The Notion of Abortion
The term “Abortion” is derived from the Latin infinitive “aboriri” which means “to perish”. Literally, it means the loss of a foetal life. Abortion is usually defined as the intentional destruction of the foetus in the womb, or any untimely delivery of the foetus. To put it in another way, it is the expulsion of a non-viable foetus from the womb with the intention of destroying it.
The issues and discussions on the notion of abortion have been in existence over the years. While many argue for abortion, many others argue against it. Whatever the case may be, this article exposes a comprehensive meaning of abortion, types of abortion, different methods and ways of carrying out abortion, effects and damages caused by abortion.
Abortion is simply the intentional termination of the life of a human being before it reaches the viable stage outside the mother’s uterus. In other words, it is the willful destruction of a human life in female generative organs, from the time of conception to when safe delivery is possible.
The term abortion has traditionally meant the intentional expulsion of the pre-born child from the uterus before he or she has reached the age of viability (defined as the point after which the pre-born child can survive outside the womb with or without medical assistance).
Furthermore, “Abortion could simply be taken to be the termination of pregnancy or the expulsion of the Foetus from the womb before it is viable, that is before it can live outside the mother”.
Types of Abortion
For the fact that abortion could happen both intentionally and unintentionally, it has therefore on this note been classified into two major types namely:
- Non-induced abortion (Spontaneous Abortion)
- Induced abortion (Procured Abortion)
Thus, abortion can occur spontaneously or be artificially induced by chemical, surgical or other means.
This type of abortion which is generally referred to as miscarriage occurs when an embryo of foetus is lost due to natural causes before the 20th week of gestation. Spontaneous abortion is unexpected and involuntary; that is, it is not intentional and can happen to the dismay of the pregnant woman. It is an abortion due to accidental trauma or natural causes.
Since spontaneous abortion is not within man’s control, it is an “act of man” and therefore it is not a moral issue. It remains a cause of regret to the woman who feels she has lost the opportunity of having an expected child.
This form of abortion occurs when a pregnant woman deliberately, voluntarily, intentionally, willfully or consciously remove or terminate her pregnancy for reasons that best suit her. These reasons popularly or the other range from rape, unwanted babies, incest, poverty, psycho-dis-functioning or damage.
Unlike the spontaneous abortion, the woman does not feel sorrowful for the loss of an unexpected baby, neither is she psychologically affected by the loss of the baby. Induced abortion is further sub-categorized into therapeutic (curative) abortion and criminal abortion.
This is generally regarded as an induced termination of pregnancy or removal of the foetus from the womb through human intervention for the sole purpose of curing the mother. A pregnant woman who has cancer of the womb has the right to be cured but to cure her, it may be required that the womb be removed which may mean the death of the child.
This is taken to be an induced termination of pregnancy or evacuation of the human conception (foetus) from the womb through human intervention for any other intention but curative purposes. The reason could be to avoid pain associated with child bearing, shame, lack of good maintenance etc. therefore, when abortion is brought about for social or other reason but therapeutic, it is called criminal abortion.
Direct and Indirect Abortion
Abortion could be direct or indirect depending on whether it is just aimed at or only foreseen as a consequence of lawful act.
This is any conception of the product of human conception whether before or after implantation in the womb. Direct abortion is one that is intended either as an end in itself or as a means to an end. It is a willful attack on unborn human life. That is, it is a voluntary termination of pregnancy or conscious expulsion of the foetus from the womb before it can survive outside the mother’s womb.
Indirect abortion on the other hand, is the foreseen but merely permitted termination of pregnancy or evacuation of a foetus which cannot survive outside the womb. The evacuation is not intended or directly willed, but side effect of some legitimate procedure.
Different Methods and Ways of Carrying out Abortion
There are different methods and ways of carrying out abortion and they are:
Dilation and Curettage
D and C as it is often called is the use of a sharp curette (loop-shaped knife) to cut the conceptus or baby into pieces and the evacuated through the cervix of the woman. This method involves high possibilities of infection.
This is called uterine aspiration. This method is usually used before the twelfth week of pregnancy. Here, the cervix of the mother is widened and hollow tube with a suction machine (aspiration) is placed or slide into the uterus to rip up the baby and then suction off; that is, empty the pieces into a vessel. This does not require the use of a sharp curette and so it is an improvement on the D and C. However, there is still likelihood of infection.
Dilation and Evacuation (D and E)
This method is used between the first and eighteenth week of pregnancy. The instrument has “grasping forceps” and it is inserted into the uterus (womb) to chop the foetus into pieces. This method is usually associated with much pain because the foetus’ bone which are chopped up are already calcified. In the process, the mother’s womb may be seriously affected or damaged.
This method is carried out after twelfth week of pregnancy. Here, a needle is inserted through the abdominal wall into the amniotic sac where the foetus is planted. The needed contained a saline solution which the foetus swallows and causes it to die within two hours of dehydration and hemorrhage. Within 24 hours the woman goes into labour and delivers a dead foetus. This method may result a complications and causes psychological problems to the woman.
This method is similar to the saline abortion. Like the saline abortion, it is performed in later pregnancies usually between 3 – 6 weeks. The procedure is that a physician will inject prostaglandin hormones for natural birth and saline injection into the amniotic sac where the conceptus is floating which results in a premature delivery and death of the baby.
This procedure is performed after the twelfth week of pregnancy involving caesarean section. It is carried out usually when saline abortion and prostaglandins have proven abortive. An incision is made in the abdominal wall to enable the physician block the umbilical cord thus resulting in the death of the foetus which is removed vial the incision and the incision is closed back.
This form of abortion is carried out with little or no proper medical supervision, in most cases, it is secretly carried out by the woman; especially young girls who patronize road side chemist or pharmacy stores to buy abortion pills and some of these pills are swallowed while others are inserted into the body through the virgina which actually terminate the life of the foetus. Apart from these pills, many also swallow local herbs, take dry-gins etc. This method can easily result in infections and hemorrhaging.
Complications may be very severe to cause both the death of the woman and the foetus. It is strongly discouraged. It accounts for one of the strong reasons in support of the legalization of abortion.
Effects and Damages Caused by Abortion
The consequences which many people face after such an excruciating experience of abortion have an enormous impact on the human mind. Hence, some people have investigated into the effects of abortion on people who committed it, and the effects and damages caused by abortion are as follows;
- There are increased chances of complications that can kill the woman during the process.
- It causes psychological and traumatic effect on both the woman and the physician.
- It brings about torture, severe pain, and injury which may become a regular experience or occurrence on the mother. For example, the twisting and dissecting of the woman’s organ leads to an unimaginable agony.
- There is high risk of loss or damage to the womb which results in future.
- It increases the chances of future birth to be delivered by caesarean operation especially hysterectomy.
- There is high risk of infection (HIV/AIDS) and hemorrhaging.