Making an informed decision about health issues is really important. However, making these decisions gets difficult when you come across an unexpected situation. An unplanned or unwanted pregnancy can raise questions for a woman depending upon her current situation. She has various choices to make such as adoption, parenting, and abortion. The final decision depends solely on the mother as she’s the one who’ll be giving birth to the baby. If she isn’t ready to bring the baby into this world, she can consider getting an abortion. Abortion is the termination of pregnancy that involves removal or expulsion of the embryo or fetus before it can survive outside the uterus.
A never-ending debate has been going on over the years as to whether an abortion should be considered a healthy and wise option or not. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the US declared abortion as a fundamental right. Taking this into account, it gives every woman the right to choose what’s best for her.
There are times when a woman needs someone to advise her while making this decision. While some women feel comfortable talking to a healthcare provider, some of them consider talking to a family member or friend instead. It doesn’t matter whom you talk to. You shouldn’t feel forced to make a decision that is not completely yours.
In this article, we take a look at the pros and cons of abortion, the various types of abortion procedures, and emergency contraceptives available.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Abortion?
On one hand, where the proponents consider abortion as a woman’s fundamental right regardless of any government or religious authority, opponents consider it as the killing of an innocent human being.
Advantages (Pros) of Abortion
- Surveys suggest that 7% of the total abortions are done as a result of a woman being raped, incest, or going through a medical condition. A sexual assault on a woman doesn’t give her the time to cope through the traumatic incident and she learns later on that she’s pregnant. As declared by the Supreme Court of the US, the decision made by the woman is her fundamental right. Such situations should be taken into account before making any unnecessary accusations.
- An unwanted pregnancy such as one that occurs during unprotective sex or when a condom breaks during sex can be shocking for both the partners. Even if a woman takes her chances of having unprotected sexual intercourse, she has every right to terminate her pregnancy if she isn’t ready for it. Good parenting is necessary for the nourishment of the child. Failure to do so can have a negative impact on the development of the child. Therefore, it is better to choose abortion rather than raising a child that you don’t want to.
- Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy and not a human being. As per biology, the fetus is not an independent being. It is dependent upon the mother’s body for its survival. Furthermore, the US Census calculates the person’s age from the date of his birth and not during conception.
- A legal and professionally performed abortion reduces the chances of death caused by unsafe and illegal abortion. As per WHO, approximately 68,000 deaths take place every year due to unsafe and illegal abortions.
- The health of the mother is very important. Pregnancy can pose a threat to the mother’s health and cost her life as well. Studies suggest that the risk of a mother dying while giving birth is around 8.8 in 100,000 whereas, during an abortion, it is 0.6 in 100,000. There are several myths that need to be busted as well. It should be made clear that abortion does not affect future pregnancies in any way.
- A woman who finds it difficult to make both ends meet chooses abortion as she doesn’t have enough financial resources to raise a child. 42% of the total abortions performed include those women who are below the federal poverty level.
- It can be really distressing for women with fetuses having abnormalities that can cause death during or shortly after birth. Giving birth to a child with cognitive or physical disabilities comes with extra care, attention, and financial support. It can be difficult for the parents to go through the mental trauma of seeing their child in such a situation. Furthermore, a lack of financial resources can also make it difficult for the couple to raise such a child. Abortion gives the right to not bring fetuses with such abnormalities into the world.
- A woman has the right to choose what happens to her body. She has full control of her own body and it gives her independence to determine her future irrespective of what’s happening inside her fetus.
Disadvantages (Cons) of Abortion
- When abortion is being performed, the mother is sedated but the baby is not. A second trimester or an early third-trimester abortion causes immense pain to the fetus. A fetus can respond to pain after 8 weeks of conception. Dr. Bernard Nathanson earned the nickname “Abortion King” after performing 5,000 abortions himself. His views regarding abortion changed after he saw ultrasound images of abortion. While Dr. Bernard had performed thousands of abortions, he had never felt so emotional about the procedure. After seeing ultrasound images of abortion, he saw the fetus shrinking away from abortion tools. He added on saying that it was an indication that the fetus could feel pain.
- As per inferences of divine law and interpretations of religious text, abortion is ethically and morally wrong and should be considered as murder. No one has the right to kill an innocent human being even if that person is yet to be born. The federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act states that an unborn child is a member of the species Homosapiens and that anybody killing or attempting to kill an unborn child should be punished.
