and appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The law did not only apply to married couples, but also...

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