The “A” Question: What does Abortion mean?

Preface: There will be some strong language concerning abortion methods later on in the post so if you do not want to read such content, please skip over the “abortion methods” section of the post and leave a comment. The aim is not to create offense in mentioning the graphic nature of certain abortion procedures, so if this makes you uncomfortable, please do not read it to avoid confusion.

Vera Drake is an illluminating and brilliant film into the subject of abortion. It follows Vera, a cheerful English housewife who secretly helps women who want abortions have them at a time where it was illegal to have an abortion in England.

What is abortion? It can be described as the termination of the existence foetus during pregnancy. Some people say it is murder. Others say that it is not murder since a foetus is a collection of cells. Clearly, abortion is a controversial topic to discuss in any old way. I would like to know what people think of abortion. It has been talked about many times, sometimes with vitriol and anger but I am genuinely curious to know whether in today’s world, have we come to accept abortion as part of life or are we still afraid of what it symbolises?

In my personal opinion, I support abortion 100%. I see it as a choice for a woman to do what she feels in her heart is right. Many times, women who have had abortions are stigmatised for doing something which some people think is wrong. Whether it is wrong or right for me is irrelevant because I wholeheartedly believe it is a woman’s choice. The law cannot dictate to a woman that her body is immobilised and that she cannot do something if she desperately does not want to keep the child. Some people believe that they support abortion in cases such as rape. I respect that opinion but another reason why I support abortion in any case is because I believe it is a severe violation of human rights to suppress women because they have to physically bear a child so by restricting a woman not to have an abortion, I do see it as symbolically, the patriarchy is telling its’ female members that they cannot live how they want.

Here are some worldwide statistics for abortion:

–Worldwide, there are circa 126,000 abortions a day and the lifetime average for an abortion is 1 abortion per woman. In addition, about 78% of abortions occur in developing countries.

Examples of certain legal Abortion Methods

–Vacuum Aspiration (6 to 9 weeks): A powerful suction tube is inserted through the cervix and into the uterus.

–Dilation and Curettage (8 to 16 weeks): A steel loop-shaped blade is inserted into the uterus through the cervix. It removes the foetus and placenta.

Abortion Pill (less than 8 weeks pregnant): The medication “mifepristone” was developed in France by Dr. Etienne-Emile Baulieu in 1980. He found a method of preventing a woman’s body from producing a hormone that sustains early pregnancy. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone needed to maintain the pregnancy. Because this hormone is blocked, the uterine lining begins to shed, the cervix begins to soften and bleeding may occur. With the later addition of the second medication, misoprostol, the uterus contracts and the pregnancy is usually expelled within 6 to 8 hours.

There have been anti-abortion violence occuring at US Abortion Clinics too. I find this too repugnant and disgusting to even make a comment. These women are exercising their right and before anyone tries to slap the freedom of speech agurment, life is not controlled by anarchy and by trying to cause chaos at an abortion clinic, you are doing exactly that so those people need to just sit down and have peaceful protests instead of violent ones.

I do not think abortion should be used as a form of contraception however. It is a serious procedure that should be taken seriously. One controversial question is do men have a say when it comes to abortion? What would happen if a woman wanted to have an abortion and her boyfriend did not want her to? It is a grey area however I am adamant that her choice in this case overrules his because he cannot force her to go through with it…or can he?


15 thoughts on “The “A” Question: What does Abortion mean?

  1. Byrdparker, if you don’t mind my asking, what city does your friend live in? I only ask because my mother is a registered nurse at Planned Parenthood, and what you’ve described is quite different from the facilities she works in. I wonder if the experience is different depending on the city. Also, the pill is given in two doses, the first given in the office. Very rarely is there a shot given. Instead, the person takes a shot orally in the office, and is instructed to take the other (I believe it is intravaginally) at home.

    In many arenas,

    Dilitation and curretage is typically reserved for when a woman has a certain type of miscarriage. The method is used to ensure that the lining of the endometrium is not affected by any remants from the fetus.

    Abortion by aspiration is usually used when medical abortion (the pill) is not an option. The pill is used for very early pregnancies (up to 8 weeks typically), and at that point aspiration abortion would become the most viable option.

  2. aulelia
    – no , its a time release pill , it basically just stimulates your uterus to dilate and contract , just like having a baby , but expelling the fetus/ tissue about 6-10 hours after the pill , u start to go through the labor of expulsion .

    re abortion clinics
    I don’t know if they provide support , I know she told me she felt it was like a assembly line everybody in thier backless hospital robes , and that some other patients were repeat clients , she found this out through a group session … she also was accosted by the pro lifers with fetus’s in thier jars , telling her she was going to hell . This was as she was going into the clinic and leaving the clinic.

    but the doctors that treated my friend @ the hospital told her she should have never went to a clinic , instead she should have went to the hospital.

    by the time her symptoms came the clinic was closed.

    This was a interesting post , many women will can’t talk when they face this situation . My friend , is really a close friend , afterwards I told her she should have told me b/4 and I would have helped as a emotional sounding board. No one should have to do this alone for fear of embarrasement !!!!