- Studies suggest that young women who undergo abortion are likely to suffer from psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. A study published in the Southern Medical Journal of more than 173,000 women found that women who underwent abortion were 154% more prone to committing suicide than women who gave birth to a baby. The emotional trauma that women have to go through is ineffable. Talking about men, approximately 52% of them regret their decision regarding abortion. As a result, around 26% of men experience depression.
- Abortion is not a form of contraception. An increased number of abortions (with a single woman having more than 2-3 abortions) have made it clear that women are using it as a contraceptive procedure. After abortion was legalized, a drastic decrease (of 6%) in births was seen whereas contraceptives rose by 30%. These figures clearly indicate that women are using abortion as a contraceptive method.
- Eugenic termination, also known as Selective abortion based on the genetic disabilities in the baby promotes discrimination. Terminating a pregnancy after knowing about the disabilities of the child puts a clear picture of disabled beings being lesser than human beings. A whopping 80% of women choose to end their pregnancy after getting to know that the baby suffers from Down Syndrome. The National Down Syndrome Society states that people with Down Syndrome are valued members of the community and they can contribute to society in numerous ways.
- An adult is a responsible human being and should be held liable for his own actions. If a woman becomes pregnant even after using a contraceptive, she should be aware of the risk of pregnancy. The innocent child has nothing to do with a mistake committed by the adult. If the woman isn’t ready to raise the child, she can certainly put him/her up for adoption.
- There are abortion procedures that are so devastating that some doctors even refuse to perform an abortion. Saline abortion (shall be discussed later) is an example of one such abortion that involves poisoning the baby by injecting a saline solution that leads to the death of a baby. The mother then delivers a dead baby within 24 hours. Such abortion procedures are life-threatening for the mother and have been outlawed by some countries.
The Various Types of Abortion
If a woman chooses to go for abortion, she should be aware of the options that are available to her. Therefore, it becomes essential to seek advice from a medical professional regarding what’s best for you.
- Medical Abortion
A medical abortion involves making use of an abortion kit such as MTP Kit. MTP Kit consists of two medications, namely Mifepristone 200 mg (also known as RU-486) and Misoprostol 200 mcg (also known as Cytotec 200 mcg) that work together to terminate a pregnancy. This type of abortion is performed in cases where a woman is no more than 9 weeks pregnant.
- Vacuum Aspiration
Vacuum aspiration, also known as Suction abortion involves using gentle suction to end a pregnancy. A suction tube is inserted through the dilated cervix into the womb. This pulls the fetus and placenta out of the uterus. This type of abortion is done during the first trimester (12 weeks) or early second trimester of pregnancy (12-16 weeks).
- Dilation & Curettage (D&C)
This type of abortion is generally performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. It involves making use of a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) to remove the tissues from the lining of the uterus.
- Dilation & Evacuation (D&E)
This type of abortion is similar to D&C and involves making use of instruments such as forceps along with suction to empty the uterus. This procedure is generally performed during the second trimester of pregnancy.
- Saline Abortion
Saline abortion involves injecting a saline solution into the sac of the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. This method is also known as “Salting Out or Salt Poisoning” as the baby is poisoned by swallowing the salt. The skin of the baby gets burned away and the mother delivers a dead baby within 24 hours. This type of abortion is performed during the second trimester of pregnancy (typically after 16 weeks).
A hysterotomy abortion is similar to the C section in which uterus is opened through an abdominal incision and the fetus is removed. This procedure is performed only during late-term pregnancies.
While abortion is available to all women, the need to educate young females about various contraceptive methods is essential. Choosing the right form of birth control can help prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Considering Emergency Contraception As an Option
Emergency contraception is a birth control measure that may be used after sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy. By using emergency contraception within 3 days of sexual intercourse, a woman can decrease her chances of getting pregnant. These contraception pills use hormones or medications that block pregnancy by delaying the release of an egg.
Types of emergency contraceptives include:
- Pills containing a hormone called levonorgestrel such as Plan B One-Step. If taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex, it can prevent the chances of pregnancy by 93%.
