18 April 2014
The Three-Edged Sword: Abortion
Producer and writer J. Michael Straczynski once said that, “Understanding is a three-edged sword. Your side, my side, and the truth (J. Michael Straczynski).” Abortion has been a three-edged sword for centuries. It is a very political, ethical, and personal issue that continues to cause major debate in America today between Pro-Choice and Pro-Life activists. Does either side have all of the right answers or is the truth about abortion somewhere in the middle?
Abortion is defined as ending a pregnancy before the fetus (unborn child) can live independently outside of the mother. If abortion happens spontaneously before 24 weeks of pregnancy, it is called a miscarriage. An induced abortion is caused deliberately in order to end the pregnancy (Brown). Induced abortions are classified as medical or surgical. A medical abortion is one that is brought about by taking medication that will end a pregnancy. A surgical abortion ends a pregnancy by emptying the uterus with special instruments. The American Medical Association recognizes abortion as a medical procedure if performed by a licensed physician in compliance with good medical practices standards.
Before any abortion can be done, a medical professional must confirm that a women is indeed pregnant and determine how long she has been pregnant. During a medical abortion the women would take medicine called mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone is taken in the form of a pill, and it works by blocking the hormone progesterone which is necessary to sustain pregnancy. Without this hormone, the uterus breaks down, the cervix softens, and bleeding begins. Methotrexate is usually given to the pregnant women in the form of an injection or shot, and it stops the ongoing implantation process that occurs during the first several weeks after conception. These medications do not work well later in the first trimester of pregnancy. The option then is a surgical abortion that uses a method called vacuum aspiration. In this procedure, the cervix is gradually opened and a straw-like tube that is attached to a suction apparatus is inserted into the uterus. The contents of the uterus are emptied by suction (Dudley and Mueller).
In the 1960s, there was no national law that made it legal for an abortion in the United States, however most states had very strict rules and would only allow an abortion if the mother's life was at stake. The court case Roe v. Wade involved a pregnant woman named Jane Roe sued the state for the right to an abortion even if there is no harm to the mother or fetus. Roe argued that the law criminalizing most abortions violated her constitutional rights. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision that the Constitution’s First, Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s “zone of privacy.” States were forbidden from outlawing or regulating any aspect of abortion...