The Controversy Surrounding Abortion (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Induced abortion is the deliberate ending of a pregnancy before the fetus is viable or capable of surviving outside a female’s body. Abortion has been practiced in every culture since the beginning of civilization. It has also been controversial. The first law designating it as a crime dates to ancient Assyria, where, in the fourteenth century b.c.e., women who were convicted of abortion were impaled on a stake and left to die. Early Hebrew law also condemned abortion, except when necessary to save the woman’s life. The Greeks allowed abortion, but the famous physician Hippocrates (c. 460-c. 370 b.c.e.) denounced the procedure and said that it violated a doctor’s responsibility to heal. Roman law said that a fetus was part of a woman and that abortion was her decision, although a husband could divorce his wife if she had an abortion without his consent. Most abortions in ancient times seemed to be related to unwanted pregnancies.
The Christian Church determined abortion to be a sin in the first century. In the fifth century, however, Saint Augustine argued that the fetus did not have a soul before “quickening,” that point during a pregnancy, usually between the fourth and sixth months, at which the woman first senses movement in her womb. Until 1869, abortion until quickening was legal in most of Europe. In that year, however, Roman Catholic pope Pius IX declared abortion at any point to be...
(The entire section is 1428 words.)
Show us the love and view this for free! Use the facebook like button, or any other share button on this page, and get this content free!free!
Techniques and Procedures (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
A variety of techniques can be used to perform abortions. They vary according to the length of the pregnancy, which is usually measured by the number of weeks since the last menstrual period (LMP). Instrumental techniques are usually used very early in a pregnancy. They include a procedure called menstrual extraction, in which the entire contents of the uterus are removed. It can be done as early as fourteen days after the expected onset of a period. A major problem with this method is a high risk of error; the human embryo may still be so small at this age that it can be missed. It is also true that a high proportion of women undergoing this procedure are in fact not pregnant. Nevertheless, this method is easy and very safe. Death rates from this technique average less than 1 in 100,000.
The majority of abortions in the United States are done by a procedure known as vacuum aspiration, or suction curettage. This technique can be used up to about fourteen weeks after the LMP. It can be performed with local anesthesia and follows several steps. First, the cervix is expanded with metal rods that are inserted one at a time, with each rod being slightly larger than the previous one. When the cervix is expanded to the right size, a transparent, hollow tube called the vacuum cannula is placed into the uterine cavity. This instrument is attached to a suction device, which looks something like a drinking straw. An electric...
(The entire section is 1318 words.)
Show us the love and view this for free! Use the facebook like button, or any other share button on this page, and get this content free!free!
Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Abortion is the most frequently performed surgical procedure in the United States. As long as women have restricted access to contraceptive choice and unwanted pregnancies, that will continue to be the case. Abortion is a very safe procedure, although there can be complications. Generally, the earlier the procedure is performed, the less severe the risk. The lowest chance of medical complications occurs during the first eight weeks of pregnancy. After eight weeks, the risk of complications increases by 30 percent for each week of delay. Nevertheless, the death rate per case is very low, about half that for tonsillectomy. These statistics apply only to those areas of the world where abortion is legal, since women in those places tend to have earlier abortions.
In parts of the world where it remains against the law, abortion is a leading cause of death for women. WHO estimates that as many as 500,000 women a year die during abortions. About 200,000 of these deaths result from complications following abortions performed by unqualified medical personnel. About half of the total deaths take place in Southeast Asia and Africa. Before the Roe v. Wade decision, it was estimated that anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand American women died every year from the procedure. The best estimate was that in the 1960’s about 290 women died every year as a result of complications from abortions. In the 1980’s,...
(The entire section is 272 words.)
Show us the love and view this for free! Use the facebook like button, or any other share button on this page, and get this content free!free!
For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Baer, Judith A. Historical and Multicultural Encyclopedia of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002. Examines the nexus of birth control, abortion, and government policy with race, ethnicity, age, class, education, religion, and sexual orientation. Also includes articles on laws, court cases, political attitudes, prominent activists, and technological advances as they relate to reproductive rights in the United States.
