Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy before birth. Early in a pregnancy, the fertilized egg that grows and develops is called an embryo. After three months of development, it is usually called a fetus. An abortion causes the embryo or fetus to die. In a spontaneous abortion, also called a miscarriage, the fetus passes from the woman's body. Spontaneous abortions may result from such natural causes as an abnormality in the embryo, a hormonal imbalance, a long-term disease, or some other disorder in the woman. In an induced abortion, the fetus is purposely removed from the woman's body. This article deals with induced abortion.
Induced abortion has been a topic of dispute for hundreds of years. People disagree on two basic questions. One question is whether the law should permit a woman to have an abortion and, if so, under what circumstances. The other is whether the law should protect the unborn.
Those who wish to legally limit or forbid abortion describe their position as "right-to-life" or "pro-life." Those who believe a woman should have the right to an abortion refer to themselves as "pro-choice."
Arguments against abortion are generally based on the belief that an abortion is the unjustified killing of an unborn child. Most people who oppose abortion believe that human life begins as soon as a sperm fertilizes an egg. Some believe that human embryos and fetuses should have legal rights and that abortion is actually a form of murder. Many pro-life people believe that legalization of abortion increases the number of irresponsible pregnancies and leads to a disrespect for human life.
The Roman Catholic Church is probably the leading opponent of abortion. Conservative branches of other religions also disapprove of abortion.
Arguments for abortion. Many people would allow abortion under certain circumstances. Some approve of...