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Abortion is the
medical termination of a pregnancy either by surgical procedure or other means, commonly performed by doctors in the developed or western world. It is generally available in private clinics and hospitals. Abortion has become the most debated of all sexual health issues by medical professionals, women’s liberationists and religious and social groups.
The abortion debate became prominent, in the western world, in the
1930’s when the decriminalisation of abortion was advocated as a result of many women losing their lives during attempted non-medically endorsed abortions by ‘abortion practitioners’ who often had little or no medical knowledge and experience. The history of abortion and its practice however outdate this debate by nearly three thousand years. The Hippocratic Oath clearly forbids the practice of abortion when it makes reference to “ουδέ γυναικί πεσσόν φθόριον δώσω” (“… nor should I give to a woman something corruptible in order to abort…”), while the International Code of Medical Ethics states “a doctor must always bear in mind the importance of preserving life from the moment of conception until death”. Unlike today however, where abortion is a simply a moral dilemma, the termination of pregnancy in antiquity was seen as an abominable crime given that it was not a medical problem but a social problem in which medical practitioners were asked to become social executioners.
Current estimates indicate that the number of abortions among adolescent women globally (WHO 1986 definition of adolescent is used here referring to those 15-24 rather than the traditionally accepted 10-19) is approximately 4.5 million (UNFPA 1998). There are no precise figures for women of all ages although the World Health Organisation estimates that some 27 million abortions are carried out each year (WHO 2004). The total number of abortions performed are not known because of the numbers of unsafe abortions that go unrecorded predominantly in developing countries estimated in the tens of millions (Benagiano 2000).
* "I'm pro-choice and I vote."
Abortion has been legal in the US since 1973 with the now-famous decision in the Roe v. Wade case of the US Supreme Court. The justices, by split decision, declared that a fetus in the early stages of pregnancy is considered a nonperson and therefore part of the woman's body. The woman was then given the choice, the right, to keep or remove the fetus. This decision and the development of abortion clinics has divided the nation into pro-choice and pro-life constituents. These constituents have created catchy but divisive slogans such as the ones above.
Depending upon whom you ask, there are many different stages during which an unborn life may be aborted upon request. For example, the unborn child might an embryo, it may have not implanted in the womb, it may still be without a heartbeat, it may not have a distinct human form yet, or it may be too young to survive outside the womb. Almost all people agree that the unborn child is a human by the time of birth. However, it is the Orthodox Christian belief that a human is made after the image of God at the moment of conception. In fact, all people are temples of the [[Holy Spirit]] once they are conceived. Additionally, the Orthodox Church has [[feast day]]s celebrating conceptions: [[Annunciation]] to the [[Virgin Mary]] on [[March 25]], the Conception by St. [[Joachim and Anna|Anna]] of the Theotokos on [[December 9]], and the Conception of St. [[John the Forerunner|John the Forerunner and Baptist]] on [[September 23]].