- Pills containing a combination of 2 hormones: an estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and a progestin (drospirenone) such as Yasmin 28. Read the instructions mentioned on the leaflet of the drug before using it.
- Pills containing a combination of 2 hormones: levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol such as Loette. Read all the instructions given on the pack of the drug before using it.
- A vaginal ring containing 2 hormones: etonogestrel and ethinyl estradiol such as Nuvaring. It is a small, flexible ring that works similar to a birth control pill.
- An intrauterine device such as Copper-T. Your doctor will place a small plastic and copper IUD into your uterus. It is effective emergency contraception if placed within 5 days of unprotected sex. It can also be used as a long-term birth control method as it works for up to 10 years.
While emergency contraceptives may help to prevent pregnancy, there are still some things to consider. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of emergency contraception.
Pros and Cons of Emergency Contraception
- Birth control pills are very effective against pregnancy if used correctly. They also make menstrual periods more regular and lighter.
- An IUD provides protection against pregnancy and doesn’t need daily attention once it is inserted.
- Vaginal rings do not interrupt the sexual activity and prevent protection against pregnancy. They also decrease menstrual cramps and acne and also lower the chances of having uterine cancer, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, and anemia.
- They do not harm the baby if you are already pregnant.
- Emergency contraceptives do not protect against any Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) or HIV.
- Birth control pills can cause side-effects such as nausea, increased appetite, and headaches.
- IUDs can cause side-effects such as menstrual cramps and longer or heavier menstrual periods.
- If you are taking a birth control pill, you need to remember to take it every day at the same time.
- They can’t be used by women with certain medical conditions.
- IUDs have a risk of infection in the first 20 days of insertion.
- If you vomit within the first 3 hours of consuming a birth control pill, you will have to take another dose.
It is essential that you take an emergency contraceptive as soon as possible. The chances of becoming pregnant increase as you keep waiting. If you’re looking for a permanent method of contraception, sterilization is for you.
Sterilization – Permanent Method of Contraception
Sterilization in women is a permanent birth control method that blocks the fallopian tubes so that the eggs don’t reach the uterus. It is also known as “tubal ligation” or “getting your tubes tied”. If you are sure that you don’t want any more children or don’t want children at all, then sterilization would be the right choice for you.
There are various ways to do this procedure:
- Use of electric current to block the tubes.
- Close the tubes from the outside using a clip or ring.
- Cut the tubes in half, or a section, and seal the ends.
- Remove the tubes.
Sterilization doesn’t affect your libido or your ability to have sex. It is performed under the influence of a medical healthcare professional in the hospital.
Pros and Cons of Sterilization
- Sterilization works immediately and can be performed after childbirth.
- It does not affect your sexual performance.
- It does not cause any hormonal imbalance in your body.
- You don’t have to monitor your schedule as is the case with birth control pills.
- It lasts forever i.e. it is a permanent method of contraception.
- It can cause bleeding, pain, and other complications after the surgery is performed.
- Risk of bowel or bladder getting damaged during surgery.
- It may cause tubal pregnancy.
- Complications can occur in women who are obese, suffer from diabetes or have a medical history of abdominal or pelvic surgery.
Sterilization is one of the ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It is a permanent method of birth control and you should consider your health status, lifestyle, and other factors before deciding if it is the right option for you. Talk to your healthcare provider regarding the procedure in detail.
An unwanted or unplanned pregnancy can be terminated with the help of an abortion. While there are various abortion procedures available, it becomes essential to seek advice from a healthcare professional regarding what’s best for you. While the long heated debate may never seem to end, it is necessary that the final decision should be left to the woman whose fetus is responsible for the birth of a living being. It also becomes important to educate young women regarding the various birth control methods available to them to prevent unwanted pregnancies. An abortion might seem like a feasible option but it should never be seen as a birth control method. A woman who wishes to give birth to a child but cannot raise him/her can put the child for adoption so that he/she can be taken care of.
And if you are not thinking of becoming a parent anywhere in the future, you can certainly go for a permanent method of contraception such as sterilization. Sterilization can help you prevent unwanted pregnancies. It doesn’t affect your sexual performance and has one of the lowest pregnancy rates out of all the birth control methods. Whatever choice you make, make sure that you take help from a doctor and decide what’s best for you and your health.