Denney, Myron K. A Matter of Choice: An Essential Guide to Every Aspect of Abortion. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983. A good overview of the subject that presents both pro-choice and antiabortion views. Discusses the medical and psychological problems involved and also presents alternatives to abortion.
Greer, Germaine. Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility. New York: Harper & Row, 1984. Greer describes the attitudes of people in various cultures around the world toward questions about children, birth control, abortion, infanticide, and the family.
Hull, N. E. H., and Peter Charles Hoffer. Roe v. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001. A balanced view of the opposing sides of the abortion debate and the constitutional response, placed in the context of social movements and women’s history.
McFarlane, Deborah R....
(The entire section is 461 words.)
Abortion (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
Invasive procedure resulting in pregnancy termination and death of the fetus.
Abortion is the final consequence of a woman's decision to terminate her pregnancy. In the U.S., more than 50% of the pregnancies are unintended, and 50% of these end in abortion. More than half (53%) of the unplanned pregnancies happen among the 10% of women who practice no contraception. Most women getting abortions are young: 55% are under 25, including 21% teenagers.
Between five and seven weeks, a pregnancy can be ended by a procedure called menstrual extraction, shown above. (Electronic Illustrations Group. Reproduced with permission.)
While abortion is practiced throughout society, in all socioeconomic strata, poor women are three times more likely to have an abortion than their well-off counterparts.
White women have 63% of all abortions, but the non-white abortion rate is more than twice the white rate4 per 1,000 versus 20 per 1,000. About 93% of all abortions are performed for social, not medical, reasons; in other words, most abortions are, from the medical point of view, unnecessary: the mother's health and life are not in jeopardy, and there are no abnormalities which would justify the termination of the fetus's...
(The entire section is 601 words.)
Abortion (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The spontaneous or artificially induced expulsion of an embryo or fetus. As used in legal context, the term usually refers to induced abortion.
English COMMON LAW generally allowed abortion before the "quickening" of the fetus (i.e., the first recognizable movement of the fetus in the uterus), which occurred between the sixteenth and eighteenth weeks of pregnancy. After quickening, however, common law was less clear as to whether abortion was considered a crime. In the United States, state legislatures did not pass abortion statutes until the nineteenth century. After 1880, abortion was criminalized by statute in every state of the Union, owing in large measure to strong anti-abortion positions taken by the AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (AMA). Despite the illegality, many thousands of women every year sought abortions. Under a heavy cloak of shame and secrecy, women often had abortions performed in unsafe conditions, and many died or suffered complications from the procedures.
The abortion laws developed in the late nineteenth century existed largely unchanged until the 1960s and 1970s, when a number of different circumstances combined to bring about a movement for their reform.
(The entire section is 9717 words.)
Abortion (Encyclopedia of Public Health)
Abortion is a generic term for pregnancies that do not end in a livebirth or a stillbirth. It is the premature expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception, which include the placenta, bag of waters, and fetus, if present.
TYPES OF ABORTION
There are two types of abortions. Spontaneous abortion refers to a natural biological process by which some pregnancies end. Induced abortion refers to pregnancies terminated through human intervention.
Spontaneous Abortions. A large percentage of the products of the union of an egg and a sperm never become infants. If there is something seriously wrong with the fetus, the uterus often expels it. This may occur very early in the pregnancy, with the woman only experiencing a larger than usual blood flow around the time of her expected menstrual period, or it may occur later in the pregnancy. This latter event is commonly called a miscarriage, but technically it is a spontaneous abortion if it occurs before twenty weeks of pregnancy. Spontaneous abortions are often the body's way of preventing the birth of a defective child, although sometimes they are due to maternal health problems.
