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Abortion (cont.)

Mandatory Waiting Periods

  • Mandatory waiting periods mandate by law that the woman seeking to end a pregnancy must first, in person, receive specific information about the pregnancy and pregnancy alternatives.
  • In spite of the fact that these laws typically only mandate a short 24-hour waiting period, they have the effect of increasing the percentage of second-trimester abortions in states with these laws.

Special concerns

  • Advances in neonatal medicine leading to improved survival by babies born very early in gestation have fueled the abortion debate in the past 2 decades, overshadowing the continued cultural debate on when life begins.
  • Recently, the progress in using fetal tissue, fetal stem cells, or even discarded embryos for research and medical treatments continues. These potential therapies may be indicated for the treatment of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, kidney disease, and cartilage diseases, among others.
  • Current national regulations prohibit most fetal tissue research, but the National Institutes of Health revealed late in 2000 that it will allow stem cell research. In June 2002, President Bush enacted a law restricting stem cell research to only preexisting cell lines and embryos "left over" from in vitro fertilization procedures.
  • Many world cultures place a premium on male children, and reports of selective abortion of female fetuses have continued to surface.

Provider issues

  • Most abortion providers are obstetricians and gynecologists. However, providers from a variety of backgrounds (such as family practitioners and nurses) can be taught to perform abortions safely. Physicians are generally receptive to the concept of legal abortions being available in the United States. Research shows those most receptive tend to be non-Catholic and trained in a residency program where abortion observation was a requirement.
  • Keeping abortions safe, legal, and rare are the goals of abortion providers.
  • As providers have decreased in number, women are traveling farther to obtain abortions, seeking abortions later in pregnancy, and are unable to obtain services if they are poor and live in most rural areas.
  • Posttraumatic stress has been reported in abortion workers exposed to violent abortion protests at their clinics.

Insurance Coverage

  • While few state public funding sources cover abortions except in cases of jeopardy to maternal life, many private health care plans do cover abortion counseling and procedures.

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Patient Comments & Reviews

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Elective Abortion »

In the United States and worldwide, elective termination of pregnancy remains common.

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