Abortion is the intentional termination of a pregnancy and has occurred since the beginnings of human societies. Usually, however, people did it quietly, clandestinely, privately, and without government knowledge or interference. Whether an abortion is safe for the woman involved, often a girl depends on the skill of the practitioner, the cleanliness of the procedure, and the health and safety of the woman as she recovers (Dagg, 57). Abortion procedures vary with the stage of gestation, and the later the stage of gestation, the riskier the procedure for the person involved (Condit, 45).
The issue of abortion—or, more broadly, birth control—has been intimately linked with the role of women within each society (Tatalovich, 35). The United States exemplifies abortion's evolution within a largely secular and technologically advanced nation.
Almost two—thirds of Americans believe that abortion should generally be legal in the first trimester, but not in the second. There has also been consistent majority support for restricting the conditions under which women can have abortions. In short, there remains widespread public support for keeping abortion legal, but within limits (Condit, 46).
Abortion may be the most difficult of contemporary social issues because it invokes complex theoretical questions, including privacy, self-ownership, and women's liberation. To these and other related questions, there are few definitive or satisfying answers. Consider privacy: Pro-choice advocates maintain that the government should not intrude into a mother's personal decision as to whether to bear a child (Dagg, 58). Intrusions of this kind lead to state control of medicine and make doctors an arm of the state. Doctors would have to judge whether a miscarriage were natural or induced and report the latter as a possible crime. Women might well eschew medical help even if it were desperately needed. Some pro-choice advocates warn of pregnant women becoming state-monitored “wombs.” (Donahue, 37)
In contrast, pro-life advocates argue that privacy rights do not permit the murder of another human being, which they consider the fetus to be. A pregnant woman must be prohibited from harming her “child” by law or force, if necessary. Whether a woman who willfully aborts should be charged with premeditated murder, along with any care-giver who aids her, is rarely addressed (Segers, 80).
In this spirit, promoters granted space to organizations supporting women's causes from rape and incest help lines to cancer research foundations. The groups used their tables to display information and promote themselves and their ...