Induced Abortions. In contrast, induced abortions result from the planned interruption of a pregnancy. Throughout recorded history, humans have taken a variety of steps to control family size: before conception by delaying marriage or through abstinence or contraception; or after the birth by infanticide. Induced abortion falls temporally between these two extremes by preventing a conception from becoming a live birth. In the United States in the last few decades of the twentieth century, most abortions were performed surgically using a procedure called suction curettage. The year 2000 approval in the United States of a drug, mifepristine (RU486), which in combination with another drug causes an abortion in almost all cases, may increase the percentage of abortions induced by the administration of pharmaceutical agents.
Therapeutic Abortions. This term refers to abortions thought necessary because of fetal anomalies, rape, or to protect the health of the mother when a birth might be life threatening or physically or psychologically damaging.
Elective or Voluntary Abortions. Interruption of a pregnancy before viability at the woman's request for reasons other than fetal anomalies or maternal risk is often referred to as elective or voluntary abortion. Such abortions often result from social problems, such as teenage pregnancy or non-marital births; economic difficulties, such as insufficient income to support a child; or inappropriate timing.
Legal and Illegal Abortions. Induced abortions may be legal or illegal. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the federal agency that collects data on abortions, a legal abortion is "a procedure, performed by a licensed physician or someone acting under the supervision of a licensed physician, that was intended to terminate a suspected or known intrauterine pregnancy and to produce a nonviable fetus at any gestational age." An illegal abortion may be self-induced, induced by someone who is not a physician or not acting under her or his supervision, or induced by a physician under conditions that violate state laws governing abortions.
A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Almost all human societies place a high value on human life. Thus, the further along the continuum from heterosexual intercourse to a live child, the less likely is the method of fertility control to be allowed. In the modern period, most societies allow contraception, but there is more variability around abortion. The leading institutional opposition comes from the Roman Catholic Church, but other institutions also take active positions against abortion. Survey research suggests that many Americans are ambivalent about whether abortion should be legal and, if so, under what circumstances.
Induced abortion was almost universally illegal at the beginning of the twentieth century. This changed first in the early years of the Soviet Union, which made abortion legal, widely available, and encouraged as the primary method of fertility control. In the period after World War II, abortion was legalized first in the Scandinavian countries and later in most of Western and Eastern Europe. With the broaching of the Iron Curtain in the early 1990s, abortion was legalized in more of Eastern Europe, while the more restrictive policy in West Germany was extended to the former East Germany. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, abortion was legal in most of England and Asia, but illegal in most of Africa and South America.
In the United States, abortion was universally illegal from at least the late nineteenth century until the mid-1960s, when an abortion reform movement led to legalization of abortion in some states. (The regulation of abortion, like most medical issues, is a state function.) Then, in its 1973 Roev. Wade decision, the United States Supreme Court found a constitutional right to abortion before viability, at that time about twenty-eight weeks. (By the beginning of the twenty-first century, advances in the techniques of caring for very premature infants had reduced the age of viability to around twenty-three weeks.) The Court stated, however, that after viability is reached, the state's important and legitimate interest in potential life becomes compelling and it may regulate and even prohibit abortions, with the exception of those necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.
ACCESS TO ABORTIONS
Access to legal abortions is limited by laws and regulations, financial considerations, and the availability of providers.
Laws and Regulations. Since the 1973 decision, many states have enacted measures to limit abortion, which have led to considerable litigation.
Some laws have been disallowed as inconsistent with Roe, while others have been allowed. For example, in the late 1990s, about thirty states restricted the access of minors to abortions by requiring the notification or the consent of one or both parents before an abortion could be performed, and more are considering such legislation. The Supreme Court requires that states with parental notification or consent laws must provide for a judicial bypass; that is, the minor must be allowed to obtain permission from a court for the abortion if she is unwilling or unable to seek permission from her parent(s). States may also require a waiting period between the request for an abortion and its actual performance. Or they may require the physician who is to conduct the abortion to inform the mother about the fetus's stage of development and about alternative ways of managing an unwanted pregnancy, such as putting the baby up for adoption.
