Abortions After Fetal Viability

Abortion is without a doubt one of the hottest and most politically divisive topics, as at least one in five of all UK women will have an abortion at some stage in their lives. This document will attempt to explore the following areas of abortion and termination:

[1] The facts concerning termination of pregnancy.

[2] The ethical and moral problems.

[3] The controversies of an abortion/termination.

What is an abortion:
An abortion refers to a natural event, which is the spontaneous and automatic discontinuation of a pregnancy in the early weeks after conception.

What is a termination:
A termination, also called a medical abortion, describes an invasive "medical" or surgical procedure in which a fetus or unborn child is, in some way, removed from the uterus with the intension its death. This is also used as a form of sex selection or infanticide.

Methods of termination:
Depending on the gestational age of the developing embryo or fetus, different methods of termination can be preformed to remove embryo or fetus from the womb.

The following describes frequently used methods of termination in the later stages (middle of the final trimester) of a pregnancy:

Saline injection: (Used after 16 weeks) A strong salt solution is injected into the infant's "sac". The baby swallows this fluid and is poisoned by it and it acts as a corrosive, burning off the outer layer of skin. It normally takes somewhat over an hour for the baby to die from this. Within 24 hours, labour will usually set in and the mother will give birth to a dead or dying baby.

Hysterotomy: (Used in the last three months) The womb is entered by surgery and the umbilical cord is cut while the baby is still in the womb, thus cutting off its oxygen supply and causing it to suffocate. Sometimes the baby is removed alive and simply left in a corner to die of neglect or exposure.

Prostaglandin: (Used in the last two-three months) Chemicals are used that artificially induce labour, causeing the uterus to contract intensely, pushing out the developing baby. The contractions are more violent than normal, natural contractions, so the unborn baby is frequently killed by them; some have even been decapitated.

Historical background:
Abortion has a rich history in England, before 1967 all forms of termination were illegal, the women that wanted to terminate their pregnancies were forced to suffer commonly unsafe and potentially life-threatening sudo-medical "procedures", performed by unqualified people in dirty conditions; Many women were left infertile and some died from infection or loss of blood.

To counter act this type of problem, the l967 Termination Act was passed so that the terminations could be performed by trained doctors that are regulated and to encourage education. it shoude be noted that this act assumes that abortion will cause less mental or physical harm than continuing a pregnancy. This assumption is without evidentiary support.

Women from religious denominations which strongly oppose abortion resoursed to performing abortions on themselves. It should be noted that in the Jewis faith, where the health, life, and well-being of the mother are threatened by the completion of her pregnancy with the birth of the fetus, abortion is permissible, indeed mandated in some cases.

Current legal position:
Since abortion is an invasive medical procedure, the burden of proof is on those who advocate the maintaining of the legal status quo. The most resent amendment to English law state the a termination can be curried out up to 24 weeks after conception.

Under the l967 Termination Act, two doctors are required to sign a form that gives the consent of the mother to allow the operation under for the following circumstances.

[1] If the pregnancy presents grater risk to health of the mother than the termination.

[2] If there is excessive foetal damage that wound seriously reduce the live expectancy of the fetus.

[3] If there is a risk that the child would be born with a serious abnormality.

An early termination can be carried out fore "personal reasons", and is the choice of the mother or a termination can also be carried out between 18 and 24 weeks under extreme circumstances if it can be justified, for example, if the new child would cause deterioration in the physical and/or mental health of the parent(s).

The problem:
For the purposes of this debate, there are three stages of pregnancy:

[1] The first stage can be described as an unidentifiable mass which is not a live form.

[2] The second stage can be described as a fetus that has developed identifiable features, for example, arms and legs, but is incapable of separate existence.

[3] The final stage can be described as an infant sufficiently developed to the point of independent existence, despite the continued pregnancy.

Different rules apply to each stage, the main street of thought is that termination in the first stage is not unlike the natural process of menstruation.

At the third stage termination is strictly not abortion or termination but child destruction a crime classed as murder. The point at wich termination becomes child destruction is somewhere between stages two and three of pregnancy (see above).

