Abortion, in some form, has existed in the human race for millennia.
Ancient tribes would sometimes be forced to move quickly, and pregnant women
could slow the entire tribe down. Abuse of the woman's abdomen, and later
abuse through excessive horseback riding, could cause the baby to be born
prematurely. This baby was then either killed or left to die. Unfortunately,
the mother also frequently died during the birthing. Today abortion is much
safer for the mother,
but just as deadly to the child.
The Bible is one of the best historical
accounts of ancient human civilization. If it is not taken for its religious
purpose, the Bible accurately describes the culture of the Hebrew people.
From the beginning of the Hebrew nation, unborn life was seen to be just
as precious as born life (see Religion and Abortion).
In other cultures the question of
the legality of abortion varied, however there was a general theme. Unborn
life was seen to be the equal of born life. For ancient cultures there are
logical and non-moral explanations for this trend. Hundreds or thousands
of years ago there were no pregnancy tests and no tools to perform early-term
abortions. By the time an abortion was performed, the baby was delivered,
premature but alive. The abortion process would be completed by infanticide
of a born child.
Methods of abortion remotely modern
didn't appear until the nineteenth century. In the western world laws sprang
up to protect the lives of the unborn. In 1859, the American Medical Association
unanimously adopted a resolution condemning "the procuring of abortion,
at every period of gestation, except as necessary for preserving the life
of either mother or child." Abortion continued to be practiced under
different names, and in 1900 about one in six American pregnencies was terminated
through abortion (Source:Mother Earth
by Emma Goldman, 1911). However under great pressure from social
leaders abortion became unacceptable and laws became harsh against the practice.
Illegal abortion rates plumetted. In some areas of the world, such as the
Chinese Empire, abortion continued to be endorsed and was widely practiced.
Similarly in these areas infanticide was also endorsed.
There wasn't serious opposition
to this belief that the unborn were children until the mid-twentieth century.
Groups such as the National Abortion and
Reproductive Rights Action League in the United States appeared, saying
that unborn life was not life after all. These gained support as the number
of illegal abortions increased in the late 1960s. NARAL promised that abortion
doesn't hurt the fetuses, and that by legalizing abortion child abuse, illegal
abortion, and teen pregnancy rates would be decreased.
In 1973 the Supreme Court issued
the verdict of Roe vs. Wade, striking down most anti-abortion laws
across the United States. Several other Supreme Court cases followed, constricting,
expanding, and balancing the rights to live and/or choose. Many states have
laws attempting to protect the lives of unborn children, however abortion
itself remains legal. Since the legalization, child abuse, illegal
abortion, and teen pregnancy rates have all sharply increased.
The latest international abortion
issue is in China. The abortion rate of female children is extremely high.
As has been the historical trend, this matches an alarmingly high rate of
The latest national issue in abortion
is that over Partial
Birth Abortions. These are late term abortions in which the baby is
partially delivered and then killed. Several states have passed bans on
Partial Birth Abortions, and many of these have been struck down by courts.
National laws banning partial-birth abortions have been passed by Congress
and vetoed by President Clinton on several occasions. The House has overridden
these vetoes, but the Senate has been several votes short
of the required two-thirds majority.