Financial Considerations. Abortion is not among the medical procedures covered by Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides health care to many poor women. Federal law, the socalled Hyde Amendment, passed in 1977 and amended in 1993, prohibits the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the pregnant
woman is in danger. Some states use their own Medicaid funds to pay for abortions that physicians consider "medically necessary," and a few fund them in cases of fetal anomaly or grave physical health danger. Some private organizations, such as Planned Parenthood agencies, assist low-income women in states with restrictive funding policies by performing abortions for reduced fees. In 1999, less than two-fifths of women with employer-based health insurance were covered for abortion services.
Provider Availability. On the basis of a survey of abortion providers, the Alan Guttmacher Institute estimated that in 1996 there were slightly over two thousand abortion providers in the United States, a drop of 14 percent from 1992, perhaps as a result of anti-abortion publicity and disturbances. Eighty-nine of the country's 320 metropolitan areas had no known abortion providers and an additional twelve had providers who together reported fewer than fifty abortions. Abortion providers were even less available in non-metropolitan areas.
According to the Guttmacher survey, 452 abortion clinics (defined as nonhospital facilities in which half or more of patient visits were for abortion services) performed 70 percent of the abortions in 1996. Four hundred and seventeen other clinics performed 21 percent of the abortions; 703
hospitals performed 7 percent (only 9% of those on an in-patient basis); and 470 physicians' offices performed 3 percent.
NUMBER AND RATES OF ABORTIONS
There is no definitive information about the number and rate of spontaneous abortions, although worldwide it is estimated that approximately 15 percent of women who have been pregnant for five or more weeks spontaneously abort or experience stillbirths.
The CDC has been conducting surveillance of legal induced abortions in the United States since 1969. It reported 1,186,039 legal abortions in 1997, but noted that this was probably an underestimate. The number of abortions per 1,000 women between 15 and 44 years of age (the abortion rate) was 20 and the number of abortions per 1,000 live births (the abortion ratio) was 306. Most legal abortions were performed in California, New York City, Texas, and Florida. The number of legal abortions increased from 1970 until 1990 and, with the exception of 1996, has fallen ever since.
Both the abortion rate and the abortion ratio began to decline earlier (see Figure 1).
Information on the characteristics of the women who obtain abortions and the timing of abortions is available from most, but not all, areas. Based on the information available in 1997, women between the ages of 20 and 24 obtained almost a third (31.5%) of all abortions. Abortion rates were highest for women between the ages of 20 and 24 and lowest for the youngest and oldest women. Abortion ratios, however, were highest for women under 20 and for women 40 and over, at least partially because there are fewer births in these age groups (see Figures 2). Slightly over half(56.3%) of women who obtained abortions were white, but the abortion rate and the abortion ratio for African Americans was slightly more than two and a half times the rate for white women. For Hispanic women in the District of Columbia, New York City, and the twenty-six states reporting ethnicity, the abortion ratio was similar to the one for non-Hispanics in the same areas, but the rate was higher. Seventy-nine percent of women who obtained abortions were unmarried, 41 percent had no previous live births, and half were obtaining abortions for the first time. Eighty-six percent of women obtaining abortions had the procedure during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy (see Figures 4).
ABORTIONS AND PUBLIC HEALTH
There is no evidence that abortions are detrimental to the health of women. The CDC reported that in 1992, the last year for which data on abortionrelated deaths were available, only twenty-seven women died of abortion-related causes, ten due to induced abortions, seventeen to spontaneous abortions, and none to illegal abortions. This is a case-fatality rate for legal induced abortions of 0.7 per 100,000 legal induced abortions, a lower fatality rate than for pregnancies. (In 1992, the maternal mortality rate was 7.8 per 100,000 live births.) Injuries and illness, both physical and emotional, are also rare. Deaths and other adverse consequences are more likely to occur when women are unable to obtain abortions legally and attempt to induce abortions themselves or turn to providers outside the conventional medical care system. There were thirty-nine deaths due to illegal abortions in 1972 before the Roe v. Wade decision and nineteen in 1973. Since then, the number of such deaths has declined markedly: There were only two between 1988 and 1992. Studies in Czechoslovakia have shown that women who are denied abortions suffer psychological difficulties.
