Abortion in the United States of America

Term Paper, 1999

12 Pages, Grade: 2 (B)


Table Of Content


Abortion – a Definition

The History of Abortion
Abortion at the very beginning
Early Anti-Abortionists
Change in Society
Roe vs. Wade and the Situation today

Abortion in the USA
Who is having abortions and why?
The Procedures
The Morning After Pill
The Abortion Pill Mifepristone or RU-486
Dilation and Evacuation
Post Abortion Syndromes (PAS)

Pro-Life- and Pro-Choice-Movements

Conclusion and Future Perspectives


In America, abortion is a topic that is especially discussed by the differentiating pro-life and pro-choice groups. They talk about whether women should be allowed to have an abortion or not, and almost every American has an opinion on the issue. One might ask if this is necessary considering the fact that laws do not prohibit abortion. But in the US, the overall question of morality, conservatism, but also individualism and equality plays an important role and is the basis for these discussions.

Therefore, it is important to have a look at the history of abortion to understand the controversial opinions and the importance of the topic for the public. Furthermore, one has to understand the procedure of abortion and think about why women decide not to have a child. The fact that pro-life- and pro-choice-groups are trying to convince others of their attitude towards abortion plays an important role, as well as concerns about the future.

To ease the beginning of the reading and to make the reader familiar with the issue, the paper starts with a definition of abortion.

Abortion – a Definition

Webster’s New International Pocket Dictionary, 1998 defines abortion as

“(1) The expulsion of a fetus prematurely; miscarriage.
(2) The defective result of a premature birth; a monstrosity.
(3) A person or thing that fails to progress or develop normally or as


Whereas Webster’s New International Pocket Medical & First Aid Dictionary,
1998 defines it as

“The ultimate termination of a pregnancy, either by natural or artificial means.”

Even though there are several definitions similar to this one, the public debate about abortion in the USA is controversy and not as short and easy to understand. Having a look at some web-pages on the Internet, it is striking that abortion is often related with the verbs “to kill” , or “to murder” and that none of the definitions mentioned above include these verbs. This reflects that the term “abortion” is not easy to define and shows that an openly discussed term is hard to explain without insulting someone or getting too close to an extreme opinion.

Most discussions center about the questions, if abortion is murder, if women and doctors performing them can be called murderers, or if women should have free choice with their decision, without regarding individual decisions of women having abortions. U.S. News & World Report of January 19, 1998 found out that 43 percent of American women will have an abortion at some point in their life, which means that preventing a pregnancy is as common as getting divorced. Therefore, one can say that abortion is discussed, abortions are not.

The History of Abortion

Abortion at the very beginning

Abortion has been practiced in the United States since the founding of the Republic and was influenced by the British common law. The number of recorded abortions before the nineteenth century is very small for the reason that they were strongly ignored and not often performed because of the limited medical knowledge. Women used to self-abort the fetus inside their body or trusted purgatives, poison-like medication, subscribed by abortionists. Either practice was hurtful and women seldom survived.

Through the early decades of the nineteenth century, Americans tolerated abortion unless it was done before quickening, which means before the woman could feel the fetus move. Quickening was believed to happen near the midpoint of gestation which would be between the sixteenth and twentieth week. Considering the fact that doctors today confirm that a woman can feel the movement of the fetus around week fourteen, one might assume that women in the nineteenth century did not always tell the truth about quickening for their own advantage. Nonetheless, abortion was totally legal by then and also a widespread practice in the US as more sophisticated methods were developed and abortion became somewhat safer. Abortionists advertised in the daily press and women spoke to each other and to their so-called doctors in straightforward terms about their abortion. This was because it did not become public if a woman died due to the consequences of an abortion considering that mass-communication did not exist, anti-abortion groups were not founded yet, and abortionists were concerned about their good reputation.


Excerpt out of 12 pages


Abortion in the United States of America
LMU Munich  (America Institute)
2 (B)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
404 KB
Abortion, United, States, America
Quote paper
Sabine Krieg (Author), 1999, Abortion in the United States of America, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/19670


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