History of Abortion
Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy before birth. An abortion results in the death of the embryo or fetus and may be either spontaneous or induced. For years, abortion has been an extremely controversial subject. The history of abortion reaches back not just decades, but centuries, and even milleniums. Today, policies regarding legal abortion in the U.S. is being debated everywhere. Many myths and misconceptions confuse this issue. A better understanding of the history of abortion in America can help provide a context for an improved policy in the future. Abortion has been widely known, practiced, and debated since ancient times.
The history of abortion is an extensive one. Although one of the most famous tide-turning legal cases for abortion was in 1973, abortion can be traced back even further than the 19th century. In fact, in Ancient Greece in 400 B.C., the Oath of Hippocrates stated that “I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath. . . I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion”. Basically, any who swore by this oath realized the belief that abortion was harmful and would endeavor to aid the abortion process in any way. Around the same time period, Socrates also mentioned abortion in his books. His view, however, was opposite of Hippocrates’. Socrates believed that a man may not marry his daughter or his daughter’s daughter, or his mother or his mother’s mother; and women, on the other hand, are prohibited from marrying their sons or fathers, or son’s son or father’s father, and so on in either direction. And we grant all this, accompanying the permission with strict orders to prevent any embryo which may come into being from seeing the light; and if any force a way to the birth, the parents must understand that the offspring of such an union cannot be maintained, and arrange accordingly”. In much simpler terms, Socrates stated that abortion is justified in cases where a child is conceived in an incestuous union. There are many reasons why women choose to have or not to abortions. For example, a reason might be similar to Socrates’ case: a woman might have been in a nonconsensual incestuous relationship that has ended in child conceived. It might go against this woman’s religion or ethics to give birth to the child. Abortion might also be necessary when the life of the mother is endangered. That is not to say these all of these reasons are completely justified. Even though the fetus has not fully formed, it is still a human being and a product of one’s flesh and blood. Termination could be considered child abuse. Nothing truly gives one, even a parent, the right to play God and decide whether or not to terminate a life. There are alternatives, such as giving the child up for adoption after birth. Even in today’s society, the topic of abortion is an extremely contentious one. People are very divided on this topic although each side may not fully comprehend everything about abortion. This shows that many are eager to jump on the bandwagon of whichever side makes the best case. In order to make educated judgments on abortion, people must entirely comprehend the process of abortion and the results. Personally, I am against abortion because I believe in taking responsibility for our actions, and that even unborn children are humans and should deserve a chance at life.
Traditionally, women practiced abortion amid public support and no court conviction (Libertarianism). Notably, during this time even the Church did not lead a repression against this act. Before the 19th century, women could assist each other in the abortion process. Women healers in US openly trained other women to abort without judicial interventions. The US government has overtime remained in focus on abortion issues. Historical court rulings reveal the divisions that have existed in the US on the topic of abortion. The government has been changing positions on this issue with numerous amendments. This has been due to the differences in opinion between the Democrats and Republicans on abortion. In the early 1800, there was no law touching on abortion for women, it was not easy for them to refuse to go along with abortion practices hence eliminating the need for it (Abortion | American Civil Liberties Union). The US government has ensured that women experiencing inferior abortions and affected by abdominal infections are treated in the emergency wards that were established in some of their hospitals. Markedly, the doctors were the ones allowed to perform this process. If abortion was to be done to a young female, the doctors were to inform their parents before carrying out this operation. This information was to remove any liability from the doctor in case of any risk that can arise like death of the young female. In 1973, in a case between Roe versus Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that a woman should be the one to decide when to have an abortion. This Amendment Concept of Human Liberty was considered as a right of privacy. In Roe versus Wade, the term ‘right of privacy’ was viewed as broad to include whether a woman opts to abort or not. Notably, this ruling legalised abortion in the US. During this time, the government initiative that supports health care, Medicaid, offered funding to women who wanted to stop pregnancy. The land-mark ruling by the Supreme Court made women have the legal right to abortion. Life was considered to begin at conception. The senate in 2011 removed abortion coverage for women who were raped in the military as they argued that the military are pro-life (History of Abortion). However, abortion coverage still remained in force for civilians who were employed by the federal and state governments. Nevertheless, Pentagon funds were used to cover the abortion procedure in cases where a mother’s life was in danger.
In fact, these days, not only do anti-abortion activists want the procedure to be illegal at any stage of pregnancy, they even want to redefine common forms of birth control, like the intrauterine device, or IUD, and emergency contraception as abortion. This view has quickly reached the mainstream. In 2012, the Republican nominee for president declared, “Contraception, it’s working just fine. Leave it alone.” Today, an opponent of contraception, Teresa Manning, heads the federal family planning program. Manning has said, “family planning is what occurs between a husband and a wife and God” and has opposed the use of contraceptives for years. America has come a long way since the days of “quickening.”
Abortion | American Civil Liberties Union. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). ACLU, n.d. Web.
Burneson, Steven. “Polar Politics: Abortion should not be an issue considered by government .” CollegiateTimes.com. Educational Media Company, 17 Dec. 2012. Web.
Cox, William John. “Abortion: The Government’s Choice? Women’s Reproductive Rights in the New America.” Global Research. Global Research, 27 Oct. 2008. Web.
History of Abortion. Feminist.com. Touchstone, n.d. Web. Libertarianism. Libertarianism. The Advocates for Self-Government, n.d. Web.
Robinson, Ba . “U.S. LAWS RESTRICTING ABORTION.” All about religious tolerance: the ReligiousTolerance.org web site. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 31 Jan. 2008. Web.