Most induced abortions today are the result of unwanted pregnancies. The best way to prevent this safeut uncomfortable and usually undesirablerocedure is to make family planning counseling and methods easily available to all women.
LORRAINE V. KLERMAN
JACOB A. KLERMAN
(SEE ALSO: Ethics of Public Health; Pregnancy; Reproduction)
Alan Guttmacher Institute (1999). Sharing Responsibility: Women, Society and Abortion Worldwide. New York: Author.
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (1999). Issue Update: Abortion Fact Sheet. Menlo Park, CA: Author.
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust (1999). Employer Health Benefits: 1999 Annual Survey. Menlo Park, CA: Author.
Henshaw, S. K. (1998). "Abortion Incidence and Services in the United States, 1995996." Family Planning Perspectives 30(6):26370, 287.
Joffe, C. (2000). "Medical Abortion in Social Context." American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 183(2):S10S15.
Klerman, J. A. (1999). "U.S. Abortion Policy and Fertility." American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 89(2):26164.
Koonin, L. M.; Strauss, L. T.; Chrisman, C. E.; Montalbano, M. A.; Bartlett, L. A.; and Smith, J. C. (July 30, 1999). "Abortion Surveillancenited States, 1996." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 48(SS-4):12.
Koonin, L. M.; Strauss, L. T.; Chrisman, C. E.; and Parker, W. Y. (December 8, 2000). "Abortion Surveillancenited States, 1997." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 49(SS-11):13.
Levine, P. B.; Staiger, D.; Kane, T. J.; and Zimmerman, D. J. (1999). "Roe v. Wade and American Fertility." American Journal of Public Health 89(2):19903.
Matthews, S.; Ribar, D.; and Wilhelm, M. (1997). "The Effects of Economic Conditions and Access to Reproductive Health Services on State Abortion Rates and Birthrates." Family Planning Perspectives 29(2):520.
Abortion (Encyclopedia of Science and Religion)
Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy before the time of extrauterine viability. An abortion terminates the life of the embryo (the fertilized egg before three months of growth) or the fetus (after three months). Spontaneous abortions, also called miscarriages, occur when the fetus or embryo is spontaneously expelled by the body. An induced abortion occurs when there is deliberate human intervention to end the pregnancy. Induced abortions can be accomplished medically or surgically.
Medically induced abortions are accomplished by giving drugs like mifepristone (RU-486), which block the work of the hormone progesterone and soften the lining of the uterus, thus ending the pregnancy. Medically induced abortions can generally only be used if the woman is less than seven weeks from her last menstrual period. Mifepristone is administered in conjunction with another medicine called misoprostol, which causes the uterus to cramp and expel the embryo.
Within the first trimester of pregnancy, the most common form of surgical abortion is vacuum aspiration. During the second trimester, dilation and evacuation procedures (D & E) are performed. Finally, stimulating contractions that expel the fetus from the uterus can also induce abortion.
Abortion raises significant scientific, legal, religious, and ethical issues: the understanding of life and death, the definition of a human person, the rights of the mother and the fetus, and the impact of new scientific discoveries on reproduction. Certain scientific and technological discoveries, including stem cell research, cloning, and artificial reproduction, have complicated the abortion issue. The status of the fetus is probably the most controversial issue: Is the fetus a person with the same rights as those who are born? Some argue that the embryo from the moment of conception has the same rights as a person extra utero. Others argue that the early embryo is human life but not a human person. The political state also has an interest both in the autonomy of the mother and the health of the baby. Sometimes, the autonomy of the mother can be in tension with her maternal responsibility to the fetus.
With the increased use of fertility drugs and assisted reproductive technologies, many patients can conceive who were unable to conceive in the past. Some of these technologies may result in high order multiple pregnancies (with four or more fetuses), which have a substantial risk of the loss of all fetuses before the period of extra-uterine viability (twenty-two to twenty-four weeks gestation). The parents' options include carrying all of the fetuses until birth, eliminating all of them, or selectively terminating some fetuses. Selective reduction may enhance the chance of survival of some fetuses in a high order multiple pregnancy.
