Abortion is a subject which continues to be debated, with people on both sides of the debate having strong feelings about their positions. Thus the first major impact of abortion is that it serves as a polarizing issue.
Women have attempted to abort unwanted fetuses since antiquity, often with recourse to various folk remedies, but medical technology only advanced to the point of enabling safe access to abortion in the twentieth century. As abortion became safer, debates over a woman's right to choose whether to carry a fetus to term intensified, pitting the putative rights of a fetus against women's rights to control of their own bodies.
In countries which restrict access to safe, legal abortions, and even worse, in those that restrict access to birth control as well, unsafe illegal abortions remain a major women's health issue.
In some countries such as China and India where abortions are safe and widely available, sex-selective abortion is changing the gender ratio of the region, with many female fetuses being aborted due to a preference for male children. This has actually changed the gender ratios of the younger generation in several Asian countries, with men substantially outnumbering women, leading to concerns about such issues as demographic decline and increased per capita crime rate due to the increased proportion of young single men.