  3. Ensayn — You make a really good point about mentioning the patriarchy. It is a invisible poison that ultimately is a deciding factor in many aspects of male and female relationships. In addition, I think the fact that religion is important for many things and most religions are patriarchal means that abortion still cannot escape the stigma of which is attached to it.

    Francis L. Holland — There is no doubt that under the right circumstances it can be magical but unfortunately under the wrong circumstances ie when a woman has an unplanned pregnancy and she does not feel like she wants to give birth, it appears to be a situation that bears heavily on her heart for all the wrong reasons. I no doubt agree that fathers must be consulted. If a woman had an abortion and DID NOT tell the father, that is grossly unfair but ultimately it is the woman’s choice.

    Jill — Just sent you an email 🙂

    ByrdParker — The side effects of the pill sound horrific. Can it not be taken in abortion clinics? Thanks for your anecdote because it definitely does not sound easy and I would never have thought it had. Do abortion clinics provide enough support for the emotional trauma that may come due to abortions?

    Thanks for all your comments!


  4. i know some people who took the pill , and it is not just about taking the pill , you have to get a shot b/4 the pill , and then u take the pill in your home , and it is like having an actual baby , you get labor pains , your uterus dilates, you expel the fetus . so there is a lot of blood… My friend , called me in the middle of the night , to rush her to the hospital , she had started hemmoraging after taking the pill . she was in so much pain , and you need to take medicine after .. In my oppinion most people think you take the pill and it is easier , than going to have the actual operation . I do not think they understand it is like having a baby…

    i agree with bella noire , different circumstances for different people and we should not judge people , unless we have walked in thier shoes, and as far as I checked we can’t achieve this yet.

  5. Congratulations, Asbagna! I agree with much of Asa’s formulation/expression above. It’s clear biologically that there is something living within a woman when she is pregnant and that “something” is a developing child. Under the right circumstances, it can be quite magical.

    Asa makes an important distinction between favoring abortion and favoring the right to choose. I have always personally made every possible effort to avoid ending up in a situation where ending the life of a fetus would seem like the best alternative. But I don’t think it is my place or society’s place to control the decisions a woman makes about her womb and its contents. So, I favor promoting societal conditions in which abortion is “safe, legal and rare.”

    I discussed this with an evangelical friend recently and she told me that she is unalterably opposed to abortion in all cases. I recounted to her the case of my grandmother, who had five children when she went to the hospital to have her sixth. She was in the maternity ward when the doctor told my grandfather that the doctor would be able save the child or my grandmother, but not both. My grandfather chose to save the child, but the doctor thankfully ignored him and saved my grandmother. Otherwise, I might never have known her.

    A 100% ban against abortion would consign women to die in cases like this, often leaving other children and the newborn motherless. Hearing this story, my friend allowed that even though she is unalterably against abortion, there are cases in which she would approve of it. She likened it to the case of a person needing to save two drowning people who had fallen from a boat into the ocean. If you can only save one, you can hardly be wrong for choosing one (the mother) and not the other.

    I think we have to rely on women to make this decision themselves, trusting them to consult with fathers appropriately.

    Meanwhile, please have a look at this article i wrote based on a first-person account: Black Woman Struggles with Color-Aroused Emotion, Ideation and Behavior, after Bi-Chromatic Couple Stimuli (“Mixed Couples” Arouse Anger, Jealousy, Envy and Family Strife Within a Black Woman and her Family)

  6. I support a woman’s right to have an abortion, and I don’t believe people use abortion as a method of birth control. I think in the stats that are posted here, shows it’s normally one per lifetime, unless I misread the stats. I think mainly the reason for this debate is that people in 2007 still believe that a man plants a seed into a woman. I mean I can’t believe people still think this, a woman said this to me just today. This debate is based only on a patriarchal notion of none science. The child is the mother’s and she has the right to make the life or death decision concerning the child. During slavery times women often killed their children, to save them from the scurge of a slave’s life. I think if we truly thought about the situation without some patriarchal voice in our heads there would be no debate.

  7. Johnston — I agree that people should use protection but sometimes people make mistakes and even some contraceptive methods aren’t foolproof. I believe that if the couple’s pregnancy is unplanned and the lady wants to have the abortion, ie, she is not forced by external parties, then she should be given the emotional safety and physical to have that abortion as it is her inalienable right.

    BellaNoire — I completely agree. Women need to stop being forced or told that they MUST become mothers because that is what society expects of them if they are pregnant. That is a complete and utter fallacy as a woman should only be a mother if that is what she wants in her heart. I do not think abortion is a method of killing babies or culling the world population, it is a way of giving women the choice. Abortion has been given this dirty blanket to cover itself and that is just wrong. Plain and simple. It is about choices and like you said no one can judge until they know what it feels like.

  8. I fully support a woman’s right to choose. I would much prefer to see a woman make a responsible decision to have an abortion, than to be forced into being a mothre before her time. However, there is NO excuse for abortion to be used as a method of birth control to be used frequently like the pill or patch.

