All Issues
  Abortion
    Definitions and Statistics
    Roe v. Wade
    Adoption
    Birth Control
    Notification and Consent
    Planned Parenthood
      Tissue-selling Controversy
    Embryonic stem cell research
    Candidates' Positions on Abortion
 




Definitions and Statistics
Abortion refers to the physical act of purging, either by choice or chance, a human fetus from a woman's womb. Abortion is a highly explosive subject, as it touches on two of the fundamental tenets of modern civilization: an individual's right to live and an individual's right to decide, or free will. It represents a volatile mixture of morality, ethics, natural rights and religion.

Abortion was legalized in 1973, when official statistics on the procedure began being compiled. By the end of the 1970's, the number of abortions performed annually had doubled, then slid down throughout the 1980's until it rose again and peaked in 1990. Statistically, abortion has been in a slow but steady decline ever since.

Some additional statistics and information:

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) is the federal overseeing body for abortions
An estimated 1.3 million abortions are performed annually (approx. 2 1/2 abortions every minute)
85% of abortions in the country are performed on unwed women
One fifth (19.3 percent) of all pregnancies end with induced abortions
88% of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancies
Procedure Financing: 57% out of pocket, 20% Medicaid, 15% loans, 12% private insurance
By the age of 45, almost one in three women will have an abortion
More than 40% of abortion patients live below the poverty line
Late term abortions (20 weeks and beyond) account for 1% of total abortion procedures
The abortion ratio for 2009 is 227 abortions per 1,000 live births



The conflict over abortion is divided along two camps; pro-life and pro-choice.

Pro-life advocates essentially reject the idea of abortion based on religious, moral and ethical grounds. They seek to overturn the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, which they blamed for the approximately 57 million cases of abortions since. The ruling is seen by many pro-life advocates as extra-constitutional, and is a classic display of judicial activism that ignores the spirit of the law and the rights of an unborn child.

Pro-choice proponents, meanwhile, are unequivocally against the idea of any government involvement or influence in what they consider as ultimately, a woman's choice to make. They reject attempts to narrow down the issue to a single factor, ignoring the numerous extenuating circumstances surrounding the issue.

Common are individuals with abortion opinions that do not neatly fit into either polarized camp. According to a Gallup poll, the numbers of Americans who believe that abortion should be legal in all circumstances or illegal in all circumstances stand at 28% and 21%, respectively. The remaining 51% of Americans favor the sanctioning of abortion only under specific circumstances, most especially including when the life of the mother is at risk, when a woman is raped, and when a pregnancy is the result of a union between close family members (incest). There are those who believe abortion should be permitted exclusively under any of these conditions; others only some.

Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 / 1973) is an historic and still controversial ruling made by the United States Supreme Court on January 22, 1973. In its judgment, the Court ruled that a woman, based on the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment, has the legitimate right to abort her pregnancy. In addition, the Court also ruled that a human fetus only possesses the potential for life, and thus, cannot be considered as an individual deserving of constitutional rights.

The case was initially filed in Texas by one Norma McCorvey against the DA of Dallas County, Texas, Henry B. Wade, in March 1970. The Texan Court ruled in favor of the defendants and declared abortion illegal, a decision that was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court less than three years later.

Adoption
Adoption, the third alternative, is mainly espoused by pro-life advocates, who argue of its more humane approach to dealing with the subject of unwanted babies. Pro-choice supporters, while not rejecting the idea outright, contend that those adoptions cause the same, if not a higher, level of emotional trauma to mothers. There is also the question of economic pressures faced by expectant mothers, raising the specter of legalized human trafficking. In addition, the national adoption rate, while comparatively higher than most developed countries, is still extremely low, averaging at less than 3% of live births annually.

Birth Control
Most pro-choice advocates argue that birth control (drugs, surgical procedures, condoms, diaphragms, spermicide, etc.) is a crucial barrier against unwanted pregnancies, and provides an effective solution to family planning. The barrier method (condom, diaphragms, dental dams, etc.) also protects against the transmission of certain sexually transmitted diseases.

Some pro-life supporters, on the other hand, believe that contraception is against religious and/or moral conventions, and should not be practiced. They further contend that contraception is open to potential federal and social manipulation, and could conceivably be used as a population control mechanism by reducing the birth rates of targeted demographics. Some pro-life advocates also assert that contraception encourages sexual promiscuity in society, leading to a breakdown in the family unit and increasing the chance of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and other inherent medical risks from prolonged consumption of contraceptive drugs.

Notification and Consent
Parental and spousal notification and consent laws require underage mothers to seek the consent of their parents, spouse or guardians for any medical abortion-related procedures. Proponents argue that this ensures the involvement of an adult in the decision-making process. Critics, however, feel that the presence of trained medical personnel negates that argument and believe that such measures merely alienate and frequently cause additional mental distress to minors.

Presently, 38 states require parental/guardian involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. Out of these, 

• 21 states require parental consent (single)
• Three states (Kansas, Mississippi and North Dakota) require consent from both parents
• 11 states only require parental notification (single)
• Minnesota requires parental notification of both parents
• Five states (Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming) require both parental consent and notification.

The matter of whether a biological father has the right to share in the decision making process (spousal consent) appears to be settled by the resolution of the 1992 case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (505 U.S. 833). The Supreme Court found in favor of the plaintiffs and ruled that the five provisions of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, one of which was the spousal consent clause, were unconstitutional.

Planned Parenthood
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is one of the nation's biggest health care providers for reproductive issues, with over 800 affiliated health centers spread over fifty states and the District of Columbia. It receives federal funding under the Federal Family Planning program. Planned Parenthood also happens to be the biggest health service provider for assisted abortions in the United States, accounting for approximately a quarter of all abortions annually.

For the past three decades, pro-life advocates and conservatives have attempted to federally-defund the organization, as they believe that federal funding provides Planned Parenthood with the freedom to focus their internal resources to assisted-abortion services.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood point out that the organization plays a crucial role in the country's sexual and reproductive health care services as 76% of their clients are living under the poverty level. Moreover, Planned Parenthood's education programs and contraceptive services prevent unintended pregnancies for at least half a million American women annually.

Tissue-selling Controversy
Opposition to Planned Parenthood was enflamed when, in late 2015, a series of secretly recorded videos were posted to the Internet, appearing to depict technicians at the organization handling fetal tissue after abortions. The Center for Medical Progress, the pro-life group responsible for recording and posting the videos, has accused Planned Parenthood of conspiring to sell aborted fetuses for a profit. Planned Parenthood counters that it has not violated any laws, and asserts that the videos have been selectively edited.

Whatever the case, conservatives are outraged by the videos, stoking the fervor of congressional Republicans. GOP lawmakers have called for the immediate cessation of all federal government funding to Planned Parenthood, even going so far as to delay must-pass budget legislation that includes the controversial spending and raising the possibility of a government shutdown.

Embryonic stem cell research
Embryonic stem cells are cells derived from pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ES) originating from human blastocysts found in adult bone marrows, human embryos and umbilical cords. Through research, scientists hope to eventually harness these cells to develop technology for use in human transplantation therapy involving the nervous system, organs and appendages.

However, bone marrow stem cell extraction carries a high probability of permanent ancillary and second level damage, besides being of lower stem cell content. There are fears that the pharmaceutical industry, opportunists and middle men would leverage the current standoff in the debate over abortion to their advantage in the form of a rich and cheap source of stem cells from aborted fetuses.

Candidates' Positions on Abortion


Hillary Clinton
 
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