Discovery, diagnosis, prevention, and therapy of certain genetic or medical diseases complicate decisions surrounding abortion. Parents can now determine when the fetus is in-utero whether it carries possible genetic predispositions to diseases like cystic fibrosis, Huntington's chorea, early Alzheimer's, and sickle cell anemia. Prenatal testing also allows detection of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. Ultrasound, now widely used during pregnancy, can document a wide variety of birth defects. Although some of these problems may be treatable in-utero, in most cases no therapy is available, and the parents must decide whether to continue the pregnancy. In addition, some maternal medical conditions, such as pulmonary hypertension, may pose a significant threat to the mother's life if pregnancy continues.
Physicians, parents, and insurance companies face difficult decisions about abortion. The human and economic costs of caring for children with medical or genetic disorders can be great. Opponents of abortions that are performed to address these problems raise the concern that the weak and vulnerable in society will have no rights. There is potential for discrimination based on genetic information.
Religious views on abortion are pluriform, ranging from those who consider abortion as murder to those who justify it as a necessary means to an end. The spectrum of diversity can be found not only among world religious traditions, but also within religious traditions. The discussion focuses primarily on the status and rights of the fetus, the status and rights of the mother, the role of medical technology, the value of life (quantity and quality), the political and socioeconomic concerns surrounding fertility and infertility, and the nature of what it means to make difficult ethical decisions in a community of faith.
Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are related monotheistic religions that use religious texts, human reason, and teaching authorities for making ethical decisions. Within and among these three traditions, there are deep and potentially divisive views on abortion. For example, some religious scholars believe that God creates all life. According to this view, the embryo is a human person endowed with rights from the moment of conception. To reject this life is to reject the creation of God. Abortion is considered a sin against life along with murder, genocide, and self-destruction, and any destruction of an embryo would be considered sin, even when done in response to prenatal diagnosis of genetic disease.
In contrast, some scholars of religion, including Daniel Maguire, explain that abortion may be permissible for many reasons. Maguire points out in Sacred Choices (2001) that there is only one direct reference in scripture to accidental abortionxodus 21:22, which states that someone who injures a woman and causes her to miscarry must pay a fine paid to her husband. If the woman dies from her injuries, however, the punishment for the person who injured her is death. Clearly, in this text, the fetus is not considered a person with the same status as the woman, and abortion would be permitted for some reasons, such as preventing extreme fetal abnormalities and saving the life of the mother.
Judaism. Some Jewish scholars, such as Laurie Zoloth, connect reproduction to justice. Judaism takes into account the good of the entire community in making decisions about abortion. This approach derives from Judaism's root commitment that every human being is a child of God, born in the image of God. Reproduction is undertaken not merely for its own sake, but for the sake of the community. Abortion is thus permitted for the woman to avoid disgrace or for health reasons of both mother and fetus. In some Jewish traditions, the first forty days of conception are considered like "water" and the fetus does not have an ontological status of a person.
Islam. The approach from Islam concerning abortion and contraception has generally been one that considers the common good of the community. Muslims see themselves as vice regents of God, called to do God's work in this world. Islam's ethical practices are flexible and are often adapted to political and social climates. As Gamal Serour points out in The Future of Human Reproduction (1998), for Muslims abortion can be "carried out to protect the mother's health or life or to prevent the birth of a seriously handicapped child" (p. 196).