    It makes me angry when people pass judgement on someone who’s had to make the gut-wrenching decision to have the procedure done, especially when they’ve never been in that type of situation. It’s very easy to say what you would or wouldn’t do when you’ve never had to do it, but you react differently sometimes when you’re put in a trying situation. I’ve had to make some incredibly difficult choices in this arena, and I rest assured that God knows I made the best decision I could have.

  9. In your hypothetical scenario, I agree that the boyfriend shouldn’t be able to force the woman to carry to term. I also don’t think that if she wants the child and he doesn’t she should be able to force support from the man. Ideally people would learn how to keep their pants on or at least use condoms.

  10. ByrdParker — I’m afraid I am going to have to disagree with you here!! I do not think abortion is murder because the foetus itself is still developing and in my belief, I do not believe it is a complete physical human being until it has been born.

    Why wouldn’t you support the abortion pill to be given in 3rd world countries? Thank you for your comment. Challenging and Interesting as always!

  11. Having a baby is a wonderful event !! To take part in creating human life is a wonderful and fufilling . Congratualtions to Asabanga…

    I am behind abortions 100 % it is a woman’s choice .
    Since the woman is the pod , i do not think the father has a right to make the woman go full term on a pregnancy that she does not want. That is to much of a gray area, and becomes the iron hand of patriarchy . It is her body and she should have complete control. I do not feel that abortion should be used as a birth control method, but that chance is there due to the freedom of choice.

    Sometimes when are just not mentally or financially ready… Creating life is a very special event , which comes along with responsibility . If a woman cannot handle this responsibility , she needs to terminate the pregnancy instead adding to the worlds unwanted population… All human life needs to be nutured. But don’t fool yourself , when u have an abortion you are commiting murder/ killing , because the fetus is alive inside of you , feeding off of you . Once you choose to stop this stage of the development , you are killing…

    I do believe that third world countries should have medical care, to educate the population of the options , and also teach how to take care of your body , which includes safe sex practices. I travel to Asia frequently , and some of the things I have seen are frightening . However I would not support the abortion pill to be given in third world countries..

  12. Thanks for your comments on this issue.

    Asa — Firstly, congratulations!! I think that is fantastic and you both must be ecstatic.

    I think in essence where people divide over abortion is when is a baby seen as a “life” and when is it an “embryo”. Is abortion infanticide? Tough questions but essentially I think that abortion has to be legal because it is a right that a woman is entitled to because it is about a choice. If a woman does not want to have a child, she should not feel like she should have to.

    Like you said, abortion should be government funded. It saddens me that it is not in developing countries because people would then confuse a support for safe abortions with that being synonymous for the disregard for human life. It is like walking on eggshells but I think supporting safe abortions shows respect for the life of the mother who could very well die if it is not done correctly. I cannot imagine living in the days of women using coathangers so that is why it must be enforced in a safe mannher.

    You raise a good point: what about the rights of the father? some will say that the father cannot overrule the mother and others disagree. a grey area no doubt.

    Rhonda — Thanks for your comment. Abortion needs to be there because many times circumstances make it incredibly difficult for women to raise a child that they know is unwanted. I am not saying wipe out unwanted children – I just believe that when a woman is pregnant, the child is still developing and she should have the right to say no to delivering if she does not think she is capable of taking care of it.

  13. I hate the no support of abortion unless impregnation was via rape becasue so many people do not believe in rape or they think only those who deserve it get raped.

    I think abortion should be there. If the same people quibbling about abortion made life more hospitable for the mothers and the infant, I would listen even half way to their arguments.

  14. My wife and I are expecting our first child. We have attended 2 ultrasounds and seen the development of our unborn child. We heard it’s heart beat. We saw the images of it’s heart, lungs, brain, stomach, legs, arms and cranium. During the second ultrasound, we saw the baby awake, stretch and drink ambiotic fluid for breakfast. I feel it move in my wifes stomach and when I press against it, it presses back. How do you dehumanize a living unborn human being? Refer to it as a “fetus” or “a collection of cells”.

    All that being said… as a rule, I am 100% against abortion. However, there are always exceptions to every rule. Although I am personally against it, I do believe that everyone has the right to choose. God gives people the right to choose, so who am I to deny anyone that right. So although for me (and fortunately my wife is of the same opinion) I am 100% pro-life, I support the pro-choice movement. I also believe the procedure should government funded and done in a clinic or hospital.

    I do not believe it’s only a woman’s choice. Ideally it should be the choice of both parents…. but we don’t live in an ideal world. What if they have differing opinions…. want to make polarizing choices? I will quickly and humbly admit that I don’t have the right answer to that one. Should we defer to the woman’s choice because the unborn child is within her body? What about the right’s and/or feelings of the Father? Very rarely does the “right to life” for the unborn child enters the debate. I don’t think there is any standard, all-compassing answer. Not for me anyway.

    I only know that my wife and I are pleasantly anticipating our next ultrasound, so we can hopefully know the gender of our child (mainly because my wife needs to plan color schemes…lol!). I also know that in seeing, hearing and feeling the development of my child, the declaration by David in Psalms 139:14 has a new significance for me: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”….

    Interesting thought provoking post.


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