Sunday March 26 , 2017

Abortion law

Abortion law is legislation which pertains to the provision of abortion.

Abortion has been a controversial subject in societies around the humanity because of the moral and ethical issues that surround it, though other thought, such as a state's pro- or antinatalist procedures or questions of inheritance and patriarchy, also dictate abortion law and guideline.

It has been frequently banned and otherwise limited, though abortions have continued to be commonplace in many areas where it is illegal.

Almost 2/3 of the world’s women currently reside in countries where abortion may be obtained on request for a broad range of social, economic or personal reasons. Abortion laws vary broadly by country, ranging from those in Chile, El Salvador, Malta, Nicaragua and Vatican City, which ban the procedure entirely, to those in Canada, the United States, and many more which place no limits on the provision of abortion. Both supporters and opponents of legal abortion suppose their position addresses a primary human right. Pro-Choice activists argue that a woman has a right to abortion, and that doctors should be allowed to abort a life threatening pregnancy, or in cases of rape and incest. Pro-Life activists argue that abortion denies an embryo or fetus the right to live.


Abortion and contraception have been widely available throughout Western history, despite ethical concerns. Plato and Aristotle both argued in favor of compulsory abortion under certain circumstances, though Hippocrates expressly disapproved of the practice. Under Roman law, abortion sometimes occurred but family planning was conducted mainly through the exposure of healthy newborns—usually to protect the rights and interests of the biological father. References to abortion were included in the writings of Ovid, Seneca, Juvenal and Pliny, who included a list of abortifacients (drugs that induce an abortion) in one text. Early Christian philosophers, including Ivo of Chartres and Gratian, disapproved of abortion when it broke the link between copulation and procreation but argued that abortion of what Ivo termed an "unformed embryo" did not constitute homicide.

Religious authorities have taken various positions on abortion throughout history (see Religion and abortion). In 1588, Pope Sixtus V adopted a papal bull adopting the position of St. Thomas Aquinas that contraception and abortion were crimes against nature and sins against marriage. This verdict was relaxed three years later by Pope Gregory XIV, who pronounced that abortion before "hominization" should not be subject to church penalties that were any stricter than civil penalties (Codicis iuris fontes, ed. P. Gasparri, vol. 1 (Rome, 1927), pp. 330-331). Common law positions on abortion in individual countries varied significantly from country to country.

As a matter of common law in England and the United States, abortion was illegal anytime after quickening – when the activities of the fetus could first be felt by the woman. In the 19th century, many Western countries began to use statutes to codify or further restrictions on abortion. Anti-abortion forces were led by a combination of traditional groups opposed to abortion on moral grounds and medical professionals who were concerned about the danger presented by the procedure and the regular involvement of non-medical personnel in performing abortions.

It became clear in the following years, however, that illegal abortions continued to take place in large numbers even where abortions were clearly illegal. It was difficult to obtain sufficient evidence to prosecute the women and abortion doctors, and judges and juries were often unwilling to convict. Henry Morgentaler, for instance, was never convicted by a jury. (He was acquitted by a jury in the 1973 court case, but the release was overturned by five judges on the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1974. He went to prison, appealed, and was again acquitted. In total, he served 10 months, suffering a heart attack while in solitary imprisonment. Many were also outraged at the invasion of privacy and the medical problems resulting from abortions taking place unlawfully in medically dangerous circumstances. Political movements soon coalesced around the legalization of abortion and liberalization of existing laws.

By the early 20th century, many countries had begun to legalize abortions when performed to protect the life of the woman, and in some cases to defend the health of the woman. Under Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet Union legalized all abortions in 1920, but this was fully reversed in 1936 by Joseph Stalin in order to increase population growth. In the 1930s, several countries (Poland, Turkey, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Mexico) legalized abortion in some special cases (rape, threat to mother's health, fetal malformation). In 1948 abortion was legalized in Japan, 1952 in Yugoslavia (on a limited basis) and 1955 in the Soviet Union (on demand). Some Soviet allies (Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania) legalized abortion in the late fifties under Soviet pressure. The adoption of contraceptives the 1950s and 1960s in Western countries resulted in comparatively few statutory changes on abortion law. In Great Britain, the Abortion Act of 1967 clarified and prescribed abortions as legal up to 28 weeks. Other countries soon followed, counting Canada (1969), the United States (1973 in most states, pursuant to the federal Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion nationwide), France (1975), Austria (1975), New Zealand (1977), Italy (1978), the Netherlands (1980) and Belgium (1990). However, these countries vary greatly in the circumstances under which abortion is permitted. In 1975, the West German Supreme Court struck down a law legalizing abortion, holding that they contradict the constitution's human rights guarantees. After Germany's reunification, although the legal status of abortion in the former East Germany, a compromise was reached which deemed most abortions illegal, but prosecutions not performed.

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