The deadline of 28 weeks, was thought to be the time at witch the unborn child becomes a life form. With increased medical knowledge, this has now been reduced to 18 weeks, 24 weeks given extreme circumstances.

This time frame continues to contract as technology continues to expand our understanding of life; A personal example of the logic behind this change in the law is that I, myself an active and fully sentient person was born at 26.5 weeks.

The argument:
At stage 1 of pregnancy it is absolutely the mothers choice; at stage three the matter is completely out side the control of the mother, because the child has rights as a human life that is both protected and subject to law.

There is only one question in the main argument. What are the boundaries between stages two and three of pregnancy (see above)? There are two primary, diametrically opposed, groups that believe they are correct:

The religious groups: Who believe that a killing of any kind is "evil", that human life comes into being at the instant of conception and not even contraception should prevent that the natural consequence of life.

It should be noted that neither the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) nor the Christian Scriptures address abortion directly but they still condemn abortions after fetal viability.

The feminist groups: That totally support termination and believe requested termination is the right only of a mother, because it is a life that she crated and is growing inside her body, thus is hers to do with as she likes.

However, the general majority, as least in England believe that we should agree on a compromise. For example, where the rights of the baby and (where possible) both parents are all considered.

Arguments for termination:
Termination saves lives: Some times potentially life-threatening conditions associated with pregnancy are diagnosed after conception. Not terminating such a pregnancy to protect a fetus that is not yet sentient could mean a death sentence for the mother.

Abortion may also be a contributing factor for increased risks in subsequent childbearing and there is even anecdotal evidence which suggests negative effects on mental health.

Terminations prevent unwanted pregnancy:
[1] There is a documented 1% failure in overall contraceptive methods resulting in conception and ultimately the birth of an infant, in this case termination can prevent serious hardship such as deterioration in the physical and/or mental health of the parent(s) through lack of the necessary financial resources needed to care for a child.

[a] In time, one or both parents may become attached to the infant and try to manage, doing so may lead to this end because they cannot put the infant up for adoption.

[2] If a woman is raped, without a termination she will ultimately be forced to give dearth to a child that she may not be able to support, who the father of which violated her, this could lead to deterioration of her mental health.

Terminations can prevent a live time of suffering:
It is possible to predict if without a termination a (severe) fetal defect will ultimately grow into an excessively disabled life form, that would be forced to "life" a painful existence for however long it may survive, with no quality of life. Euthanasia is the only way to end such suffering, even if the action of doing so has the secondary effect of causing death.

Arguments ageist termination:
Termination is ethically and legally wrong: Killing, even in the case of termination, murder even to save the life of another person is ethically wrong and a crime.

Abortion/termination is against the will of god: Termination and or any type of abortion or contraception that may interfere with the creation of live is sacrilege.

Abortion/termination is a traumatic experience: Abortion and termination can cause grate emotional and or physical suffering. In some cases extensive torment and even the death of the mother.

First being mail I cannot, nore will I ever, fully understand the more sensitive issues involved in the process of abortion/termination. For example it is impossible for me to feel a life growing inside of my body or experience giving birth to a life or dead baby and so forth.

Having said this, I believe that except in extreme cases, for example, fetal defects that would reduce the life expectancy in the child, the death of the fetus/unborn child or when the mothers life is at risk, termination should not be an option beyond the first weeks of a pregnancy.

Termination is not a good thing, I believe that killing one life to save another is unethical! However, in cases like that above I consider it euthanasia, as the termination of a fetus or unborn child that has immeasurable or no "feeling" is an action that alleviates risk to the mother or extensive suffering such an infant would be forced to "live" through, despite the fact that doing so has the secondary effect of causing death.

I am the website administrator of the The Wandle Industrial Museum ( www.wandle.org">http://www.wandle.org). Established in 1983 by local people determined to ensure that the history of the valley was no longer neglected but enhanced awareness its heritage for the use and benefits of the community.

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