(Work in progress) The History Of Abortions

One of our society’s most controversial and divided topic is abortion. An abortion, to put it simply, is a procedure done to terminate a woman’s pregnancy. Abortions have existed for thousands of years into human history, and have been seen all throughout different societies in studies. An abortion is an incredibly personal and scarring process which a woman can go through. The leading reason for abortion is unplanned pregnancies, such as contraceptive failure, rape or incest, lack of resources to support a child, and health conditions in the mother or the potential child. [1] The average woman does not decide to have an abortion for fun, or on a whim. For most, an abortion is either their last resort or their only one.


There are endless defenses and excuses as to why abortions should or shouldn’t be legal. Many think that it’s murder, and an injustice to the fetus, while others feel it should be the mother’s right to do what she wants with her body.


Abortions were a common medical procedure in the United States during the late 1700’s when the Constitution was ratified. It then was criminalized throughout the mid-1800’s, leading to a mass of maternal health issues in American women, as they were having their abortions done unsafely. In 1973, the United States legalized abortion in the infamous Roe vs. Wade case [2] due to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”, was believed to protect a woman’s privacy and right to have an abortion. [3]


From 1970 to 2013, an approximate 51,888,303 abortions were reported to have been performed in the United States. The numbers peaked in 1990, with 1,429,247 total abortions performed that year in America, meaning that there were 340 aborted fetuses per 1000 live births. The lowest recorded within those 43 years was in the first year, 1970, with 193,491 abortions making it only 52 aborted fetuses to 1000 born. [4]


In Canada, abortions were legalized in 1969 under the circumstances that they were done safely in a hospital by professionals. [5] Canadian women are protected by the 7th section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which classify a woman’s right to abortion as "life, liberty, and security of person." Research shows that through all 13 Provinces and Territories, 891,686 abortions in hospitals/clinics were performed in total throughout 2007 - 2015. The lowest it went was in Prince Edward Island, where zero reported abortions were performed in total during the 9 years. The highest was in Ontario, with 338,171 abortions. [6]


Worldwide, there are approximately 30 - 40 million abortions per year, making it about 125,000 abortions per day. [7] The top 3 countries with the most abortions annually (in order) are China, the United States of America and Russia. [8] Many places, particularly third world countries, do not have safe or legal resources to successfully perform an abortion, therefore resulting in health issues for the mother. Around 20 million abortions each year, about half the yearly average, are performed unsafely by unqualified individuals, resulting in 68,000 women dying from the procedure.


Out of all those women, more than 5 million will experience long-term health issues from receiving a faulty abortion. Techniques used by people in countries which do not have the resources to perform an abortion range from the mother drinking toxic fluids such as bleach, and inserting a sharp object like a coat hanger or chicken bone into the woman’s uterus. [9] This makes abortion one of the leading causes of death in mothers.


The main reasons behind why there are so many unsafe abortions being performed are because they are illegal, and lack of accessible contraception.


It was very obvious that keeping abortion illegal did not stop it from happening, and was taking a huge toll on too many American women, especially those who were lower-income. This new law immediately ended the growing number of deaths and hospitalizations within women in America.

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