An unbiased look at a controversial issue

There is intense debate regarding the moral and legal issues surrounding abortion, much of it centered on the topic of religion. It’s not our intention to take either side of the pro-life versus pro-choice debate, but simply to provide the facts you need to make your own decision.

Abortion is defined as the removal or discharge of a fetus from a woman’s uterus, either as a result of or causing its death. This can happen naturally and spontaneously as a miscarriage, or it can be artificially induced.

Abortions have been performed since ancient times, often using very crude techniques and tools. Today’s induced abortions are much less invasive and have a success rate of nearly 100 percent.

Abortion Methods

There are three main methods of inducing an abortion. Which one is used depends on how long the woman has been pregnant. The most common procedure involves the insertion of a tube into the pre-dilated cervix, which allows the contents of the uterus to, essentially, be vacuumed out. Upwards of 90 percent of all abortions occur in the first trimester and use this method.

Abortions later than 12 weeks into the pregnancy typically use one of two other methods. In the dilation-evacuation-curettage (DEC) method, the doctor will personally remove the fetus from the uterus using forceps. An additional method that can be used involves the injection of a hormone or salt solution into the uterus that will kill the fetus and induce labor. This method is only used for late-term abortions and is almost always performed in a hospital rather than a clinic.

Health Risks

Abortions carry a low risk of long-term health effects for the woman. Risks include blood loss, infection and damage to inner organs. There is a slight chance that an abortion may negatively affect a woman’s fertility. The risks to a woman’s physical health as a result of an abortion are actually lower than she would face if she carried her baby to term.

The most significant risk is to the woman’s mental health, as abortions can be a traumatic experience. For some women, having an abortion brings about feelings of relief. Others may experience intense grief.

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