a procedure to end a pregnancy, potentially involving medicine or surgery.
Abortion is a common, typically safe procedure to end a pregnancy, sometimes referred to as "termination" of a pregnancy. Trained medical professionals conduct abortions under close supervision. They do this using one of two methods: medication or surgery. Generally, abortions are carried out up to 24 weeks, after which point they are only usually done if there is a danger to the mother or fetus.
There are plenty of reasons why women* seek an abortion, perhaps that the pregnancy was unplanned, now coming at a time in the person's life where it would cause great upheaval. Other reasons include a pregnancy that presents a risk to the woman's life–or a great likelihood that the fetus will not survive—or the wish to end pregnancies conceived under non-consensual situations.
Most people understand abortion to be an incredibly personal procedure, which women have a right to undergo without judgment. Therefore, in most places, parental consent is not required for the procedure for those under 16, even where other surgeries might require this. Depending on where you are, women receive varying levels of support throughout the process, both legally, physically, and emotionally.
Example of Abortion
There are two main abortion procedures. The "early" abortion pill is for up to ten weeks into a pregnancy, which causes a miscarriage. This can come with cramping and heavy bleeding. Medical abortion between 10 and 24 weeks causes the womb to contract, pushing out the pregnancy. It is a long process involving multiple clinic visits.
Surgical methods are more common in the later stages of pregnancy. Vacuum aspiration is performed up to 15 weeks, where gentle suction is used to remove the pregnancy. Doctors use dilation and evacuation between 15-24 weeks. Forceps and gentle suction are used. Both of these surgeries require an anesthetic: the former with local, the latter with general.
Significance Of Abortion
Abortion is a highly politicized issue in many western countries, but all major human rights organizations recognize it as an essential aspect of healthcare. Studies have found, interestingly, that 37 abortions are carried out per 1,000 people in countries that ban abortion, whereas 34 per 1,000 are carried out where abortion is legal. The difference between these two figures is statistically insignificant. Still, it emphasizes that criminalizing abortion simply presents a danger to women's health without reducing the number of abortions that take place.
History Of Abortion
On December 20, 2018, abortion was legalized in Ireland following the successful "Repeal The 8th" campaign. In 2020, abortion was banned by the infamously right-wing contemporary Polish government, sparking huge protests which caught global attention. In the UK, abortion is fully legal, but there is much contention surrounding pro-life groups which often attempt to stop women from entering abortion clinics. It is said that this can cause much stress to women who are often in a vulnerable state.
Similarly, in the USA, abortion was legalized at a federal level by the supreme court case known colloquially as "Roe vs. Wade." It has been a highly politicized issue ever since, particularly since Ronald Reagan became president. It was a key aspect of his manifesto.
*The author of this article recognizes that pregnancies also occur in gender non-conforming individuals, and this article refers to them also.