• 1 Introduction -------------------------- 2
• 2 Didinition of Abortion ------------------- 2
• 3 History of Abortion --------------------- 2
• 4 International and Korean Law -------------- 4
• 5 Modern Korean and American Society -------- 6
• 6 Reasons for Abortions -------------------- 6
• 7 Incidence of Abortion --------------------- 7
• 8 Risk of Abortion ------------------------- 9
• 9 When and How Abortion are performed ------- 10
• 10 Bodily Rights -------------------------- 10
• 11 Religious Beliefs ----------------------- 11
• 12 Conclusion ---------------------------- 12
• Bibliography ----------------------------- 12
By the millions each year world’s women have gone to clinics like this, which operate in the open. And more than one out of four female secondly school students who have had sexual relations have also had an abortion. Abortion is one of the most controversial issues in the world today. Everyone has their own individual opinion. A woman's body is hers and hers alone. Nobody has the right to make her do something that she does not want to. The United States’ Supreme Court has stated it is the women's right to have an abortion, if she so chooses, according to Roe v. Wade. In later cases however, the Court has upheld Roe in Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992). In the same ruling, though, the Court gave states new powers to restrict access to abortions. (Hardy, pg. 189).
Definition of Abortion
The classic definition of abortion is "expulsion of the fetus before it is viable." This could include spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or induced abortion, in which someone (a doctor, the woman herself, or a layperson) causes the abortion. Before modern methods of abortion, this sometimes meant the introduction of foreign objects such as catheters into the uterus to disrupt the placenta and embryo (or fetus) so that a miscarriage would result. In preindustrial societies, hitting the pregnant woman in the abdomen over the uterus and jumping on her abdomen while she lies on the ground are common techniques used to induce an abortion (Early & Peters 1990). Although these methods can be effective, they may also result in death of the woman if her uterus is ruptured or if some of the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus enters her blood stream. From the Colonial period to the early twentieth century in America, primitive methods such as these were used along with the introduction of foreign objects into the uterus (wooden sticks, knitting needles, catheters, etc.) to cause abortion, frequently with tragic results (Lee 1969).
The abortion debate refers to discussion and controversy surrounding the moral and legal status of abortion. The two main groups involved in the abortion debate are the pro-choice movement, and the pro-life movement. Each movement has, with varying results, sought to influence public opinion and to attain legal support for its position. In Canada, for example, abortion is available on demand, while in Nicaragua abortions are illegal. In some cases, the abortion debate has led to the use of violence.
Abortion and contraception have been widely available throughout Western history, despite ethical concerns. Plato and Aristotle both argued in favor of compulsory abortion under certain circumstances, though Hippocrates expressly disapproved of the practice. Under Roman law, abortion sometimes occurred but family planning was conducted mainly through the exposure of healthy newborns—usually to protect the rights and interests of the biological father. References to abortion were included in the writings of Ovid, Seneca, Juvenal and Pliny, who included a list of abortifacients (drugs that induce an abortion) in one text. Early Christian philosophers, including Ivo of Chartres and Gratian, disapproved of abortion when it broke the link between copulation and procreation but argued that abortion of what Ivo termed an "unformed embryo" did not constitute homicide.
Religious authorities have taken various positions on abortion throughout history. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V adopted a papal bull adopting the position of St. Thomas Aquinas that contraception and abortion were crimes against nature and sins against marriage. This verdict was relaxed three years later by Pope Gregory XIV, who pronounced that abortion before "hominization" should not be subject to church penalties that were any stricter than civil penalties (Codicis iuris fontes, ed. P. Gasparri, vol. 1 (Rome, 1927), pp. 330-331). Common law positions on abortion in individual countries varied significantly from country to country.
As a matter of common law in England and the United States, abortion was illegal anytime after quickening – when the movements of the fetus could first be felt by the woman. In the 19th century, many Western countries began to use statutes to codify or further restrictions on abortion. Anti-abortion forces were led by a combination of conservative groups opposed to abortion on moral grounds and medical professionals who were concerned about the danger presented by the procedure and the regular involvement of non-medical personnel in performing abortions.
