How Abortion Works


The Future of Abortion
Abortion rights and anti-abortion advocates express opposing viewpoints during a demonstration in Washington, D.C.
Abortion rights and anti-abortion advocates express opposing viewpoints during a demonstration in Washington, D.C.
Associated Press/Joe Marquette

­It's impossible to know what the future will hold for the legality of abortion. Anti-abortion groups remain convinced that a fetus is a viable person with the same legal rights as a newborn infant, while abortion rights groups believe that a woman should be able to make decisions about her body without governmental interference.

However, abortion is such a controversial topic that it already affects our medical providers. The generation of doctors that saw women suffering in the aftermath of an illegal, unsafe abortion is now mostly retired from medical practice. In their place is a generation that saw abortion clinics bombed or abortion providers shot in their own homes. In fact, abortion training is not covered at many medical schools or in many hospital residencies unless the student asks for the opportunity to learn [source: Meisol]. Already, there are shortages of medical professionals that can perform the procedure in many areas. Some medical professionals exercise a right of conscience and refuse to do the procedure for personal reasons.

If abortion were to be outlawed or largely unavailable due to a lack of providers, it seems unlikely that we would return to the days of coat hangers. Rather, some doctors think women will turn to the same abortifacients that are used in medical abortions today [source: Leland]. When misoprostol is used as part of a medical abortion, that actually constitutes an off-label use; the drug was approved by the FDA for treatment of ulcers and is more commonly known as Cytotec. The drug isn't intended to be used in doses necessary to induce an abortion, so its safety hasn't been widely tested for that purpose. It's also not as effective without the prior dosage of mifepristone, and it could lead to severe birth defects. It is, however, cheap, and is already used in many countries and communities where abortion is illegal or considered immoral [sources: Lee, Buckley; Leland].

For more on women's health issues, please see the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • "Abortion Laws Around the World." Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. November 2006. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://pewforum.org/publications/reports/abortion-laws.pdf
  • "Abortion Topics." WebMD. Oct. 6, 2006. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://women.webmd.com/tc/abortion-topic-overview
  • Bakalar, Nicholas. "Breast Cancer Not Linked to Abortion, Study Says." New York Times. April 24, 2007. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/health/24canc.html
  • Bazelon, Emily. "Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?" New York Times. Jan. 21, 2007. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/21/magazine/21abortion.t.html?sq=abortion&st=nyt&scp=295&pagewanted=print
  • Carey, Benedict. "Abortion Does Not Cause Mental Illness, Panel Says." New York Times. Aug. 12, 2008. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/health/research/13brfs-ABORTIONDOES_BRF.html?_r=1
  • Coghlan, Andy. "When does human life begin?" New Scientist. Oct. 29, 2008. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn15062-when-does-human-life-begin.html
  • "Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States." The Guttmacher Institute. July 2008. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html
  • Finer, Lawrence B., Lori F. Frohwirth, Lindsay A. Dauphinee, Susheela Singh and Ann M. Moore. "Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives." Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. September 2005. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://alanguttmacherinstitute.net/pubs/psrh/full/3711005.pdf
  • Gawande, Atul. "Partial Truths in the Partial-Birth Abortion Debate: Every abortion is gross, but the technique is not the issue." Slate. Jan. 30, 1998. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.slate.com/id/2671/
  • Gold, Rachel Benson. "Lessons from Before Roe: Will Past be Prologue?" The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy. March 2003. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/06/1/gr060108.html
  • Grimes, David A. and Mitchell D. Creinin. "Induced Abortion: An Overview for Internists." Annals of Internal Medicine. April 20, 2004. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/140/8/620
  • "In-Clinic Abortion Procedures." Planned Parenthood. Feb. 8, 2008. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/abortion/in-clinic-abortion-procedures-4359.htm
  • Kolata, Gina. "Anger and Alternatives on Abortion." New York Times. April 21, 2007. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/21/us/21docs.html
  • Lee, Jennifer 8. and Cara Buckley. "For Privacy's Sake, Taking Risks to End Pregnancy." New York Times. Jan. 5, 2009. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/nyregion/05abortion.html?scp=6&sq=abortion&st=nyt
  • Lehren, Andrew and John Leland. "Scant Drop Seen in Abortion Rate if Parents are Told." New York Times. March 6, 2006. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/06/national/06abortion.html?_r=1
  • Leland, John. "Abortion Might Outgrow Its Need for Roe v. Wade." New York Times. Oct. 2, 2005. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/02/weekinreview/02leland.html
  • Meisol, Patricia. "A Hard Choice." Washington Post. Nov. 23, 2008. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/14/AR2008111401698_pf.html
  • Olasky, Marvin. "Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America." Crossway Books. 1992.
  • Schroedel, Jean Reith. "Is the Fetus a Person" Cornell University Press. 2000.
  • Tanner, Lindsay. "Fetuses May Not Feel Pain in Early Months." LiveScience. Aug. 24, 2005. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.livescience.com/health/ap_050824_fetus_pain.html
  • University of Michigan Health System. "Abortion Drug's Off-label Use May Have Led to Deaths." ScienceDaily. June 18, 2008. (Jan. 20, 2009)http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/06/080616115657.htm

More to Explore