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Abortion Case

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The important ways of looking at the issue of abortion are most easily categorized into five major points, legal precedence, birth control issues, human rights, religion and when life begins. Based on both empirical and moral claims, a wide spectrum of views supporting either more or less legal restriction on abortions has emerged in America. While advocacy groups define the issue through its constitutionality and its moral views represented by their constituents, politicians define the issue by party lines, generally with liberals as "pro-choice" and conservatives as "pro-life." The media defines the issue morally, presenting to the nation the views of various "pro-life" and "pro-choice" organizations with little empirical evidence from both sides. The various positions that can be taken on this issue can be divided by empirical and moral assumptions to more clearly analyze the particulars of this heated topic. However, the issue focuses in on the basic question; should there be more or less laws governing abortion?

Before delving deeper into the history or current debates over an issue like abortion, it is important to look simply at the fact of its existence in the United States. According to studies released in 2005 by the Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health (PRCH) and The Guttmacher Institute, there were 1.29 million abortions performed in this country. Research by the same group shows that in 1994, approximately half of all pregnancies in the United States were unintended, with only about half of those actually ending in abortion. In comparison to other countries, the U.S. accounted for three percent of worldwide abortions in 1995 (PRCH and Guttmacher).

With that said, the political history of abortion has been a turbulent one, and the position that the Supreme Court in particular takes on abortion, obviously greatly influences the issue. One could expect the Supreme Court to take a more liberal and "pro-choice" stance on the topic because since Roe v. Wade in 1973, court cases have been progressing towards a more definite right to choose. This can be seen in the cases that followed; Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health (1983), Webster v. Reproduction Health Services (1989), and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Because the Supreme Court sets precedents about such important issues, their past decisions play a major role in deciding the right choice on the issue. However, the decisions of the Supreme Court depend very heavily on the judges who currently hold positions as Supreme Court Justices. A more liberal Supreme Court would strongly support the woman's right to choose what she does with her body; whereas a Supreme Court with more conservative justices would be more inclined to oppose making decisions that would strengthen the precedent set in Roe v. Wade. Thus, the Presidential appointment of Justices, leaves abortion as a hot topic for political candidates.

A recent legal decision that affects the legality of abortion is the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, created after the Laci Peterson case. This act has made it so that a violent crime against a pregnant woman counts as two separate crimes; one against the woman herself and the other against the unborn child. This has added to the controversial nature of the issue because it seems like a paradox to allow the fetus to be considered a person in criminal proceedings, yet allow abortion to be legal. It is contradictory to provide a fetus rights as a human while still giving a woman the right to choose abortion.

Nevertheless, ever since the landmark Roe v. Wade, abortion law has continued to protect the woman's right to choose. Supreme Court cases have placed the woman's right to choose under the right to privacy and therefore they have considered it protected by the US constitution. Also, when Norma McCorvey (formerly known as Jane Roe) tried to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision in her 2005 Supreme Court Case, McCorvey v. Hill (2005), the Supreme Court denied the case thus supporting the statute that Roe v. Wade had created. The precedent set in Roe v. Wade has served as a turning point for "pro-choice" and woman's rights groups, and all other abortion cases have used the Roe v. Wade decision as a guideline for deciding later cases. There is no doubt that there has been much debate about whether or not a woman's right to choose should be protected under her right to privacy; however, based on historical decision and precedents set by the Supreme Court, abortions are legal and are left up to the discretion of the mother. Also, the Partial-birth Abortion Act, which had deemed partial-birth abortions illegal, going against a previous Supreme Court ruling in Stenberg v. Carhart, was later deemed unconstitutional. This further supports the belief that an abortion is a mother's right to choose and a woman has the right to privacy in regards to the actions she takes with her own body.

To fine tune the issue of abortion further, the different definitions of abortion in regards to birth control must be examined. To prevent pregnancy, various contraceptive methods are followed, but amongst these methods there stands the notion that what is commonly referred to as "abortion", can be considered a contraceptive method. Some contraceptive methods include use of a barrier to keep the sperm and egg separate, as is the case with condoms. Chemical methods include the use of contraceptive pills to prevent pregnancy in such ways as causing the shell of the egg to harden so the sperm can not penetrate it, preventing the release of the egg so the sperm cannot reach the egg, or even preventing a fertilized egg from implanting itself in the uterus. Abstinence can also be considered a mode of contraception and can be used in some cases along side a cycle method where the couple will wait until the woman is in a short period of being infertile to perform intercourse. Out of all the methods listed, the abstinence and cycle methods are the only contraceptive methods allowed by some religions, including the Catholic Church. Depending on the definition of when life begins, chemical methods of contraception, like the pill, may or may not be considered methods of abortion as well.

Abortion methods and statistics are separate from contraceptive statistics. Since an abortion is defined as a termination of a pregnancy instead of its prevention, abortions are measured separately. The statistics on abortion as listed on the Center for Disease Control's website show the demographics that the highest percentages of women who receive abortions are Caucasians, unmarried, and within the age range of 20 - 24. The period of most received abortions is within the



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