Keep Abortion Legal

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I will do all I can to keep abortion a legal option for women, with as few restrictions as possible. And I would extend Medicaid coverage to abortions.

I realize there is opposition to abortion among people who have a genuine interest in preserving human life. Some members of my own family would outlaw abortion. It is my position, however, that the rights of the pregnant woman outweigh the concerns of society. As long as that fetus, or baby - or whatever you wish to call it - is within the body of its mother, it must be the mother's decision whether or not to give birth. The government must not interfere with the reproduction process in any way. Women must retain sovereignty over their bodies.

Outlawing abortion would be an outrageous invasion of privacy. Any unsuccessful pregnancy could be suspected of being an abortion and would have to be investigated, even if the family claims to be "pro-life". Police observers would be stationed in delivery rooms.

Every baby should be wanted by its mother. The children of unwanted pregnancies are too often born into poverty or unstable families and do not receive the care and attention they need for a happy, healthy life. Their troubled lives often become a problem for the rest of us. The book Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner tells how very surprised the experts were when the crime rate began declining sharply in the early 1990's. It fell by about 40%. One-third of the decline could be attributed to stricter law enforcement and longer sentences and another 10% was the result of hiring more police. But most of the decline was due to the legalization of abortion in 1973 (Roe v. Wade).  Many of the children who would otherwise have been born into poor/unstable families were instead aborted, and those children would have been reaching their late teens and early twenties in the 90's, the age when they are most likely to commit crimes. The lesson here is that society pays a price when it forces women to have children they don't want.

Abortion Study

Outlawing them may not be the best way to stop abortions. At 12 per 1000 women aged 1544 years, the abortion rate is lowest in western Europe, where most abortions are legal. The study Induced Abortion: Estimated Rates and Trends Worldwide, published in the 10/13/07 issue of The Lancet, was a joint effort of the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization (WHO). It found that unrestrictive abortion laws do not predict a high abortion rate nor do highly restrictive abortion laws predict a lower rate. In Africa, where abortion is highly restricted by law in nearly all countries, the abortion rate is 29.

The abortion rate was highest in eastern Europe. Eastern Europe also experienced the sharpest decline in abortion rates, from 90 per 1000 women in 1995 - the last time a similar study was done - to 44 in 2003. Most abortions are legal in eastern Europe. The study says that the decline might be due to improved access to contraceptive information and supplies coupled with an increase in the cost of abortion. In general, abortion incidence declines as contraceptive use increases.

The rate for northern America - the U.S. and Canada - was 21 in 2003, unchanged from 1995.

Nearly half of all abortions worldwide in 2003 were "unsafe", defined as

Abortions done either by people lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimum medical standards, or both. These include (a) abortions in countries where the law is restrictive and (b) abortions that do not meet legal requirements in countries where the law is not restrictive.

In 2003, 48% of all abortions worldwide were unsafe, and more than 97% of all unsafe abortions were in developing countries. Unsafe and safe abortions correspond in large part with illegal and legal abortions, respectively. There are 650 deaths for every 100,000 procedures in Africa, compared with fewer than 10 per 100,000 procedures in developed regions.