Abortion Overview and History
Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures performed in the United States each year. More than 40% of all women will end a pregnancy by abortion at some time in their reproductive lives.
While women of every social class seek terminations, the typical woman who ends her pregnancy is either young, white, unmarried, poor, or over the age of 40.
In the United States and worldwide, abortion (known also as elective termination of pregnancy) remains common.
In spite of the introduction of newer, more effective, and more widely available birth control methods, more than half of the 6 million pregnancies occurring each year in the United States are considered unplanned by the women who are pregnant. Of these unplanned pregnancies, about half end in abortion.
Making abortion legal
Since the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal, hundreds of federal and state laws have been proposed or passed. Abortion is one of the most visible, controversial, and legally active areas in the field of medicine. These laws address a variety of controversial questions including:
Before abortion was legal
Before the 19th century, most US states had no specific abortion laws. Women were able to end a pregnancy prior to viability with the assistance of medical personnel.
In 1965, 265 deaths occurred due to illegal abortions. Of all pregnancy-related complications in New York and California, 20% were due to abortions. A series of US Supreme Court decisions granted increased rights to women and ensured their right to choice in this process. No decision was more important than Griswold v Connecticut, which, in 1965, recognized a constitutional right to privacy and ruled that a married couple had a constitutional right to obtain birth control from their health care professional.
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