Essay by ClaireHawkinsHigh School, 11th gradeC-, August 2003

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You just found out your pregnant without ever intending to be. It's either the best news in the world OR the precursor to one of the hardest decisions you'll ever have to make.

Abortion is the most common type of surgery performed on women aged 17-25. 80,000 terminations are carried out each year in Australia.

Most terminations are straightforward, clinically speaking but emotionally and socially having an abortion is a long way from undergoing laser surgery or a tonsillectomy. Women grappling with the decision are caught in a tug-of-war between two opposing views. What one side calls a safe routine procedure the other calls murder.

To be granted an abortion a woman needs to satisfy a doctor (sometimes two). To have an abortion you have to go to a hospital or private clinic. There are 3 types of anaesthetic that you can choose from. Doctors can start the procedure when the cervix is sufficiently dilated, the doctor inserts a tube like instrument called a cannula into the uterus.

A gentle vacuum extraction is then used to remove the contents of the womb, this takes about 10 minutes.

This procedure causes cramping and vomiting. After an abortion woman can feel emotionally fragile for a very long time, some times for the rest of their lives. An abortion costs between $165-$330 depending on both the type of anaesthetic used and how far advanced the pregnancy is at the time of termination.

Unfortunately abortion has been a fact of life for as long as there have been women on the planet. Throughout history we have swallowed malign herbs, and pierced our wombs to end unplanned pregnancies. Even now thousands of women die each year as a result of botched abortions in countries where the practice is forbidden. The truth is that women will...