It became clear in the following years, however, that illegal abortions continued to take place in large numbers even where abortions were expressly illegal. It was difficult to obtain sufficient evidence to prosecute the women and abortion doctors, and judges and juries were often reluctant to convict. Henry Morgentaler, for instance, was never convicted by a jury. (He was acquitted by a jury in the 1973 court case, but the acquittal was overturned by five judges on the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1974. He went to prison, appealed, and was again acquitted. In total, he served 10 months, suffering a heart attack while in solitary confinement. Many were also outraged at the invasion of privacy and the medical problems resulting from abortions taking place illegally in medically dangerous circumstances. Political movements soon coalesced around the legalization of abortion and liberalization of existing laws.
By the early 20th century, many countries had begun to legalize abortions when performed to protect the life of the woman, and in some cases to protect the health of the woman. Under Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet Union legalized all abortions in 1920, but this was fully reversed in 1936 by Joseph Stalin in order to increase population growth. In the 1930s, several countries (Poland, Turkey, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Mexico) legalized abortion in some special cases (rape, threat to mother's health, fetal malformation). In 1948 abortion was legalized in Japan, 1952 in Yugoslavia (on a limited basis) and 1955 in the Soviet Union (on demand). Some Soviet allies (Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania) legalized abortion in the late fifties under Soviet pressure. The adoption of contraceptives the 1950s and 1960s in Western countries resulted in comparatively few statutory changes on abortion law. In Great Britain, the Abortion Act of 1967 clarified and prescribed abortions as legal up to 28 weeks. Other countries soon followed, including Canada (1969), the United States (1973 in most states, pursuant to the federal Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion nationwide), France (1975), Austria (1975), New Zealand (1977), Italy (1978), the Netherlands (1980) and Belgium (1990). However, these countries vary greatly in the circumstances under which abortion is permitted. In 1975, the West German Supreme Court struck down a law legalizing abortion, holding that they contradict the constitution's human rights guarantees. After Germany's reunification, despite the legal status of abortion in the former East Germany, a compromise was reached which deemed most abortions illegal, but prosecutions not performed.
International and Korean law
In addition to national and regional laws, there are treaties that may actually be enforced on or within their parties. However, there is an inherent difficulty in the enforcement of international law due to the issue that state sovereignty poses. As such, the effectiveness of even binding multi-national efforts to legislate the rights to life and liberty in general, or abortion in specific, is difficult to measure.
The following series of tables present the current abortion legislation of the world's nations as divided by continent. Actual access to abortion may vary significantly on the basis of geography, income, cost, health care, social factors, and other issues. Many jurisdictions also place other restrictions on abortion access, including waiting periods, the provision of information, the assent of multiple doctors, and spousal or parental notification.
According to South Korean law abortion is supposed to be illegal in most instances:
The Criminal Code criminalizes the act of procuring an abortion and administering an abortion. A woman who procures an abortion may be punished with up to a 2 million won fine and one year in jail.
A doctor, or the like, who performs an abortion may be punished with up to two years in jail if no injury occurs to the mother, up to three years in jail if an injury occurs to the mother, and up to five years in jail if the mother dies. Additionally, a doctor may lose his or her qualification to practice medicine for up to seven years.
In 1973, however, the Maternal and Child Health and the Mother and Fatherless Child Health Acts established exemptions from this prohibition.
According to the law, a physician may perform an abortion if the pregnant woman or her spouse suffers from an eugenic or hereditary mental or physical disease specified by Presidential Decree, if the woman or her spouse suffers from a communicable disease specified by Presidential Decree, if the pregnancy results from rape or incest or if continuation of the pregnancy is likely to jeopardize the mothers health.
However, the law is enforced as strongly as traffic laws in Korea:
Today, a pregnant woman who wishes to abort her fetus usually visits her local obstetrician/gynecologist and the doctor usually performs the abortion or the doctor refers the patient to a clinic that will perform the abortion.
According to a information obtained in a phone call to a local clinic, abortions cost between 350,000 won and 600,000 won in normal cases. Additionally, most clinics will only perform abortions up to 28 weeks from conception, since at the 28-week mark the abortion may jeopardize the health of the mother.
Modern Korean and American Society
In modern American society, abortions are performed surgically by physicians or other trained personnel experienced in this technique, making the procedure much safer than when primitive methods were used. The goal of induced abortion still remains the same: Interrupt the pregnancy so that the woman will not continue to term and deliver a baby.
