The Abortion Question

By Hyman Rodman; Betty Sarvis et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
MEDICAL ASPECTS OF ABORTION

WHEN LEGAL ABORTIONS are not available, many desperate women seek illegal abortions. Defying the law to seek an illegal abortion is stressful, but the prospect of continuing the pregnancy is often judged to be even more stressful by many women. As a result, it has been estimated that "from 30 to 55 million abortions . . . take place annually throughout the world" and that "about half of them are illegal." It has also been estimated that "about 84,000 women die each year from complications of illegally induced abortion" ( Population Reports, 1980:F105). Illegal abortions are often dangerous because they are more likely to be performed clandestinely by unskilled persons under septic conditions, and are more likely to be delayed to later stages of pregnancy, which require more dangerous methods. In many countries where abortion is not legally available, more than half of all gynecology patients are the victims of botched abortions. When abortion is legally available, the number of such patients drops dramatically, as does the number of women who claim to be experiencing spontaneous abortion ( Ahmad 1984:11-24).

When a society makes abortion legally available at the woman's request, it becomes possible to maximize the safety and reduce the emotional and physical trauma of abortion. Research efforts can then focus on the development of safer and more acceptable methods of fertility control. Abortion services can be part of broader public health programs that include contraception, prenatal and

-45-

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The Abortion Question
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 the Rise of the Abortion Controversy 1
  • Chapter 2 the Social and Cultural Dynamics of Fertility Control 9
  • Chapter 3 the Moral Debate 29
  • Chapter 4 Medical Aspects of Abortion 45
  • Chapter 5 Psychosocial and Emotional Aspects of Abortion 71
  • Summary 86
  • Chapter 6 the Road to Roe V. Wade 89
  • Chapter 7 the Legal Controversy Since 1973 107
  • Chapter 8 Abortion Attitudes: Polls, Politics, and Prejudice 135
  • Chapter 9 Where Do We Go from Here? 157
  • Conclusion 170
  • Appendix A Historical Tale? 173
  • References 193
  • Index 213
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