Christianity. Within the Christian tradition, perspectives on abortion vary dramatically. For example, within Roman Catholicism different scholars draw different conclusions about permitting abortion. Many consider the official Catholic position on abortion to derive from the 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii (On Christian Marriage) of Pope Pius XI and the 1987 Donum Vitae (Gift of Life) of Pope John Paul II. On the issue of genetic screening for selective abortion, Donum Vitae states that "a woman would be committing a gravely illicit act if she were to request such a diagnosis with the deliberate intention of having an abortion should the results confirm the existence of a malformation or abnormality." Furthermore, humans cannot assume the role of God when using embryos in research from IVF (in vitro fertilization). Donum Vitae states that the researcher "sets himself up as the master of the destiny of others inasmuch as he arbitrarily chooses whom he will allow to live and whom he will send to death and kills defenseless human beings." However, Maguire and others have pointed out that papal statements on abortion are not considered infallible and explain that abortion would be permitted for some reasons.
Protestant denominations vary on their stance on abortion. Within Protestantism, decisions about abortion are not made by a central teaching magisterium but within a community of shared discernment. Denominations such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American and the United Church of Christ do not take an official stand on the status of the fetus. Both the fetus and the mother are taken into account when confronting decisions concerning abortion. Other Protestant teachings are more consistent with Roman Catholicism and consider abortion a sin. In some cases, exceptions are made for the life of the mother.
Asian religions. According to Maguire, Asian religions like Daoism and Confucianism have understood abortion as a necessity in some cases and have extended compassion to those involved. These nontheistic religions emphasize the family and community as the primary social unit, and decisions about abortion are made within this social context. Buddhism considers all life as linked and interdependent, and most Buddhists believe in reincarnation and understand that life begins at conception. These beliefs could preclude abortion at any stage, but many Buddhists permit abortion, particularly for the sake of the mother. Intention is central to Buddhist morality and so the action of abortion must also include the intentions of the moral actors.
See also BUDDHISM; CHINESE RELIGIONS, CONFUCIANISM AND SCIENCE IN CHINA; CHINESE RELIGIONS, DAOISM AND SCIENCE IN CHINA; CHRISTIANITY, LUTHERAN, ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND RELIGION; CHRISTIANITY, ROMAN CATHOLIC, ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND RELIGION; CLONING; DAO; GENETIC TESTING; HUMAN GENOME PROJECT; ISLAM, CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND RELIGION; JUDAISM, CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND RELIGION; REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY; STEM CELL RESEARCH
ACOG-American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "Medical Management of Abortion." ACOG Practice Bulletin 26 (2001):1-13.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Donum Vitae: Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation: Replies to Certain Questions of the Day. Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1987. In Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Medical Ethics, 6th edition, ed. Ronald Munson. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 2000. Also available from: http://www.nccbuscc.org/prolife/tdocs/donumvitae.htm.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. "A Social Statement on Abortion." Adopted at the second biennial Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Orlando, Fla., Aug 28ept 4, 1991. Available from: http://www.elca.org/dcs/abortion.pf.html.
Maguire, Daniel. Sacred Choices: The Right to Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2001.
Paul, Maureen, ed. A Clinician's Guide to Medical and Surgical Abortion. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1999.
Peters, Ted. "In Search of the Perfect Child: Genetic Testing and Selective Abortion." Christian Century 113, no. 31 (1996): 1034037.
Pope Pius XI. "Casti Connubii: Encyclical On Christian Marriage," December 31, 1930. Available from: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals.
Rispler-Chaim, Vardit. "The Right Not To Be Born: Abortion of the Disadvantaged Fetus in Contemporary Fatwas." The Muslim World 89, no. 2 (1999): 13043.
Rogers, Therisa. "The Islamic Ethics of Abortion in the Traditional Islamic Sources." The Muslim World 89, no. 2 (1999): 12229.
Serour, Gamal I. "Reproductive Choice: A Muslim Perspective." In The Future of Human Reproduction, eds. John Harris and Soren Holm. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998.
Zoloth, Laurie. "The Ethics of the Eight Day: Jewish Bioethics and Research on Human Embryonic Stem
Cells." In The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate: Science, Ethics and Public Policy, eds. Suzanne Holland, Karen Lebacqz, and Laurie Zoloth. Cambridge, Mass. and London: The MIT Press, 2001.
WILLIAM J. WATSON