One problem with the classical definition of abortion is the changing definition of viability (the ability to live outside the womb). Premature birth is historically associated with high death and disability rates for babies born alive, but medical advances of the twentieth century have made it possible to save the lives of babies born after only thirty weeks of pregnancy when the usual pregnancy lasts forty weeks. Some infants born at twenty-six to twenty-seven weeks or even younger have survived through massive intervention and support. At the same time, abortions are now sometimes performed at up to twenty-five to twenty-six weeks of pregnancy. Therefore, the old definition of viability is not helpful in determining whether an abortion has been or should be performed (Grobstein 1988).
Reasons for Abortions
There are probably as many reasons for abortions as there are women who have them. Some pregnancies result from rape or incest, and women who are victims of these assaults often seek an abortion. Most women, however, decide to have an abortion because the pregnancy represents a problem in their lives. Some women feel emotionally unprepared to enter parenthood and raise a child; they are too young or do not have a reliable partner with whom to raise a child. Many young women in high school or college find themselves pregnant and must choose between continuing the education they need to survive economically or dropping out to have a baby. Young couples who are just starting their lives and want children might prefer to develop financial security first to provide better care for their future children. Sometimes people enter into a casual sexual relationship that leads to pregnancy with no prospect of marriage, but even if the sexual relationship is more than casual, abortion is sometimes sought because a woman decides that the social status of the male is inappropriate.
Some of the most difficult and painful choices are faced by women who are happily pregnant for the first time late in the reproductive years (thirty-five to forty-five) but discover in late pregnancy (twenty-six or more weeks) that the fetus is so defective it may not live or have a normal life. Even worse is a diagnosis of abnormalities that may or may not result in problems after birth. Some women and couples in this situation choose to have a late abortion (Hern et al. 1993, Kolata 1992).
In some cases, a woman must have an abortion to survive a pregnancy. An example is the diabetic woman who develops a condition in pregnancy called hyperemesis gravidarum (uncontrollable vomiting associated with pregnancy). She becomes malnourished and dehydrated in spite of intravenous therapy and other treatment, threatening heart failure, among other things. Only an abortion will cure this life-threatening condition.
In other cases, an abortion is sought because the sex of the fetus has been determined through amniocentesis or ultrasound examination and it is not the desired sex. This is more common in some cultures than in others. In the United States, it is exceedingly rare, and the request for abortion in this situation may be precipitated by the risk of a sex-linked hereditary disease.
Incidence of Abortion
If it were not for pregnancy, there would be no abortions. This rather obvious fact must be stated because it is not always noticed. To understand the numbers and rates of abortions, it is necessary to know the denominator: the total number of pregnancies.
By the hundreds of thousands each year South Korean women have gone to clinics like this, which operate in the open.
Abortions have been illegal for almost as long as South Korea has existed but, in an uneasy compromise, law enforcement officials have been willing to look the other way as long as qualified doctors perform the operation.
Many public health experts in South Korea are pushing for changes in the abortion law but face opposition from a strong pro-life lobby in a country with one of Asia's largest percentages of Christians and a government trying to boost the lowest fertility rate in the developed world.
Some doctors are themselves reluctant to lose a lucrative income in cash or credit and mostly away from the eyes of tax officials.
"Abortions do bring in money," said physician Park Sung-chul, who was forced to shut down his private clinic because of a substantial loss of income when he stopped doing the procedure.
The law allows for abortion only in cases where the mother's health is at risk, the baby is to be born with severe birth defects or the pregnancy was caused by a sexual crime.
"Most abortions are for pregnancies out of wedlock and not for health reasons," Park said.
In the United States, about 6.2 million pregnancies occur each year, of which 1.6 million end in abortion and 4.6 million in live birth (Henshaw and Van Vort 1992; Koonin et al. 1991b). This gives an abortion ratio of 347.8 abortions per 1,000 live births. Since these 1.6 million abortions occur in approximately 67 million women in the reproductive ages (fifteen to forty-five), the abortion rate is 24 abortions per 1000 women fifteen to forty-five. In some areas where contraceptives are not widely available, such as the former Soviet Union and certain countries in Eastern Europe, the abortion rates and ratios are much higher. In Scandinavian nations, where contraceptives are more freely available and widespread sex education emphasizes prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, the abortion rates and ratios are much lower than in the United States (Hodgson, 1981).
