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Abortion access


Reducing the U.S. abortion rate

What is life; what is a person?:

Many people regard both a human ova and spermatozoa to be alive. Both contain human DNA. Thus both are often considered to be forms of human life.

However, the current scientific definition of "life" is that an item must exhibit seven properties:

  • homeostasis -- "the tendency of the body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium within its internal environment, even when faced with external changes." 1
  • be composed of cells.
  • undergo metabolism.
  • able to grow.
  • adapt to their environment.
  • respond to stimuli.
  • ability to reproduce.

Human ova and spermatozoa meet the first six criteria for life, but neither can reproduce. That is, one ovum cannot become two ova; one spermatozoon cannot become two spermatozoa. Therefore, neither is actually a form of life.

However, once conception has occurred, then the resulting fertilized ovum -- called a zygote -- sometimes does split to become two zygotes. This is the process by which identical twins occurr. So, strictly speaking, human life begins at conception, as is stated so often by the pro-life movement.

Similarly, there is also a general agreement that a newborn is both a human life and a actual human person. However, some aboriginal groups only regard personhood to be attained after birth at a public ritual when the newborn is given a name. They represent a small minority.

There is a lack of consensus in North America about when -- between conception and childbirth -- human life becomes an actual human person who is entitled to legal rights including the right to life. This lack of consensus has led to a deep division in the U.S. and Canada between the pro-life and pro-choice movements.  The former generally believe that the transition from human life to human person happens at conception. Pro-choicers generally believe that it happens later; some suggest it happens at or even shortly after childbirth. The traditional Jewish position is that it personhood is fully attained only when the fetus has half-emerged from the mother’s body.

Unfortunately, many pro-lifers refer to both a zygote and a newborn as "human life," and equate the two terms "human life" and "human person." This makes communication and dialog essentially impossible.

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The abortion rate:

The main activities of the pro-life movement has concentrated on restricting abortion as much as is legally possible without violating the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. That ruling guaranteed the legality of abortion early in pregnancy. Meanwhile, the pro-choice movement focused their effort on making a woman's choice to have an abortion available throughout pregnancy.

About the year 2006, a new emphasis surfaced. It is a desire to minimize unwanted pregnancies and thus eliminate the need for many or most abortions. This is a goal that many pro-lifers and pro-choicers can enthusiastically embrace. Many countries in Europe have successfully lowered their rate to levels far less than those in the U.S.  Unfortunately, the methods that they used may prove to be deeply offensive and unacceptable to many in the North American pro-life movement.

The 2008 presidential elections showed a clear difference between the platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties:

bullet The Democratic party promised to increase abortion access, while attempting to reduce the number of abortions by lowering the number of unwanted pregnancies and by increasing support to pregnant women so that childbirth becomes a viable option for them to choose.
bulletThe Republican party promised to attempt to reduce the number of abortions by making abortions less accessible.

bulletMore details

Topics covered in this section:

bulletReducing the abortion rate by:

Reducing the U.S. abortion rate by reducing unwanted pregnancies:

bulletImproved technology

bulletEncouraging pregnant couples to choose childbirth

bullet What happens to the abortion rate when the government defunds Planned Parenthood? An example from Texas (being written)

bulletShould a person who wants to reduce the abortion rate vote Democrat or Republican?

bulletEssays donated by visitors to this web site:
bulletAngie Pratt: "Reducing the abortion rate via social programs & education"

bullet "Northstar:" A response to the above essay
bulletComparing adolescent pregnancy and abortion rates in the U.S. and Europe
bullet Contraceptive methods Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
bulletEmergency contraception (EC) (a.k.a. the morning-after pill)

bulletWal-Mart's initial refusal to stock this medication in the U.S. and Canada

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "homeostasis,", at:

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Home > Abortion > here

Home > "Hot" religious topics and conflicts > Abortion > here

Portions originally published: 1997-JAN-20
Last updated 2017-JUL-03
Author: Bruce A Robinson

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