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Abortion

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==Definition==
Abortion is the 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, advocates for women’s health, and religious and social groups.
==Overview==
The abortion debate became prominent, in the western world, in the 1930s 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).
 
Abortion statistics can be studied as incidences or they can be looked at in comparison with birth rates. A population study Benagiano refers to highlights this. While showing the Russian Federation’s abortion rate, which was relatively low compared to other European countries in 1995, it revealed that 179 abortions were performed per 100 births therefore nearly two for every one birth (Monnier 1998). It is therefore imperative that abortion statistics are not viewed as either incidences or rates, but as both.
 
Abortion has been a major political, moral, and emotional issue in the United States for decades now. We have seen too often political slogans such as:
* "It's a child, not a choice;"
* "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]].
Fr. [[Stanley S. Harakas]] (''For the Health of Body and Soul: An Eastern Orthodox Introduction to Bioethics'', 2002) states the following about the question of abortion:
:''Because our humanity is a psychosomatic unity and because Orthodox Christians see all of life as a continuous and never ending development of the image and likeness toward [[theosis]] and full humanity, the achievement of particular stages of development of the conceptus is not ethically relevant to the question of abortion.
:''In his second canon, St. [[Basil the Great|Basil]] specifically rules out the artificial distinction between the "formed" and "unformed" conceptus (''[[The Rudder]]'', pp. 789-790). Thus, any abortion is seen as an evil. Since the physical and the personal aspects of human existence are understood as essential constitutive elements of our humanity, the conceptus—unfulfilled and incomplete as it may be—may not be destroyed under normal circumstances. Eastern Orthodox ethicists reject as unworthy those counterarguments which appeal to economic and social reasons and so hold life to be less valuable than money, [[pride]], or convenience. Armed with modern genetic information, they also reject the argument that an abortion may be justified because a woman is entitled to control her own body. That basic affirmation of self-determination is not rejected; what is rejected is the claim that the conceptus is a part of the mother's tissue. It is not her body; it is the body and life of another human being entrusted to her for care and nurture.
God is the author of life; he never wants us to die for any reason. Rather, he wants all of us to live. Our personal ethical task is to receive the [[Cross]] and [[Resurrection]] with [[eucharist|thanksgiving]] and not to curse the [[grace]] he gives us because of the cross he asks us to bear. In this case, the woman's cross is to bear a child and not to harm the child in any way. God created nature and called it good; it should never be destroyed.
==See also==
*[[Contraception]]
*[[Pro-Life Resources]]
*[[Orthodox Pro-life Ethic]]
 
[[ro:Avort]]
[[Category:Bioethics]]
[[Category:Ethics]]
 
== External links ==
*[http://assemblyofbishops.org/news/2013/jan-22-roe-vs-wade-anniversary January 22, 2013: The 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade] Encyclical from the [[Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America]]
*[http://www.hopeafterabortion.com/ Project Rachel]
*[http://orthodox-apologetics.blogspot.com/2009/11/fathers-on-abortion.html The Fathers on Abortion]
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