The incidence of abortion (total number of cases per unit of time) may fluctuate, but the rates and ratios of abortion tend to remain steady. However, in the early 1970s, when abortion became legal in the United States with the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), all three factors were affected. In addition, many illegal abortions performed before the 1970s were simply not reported, so the increase in reported incidence was to some extent an artifact of the changed legal climate. The number of abortions being performed did not change as much as the number of abortions being reported, and the number of deaths due to illegal abortion declined dramatically (Pakter 1977; Tietze 1975, 1977).
When abortion was illegal in the United States, even the many abortions performed properly by skilled physicians were not reported. Women without funds for a safe illegal abortion often committed desperate acts. Restrictions on legal abortion, including prohibition of public funding for the procedure, have produced some of the same results. Women have inserted harmful and even lethal substances such as lye into their vaginas in the mistaken belief that it will cause an abortion. Long knitting needles have been inserted into the uterus and moved around enough to cause an abortion. While this can cause an abortion, penetration of the uterine wall or other organs can occur and be fatal.
Risks of Abortion
Abortion has become not only the most common but also one of the safest operations performed in the United States. This was not always the case. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, abortion was quite dangerous; many women died as a result.
Pregnancy itself is not a harmless condition, women can die during pregnancy. The maternal mortality rate (the proportion of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth) is found by dividing the number of women dying from all causes related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium (the six-week period following childbirth) by the total number of live births, then multiplying by a constant factor, such as 100,000. The maternal mortality rate in the United States in 1920 was 680 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births (Lerner & Anderson 1963). It had fallen to 38 deaths per 100,000 live births by 1960 and 8 deaths per 100,000 live births by 1994. Illegal abortion accounted for about 50 percent of all maternal deaths in 1920, and that was still true in 1960. By 1980, however, the percentage of deaths due to abortion had dropped to nearly zero (Cates, 1982). The difference in maternal mortality rates due to abortion reflected the increasing legalization of abortion from 1967 to 1973 that permitted abortions to be done safely by doctors in clinics and hospitals. The changed legal climate also permitted the prompt treatment of complications that occurred with abortions.
The complication rates and death rates associated with abortion itself can also be examined. In 1970, Christopher Tietze of the Population Council began studying the risks of death and complications due to abortion by collecting data from hospitals and clinics throughout the nation. The statistical analyses at that time showed that the death rate due to abortion was about 2 per 100,000 procedures, compared with the maternal mortality rate exclusive of abortion of 12 deaths per 100,000 live births. In other words, a woman having an abortion was six times less likely to die than a woman who chose to carry a pregnancy to term. Tietze also found, that early abortion was many times safer than abortion done after twelve weeks of pregnancy (Tietze and Lewit 1972) and that some abortion techniques were safer than others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta took over the national study of abortion statistics that had been developed by Tietze, and abortion became the most carefully studied surgical procedure in the United States. As doctors gained more experience with abortion and as techniques improved, death and complication rates due to abortion continued to decline. The rates declined because women were seeking abortions earlier during pregnancy, when the procedure was safer. Clinics where safe abortions could be obtained were opened in many cities across the country, improving access to this service.
By the early 1990s, the risk of death in early abortion was fewer than 1 death per 1 million procedures, and for later abortion, about 1 death per 100,000 procedures (Koonin et al. 1992). The overall risk of death in abortion was about 0.4 per 100,000 procedures, compared with a maternal mortality rate (exclusive of abortion) of about 9.1 deaths per 100,000 live births (Koonin et al. 1991a, 1991b).
When and How Abortions Are Performed
Beginning in the 1970’s of Korea, officials advocated fewer births as a way to fuel economic productivity. The policy was perhaps too successful: Birthrates in South Korea plummeted. A decade ago, officials reversed their stand, calling for residents to have more babies.
Yet the declining fertility trend has proved difficult to reverse. The country's birthrate is now among the lowest worldwide, with just 1.19 live births per woman.
Meanwhile, abortion rates have kept their pace, many say. Every year, 450,000 babies are born here; Health Ministry officials estimate that 350,000 abortions are performed each year. One politician says the number of abortions is actually four times higher -- nearly 1.5 million.
Now there are calls to strengthen a 1973 mother-child protection law, long criticized for containing loopholes and for being rarely enforced. Some lawmakers want to prosecute more physicians for performing abortions and close down underground clinics where the procedures cost as little as $70.
For the first six months of 2009, only three of 29 abortion-related cases were prosecuted, said Chang Yoon-seok, a member of the ruling Grand National Party, who supports tougher sanctions.
"Even though illegal abortions are widespread . . . it is true that everyone keeps quiet and does not say anything about it," the politician said in a statement.
An argument first presented by Judith Jarvis Thomson states that even if the fetus has a right to life, abortion is morally permissible because a woman has a right to control her own body. Thomson's variant of this argument draws an analogy between forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy and forcing a person's body to be used as a dialysis machine for another person suffering from kidney failure. It is argued that just as it would be permissible to "unplug" and thereby cause the death of the person who is using one's kidneys, so it is permissible to abort the fetus (who similarly, it is said, has no right to use one's body against one's will).
Critics of this argument generally argue that there are morally relevant disanalogies between abortion and the kidney failure scenario. For example, it is argued that the fetus is the woman's child as opposed to a mere stranger; that abortion kills the fetus rather than merely letting it die; and that in the case of pregnancy arising from voluntary intercourse, the woman has either tacitly consented to the fetus using her body, or has a duty to allow it to use her body since she herself is responsible for its need to use her body. Some writers defend the analogy against these objections, arguing that the disanalogies are morally irrelevant or do not apply to abortion in the way critics have claimed.
Alternative scenarios have been put forth as more accurate and realistic representations of the moral issues present in abortion. John Noonan proposes the scenario of a family who was found to be liable for frostbite finger loss suffered by a dinner guest whom they refused to allow staying overnight, although it was very cold outside and the guest showed signs of being sick. It is argued that just as it would not be permissible to refuse temporary accommodation for the guest to protect them from physical harm; it would not be permissible to refuse temporary accommodation of a fetus.
Other critics claim that there is a difference between artificial and extraordinary means of preservation, such as medical treatment, kidney dialysis, and blood transfusions, and normal and natural means of preservation, such as gestation, childbirth, and breastfeeding. They argue that if a baby was born into an environment in which there was no replacement available for her mother's breast milk, and the baby would either breastfeed or starve, the mother would have to allow the baby to breastfeed. But the mother would never have to give the baby a blood transfusion, no matter what the circumstances were. The difference between breastfeeding in that scenario and blood transfusions is the difference between using your body as a kidney dialysis machine, and gestation and childbirth.
Some pro-life Christians support their views with Scripture references such as that of Luke 1:15; Jeremiah 1:4-5; Genesis 25:21-23; Matthew 1:18; and Psalm 139:13-16. Roman Catholics in particular believe that human life begins at conception as well as the right to life, so abortion is considered immoral and a violation of the Fifth Commandment: "You shall not kill" (Exodus 20:13). The Church of England also considers abortion to be morally wrong, though their position is not as firm as that of Roman Catholicism.
Abortion continues to represent one of the most controversial and divisive issues in Modern society. Those who are opposed to abortion often regard the issue as one of morality. Those who are in favor of abortion often defend their stance from a political and legal perspective. Abortion must be a legal and attainable procedure for women throughout in Korea and the United States. Abortion has been legal in Korea and the United States. Abortion challenges the civil rights of the mother and the fetus which she bears. To deny abortion is denying the mother certain civil rights. Abortion is a safe procedure for women, and because abortion is their choice they will not be stuck with a hindrance on their life.
There are pro-life people and pro-choice people. People who are pro-choice believe that women hold the right to abort a pregnancy, but people who are pro-life believe that abortion is wrong and unjust to the fetus. There are many reasons why women decide to have abortions. Some women have abortions because of health complications, some have marital problems, and some lack responsibility. Whatever the reasons a woman decides to have an abortion, it seems only justified that she should be able to make decisions in regards to her life and body. When pondering issues surrounding abortion, many questions come to mind. Is a fetus a human being?
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